The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964

  • Record Label: Columbia
  • Release Date: Oct 19, 2010
Metascore
88

Universal acclaim - based on 13 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 13
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 13
  3. Negative: 0 out of 13
Buy On
  1. Jan 3, 2011
    100
    At its core, this constitutes a hearty glimpse of young Bob Dylan changing the music business, and the world, one note at a time.
  2. Dec 22, 2010
    80
    These songs, nearly half a century old, are as relevant as ever. They should have never been hawked to commercial singers, but delivered as broadsides to the public or as protest music to audiences (as many of them were). Active, agitated citizens should be the recipients of these songs.
  3. Dec 20, 2010
    90
    At its core, these demos are the sound of Dylan becoming Bob Dylan, and it's an evolution that's spellbinding.
  4. Dec 20, 2010
    71
    The casual nature of the sessions-Dylan coughs during "Blowin' in the Wind" and stops "Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues" to correct a lyric, for instance-only enriches the experience.
  5. Oct 26, 2010
    80
    Though The Witmark Demos' contents may occasionally be unkempt, the same cannot be said for its trappings. As with all Dylan Bootleg Series releases, it is beautifully and thoughtfully packaged and annotated.
  6. It's an informal set, full of coughs and corrections and chatty asides; the sense of intimacy this fosters between the eager young singer and the modern listener might be this collection's greatest appeal.
  7. If there's nothing truly revelatory, it's still a dandy opportunity to eavesdrop on the future mouthpiece of a generation finding his voice (sometimes awkwardly).
  8. There are minor variations, like key changes and picking patterns, but nothing as radical as the ways he would transform the songs in later years.
  9. Even the very concept of a songwriter laying down a plethora of new songs in his publisher's office for others to perform feels out-of-time - quaintly and genuinely so.
  10. Like Volume 8 in the Bootleg Series, Tell Tale Signs, which gave us a new context for Dylan's recent output, The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 give us a new frame for his genesis.
  11. Even in this raw setting, the best of these songs transcended his Northern Minnesota upbringing and crackled with subversive wit and the acute anger of a young man not just making his way in the world, but intent on changing it.
  12. He sounds like what he was beneath the myth he was already constructing for himself: a man with a gift for words and music, sitting in a small room and hoping someone outside would listen.
  13. Uncut
    80
    In the jigsaw puzzle that is Bob Dylan, The Whitmark Demos are crucial pieces, and it's easy to get lost in the depths, the sheer audacity and beauty, of this music. [Nov 2010, p.107]

Awards & Rankings

User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Jan 25, 2011
    10
    A magnificent release for any serious Bob Dylan fan as the demo-recordings are greatly restored into songs with great discovery. You'llA magnificent release for any serious Bob Dylan fan as the demo-recordings are greatly restored into songs with great discovery. You'll recognize most of the tunes, but it's the atmosphere and importance of them that comes through in another way that makes this seventh instalment of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series essential. Full Review »
  2. Nov 3, 2010
    9
    Most of the fun here is listening to the unreleased material, which is, as you would expect, fantastic. And who can tire of hearing moreMost of the fun here is listening to the unreleased material, which is, as you would expect, fantastic. And who can tire of hearing more versions of 'Don't think Twice', 'Masters of War', a piano backed 'Mr Tambourine Man'. And damn, do you get a lot of songs!

    But the one thing really bringing this purchase home was the extra live disk you got if you ordered it from Amazon (Brandeis 1963). It's short and the audio isn't consistently good (it's not consistently good in the regular 2-disk set either) but the show is equal parts playful and serious, lots of energy in the performances, and it's always a good thing to have another document of early Dylan live. If only he injected this much fun into his performances nowadays.
    Full Review »
  3. Nov 2, 2010
    10
    We rediscover classics and discover the young master at his best. Listen this album it's like to attend to the born of an icon. The sound giveWe rediscover classics and discover the young master at his best. Listen this album it's like to attend to the born of an icon. The sound give us the feeling of being here during the records. It's just magical. Full Review »