I got mixed up confusion.
You may have noticed that I’ve been reviewing a lot of Carolyn Hester albums lately and wondered how I got on that kick; well, the answer is this rather odd 2-disc CD. One of Bob Dylan’s very first recording jobs was playing harmonica with Carolyn Hester, so this CD, from a UK label that has a focus on folk music, passes itself off as an exploration of that, but it’s just an odd set of music. The first CD contains Hester’s first two albums; Dylan has nothing to do with either of those albums. The second disc contains Hester’s third album, on which Dylan plays harmonica on a few songs, Dylan’s first album & Dylan’s first single. I’m on record as disliking Dylan’s debut quite a bit and my response to Hester has been pretty lukewarm as well. The set is for only the dedicated completest, I’d say. The sound quality is good; it seems a pretty solid remaster, not just a republication of prior releases. For the completest, it does collect a few odds and ends from Dylan’s career. It’s the only place you’re going to find the recordings with Hester, the first album and the first single all together. Of course, this is rather offset, as far as the non-completest is concerned, by the fact that none of this stuff is particularly great.
There is one genuine rarity that, to my knowledge, is available on no other official CD or digital release and that is the B-side to Dylan’s first single. The A-side was his first foray into music with a full band, ie. the rather terrible Mixed-Up Confusion; that one was released on CD in the eighties on Biograph and is currently available on Side Tracks, the official Dylan compilation that replaces all the others by gathering all the odds and ends on one two disc set. But the rarity is the B-side which is a version of Corrina, Corrina that is NOT the version released on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. It hasn’t appeared on any compilations, official bootleg collections or album re-releases over the years and so it feels like a genuine lost track. Even when iTunes put out their almost 57 hour (!) compilation that purported to contain the “Complete Dylan” it wasn’t included among the 42 (!) “rare tracks” they managed to dig up. In an era when it seems like nothing is hard to find, it’s always cool to find something that feels like a genuine “can’t get this one ANYWHERE else” rarity from an artist you love, but honestly it’s not worth tracking this CD down just for that one song; it has a bit of a different drum treatment, just going off memory, than the one on Freewheelin’. I think, though it’s still very light, that the drums are being played with sticks, not brushes, on this version, which would make sense with putting it next to the bigger Mixed Up Confusion, as opposed to putting it next to the quiet folk tunes of Freewheelin’. But it’s not different enough to really make it something worth tracking down. Only the Dylan fanatic has reached this point in the review or gives even the slightest **** in regards to how the drums are played on the alternate, B-side only release of Corrina, Corrina as opposed to the album version. So, if you’re reading this, hello, friend; I love Bob Dylan too. But you can still skip this one. 1 star.
tl;dr – odd two-disc CD set collects Hester’s first three albums & Dylan’s first album & first single; there’s a couple of rarities here, but this one is for the completest only. 1 star.