Local Current Blog

Bob Dylan acetate trove unearthed in Greenwich Village

The boxes that contained the acetates. Images via Recordmecca.

In a remarkable discovery related to one of Minnesota’s greatest musicians, California record collector Jeff Gold—a former Warner Bros. executive who now runs a music memorabilia business called Recordmecca—has purchased a previously unknown trove of 149 acetate records pressed during the making of Bob Dylan’s albums Nashville Skyline (1969), Self Portrait (1970), and New Morning (1970).

Gold announced the find on Recordmecca’s website, where he’s offering the first few acetates for sale at prices ranging from $1,750 (an Al Kooper mix of “Winterlude”) to $7,000 (a pair of acetates containing an alternate sequence of Nashville Skyline). The records were discovered in the closet of a Greenwich Village building where Dylan rented studio space in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The building’s owner recently died, and the executor of her estate found the records; it’s unknown whether Dylan carelessly abandoned the records or whether the owner grabbed them out of the trash when Dylan tried to throw them away.

An acetate is a record made directly from a master tape, typically so that someone—in this case, the artist—can hear a mix or an album sequence. The newly-discovered Dylan acetates contain rare or unique recordings ranging from unreleased tracks (alternate takes of originals and covers) to alternate mixes of released tracks and alternate sequences of the albums. The alternate Nashville Skyline sequence now being sold, for example, has “One More Night” on side one (instead of side two) and “I Threw It All Away” on side two (instead of side one).

Most fans won’t drop seven Gs for an alternate track sequence they could hear just by making a custom playlist (like this one), but in addition to the historical value of these acetates as artifacts, they also offer first-generation sound quality and a glimpse into the creative process behind three of Dylan’s most controversial albums. Gold says he’s made digital recordings of the entire collection and has shared those recordings with Dylan. A number of the record sleeves also feature notes handwritten by the artist.

There’s no word on if or when the unreleased recordings in the trove might be shared with the public, but Gold notes that the recordings date from the same period explored in Dylan’s Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969-1971)—a 2013 release that prompted a reevaluation of what many regarded as Dylan’s jump-the-shark album. “Self Portrait and the country-folk assurance of its late-’70 follow-up, New Morning,” argued Rolling Stone‘s David Fricke in a review of the 2013 release, “were actually part of a long, connected act of self-examination and re-ignition.”