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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Complete Archive of Studio Albums.
From the beginning I have to declare an interest. I am 10 years younger than Bob Dylan and my teenage years were spent in 1960s England. Unless you grew up in that era it is difficult to imagine the impact on a teenager of Bob Dylan. Years of listening to GI Blues, Oklahoma and South Pacific on the radiogram and the Billy Cotton Band Show and the awful Sing Something...
Published 5 months ago by daedalus

versus
56 of 84 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What? Dylan in Stereo on CD!
This box is realistically only intended for the newbie of the i-Pad generation and not a long-time Dylan listener so I'll make a brief comment about each of the main releases. There is no unreleased or new material here for the fanatical collector. So if you've heard some Dylan and like the sound of him and maybe you're curious about getting the entire back catalogue in...
Published 8 months ago by L J Thomson


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Complete Archive of Studio Albums., 17 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Complete Album Collection (Audio CD)
From the beginning I have to declare an interest. I am 10 years younger than Bob Dylan and my teenage years were spent in 1960s England. Unless you grew up in that era it is difficult to imagine the impact on a teenager of Bob Dylan. Years of listening to GI Blues, Oklahoma and South Pacific on the radiogram and the Billy Cotton Band Show and the awful Sing Something Simple on the radio were enough to drive a sane teeen to suicide on a Sunday afternoon watching ‘All Our Yesterdays.’

In this drab world Dylan was a glimpse of something else, youth that had something to say, a style of singing, embedded in the past maybe, but fresh and reflecting our feelings and concerns. For a teenager in drab England it all fitted. The simplicity of guitar and harmonica, songs about places far away, New York, New Orleans, Fennario, even if I didn’t know where they were I knew what they represented, a different land, a different dialect, a feeling of freedom and a questioning of the status quo. I would play truant with a class mate and listen to his brother’s Dylan collection of albums for hours.

To this day I remain a fan of Dylan. I don’t think all his albums are great, he has made some stinkers, but even his worst albums have at least one brilliant track which any other singer / songwriter would give their right arm for.

Over the years I have bought all his albums, first in vinyl, then tape then cd, replacing each format as necessary. For me to have the complete collection to date, in one box is amazing, I don’t think I will ever play the cds, I have them all already. It is, however an archive, beautifully packaged with an iconic picture of Dylan on the box, all cds numbered sequentially and a useful reference book with all the details that any fan wants to know, who played what, who wrote the songs and who produced the tracks.

This is a great box set for anyone, whether they are a life-long fan, a student of music history or are new to Dylan. It bears comparison with the only other similar box set that I have which is the Louis Armstrong set released a year or two back, they are both definitive records of probably the two greatest American popular musicians of the Twentieth Century.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality Control Sony / REVISED, 9 Nov 2013
By 
Martin Gayford (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Complete Album Collection (Audio CD)
This box has some of the greatest albums ever made, and lots of others that are still incredibly influential. It's a fascinating journey through Bob Dylan's official albums, although personally I prefer the sense of exploration and discovery found in searching out albums yourself. This is convenient though, and cheap plus most of the albums are remastered. However, there are some reasons to be cautious:

1: At least one disc - Hard Rain - has skips on one track. This is the second deluxe box this year from Sony that comes with this fault. Will they replace the faulty disc (s) for you?

UPDATE: the answer is yes, Sony / Legacy in New York will replace Hard Rain if your copy is faulty, and they'll do it incredibly quickly too. This review has gone up 1 star because of this. I still find some of the artwork disappointing, but the quality of customer service from Sony / Legacy in NY is outstanding.

2: Some of these CDs may not be the best editions of certain albums. You may prefer the first 2 albums and John Wesley Harding - and possibly other pre 1968 albums - in mono (I do). As already mentioned, Hard Rain has a pressing fault. Street Legal is a new mix; you may prefer the 2003 remix (I do). Also, some albums that could have benefitted from a remaster or remix do not appear to have had one. John Wesley Harding is the same 2003 edition that was widely criticised as unnecessarily harsh, and Time Out Of Mind is the same 1997 CD that arguably would really benefit from the kind of remix given Love Sick in 2004.

3: The non album collection Side Tracks is a nice collection, but given it's purpose is to collect non album tracks from 'best of' collections, it omits key tracks from the Masterpieces album. It could also have included non album b sides - there's over 30 mins of free space on the 2 discs. There's also some inconsistency in the decision to make some double albums 2 discs and others 1.

