The New Basement Tapes is an American/British musical group made up of members Jim James, Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Taylor Goldsmith, and Rhiannon Giddens. The group is best known for Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, their 2014 album which consists of tracks based on uncovered lyrics handwritten by Bob Dylan in 1967. The group is also featured in the 2014 SHOWTIME documentary Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued.
Dylan’s publisher contacted producer T-Bone Burnett regarding the box of handwritten lyrics that had been found, dating back to Dylan’s Basement Tapes days, and asked if he had any interest in doing something with them. As soon as Burnett was assured that Dylan was on board with the project, he agreed to it. Burnett selected his band based on their talent and collaborative style, as well as their interest as “musical archaeologists.” Each member of the group was sent the collection of lyrics, and each arrived at recording session with a selection of tunes, some having set only some of the lyrics, others having set all of them. Not wishing to encourage competition, the group decided to record all the tunes, including multiple settings of the same lyrics. Of the resulting 40 tracks, 20 are included on the present album.
The Original Basement Tapes
Among Bob Dylan’s many cultural milestones, the legendary Basement Tapes–dozens of songs written and recorded by Dylan in 1967, backed by members of his touring ensemble who would later achieve their own fame as The Band–have fascinated and enticed successive generations of musicians, fans and cultural critics alike. Having transformed music and culture during the preceding five years, Dylan had reached unparalleled heights by the mid-1960s through the release of three historic albums, the groundbreaking single, “Like a Rolling Stone”, a controversial and legendary “electric” performance at the Newport Folk Festival and wildly polarizing tours of the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom. Dylan’s mercurial rise and prodigious body of work in that decade came to an abrupt end in July, 1966 when it was reported that he had nearly been killed in a motorcycle accident in upstate New York.
Recovering from his injuries and away from the public eye for the first time in years, Dylan ensconced himself, along with Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and, later, Levon Helm, in the basement of a small house in West Saugerties, New York–dubbed “Big Pink” by the group. This collective recorded more than a hundred songs over the next several months–traditional covers, wry and humorous ditties, off-the cuff performances and dozens of newly-written Bob Dylan songs, including “I Shall Be Released,” “The Mighty Quinn,” “Tears of Rage,” and “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”
When rumors and rare acetates of some of these recordings began surfacing, an album mysteriously titled Great White Wonder began showing up in record shops around the country in 1969 as one of the very first bootleg records. The actual recordings, however, remained commercially unavailable until 1975, when Columbia Records released 16 of them on The Basement Tapes album.
Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes
Youtube Channel: The New Basement Tapes