Bob Dylan – Original “Freewheelin'” Album With Four Withdrawn Tracks / One of the Rarest Records in the World

A very rare copy of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, mistakenly mis-pressed with four still-unreleased tracks.  This album is among the rarest and most valuable records in the world.  A stereo copy sold for $35,000, and a mint mono copy would easily fetch $25,000, though one in that condition has never surfaced.  Remarkably we acquired this example from the original buyer, who had it in his collection for 55 years (read the full story on our blog).

Freewheelin’ was Dylan’s second album, released in late May, 1963.  For reasons still not completely clear, just prior to the album’s release, four of the songs that had been planned for inclusion were replaced with four newly recorded tracks.  Some speculate that because CBS television’s censors wouldn’t let Dylan perform “Talkin’ John Birch Blues” on the Ed Sullivan Show,  the CBS-owned Columbia Records pulled it from the album.  Others note that the four “replacement” tracks were recorded after the album was completed, and were simply too good to be left off (they included the Dylan classics Masters of War” and “Girl From The North Country”.)

In any case, replacement masters featuring the new songs were prepared and shipped to Columbia’s pressing plants, the artwork was changed, and the label released the revised album. Except–and this turned out to be a very big deal–someone at one of the pressing plant didn’t get the message, and a small number of copies were pressed using the old stampers, with the four songs that had been replaced.  In the 55 years since the release of Freewheelin’, a very few copies have surfaced that play the four “withdrawn” tracks–only two stereo copies are known, and approximately 20 mono copies.  No one has yet solved the mystery of why so few copies escaped Columbia’s pressing plants.

We acquired this copy from a Santa Monica, Ca. resident, who recalled “Dylan’s first album came out while I was in high school. I didn’t know who he was at the time although I bought that album later. I started going to [U.C.] Berkeley in January 1963. At the end of semester I drove up to Vancouver with my sister and brother-in-law. At the end of June I was back in LA. I bought the album during that summer, at a record store on Pico Blvd. in West Los Angeles.  This is only a guess but I probably bought after being back in LA for a few weeks. I used to listen to [radio host] Les Crane on Saturday nights and I think I heard some of the songs that way. At the time, I was disappointed and confused that the songs listed on the cover were not all on the record, especially “Girl From the North Country’”.

This is only the second copy we know of to have come from the original buyer.  An acquaintance of ours, who wishes to remain anonymous, bought his copy in Berkeley, CA. in 1963.  Likewise, he was disappointed that the copy he bought didn’t have the tracks listed on the cover, but also decided to keep it.  It’s likely some copies were actually returned to record stores by dissatisfied customers.

For those who don’t know, the definitive way to determine if a Freewheelin‘ is the rare original is to listen to it.  Only the rare copies play these songs in this order: Blowin’ in the Wind/Rocks & Gravel/A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall/Down the Highway/Bob Dylan’s Dream/Let Me Die In My Footsteps/Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right/Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie/Oxford Town/Corrina Corrina/Talkin’ John Birch Society Blues/Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance/I Shall Be Free.

The all important disc grades a strong VG+ visually, and plays very well, with no skips or jumps. There are some very low level ticks for about 25 seconds in the middle of “Bob Dylan’s Blues”, and for about 8 seconds at the beginning of “Let Me Die In My Footsteps”, and a few louder ones at the very end of that song.  But overall the sound is loud and clear, the listening experience very satisfying.

The original cover is in VG(+) condition, with light general wear, an invisibly repaired seam split at the top right, and a tiny tear at the bottom of the back cover.

A museum quality collectible, and only the third copy we’ve had in nearly 50 years of searching.  With a handwritten letter of authenticity from the original owner, and Recordmecca’s lifetime guarantee of authenticity. (See our blog for more information on how to determine if a Freewheelin‘ is the valuable original).


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