Bob Dylan – 4 Dylan-Owned Alternate ‘Self Portrait’ LP Acetates, With His Handwritten Notation / Used During Album’s Production

Four one-sided 12” acetates of an alternate sequence of Bob Dylan’s 197o album Self Portrait, owned by Dylan and used by him during the making of the LP.  The sequence on each of disc differs from the final album, with the first song on the released version, “All the Tired Horses” appearing here as the last song on Side 4.  On the sleeve of the Side 3 disc, Dylan has written “(Substitute Side 3)” in black marker.

These discs are part of a collection of Dylan-owned acetates discovered in 2014 in a five story brownstone at 124 West Houston Street in Greenwich Village.  From approximately 1969 through 1972, Dylan rented the building’s ground  floor to use as a studio (at the time, he lived two blocks away at 94 McDougal St.)  When the owner of the building died in January 2014, her executor found the acetates in two boxes labeled “Old Records,” in a a loft closet above the bedroom. The discovery of these acetates by Recordmecca’s Jeff Gold received extensive media coverage in publications including The New York Times, Wall St. Journal, Rolling Stone, and Billboard (for the complete story and more photos, see the Recordmecca blog.)

The West Houston St. Studios acetates originally belonged to Bob Dylan, and were used by him during the production of his albums, including Self Portrait.  At the time Dylan was based in New York, while his producer, Bob Johnston worked out of Columbia Records’ Nashville office.  Taking direction from Dylan, Johnston would cut acetates of various mixes and sequences, and send them to Dylan for his comments or approval.  Dylan discarded or abandoned them when he moved out of the building in the early 1970’s. For more than 40 years, they were carefully stored by the building’s owner, and only discovered by chance by before the building was put up for sale in 2014.

Cut directly from the master tapes, the acetates have fantastic fidelity.  Grading from EX to VG+, they sound bright and bold, with only the occasional surface noise, light pop or tick.  Each has probably been played no more than a few times, by Dylan himself. The labels on Discs 1-3 have Dylan’s name and the side numbers written in an unknown hand.  The Disc 4 label has Dylan’s name and the song titles, written almost certainly by producer Bob Johnston.  Each is housed in its original generic paper acetate sleeve (the Side 1 sleeve has some missing paper.)

With a letter of authenticity/written lifetime guarantee signed by Recordmecca’s Jeff Gold, an internationally recognized Dylan authority who appraised The Bob Dylan Archive for Dylan’s management, noting the Sleeve 3 sleeve handwriting is by Bob Dylan, and a copy of a letter of authenticity from the estate’s executor detailing how he discovered the acetates.

A remarkable Dylan artifact formerly owned by Dylan himself.

Side 1: Alberta/I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know/Days of 49/Early Mornin’ Rain/She Belongs to Me/It Hurts Me Too

Side 2: Let It Be Me/Little Sadie/Woogie Boogie/Blue Moon/Belle Isle/Like a Rolling Stone

Side 3: Gotta Travel On/Living the Blues/The Boxer/The Mighty Quinn/Take Me As I Am/Copper Kettle

Side Four: Take A Message to Mary/Minstrel Boy/Wigwam/In Search of Little Sadie (here titled The Ball & The Stripes)/All The Tired Horses


Queen guitarist Brian May told Record Collector Magazine ‘The acetate’s appeal is that it’s a snapshot in time.  When you’re cutting an acetate, you’ve got as far as your mix, and you’re testing to see if you’ve got it right… Why have I always kept them?  Well, of course, when you start off, you’re immensely excited and proud of what you’ve done, and you want to show your family and everyone…These are history, the minute they’re finished.’


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