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The Original Mono Recordings
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The Original Mono Recordings
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This box collects Bob Dylan’s first eight 12-inch LPs, his albums from Bob Dylan in 1962 to John Wesley Harding in 1968, as most people heard them, as they were expected to be heard, and as most often they were meant to be heard: in mono. --- Greil Marcus, taken from the liner notes of Bob Dylan: The Original Mono Recordings
Bob Dylan’s first 8 studio albums in mono for the first time ever on CD:
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
The Time They Are A-Changin'
Another Side Of Bob Dylan
Bringing It All Back Home
Highway 61 Revisited
Blonde On Blonde
John Wesley Harding
-Each CD housed in heavy, wrapped LP-replica jackets with reproductions of original inner sleeves and inserts
-Rigid slipcase to hold the 8 jackets and book
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Language : English
- Product Dimensions : 5.78 x 5.74 x 1.84 inches; 1.39 Pounds
- Manufacturer : Sony Legacy
- Original Release Date : 2010
- Run time : 6 hours and 27 minutes
- Date First Available : July 29, 2010
- Label : Sony Legacy
- ASIN : B003XRDYX2
- Number of discs : 9
- Best Sellers Rank: #5,489 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The mono vs. stereo aspect is there but to me it was simply not that impactful. If you don't own Dylan's first 8 albums or are replacing his first 8 albums then this is both an aesthetic and economic purchase.
But if you are expecting existential auricular profundity from listening both on vinyl and mono you are going to have an expectation not met.
I enjoyed the mono; the raw recording aspect was probably the biggest thrill; little errors like you were in the control room at Columbia. But I grew up on the stereo recordings and am bonded and biased to them.
But for a vinyl set this is the way to go. I own all Dylan albums on CD (stereo) as well and find them just as listenable.
Now the unfortunate part:
On three of the disks there were some significant pops. I did some careful spot cleaning on the areas and the pops were ameliorated but NOT eliminated totally. For $140+ is it wrong of me to expect physical perfection?
One of the remaining pops is on a top five favourite song pushing me to get the whole set exchanged. But I doubt it worth the hassle.
I bought the set half for its aesthetic value and half for my completeist ideology.
So don't expect perfection in manufacture. But I only have the one set to judge by.
Worth the money? Yes. Essential if you are a Dylan fan? No.
Most people are so used to the stereo versions they probably don't realize mono is essential for at least the first couple records, and most people prefer it for the brunt of his early career captured on these discs. I can dig the stereo versions for a couple of the later records, but for his debut and the couple that followed after this is all you will ever need.
Discs come in nice digipacks with a solidly designed paper sleeve. No rice paper like the Beatles Mono set and no plastic covers for the digipacks. But the set is fairly cheap, and otherwise is a top notch quality set with a good booklet.
I looked at two sets because one was damaged, and they had slightly different color temps on some of the artwork. One was slightly colder than the other. Not really sure if the vinyls were like that back in the day with the different presses. Other than that I can't say much except to say this is a great and decently priced set at the time of my purchase.
The booklet very usefully lists the musicians for every track.
If you love these albums, you'll love these pressings and booklet. I'm happy I splurged.
Note, a single CD set has been created from this package; it does not include the most impressively different tracks and it includes a track not found on the albums: Positively Fourth Street.
I am throwing away my old stereo CDs. I'll never play them again.
Top reviews from other countries
It goes without saying that the first two albums benefit greatly from not having guitar and voice coming out of opposite speakers. The Times They Are A-Changin' and Another Side didn't have very wide stereo mixes, but they probably still sound better in mono. The only album that I thought was slightly inferior when compared to the 2003 stereo reissue was Bringing It All Back Home. To my ears, a couple of tracks - mainly "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding" - sound more powerful in stereo; the mono version is more muted. "Mr. Tambourine Man" in mono, however, cannot be beaten.
I expected to be disappointed with Highway 61 Revisited, having read other people's reviews, but it is much crisper-sounding in mono and really packs a punch; "Like a Rolling Stone", for example is much less plodding in mono and the rest of the album sounds great too - in particular "Desolation Row", which, like, "Mr. Tambourine Man" benefits from having the lead guitar sounding more integrated with the rhythm guitar..
I loved "John Wesley Harding" in stereo, but it is equally as good in mono.
"Blonde on Blonde" is probably the most interesting in mono when compared to stereo. I thought the 2004 remix was fantastic, but the mono mix blows all stereo mixes away - "One of Us Must Know" is not faded out here, but comes to a natural conclusion. "I Want You" has more powerful bass - the lead-in to the chorus is particularly more noticeable here. And "Just Like a Woman" and "Fourth Time Around" have organ parts that are much more audible than in any of the stereo mixes.
These are the versions of Dylan's first eight albums that I will be listening to from now on.
It is apparent from most of the Bootleg series that Sony/Columbia are only in it for the money. Although a lot of love and care goes into some of the work involved, the cynicism that motivates these releases and the blatant financial exploitation of Dylan obsessives is quite obscene really. Don't get me wrong, I'm a slave to it myself, but I do object strongly to having to pay absurd sums for music that is probably only being released to maintain copyright control.