4: The product description states the CDs contain all the original artwork; they don't. They are basic front and rear outer sleeve reproductions - some are quite poor quality and resemble photocopies - with some missing pictures and sleeve notes compiled in the book, but not all. There are no inner sleeves, and the discs slide in quite tightly with a risk of damage to discs and sleeves after a few times. The gatefold sleeves need to be folded back on themselves to pull the discs out, which can be quite tricky. There's certainly no attempt to produce high quality sleeves, as with the Mono Albums box.

Overall, it's a nice idea but could have been so much better with a little more care and consideration, and the repeated faulty pressings in these sets displays pretty shocking quality control I'm afraid.
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb for new fans, only a little for enthusiasts but nicely done, 6 Nov 2013
By 
Mr. T. Anderson "onlyconnect" - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Complete Album Collection (Audio CD)
I imagine there are two kinds of potential purchaser for this 47-CD collection of all Bob Dylan's official releases, including live albums but excluding the Bootleg Series (which perhaps will form the basis for a future Complete Collection Two). One will be the person who has discovered a liking for Dylan and will grab the chance to get a comprehensive collection at a decent price. The other will be the enthusiast who has to have everything. There is something here for both, though the enthusiast will be getting a lot that they have already.

The box itself is smart, solid, and surprisingly compact considering the number of CDs it contains. Each CD is in a cardboard slipcase with the original album artwork, but without any printed inner sleeves. The double albums are gatefold but annoyingly the opening for the CDs is on the inner fold making them awkward to remove.

You also get a bonus double CD called Side Tracks which collects the extra tracks released on compilations like Greatest Hits 2 and 3, and Biograph.

Finally there is a high quality 270-page book which has the original sleeve notes and song-by-song band credits, supplemented by photos some of which are previously unseen, and finishing with a 43-page album by album commentary by Dylan biographer Clinton Heylin.

A few words first for the more casual purchaser. While 47 CDs must seem like a lot of Dylan, personally I think it is worth it. There is nobody like Bob Dylan and his words and vocal delivery move me like few other artists. His career is full of changes too. Here, you get the acoustic folk of the first few albums, the revolutionary Sixties electric albums, the sublime poetry of Blonde on Blonde, the pain and emotion of Blood on the Tracks, the anger and energy of the Hard Rain live album, the Christian fervour of Slow Train Coming and Saved, the back-to-roots folk of Good as I Been to You and World Gone Wrong, and stunning later works like Time out of Mind and Modern Times.

Nobody would pretend that everything is equally great; but everything here is authentically Dylan; and somehow even low points like Dylan and the Dead and oddities like Christmas in the Heart are worth hearing.

But what if you have everything or nearly everything already? Well, not only do you get a nice book, but also the long out of print Dylan album; admittedly this one was put out by Columbia without his consent after he temporarily deserted the label in 1974, but it is still an entertaining listen.

There's nothing really new on Side Tracks, but it makes a nice compilation and of course most of the material is fantastic. I have some quibbles though. I would rather have had the Big Band version of George Jackson, which is not easily available, and which is horribly distorted on the Masterpieces collection, than the acoustic version which is here. Or preferably both.

It is also worth noting that there are many more tracks that have appeared on official releases but are NOT included on Side Tracks, such as Band of the Hand, a 12-inch single, the orchestral Great Music Experience tracks from Japan, and other live rarities which appeared on official CD singles. Let's hope they appear on the next volume of "Complete Collection".

What about the mastering? The Dylan mastering story goes something like this. There were the originally released CDs mostly done in the Eighties. Then in 2003 Sony/Columbia issued a 16-album collection on high resolution and in some cases surround-sound SACD. Around this time, the standard CD releases were replaced by new masters based on the SACDs where available, though of course in standard CD resolution. In the years that followed some but not all of the albums not released on SACD also received new mastering, including the Basement Tapes, New Morning, Before the Flood, and Dylan and the Dead.

