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Released in 1971, Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 was an overview of his career to-date, reaching as far back as 1963's The Freewheeling Bob Dylan. Dylan's first volume of greatest hits had dispensed with most of the obvious 1963-1966 selections. This was a sprawling double record featuring two new, non-album recordings; several re-recordings of material from The Basement Tapes; a fair overview of Dylan's country-rock phase (though it's missing I Threw It All Away-- completely unforgivable); and a sampling of older album cuts such as A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall and Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues.

Dylan sequenced it to approximate the feel of a concert (something he wasn't doing at the time-- Dylan played exactly one live show between 1967 and 1973), and so the tracks aren't in any specific order, except for the Basement Tapes tracks, re-recorded with guitarist Happy Traum (he sells bluegrass instructional videos these days, I believe), which appear at the end.

The track list: 1. Watching The River Flow (1971, non-album)
2. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
3. Lay Lady Lay
4. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
5. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
6. All I Really Want To Do
7. My Back Pages
8. Maggie's Farm
9. Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You

10. She Belongs To Me
11. All Along The Watchtower
12. Quinn The Eskimo (1969 live version from Isle of Wight Festival)
13. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
14. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
15. If Not For You
16. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
17. Tomorrow Is A Long Time (1963 live recording from Town Hall concert)
18. When I Paint My Masterpiece (1971, non-album)
19. I Shall Be Released
20. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
21. Down in the Flood

For awhile, several of these songs were not available through legal channels except on Greatest Hits V.2. But Bob has been the victim of several other compilations over the years, and so there isn't as much material on this that can't be found elsewhere. The 1960's album tracks are a pretty impressive bunch, especially when you consider that a Volume 2.5 could have been assembled with everything he left off of this-- where's Ballad of a Thin Man? The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll? Song To Woody?, etc. The two new 1971 recordings (either produced by Leon Russell or they just sound like they were) are worthy additions to the Dylan canon. Both are a bluesier, harder-rocking take on his New Morning sound, and would have made New Morning a much more listenable record, had they been included. The Basement Tapes re-recordings are probably the only questionable move on this collection, as these were all songs that Dylan and The Band had done quite all right with the first time, and the new recordings are somewhat colorless next to the originals. The live version of Quinn the Eskimo is no great shakes either, but Bob felt he had to include something from his dreadful 1970 double-record hodgepodge Self Portrait, and this was it. Bob hasn't been served well by his compilations* over the years, but this may be the best, especially for the more-than-casual fan.

* For example, a 1970-1976 compilation is desperately needed, which would contain most of Blood on the Tracks, old songs re-done for the Rolling Thunder Revue, and a few odd album tracks like Hurricane, Forever Young, and Knockin' on Heaven's Door. Kind of like Greatest Hits Three without all the shitty 1980s stuff.

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