Bob Dylan – Original “Freewheelin'” Album With 4 Withdrawn Tracks

An extremely rare copy of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” with four tracks not released on the commercial version–Rocks and Gravel, Let Me Die In My Footsteps, Gamblin’ Willie’s Dead Man’s Hand and Talkin’ John Birch Blues.  The original “Freewheelin'” album with the withdrawn tracks is one of the rarest and most valuable records in the world.  A stereo copy sold for $35,000, and a mint mono copy would likely bring $15,000.  For reasons still not completely clear, just prior to the album’s release four of the songs 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 Dylan classics Masters of War and Girl From The North Country.)   In any case, replacement masters featuring the new songs were made, the artwork was changed, and Columbia released the revised album.  Except–and this later 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.  In the 49 years since the release of “Freewheelin’,” a very few copies have surfaced that play the four “withdrawn” tracks–only two stereo copies are known, and fewer than 20 mono copies.  No one has yet solved the mystery of why so few copies escaped Columbia’s pressing plants.  The disc here grades G+ visually, but plays VG+; loud and clear with no skips or jumps, just light surface noise and the occasional pop or tick.  There are a few seconds of louder surface noise on two songs, and some very light ticks through the beginning of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, but overall this is a very listenable copy of an incredibly rare record.  The original cover is in VG+ condition, and has the original owner’s notations on the back, detailing where the songs on the disc differ from those listed.  Only the second copy of this highly sought after album we’ve had in 40 years !  See the Recordmecca blog for the complete story on the discovery of this ultra rarity.

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