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Bob Dylan – Original “Freewheelin'” LP With 4 Unreleased Tracks / One Of The Rarest Records In The World

An extremely rare 1963 first pressing of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, mistakenly mis-pressed with four still-unreleased tracks.  This is one of the rarest and most collectible records in the world.  Approximately 20 to 25 mono copies and two stereo copies are known to exist. A stereo copy sold for $35,000, and a mint mono copy would fetch nearly that, though none in that condition has ever surfaced.  We acquired this example from the son of the original buyer, whose family had it in their collection for 55 years.

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 songs that had been planned for inclusion were replaced with four newly recorded tracks.  Some speculate that because CBS TV’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, 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  In the 55 years since the release of Freewheelin’, a very small number of copies have surfaced that play the four “withdrawn” tracks–only two stereo copies are known, and perhaps 20 mono copies.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 Vancouver, Canada resident, whose father bought the album when it was released (it’s a U.S. copy, but exactly where he purchased it is unknown.  Canadian copies list the rare songs, but don’t play them.  Once again, this is a U.S. copy that doesn’t list the songs, but plays them.)  We know of only two other copies that came directly from the original purchasers; the others were bought in Los Angeles and Berkeley California—like Vancouver, on the West Coast.

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 include the songs “Rocks & Gravel”, “Let Me Die In My Footsteps”, “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie” and “Talkin’ John Birch Society Blues”.  If you don’t have a turntable, you can check the matrix numbers stamped in the vinyl just outside the labels–on the rare copies only they end with -1A on both sides.

The all important disc on this copy grades a strong VG+, and plays very well, with no skips or jumps. Overall the sound is loud and clear, and the listening experience very satisfying, with just some very faint occasional surface noise.

The cover is in VG condition, with general wear, an invisibly repaired seam split on the top right edge, and the original owner’s name on the back cover.  As both this version and the regular copies came with identical album covers listing the ‘correct’ songs, this cover can easily be replaced if the buyer wishes.

A museum quality collectible, and only the fourth copy we’ve had in nearly 50 years of searching.  With Recordmecca’s lifetime guarantee of authenticity.

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