It is apparent that many of these Bootleg sets have been released around 50 years after the album(s) profiled. 'Copyright extension'. That's what it's really about. And making fine sums of money out of Bob fans. I have the Cutting Edge Collectors Edition, very expensive. Nice set, but 18 discs for over £500. Interesting when the 36 disc set of 1966 Live sells for just under £90 on Amazon (and you can get it far cheaper elsewhere).
Take this set. Very nice indeed. But why have they not made the individual albums available separately? And if they had to make it a box set only could they not have included a bonus disc with mono mixes of the non-album singles? I suspect the only reason the single disc sampler of this set sells is because it has 'Positively 4th Street' on it. I would like to bet that without that track it would have sold precisely zero copies.
And to show just how disinterested Sony/Columbia are, my copy of the box set, recently purchased from Amazon, has a sticker stating that I can download high quality MP3s of the albums, plus 'Positively 4th Street'. There is one catch though - I had to do it 10 years before I bought it. In small print there is a deadline date in 2011. Could they not have changed the sticker?
Please tell me how they can justify a three figure sum for the 6 disc set of the 'Basement Tapes'?
And surely the worst of all is 'Another Self Portrait'. The non-album tracks can be bought in a reasonably priced 2 disc set, but if you want the Isle of Wight set with The Band from 1969, then you have to buy the 4 disc set (the 4th disc being the remastered 'Self Portrait' - unavailable separately....) for the usual hyper-inflated sum. Why could they not make the Isle of Wight set available separately? And why is 'Self Portrait' only available in the set?
It is incredible and quite upsetting really. Particularly when Sony/Columbia know full well that no matter how unhappy and disgruntled we Bob fans are we will continue to buy because the quality of his music far outweighs the decadence of their corporate prostitution. Even worse when you consider that Dylan himself is documented as saying that he doesn't feel that the unreleased material has any significant value.
Great music though!
The whimsy in the details, the reproductions of the covers, the quality of the material used make this a different product. As far as music is concerned, there is not much to comment on as it is state of the art. The first 4 albums (may seem cliché) benefit a lot from mono mixing. But the pleasure of listening to these "new" mixes (new to someone like me who grew up listening to Dylan's stereo CDs in the '90s) also happens on "electric" records. Subtle differences, "here and there," a more prominent bass in a particular song ... anyway ... a huge pleasure to revisit these mono mix records. Excellent audio quality.
These albums are part of sixties culture,and most of them deserve a place on any discerning music fans shelf. However this is an expensive box, and the individual (stereo) titles are available for around a fiver each if you shop around, so is the box set a marketing gimmick to spend more on music than we need to. The answer to that is partly yes. There is no reason why these mono mixes couldn't be released individually as the vinyl versions were. That would allow those who think the first and last discs here are not essential to pick up just the ones they want. Or people like me who just want the solo discs in mono. Buying just a few of the vinyls puts you well over the cost of buying the full cd box, so the box it is then.
It's a lovely sturdy box, and the albums are nicely stored. If you have the Beatles mono box, you will notice similarities in the "mini-lp" packaging. Others have noted the quality. One difference is that the Dylan CDs don't have sleeve protectors. OK, thinks I, I'll get some. I bought Nagaoka sleeves and found that they didn't fit, but the larger Nagaoka gatefold sleeve protectors do fit the single albums, but not Blonde on Blonde. This led me to pulling out other box sets. Many Mini lp sleeves fit in the sleeves with room to spare. A comparison showed that the Dylan covers are larger than any others in my collection, including the Beatles ones. (Oddly, the Beatles box is a few mm taller). The text on these mini sleeves is fully legible to me, which is an improvement compared to most CDs in this format
That's the packaging. The music is great. The solo albums always sounded wrong with the voice at one end of my room, and the guitar and harmonica at the other. It's a much easier listen (on a sensory level) with everything centred, allowing you to focus on how great the songs are, how good the performances are. Sound quality is excellent. There was little need for a big dynamic range on the early albums, so just about any mix will do justice to the music. The later four albums, though sound great on my hi-fi. Like a Rolling Stone leaps out at you as it should. For me there are no real make or break differnces that make me choose one mix over another, so I happily off loaded my stereo mix CDs to part fund this set.
So the music is five stars, the packaging is very good. Griel Marcus provides a good essay on the period, and a short summary of each album. If you like his essay then get Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes . Any quibbles? There are three mono singles listed in the discography that aren't included in this box. Only Positively Fourth Street is available on the sampler disc. An ep could have covered these three songs for the box.
For me, Dylan's career was a meteoric 1962-1966 kind of thing, with John Wesley Harding being an allegorical, self-conscious goodbye-to-all-that type album which really took some getting in to (I love it now)
And nothing afterwards - notable exception Blood on the Tracks - ever interested me for a second.
But the 60s albums changed my life - and I'm kind of sorry to say it may still be my favourite music, c. 50 years later.
The mono mixes are the REAL mixes - nobody really understood stereo when they made the later faux-stereo versions of these albums.
Somebody edited out Robbie Roberston's classic bum note at the end of Visions of Johanna. Aaaagh!! How tasteful! Not...!
Apart from that, the CDs are faultess. Can't recommend them highly enough.