Based on what I can tell so far, you get the most recent remasters in this set, in most cases digitally identical to what was already on sale - confirmed by AccurateRip which checks against previous CD rips. However there are some CDs that had never been remastered. Therefore there are 14 CDs here which are newly remastered. They are, I think, as follows:

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
Dylan
Street Legal
Saved
Shot of Love
Empire Burlesque
Knocked Out Loaded
Down in the Groove
Under the Red Sky
Good as I Been to You
World Gone Wrong
Hard Rain
Bob Dylan at Budokan
Real Live

Of course these are in general the less celebrated releases, which is why they have been neglected until now, but in principle it is good to have them remastered at last - though I'm not convinced they always sound better than the older ones. Shot of Love just seems a little louder and very slightly clipped, not so good. In addition, Self Portrait will be a new remaster to you unless you picked up the recent Another Self Portrait set which has the same remaster, though without the slight glitch on Copper Kettle that affects the first press of Another Self Portrait.

Street Legal is an oddity. This has been not only remastered but remixed in the past. However this release is the original mix, which is curiously murky and lacks clarity compared to the remix, but I'm guessing sounds more as the artist intended. It is remastered which does in this case improve on the original CD (yes, I have all three, I am embarrassed to admit).

Overall it is a nicely done set and an unhesitating five stars for those who have none or only a few of these releases already. You are in for a treat.

What if you do have most of this already? Is it worth it for the box, the book, the Dylan CD, and 14 remasters? That is an individual choice, but for such a person it is hardly good value.

NOTE: there is a flaw in the remastered Hard Rain, the song Oh Sister, small digital skips at around 0.8 minutes/seconds and 3.53 (this one more noticeable) on the first batch of boxes. I'm happy to say that Sony replaced my faulty CD free of charge.

Appendix: here is the track listing for Side Tracks, since it is not currently listed in Amazon's description:

Baby, I'm in the mood for you (Freewheelin' outtake)
Mixed up confusion (Single)
Tomorrow is a long time (Live 63)
Lay Down your Weary Tune (Times outtake)
Percy's Song (Times outtake)
I'll keep it with mine (Bringing it all back home outtake)
Can you please crawl out your window (Single)
Positively 4th St (Highway 61 outtake)
Jet Pilot (Biograph)
I Wanna be your lover (Biograph)
I Don't Believe You (Live 66, Biograph)
Visions of Johanna (Live 66, Biograph)
Quinn the Eskimo (Basement Tapes outtake, Biograph)
Watching the River Flow (Single)
When I paint my masterpiece (Greatest Hits 2 performance)
Down in the Flood (Greatest Hits 2 performance)
I Shall be Released (Greatest Hits 2 performance)
You Ain't Going Nowhere (Greatest Hits 2 performance)
George Jackson (Acoustic, single)
Forever Young (demo, Biograph)
You're a Big Girl Now (Blood on the tracks outtake, Biograph)
Up to me (Blood on the tracks outtake, Biograph)
Abandoned Love (Deire outtake, Biograph)
Isis (Live 75, Biograph)
Romance in Durango (Live 75, Biograph)
Caribbean Wind (Shot of love outtake, Biograph)
Heart of Mine (Live 81, Biograph)
Series of Dreams (Oh Mercy outtake, Greatest Hits 3)
Dignity (Oh Mercy outtake, Dylan red box)
Things Have Changed (Wonder Boys soundtrack)
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb box set, 4 Nov 2013
By 
OMG! It's got a plug! (Winchester) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Complete Album Collection (Audio CD)
Consisting of all 35 studio albums, the six official live albums and two discs of previously released material that doesn't feature on any of the albums here (47 CDs in total), it could be argued that this collection is premature given that Dylan is still very much an active recording artist. Nonetheless, one thing that cannot be doubted is Dylan's back catalogue - it's a colossal collection of music.

All of the CDs are presented in CD sized cardboard replicas of the original vinyl sleeves (with sequential numbers on the spine) and are housed in a very sturdy and surprisingly compact cardboard box alongside a 268 page hardback book that features the original liner notes, a very informative essay on every album, archive photos, images of promotional material, etc. It really is a lesson in how box sets should be done - they've kept it simple and there are no unnecessary posters, badges, stickers or facsimile concert tickets. I don't know how many albums Dylan has got left in him but there is space in the box for at least 2-3 more cardboard sleeve CDs.

The only slight disappointment are the 'Side Tracks' bonus discs that contain no real surprises - all of the tracks have been previously released and over half of them can be found on the 'Biograph' compilation. 13 albums have been newly remastered for this release and 'Self Portrait' is the 2013 remaster. Unlike the Mono box set from a few years ago, there's no download code.

