In late 1965 Bob Dylan and The Hawks held two sessions in New York, with further recording taking place in January of the following year, but after failing to complete a new album to his satisfaction, he relocated to Nashville and their limitless pool of studio musicians. There he completed 'Blonde On Blonde', the first double album in rock history, and which included only one track recorded in New York with The Hawks. While they were there, though, they did record enough material to make an album, which we'll call 'New York Blonde' for lack of any better ideas, and which would be entirely comprised of songs recorded with The Hawks at the sessions held in New York between October 5th, 1965, and January 27th, 1966. During the sessions and a concurrent tour, various members of The Hawks quit and were replaced by sessioneers, until eventually only Robbie Robertson and Rick Danko remained. While Dylan would take Robertson with him to Nashville, the rest of the Hawks were left behind to wait for their next gig.
The album opens with the powerful 'I Wanna Be Your Lover', which was supposed to be his next single but which was inexplicably never issued at the time, not even as a b-side. A laid back R&B version of 'Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat' comes next, followed by 'One of Us Must Know'; which was the only New York track to make the final cut for 'Blonde on Blonde', taking them 24 takes to get right. This is take 15, which is played in a straight country style with slightly different lyrics. A rehearsal take of 'I'll Keep It With Mine' is next, and then we have 'Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?', a single that failed to make a dent in the charts. The incomplete 'She's Your Lover Now' breaks down before the last verse, but luckily Dylan ran down the entire song on the next take for demo purposes. I've slotted is a cool instrumental before the classic 'Visions of Johanna', a song that started out as a straight-up rock and roll number in New York and became a lethargic ballad in Nashville. This is take 7, which has a bit more depth than the barnstorming take 5, and is also the longest take that he did. So this is what 'Blonde On Blonde' could have sounded like if the sessions with The Hawks had worked out to Dylan's satisfaction, but then we would have missed out on that era-defining double album. This one is still worth hearing, though.
01 I Wanna Be Your Lover (Take 6 Mis-Slate)
02 Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat (Take 1)
03 One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) (Take 15 Complete)
04 I'll Keep It With Mine (Rehearsal)
05 Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? (Take 10)
06 She's Your Lover Now (Take 15)
07 Instrumental (Take 2 Complete)
08 Visions of Johanna (Take 7 Complete)
From The Album Fixer November 2015