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The Original Mono Recordings Box set

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BOB DYLAN Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Bob Dylan's influence on popular music is incalculable. As a songwriter, he pioneered several different schools of pop songwriting, from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness narratives. As a vocalist, he broke down the notion that a singer must have a conventionally good voice in order to ... Read more in Amazon's Bob Dylan Store

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The Original Mono Recordings + Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10
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Product details

  • Audio CD (18 Oct. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 9
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Columbia
  • ASIN: B003XRDYX2
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,797 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Product Description

Product Description

This box collects Bob Dylan’s first eight 12-inch LPs, his albums from Bob Dylan in 1962 to John Wesley Harding in 1968 and a 60 page, full color book with new liner notes, rare photos, memorabilia, discographical information and more. Each CD is housed in a digipak, matching previous Bob Dylan reissues with a rigid slipcase to hold the 8 digipaks and book. Bob Dylan’s first 8 studio albums in mono are: Bob Dylan; 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 and John Wesley Harding.

BBC Review

Who on earth would be interested in a set collecting the mono mixes of Bob Dylan’s first eight albums?

Well, as the success of The Beatles’ similar venture The Beatles in Mono demonstrates, quite a lot of people. And with good reason. Dylan – like the Fab Four and all of their contemporaries – didn't start treating stereo mixes as anything other than a sop to an elite part of the record buying market until the end of the 1960s. Mono mixes were supervised and approved by the artist, stereo mixes done as an afterthought by third parties. The albums Bob Dylan (1962) through John Wesley Harding (1967), then, are being presented here in the way the artist intended you to hear them. As Dylan’s mono albums were deleted unusually quickly, this is the first opportunity to experience such ‘director’s cuts’ for four decades.

It’s the early, acoustic albums that benefit most: stereo versions brutally divided up the elements of voice, guitar and harmonica on the debut, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, The Times They Are a-Changin’ and Another Side of Bob Dylan. As for the electric material, Blonde on Blonde’s epic Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands sounds significantly sweeter and more focused in mono, while Bringing It All Back Home sounds bolder and punchier throughout, with the excellence of the bass-playing on It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue particularly brought into focus. However, surprisingly it is not all one-way traffic, as illustrated by Like a Rolling Stone, which here sounds dismayingly sterile compared to the powerful stereo mix that has become far more familiar down the years. Meanwhile, the mono mixes on Stone’s parent album Highway 61 Revisited are sometimes shorter by half a minute – not a good thing when we’re talking about one of history’s all-time classics. John Wesley Harding sounds sharper and harder, but it’s noticeable how much less eerie is the monaural The Wicked Messenger.

The set is beautifully packaged, a handsome slipcase housing a lavish booklet and CDs in card facsimiles of the original album sleeves, with detail accurate enough to incorporate the original rough texture of the Times jacket and the trashy, advert-adorned inner bag of the debut. This will all presumably be some compensation for those purist audiophiles shocked to discover that mixing and matching between stereo and mono releases will be necessary to obtain the best listening experience.

(A single-disc ‘best of’ of these mono recordings is available – its tracklisting is to the left.)

--Sean Egan

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T. Anderson TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Oct. 2010
Format: Audio CD
There are a couple of reasons why you might want the mono issues of these seminal records. In the early sixties Mono was what everyone had; and mono mix was the one the artist and everyone else cared about. So in a real sense these are the recordings as the artist originally intended them, and as the world first heard them. Second, early stereo mixes were not that good. Once you get over the fact that it is mono, you'll find that Blonde on Blonde, for example, has a weight and a magic in the mono mix that it lacks in stereo.

I am not going to say much about the music. Not everyone gets Dylan; but if you do, you will find these CDs communicate on many levels and return to them again and again. There is not a weak album anywhere here.

It it great news then to find these eight CDs now made available in a tasteful package. Now, some will say the old LPs sound better and they could be right in a few cases - though if you are like me, you will have searched for years for a mono Blonde on Blonde in good shape at any kind of affordable price. You will also find considerable variations between mono pressings, especially with Blonde on Blonde where different mixes were used in different markets.