The remastered CDs and the track list for the 'Side Tracks' CDs:

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
Dylan
Hard Rain
Street-Legal
Bob Dylan At Budokan
Saved
Real Live
Empire Burlesque
Knocked Out Loaded
Down In The Groove
Under The Red Sky
Good As I Been To You
World Gone Wrong

Side Tracks CD1 (58:41):

1. Baby, I'm in the Mood for You
2. Mixed-Up Confusion (Single Version)
3. Tomorrow Is a Long Time (Live)
4. Lay Down Your Weary Tune
5. Percy's Song
6. I'll Keep It with Mine
7. Can You Please Crawl out Your Window? (Single Version)
8. Positively 4th Street (Single Version)
9. Jet Pilot
10. I Wanna Be Your Lover
11. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) (Live)
12. Visions of Johanna (Live)
13. Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
14. Watching the River Flow
15. When I Paint My Masterpiece

Side Tracks CD2 (65:42):

1. Down in the Flood
2. I Shall Be Released
3. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
4. George Jackson (Acoustic Version)
5. Forever Young
6. You're a Big Girl Now
7. Up to Me
8. Abandoned Love
9. Isis (Live)
10. Romance in Durango (Live)
11. Caribbean Wind
12. Heart of Mine (Live)
13. Series of Dreams
14. Dignity (Alternate Version)
15. Things Have Changed

Update: If your copy of 'Hard Rain' is faulty, email the following to arrange a replacement:

bobdylan.replace@sonymusic.com
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something is happening here..., 8 Nov 2013
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Complete Album Collection (Audio CD)
This is a monumental collection of all Dylan's non-bootleg albums and "side-tracks" which don't appear on the albums, over 47 CDs. It's all here, from 1962's Bob Dylan to 2012's The Tempest. It's a mighty body of some of the finest songs of the last half-century which formed the soundtrack to the lives of millions of people and defined the adolescence of many of us. I haven't always liked everything the man has done (it would be surprising if I did over this long and with this many albums to his credit) but the vast majority of his work is excellent and I think that there are works of genuine genius here - and I don't say that lightly.

But then, Dylan's music needs no review from me. What is worth saying is that this is an excellent collection, with each album presented as a mini-LP and, although it's a substantial investment, it works out at less than four dollars per disc. It's a cracker of a box, and I thought a full list of contents might be helpful, so I've listed them below.

Studio albums
Bob Dylan (1962)
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)
The Times They Are a-Changin' (1964)
Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)
Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
Blonde on Blonde (1966)
John Wesley Harding (1967)
Nashville Skyline (1969)
Self Portrait (1970)
New Morning (1970)
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)
Dylan (1973)
Planet Waves (1974)
Blood on the Tracks (1975)
The Basement Tapes (1975)
Desire (1976)
Street Legal (1978)
Slow Train Coming (1979)
Saved (1980)
Shot of Love (1981)
Infidels (1983)
Empire Burlesque (1985)
Knocked Out Loaded (1986)
Down in the Groove (1988)
Oh Mercy (1989)
Under the Red Sky (1990)
Good as I Been to You (1992)
World Gone Wrong (1993)
Time Out of Mind (1997)
Love and Theft (2001)
Modern Times (2006)
Together Through Life (2009)
Christmas in the Heart (2009)
Tempest (2012)

Live albums:
Before the Flood (1972)
Hard Rain (1976)
Bob Dylan at Budokan (1979)
Real Live (1984)
Dylan & the Dead (1989)
MTV Unplugged (1995)

