The official release of The Basement Tapes – which were first heard on a 1968 bootleg called The Great White Wonder – plays with history somewhat, as Robbie Robertson overemphasizes the Band's status in the sessions, making them out to be equally active to Dylan, adding in demos not cut at the sessions and overdubbing their recordings to flesh them out…
Preserving newly written Bob Dylan songs for copyright is the reason why the Band's Garth Hudson rolled tape at Big Pink but The Basement Tapes were something much more than songwriting demos. Greil Marcus dubbed it a celebration of the "Old, Weird America" in his 1997 book Invisible Republic, connecting these songs to Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, adding an extra layer of myth to tapes that were shrouded in mystery from the moment bootlegs started to circulate. The Basement Tapes Complete strengthens portions of that legend while simultaneously puncturing it. Certainly, the six-disc box – its first five discs assembled according to Hudson's numbering system, with the sixth disc collecting sessions discovered later – feels substantially different from the LP released in 1975, where the overall picture was distorted by Robbie Robertson adding sometimes significant overdubs and including Band recordings that weren't cut during those seven months in 1967.
A double-disc distillation of the six-disc box The Basement Tapes Complete, The Basement Tapes: Raw can't quite be seen as an expansion of the 1975 double-LP The Basement Tapes but rather a necessary revision. Shepherded by the Band's Robbie Robertson, that 1975 double-vinyl inserted Band recordings where they didn't belong, suggesting the group were equal partners when it was really Dylan's show.
It is unusual when two iconic musical influences have a deep-rooted history. Bob Dylan revolutionized the folk industry in the early sixties. Around the same time, a group consisting of four Canadians and one U.S. Southerner were cutting their rock and roll teeth as the back-up band to Ronnie Hawkins. An epiphany for rock and roll occurred at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival when Dylan went electric and outraged the folk community. A subsequent tour supported by The Hawks (later renamed The Band) became a watershed moment for modern music.
The snarly veined beginnings of the extraterrestrial fiends. Nik, Ms. Fiend & company really pop out from behind their facepaint to have a good-time screamalong. Who can listen to Wardance and not want to pop out of their seat and jump around like a 5 year old playing 1-little-2 little-3 little indiannnns!? "I Walk Alone" and the ever-popular-fiend-anthem "Drive My Rocket Up Uranus" are excellent stand-outs!