Bob Dylan

The Rundown Rehearsal Tapes

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During the winter months of 1978, Bob Dylan conducted rehearsals for his upcoming 115-date world tour in downtown Santa Monica's aptly named Rundown Studios. Captured for posterity by engineers Arthur Rosato and Joel Bernstein, the Rundown tapes represent a remarkably panoramic window into Dylan's creative process as he reinvents his classic songs via improvised lyrics and arrangements that gradually transform the raw, fiery melodies into larger-than-life pop fantasias seemingly earmarked for the casino ballrooms of Las Vegas. The four-CD bootleg box set The Rundown Rehearsal Tapes is an embarrassment of riches for the serious Dylan enthusiast, encompassing virtually every landmark in his storied songbook as well as some new compositions and a handful of traditional blues standards that never made it past the rehearsal stage. Even then-recent songs like "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" and "If You See Her, Say Hello" are completely reinvented into forms barely recognizable from their familiar studio LP renditions. Perhaps most noteworthy is the fourth disc, recorded in April as an audition for bassist Jerry Scheff. Both "We'd Better Talk This Over" and "Coming from the Heart" make their debut, and while the former later resurfaced on Street Legal, the latter soon disappeared forever. Sound quality is somewhat erratic, but the sheer volume and consistency of the material makes it mandatory listening regardless of its flaws.