Side Tracks:
1. Baby, I'm in the Mood for You
2. Mixed-Up Confusion
3. Tomorrow Is a Long Time (live)
4. Lay Down Your Weary Tune
5. Percy's Song
6. I'll Keep It with Min
7. Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?
8. Positively 4th Street
9. Jet Pilot
10. I Wanna Be Your Love
11. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) (live)
12. Visions of Johanna (live)
13. Quinn the Eskimo
14. Watching the River Flow
15. When I Paint My Masterpiece
16. Down in the Flood
17. I Shall Be Released
18. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
19. George Jackson (acoustic version)
20. Forever Young
21. You're a Big Girl Now
22. Up to Me
23. Abandoned Love
24. Isis (live)
25. Romance in Durango (live)
26. Caribbean Wind
27. Heart of Mine (live)
28. Series of Dreams
29. Dignity
30. Things Have Changed
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't get any better than this, 6 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Complete Album Collection (Audio CD)
Most career-spanning box sets show the rise and fall of a creative body of work. Outside of The Beatles box and now this Bob Dylan box it would be hard to find another set that is pure wall to wall genius. Neil Young and Van Morrison might be able to release a set fitting this description but to date there have been no career-spanning box sets.
Then there is the fact that this set is 47 discs. Paul Simon recently released a career-spanning box set covering the same time frame (minus 2 or 3 years) and came up with 15 discs.
In terms of quality and quantity Bob Dylan has no peers. Simply put, wall to wall genius. And the dollar value of this box set is absolutely amazing. You will find yourself grooving to songs and albums you probably never would have heard outside of this box.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant collectors item., 13 April 2014
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This review is from: The Complete Album Collection (Audio CD)
Even if you have a lot of his stuff already, as most of us 60's children have, this is just an amazing must have of the great man's work. Unmissable tracks.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bob Dylan, 8 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Complete Album Collection (Audio CD)
Love Bob Dylan but you can sometimes forget how good the early albums are Worth the investment as not cheap but still good value
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, 6 Nov 2013
By 
Lynn Dexter (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Complete Album Collection (Audio CD)
How anyone can reduce this astonishing body of work to one star is beyond belief. Whilst not definitive, this a beautifully presented career retrospective from the single greatest songwriter of the pop/rock age and contains music that literally changed the world. Is this a cynical marketing exercise from Sony to wring yet more money from loyal fans? Well yes, it probably is, but who cares. At this price its a bargain.
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56 of 84 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What? Dylan in Stereo on CD!, 8 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Complete Album Collection (Audio CD)
This box is realistically only intended for the newbie of the i-Pad generation and not a long-time Dylan listener so I'll make a brief comment about each of the main releases. There is no unreleased or new material here for the fanatical collector. So if you've heard some Dylan and like the sound of him and maybe you're curious about getting the entire back catalogue in one fell swoop (brave!), you should maybe know a few things before splashing the cash; all 140 of it.

1. The first 8 albums are all ESSENTIAL listening and together with The Beatles output give us one of the most written about and important series of album releases rock music and Twentieth Century music in general has ever heard. It is simply astonishing to chart Dylan's songwriting progression in such a short space of time by listening to all these albums in succession. However, please note these albums are greatly improved by hearing them in their original MONO mixes. Much like The Beatles, Dylan would have heard the mono mix played back once before signing it off. He was probably already working on the next albums songs before anyone thought about producing a stereo version. The latter was not the most commonly available or used medium at the time for folk or rock music. Mono was the accepted standard and the primary "important" final mix was the mono version. On the first four albums, Dylan is only accompanied by his guitar and harmonica (in the main)and the stereo versions of these songs tend to diminish the impact and integrity of the simple recording by unevenly spreading the vocals over the two channels to remove Dylan's voice from dead centre. However, far more distracting is the decision to paste harmonica / guitar in different positions within the sound field, when Dylan would have been sat singing and playing his guitar with harmonica strapped around his neck! It doesn't really make much sense from a sound reproduction perspective. Dylan's voice, guitar and harmonica should ideally be held together and be recreated directly in front of you, smack bang in the centre of your speakers. Now, if you're the sort of listener who puts on a CD and then walks off to vacuum the house, this might not even be noticeable or bother you too much. The next four albums all have various sonic advantages to be gained from their primal and more powerful and centred mono mixes, albeit the mid-60's trilogy of "Bringing It All Back Home", "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde On Blonde" are also served quite well in stereo. The last album from this period to receive a dedicated mono mix was "John Wesley Harding", Dylan's haunting reflective and highly mystical return to folk-rock style from 1968. Once you've heard this album in mono, you'll probably curse the fact that stereo was ever invented. Just listen to the song "Dear Landlord" and compare the difference. To conclude, my advice would be to buy the stand alone "THE ORIGINAL MONO RECORDINGS" box set for these 8 albums. (10/10)

2. "Nashville Skyline" is Dylan's first weak album and clocks in at about 27 minutes, hardly essential. The best songs are on all the various compilations. You don't need "Peggy Day" (4/10)

3. "Self Portrait" is best heard on the latest Sundazed vinyl issue (mastered by Kevin Gray 2010). However it is not a typical Dylan album and is notoriously weak, full of covers etc. It is however easy on the ear and far more varied and interesting than "Nashville Skyline" (5/10)

4. "New Morning" is best heard on Music On Vinyl LP release - the 2009 CD included here is a bit sharp sounding for some systems and is more compressed. The album was a return to earlier form though. (8/10)

