Mumford and Sons: Marcus Mumford to record long-lost Bob Dylan tracks

The musician is creating a new album with Elvis Costello and T Bone Burnett

Jess Denham
Thursday 27 March 2014 14:14
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Marcus and Mumford will be working with Elvis Costello, T Bone Burnett and more to bring unfinished Bob Dylan songs to life
Marcus and Mumford will be working with Elvis Costello, T Bone Burnett and more to bring unfinished Bob Dylan songs to life

Mumford and Sons frontman Marcus Mumford and a band of acclaimed musicians to complete an album of unfinished, unheard Bob Dylan tracks.

The two dozen songs, begun during the folk singer’s 1967 Basement Tapes period, are planned for release this autumn, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Among those working on the project are Elvis Costello, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Rhiannon Giddens, Dawes lead guitarist Taylor Goldsmith and US songwriter and producer T Bone Burnett.

“These are not B-level Dylan lyrics,” said Burnett, 66, at a Hollywood recording session for Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes. “They’re lyrics he just never got around to finishing.”

The original Basement Tapes, which became the first well-circulated bootleg recordings by a major artist, were created by Dylan and his band in their large New York house known as Big Pink and officially released by Columbia Records in 1975.

Bob Dylan around the time of the "The Basement Tapes"

At least 30 new songs are believed to have been written and recorded, but Dylan penned many more lyrics that have never been set to music.

The new project hopes to honour the liberated creative process and lively musical spirit of those early Big Pink sessions, despite Costello noting that it will be recorded “in the best studio in the world (Capitol Studios), not in a basement”.

Interestingly, each of The New Basement Tapes collaborators has produced their own music for the lyrics, meaning there will be different versions of the same songs and varying responses to Dylan’s poetic words. Burnett will be heading up the album’s final production, with an expected 50 songs available for the picking.

Oscar-winning musician, songwriter and record producer T Bone Burnett

“Great music is best created when a community of artists gets together for the common good,” said Burnett, who was a touring guitarist in Dylan's band on the Rolling Thunder Revue. “There is a deep well of generosity and support in the room at all times and that reflects the tremendous generosity shown by Bob in sharing these lyrics with us”.

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Track names to emerge so far include “Florida Key”, “Hi-De-Ho” and “Card Shark”.

Director Sam Jones, who has described the process as “nothing less than magical”, will be filming the project for a Showtime documentary entitled Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued.

Dylan will have no involvement in either project but has given it is blessing for reasons unspecified by his spokesperson.

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