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The Essential Bob Dylan Limited Edition, Original recording remastered

4.4 out of 5 stars 313 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Limited Edition, Original recording remastered, October 31, 2000
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  • Bob Dylan: "Johnny Cash's voice was so big, it made the world grow small... When I first heard 'I Walk the Line' so many years earlier, it sounded like a voice calling out 'What are you doing there, boy?' I was trying to keep my eyes wide opened, too." Read more musical excerpts from Chronicles, Vol. 1 on our Music You Should Hear page.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Includes Blowin' in the Wind; Don't Think Twice, It's All Right; The Times They Are A-Changin'; It Ain't Me Babe; Maggie's Farm; It's All Over Now, Baby Blue; Mr. Tambourine Man; Subterranean Homesick Blues; Like a Rolling Stone; Positively 4th Street; Just Like a Woman; Rainy Day Women #12 & 35; All Along the Watchtower; Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn); Lay, Lady, Lay , and more. 30 tracks!

Two discs of music don't exactly provide for a thorough overview of four decades of recording, particularly if the subject of the retrospective is one of the most important and prolific performers of his time. So The Essential Bob Dylan definitely skates over the leagues-deep oeuvre of Dylan, summarizing his monumental first half-dozen years in disc one and skirting over the following 34 years in disc two. Delving into Columbia's three Dylan greatest-hits packages (though curiously purging "I Want You," a genuine hit single in its day), Essential offers only a few surprises, opting for The Basement Tapes version of "Quinn the Eskimo" over the Self Portrait remake that made it onto Greatest Hits Volume II and tossing in "Things Have Changed" from the Wonder Boys soundtrack for completists. But this 30-track overview is designed with newcomers, not Dylanologists, in mind. --Steven Stolder

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Blowin' in the Wind
  2. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
  3. The Times They Are A-Changin'
  4. It Ain't Me, Babe
  5. Maggie's Farm
  6. It's All over Now, Baby Blue
  7. Mr. Tambourine Man
  8. Subterranean Homesick Blues
  9. Like a Rolling Stone
  10. Positively 4th Street
  11. Just Like a Woman
  12. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
  13. All Along the Watchtower
  14. Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
  15. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight

Disc: 2

  1. Lay, Lady, Lay
  2. If Not for You
  3. I Shall Be Released
  4. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
  5. Knockin' on Heaven's Door
  6. Forever Young
  7. Tangled up in Blue
  8. Shelter from the Storm
  9. Hurricane
  10. Gotta Serve Somebody
  11. Jokerman
  12. Silvio
  13. Everything Is Broken
  14. Not Dark Yet
  15. Things Have Changed

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 31, 2000)
  • Limited Edition edition
  • Original Release Date: October 31, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Limited Edition, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Columbia
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • ASIN: B000050HTO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (313 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,401 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
After years of owning and losing Bob Dylan albums, I decided to buy one CD that would best represent my appreciation for this genius' work. I considered some of the box sets, but eventually purchased the Essentials. It was money well spent.

This is a complete set for anyone just discovering Bob Dylan, or for old guys like myself who are trying to rediscover the sounds of their youth-without having to buy a dozen CDs. The Essentials covers the range of tunes and styles of Bob Dylan and opens the door for further discovery of his music--by the way, there's a ton of it.

Songs like "Knock, Knocking on Heaven's Door," and "Positively 4th Street" remind me of summer days at the Drive-In listening to the jukebox and playing pool (when I had some quarters). The man puts his heart and soul into every song, and you can feel this. He's not some image created by a studio and thrust on the consumer by the media. Dylan came of age before million dollar endorsements and the era of goddesses (britney) who spit out focus group music created by committees for big sales. Dylan's songs on the other hand, reflect the attitudes, values, and events impacting the time in which they were written. You may think you have never heard Dylan, but I assure you, if you listen to these songs, you will be shocked how much of this man's music is a part of our culture and music traditions.

You won't go wrong buying this collection. As for the re-mastering part, I'm skeptical, but then again, my hearing is shot from 40 years of playing my stereo too loud.
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Format: Audio CD
Whether or not you agree with the compilers' choice of songs is obviously a question of taste, and very subjective, too. And I'm sure that a lot of people will think that this collection is all good and fine, but despite the high quality of almost every song, I still believe a significantly better "essential" collection could have been made - and has been made, too.

First of all, this is obviously a collection for relative newcomers rather than seasoned Dylan-fans. Second of all, those newcomers should stick to the original "Greatest Hits" and "More Greatest Hits" for the 60s and early 70s material, and hand-pick the best of Dylan's later releases for the rest of his most important output.
There are just too many of Bob Dylan's best songs missing here, especially from the 70s and 90s. "Blood On The Tracks" is represented by only two songs, "Desire" is (mis-)represented only by "Hurricane"...and if non-album classics like "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and "Watching The River Flow" shouldn't be on a supposed "essential" collection, where should they be?

The compilers have opted for songs like "Subterranean Homesick Blues", "Silvio", "Everything Is Broken" and "Tight Connection To My Heart", and they are certainly not bad songs, but they could have done much better.
Leave this album alone, and go get the original Bob Dylan compilations, 1967's "Greatest Hits" and 1972's "Greatest Hits volume 2" - the one with 21 tracks on two CDs, leading off with "Watching The River Flow" on disc 1. Or pick up the classic albums "Highway 61 Revisited", "Bringing It All Back Home", and "Blood On The Tracks". Those will get you turned on to Bob Dylan much better than this good-but-not-great attempt at making a definitive Dylan compilation.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Trying to make a compilation of Bob Dylan's music is equal to taking 30 of Picasso's works, and saying "this is the artist"; the immense creativity is too deep, the development and changes too wide.
There will always be songs that the listener will feel were a mistake to omit, and for me "Ballad of a Thin Man" is the one I wish had been in this collection.
Disc One starts in 1962, with the folk days of "Blowing in the Wind", to when he went electric with "Like a Rolling Stone" from the ground-breaking Highway 61 Revisited, to the soft lilting folk/country sound of "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" from John Wesley Harding, released in 1967.
Disc Two starts with the romantic "Lay, Lady, Lay" from 1969's Nashville Skyline, through the 70's and the return of acoustic guitar and harmonica with two songs from Blood on the Tracks, to end the decade with the beginning of his Christian recordings, and a great track from Slow Train Coming, "Gotta Serve Someone".
Ten years later brings him to the fabulous "Everything is Broken", from Oh Mercy, and the collection ends with "Things Have Changed" from 1999, which was featured in the film "Wonder Boys", and the reason I bought this CD set. After viewing the film, what I remembered and liked the most was this powerful, marvelous song..
I am one of those that feel no one sings Dylan better than Dylan, and truly enjoy his rough, expressive voice; it is interesting to hear it through the span of nearly forty years on one has become huskier, with a bit more wobble, but to my ears better than ever.
Total time for Disc One is 56:24, Disc Two 68:31, and the sound quality varies somewhat from song to song, but overall it is excellent.
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