Entertainment & Arts

Bob Dylan to release Like a Rolling Stone outtakes disc

Bob Dylan at the piano Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Like a Rolling Stone was described by U2's Bono as "a black eye of a pop song"

Bob Dylan is set to release a new CD featuring 20 alternative takes of Like a Rolling Stone.

Acknowledged as one of his greatest songs, the six-minute organ-led classic was originally recorded in June 1965 for the Highway 61 Revisited album,

But it is known to have evolved dramatically in the studio from its first recording.

The fourth take of the song is the version that was ultimately released - but Dylan recorded it another 11 times.

Those takes were considered unusable as they were too fast. Al Kooper, who played the iconic organ riff, later observed: "I don't even know how he [Dylan]could sing that fast. There's a lot of words to put in. I have a copy of the complete session, and no take comes near the [master] take."

Now Dylan's fans, dubbed "Bobcats", will be able to decide for themselves, following the track's full progression over two days of recording at the Columbia Records studio in New York.

The first take featured a dramatically different waltz tempo and the a piano instead of an organ.

Near the end of the first day of sessions, Dylan played a rough, slow version of the song, which later gelled into the version that influenced a generation of musicians.

At Dylan's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, Bruce Springsteen said: "When I was 15 and I heard Like a Rolling Stone, I heard a guy who had the guts to take on the whole world and who made me feel like I had to, too."

Michael Bonner, associate editor of rock magazine Uncut, told the Independent: "There is a fascinating counter-factual here - what if they had released take five? How different would the history of popular music have been? Would Dylan's career have been derailed?"

"There will be fans who will listen all the way through. It's interesting from an archaeological point of view to hear the song stripped back to its component parts and to hear that organ part isolated."

Image copyright Bob Dylan
Image caption A handwritten draft of the song's lyrics sold at auction sold for $2m (£1.2m) in 2014

Dylan wrote Like A Rolling Stone, about a debutante cast from upper-class society, at the age of 24. It reached number two in the US Billboard charts and number four in the UK. Rolling Stone Magazine later named it the greatest song of all time.

The disc of outtakes will feature on a new box set, The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12.

A 379-track collection across 18 CDs, nine mono 45 RPM singles it includes, it is claimed, absolutely everything Dylan recorded in the two-year period when he released Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde.

It will be released in November through the musician's website in a limited run of 5,000 copies.

A six-CD version will also be made available.

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