The Basement Tapes was a masterpiece that gave a glimpse into what Greil Marcus termed the "laboratory" that was Big Pink in the summer and fall of 1967. The five-volume bootleg Genuine Basement Tapes collects the bulk of material recorded by Dylan and the Hawks during those legendary sessions. It's all here -- covers of old blues, folk and country songs, multiple takes of Dylan originals, false starts, mistakes, laughter. Except for Volume III, the sound quality is very good. Casual fans may be satisfied with the original album, but Dylan and Band fanatics should get their hands on this.
Volume I contains mainly traditional material, some of it superb -- "Bonnie Ship the Diamond," and "Hills of Mexico," in particular. Of the original songs, "All You Have to Do Is Dream," "I Can't Make It Alone" and Richard Manuel's tender "You Say You Love Me" (track 20, not listed on the CD cover) stand out.