I think only the most dedicated Dylan fan should care about such things - for the rest of us, what you get is high quality transfers of the mono masters. They sound very good indeed.

You also get a voucher for downloading MP3s of the whole lot, which saves time if you were planning to rip them to iTunes or another digital library.

Sony/Columbia has done a great job with the packaging. The package is compact, but still most respectful.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By P. F. Clayden on 25 Oct. 2010
Format: Audio CD
I couldn't quite believe how superior the sound is in Mono. I have the SACD remixes which sound hugely inferior to these majestic versions.

The Mono sound is warm, rich and vibrant. Its really quite moving and a more intimate experience.

Thank goodness they've been released.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By freewheeling frankie TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Oct. 2010
Format: Audio CD
I'm not going to say too much about the music - most of these albums are among the most celebrated, discussed and critically dissected in the history of rock - and with good reason: only one or two aren't worthy of 5-stars. But most purchasers of this box will be more familiar with all of them than I was with some of the earlier ones, so the important questions here are to do with quality - of the mono mixes themselves for those who, like me, hadn't heard them before; of the mastering; and lastly, of the packaging.

It's been a given in all discussions of this box that the mono mixes were how most people heard these albums when they first came out - your average Dylan fan didn't have a stereo, certainly in 1962, many still at Christmas 1967 when John Wesley Harding was released. Like most rock records up to 1966, the main effort was put into the mono versions and the stereo ones were an afterthought, with a much smaller expected sale. And these are not psychedelic records - apart from some of the lyrics in 65-66. They are acoustic folk, and then more or less folk and/or blues-informed rock. And they sound just dandy in mono - which is not to say that the stereo mixes were the horrors that, for instance, many of the Rolling Stones' contemporary records were - I've never understood why Aftermath wasn't reissued in mono like its predecessors. Dylan's 65-66 electric band recordings in stereo were good mixes for the time - I've never heard anyone complain about them, as mixes. For the solo acoustic stuff, separating the guitar, harmonica and vocal - all being played in real time by one person - is just odd. Maybe if you had one speaker ABOVE the other, and had the vocal and harmonica in that one and the guitar in the bottom one, two channels might have made sense ...
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Kim Hatton on 21 Oct. 2010
Format: Audio CD
A time ago I bought the Sundazed recordings of these 8 albums on LP (which are cut from the same masters as these cds) and wondered if they could possibly sound so good on CD. Well, apart from the certain warmth that vinyl inspires in me I have to say that this release is every bit as good.

From the raw primitive blues of Dylan on the eponymous first album through to the sonic power of Bringing it All Back Home to Blonde on Blonde and the freshness of John Wesley Harding this set really reveals Dylan in all his 'raging glory'. No longer do we have the weird experience of Dylan's voice filling the left speaker while his harp and guitar fill the right speaker but the solid presence of Dylan with guitar, harp and band filling the room with the fully integrated power of his music.

Some people have wondered aloud whether Dylan's complete catalogue couldn't be released this way and I can understand why if they have never heard Dylan as he is here in Mono. The only track in which the stereo release is on a par with, some critics have said 'better' is on 'Rainy Day Women 12 & 35' which utilises stereo by creating a broader soundstage for the track. However, crank up the volume on the mono version and Dylan and his band fill the room - up close and personal.

I've noticed that this review is being used for the vinyl set, which is prohibitively priced - especially compared to Sundazed. It always angers me that Sony always optimises the profit they make out of vinyl junkies but - rant over.

This is the most rewarding re-issue of Dylan's early albums ever and makes the SACD experiment redundant.
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vinyl or cd? 2 18 Mar 2012
Highway 61 1 27 Jun 2011
9 disc or 8 disc? 1 17 Nov 2010
Dylan Mono Box plus Live at Brandeis (a question) 2 27 Oct 2010
Bonus disc 0 23 Sep 2010
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