How to Identify a Rare "Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" Record

By Contributor

Things Needed

  • Price Guide
  • Turntable
Bob Dylan was still singing strong in 2011.

Most of the time, record collectors want pristine, unblemished copies or rare recordings. However, when a mistake means the release of otherwise unavailable songs, loans might have to be taken out to obtain original pressings. Such is the case with Bob Dylan's "Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" from 1963. It was recorded with one set of songs, but some changes were made before it was released to the public. The most valuable copies are the ones with the original lineup.

Look for copies pressed with the "wrong" or "original" songs, which include: "Rocks and Gravel," "Let Me Die In My Footsteps," "Gamblin' Willie's Dead Man's Hand" and "Talkin' John Birch Blues." They likely came out with a label that lists the "corrected" song list and order, but the record may still have the original tracks. If your copy plays these songs, it's worth some money, especially in stereo.

Identify a common pressing. The label is red with the words "Guaranteed High Fidelity" on a common mono copy. If it plays what it says (none of the rare tracks included), it's the corrected, common version of the record, which was worth less than $50 as of 2011.

Check the labels and the cover. If the record cover lists the original songs and plays the "corrected" song list, it's likely the Canadian pressing. If the label lists the corrected song list but plays the original lineup, it could be worth more than $10,000 for a near-mint copy. In stereo, if it lists and plays the original tracks, it could sell for three or four times that amount.

Appraise a white-label promo. White-label promo records might have original songs listed on labels and timing strips (all will play the corrected song lineup). A near-mint white-label promo that plays and lists the standard tracks can be worth several hundred.

Identify the rare copies without playing the records. Look at the "dead wax" between the grooves and the label. If the numbers end in "1," followed by a letter, it's a rare original pressing. Any other number, and it's the common version of the record. A less-scientific way to identify the rarity is to check the width of side one, track No. 3. If it's the widest track on the side, it's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," which, on the common version of the record, is the last song on the side, rather than track No. 3.

Warning

Consult the most recent album price guides available before you attempt to buy or sell any valuable record. There were also plenty of reissues of the album that will not carry any significant extra cost.

References