"The Witmark Demos" two-CD (or four-LP) set features 47 Bob Dylan songs recorded for his music publishers, Leeds Music and M. Witmark & Sons between 1962 and 1964. Fifteen songs have never been officially released until now. All of the songs on "The Witmark Demos" were written and recorded before Dylan was 24 years old.
Some of the earliest songs on "The Witmark Demos" weren't first heard on Dylan's own albums; they were covered by others, including Peter, Paul, and Mary, Stevie Wonder, Judy Collins, and the Byrds. In 1962-3 Dylan was primarily known as a songwriter, and the demos were made in hopes of getting more artists to cover his songs.
The demos weren't recorded at official Columbia Records sessions, so there's no fancy production or sweetening, just Dylan singing and playing his guitar in a tiny 6-by-8-foot studio at Witmark Publishing on 51st Street and Madison Ave. in NYC. "The Witmark Demos" contains Dylan's very first recordings of songs like "Blowin' In the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'," so it's almost as if you're hearing them at their moment of creation.
Reissue producer Steve Berkowitz worked from the surviving original analog tapes and promo records. The amount of research that went into finding the best possible tapes and other materials from nearly 50 years ago was extensive. Even so, some tunes are distorted and downright fuzzy, and sound quality varies from track to track, but most are good, and some are the best, most natural sounding versions I've heard. The demo recordings are free of dynamic range compression so you really hear Dylan singing his guts out. "Boots Of Spanish Leather" gave me a new appreciation for Dylan's singing. He's really thinking about the words. … Read more