5. "DYLAN" album from 1973 is not an official release but CBS retribution for Dylan's leaving temporarily for Asylum Records - it contains studio warm-ups from "New Morning" sessions that were never intended to be heard and two Self Portrait cuts. It sounds like it (1/10)

6. "Blood On The Track"s is an ESSENTIAL album and well re-mastered but available singularly elsewhere very cheaply (10/10)

7. "Desire" is a weak album demonstrating Dylan's lack of self confidence in himself and his writing. It is badly dated and an awful sounding production. The CD is ok though, all things considered (5/10)

8. "Street Legal" is much much better sounding in the 1998 CD due to it being remixed. Subsequent CD issues revert back to the muddy 1978 master - an ill-judged move. The album is great for "serious" Dylan fans although roundly dismissed today by everyone else. (7/10)

9. "Slow Train Coming" is a uniquely different release, full of fire and brimstone, bible thumping and great passionate soulful singing. As an Atheist I love it! The CD sounds superb BUT like "Blood On The Tracks", it is already available very cheaply. (8/10)

10. The 1980's - oh dear. This is where it all went very badly wrong for Bob. By the time most of the 60's icons reached their 40's, music was being recorded in much different ways involving the layering of sound and multiple over-dubs, not to mention the advent of the synthesiser, MIDI keyboards, sequencers and computer programming. None of this suited an artist like Dylan who was used to more spontaneous methods. His recordings from the 1980's suffered from a need to sound hip and trendy. They never succeeded. "Saved" (2/10) is an unmitigated disaster and does not reflect Dylan's passion for his Christian material as performed live during 1979/80. A live album from these shows should have been released instead. "Shot Of Love" (3/10) is also poor apart from "Every Grain Of Sand". "Infidels" (5/10) is the best example of a missed opportunity in the entire Dylan catalogue. The only really great material was left off the album and is available on "The Bootleg Series Volumes 1 -3" (10/10). The less said about "Empire Burlesque" to "Dylan And The Dead", (all 2-3/10) the better. Their terrible reputation precedes them.

11. "Oh Mercy" is a musically rich vibrant and welcome return to form. Dylan sounds like Dylan again, full of fire and telling the world it is destined for a disastrous end. It's political, satirical, socially relevant and features a commanding artist at the peak of his powers. Like "Slow Train" and "Blood", this CD is already available very cheaply. (9/10)

12. "Under The Red Sky" - best forgotten attempt to write nursery rhymes with lazy dated "trendy" 90's production. If that doesn't put you off, check out the list of guest appearances; that's never a good sign. (2/10)

13. "Good As I Been To You" & "World Gone Wrong". These two albums are interesting but not exactly essential. Bob returns to his folk roots. For some hearing Dylan wheeze over his acoustic guitar whilst resurrecting ancient melodies about murder and deceit, might be worthwhile and different. (6/10)

14. "Time Out Of Mind" is another ESSENTIAL release and sound great too but it's available for peanuts elsewhere. (10/10)

15. "Love & Theft" is Dylan's best album since "Blood" and therefore another ESSENTIAL release. Wait a minute, that's TWO ESSENTIAL albums in a row! However, this is where problems start with the modern day obsession with "Loudness". This album is slightly compressed and only the vinyl release (MOV) really lets it breathe. It is a fantastic rocking, bluesy, folksy, jazzy and country influenced amalgamation of Dylan originals that reflect the artist as a world-weary but street smart, wise-cracking poetic wizard of humour. It won't ever get better than this. Again, you can buy this album separately (10/10)

16. "Modern Times" follows on nicely from L&T but lacks that albums range and punch. The humour has largely left the building along with any sense of melody. There is too much re-cycled derivative blues for this album to have much distinction. It is however lyrically strong. It's a shame then that the CD is killed dead by the over use of compression. This album sounds incredible on vinyl and just as Dylan authorised it. The CD is a disaster prepared by an engineer who is thrilled to see the lights hit ten on the volume scale. The MOV vinyl release scores a 7.5/10. The CD included here a miserable 3/10.

17. "Together Through Life", "Christmas In The Heart" and "Tempest". My initial reaction to TTL was that it was another disaster. The awful CD did not help to make it listenable. I have sought out the superb vinyl release of this album in the past few years and I'm amazed how much better it sounds - a completely different experience in fact. I now see that Dylan is trying hard to not try to write "Dylan songs". The simplicity for which I initially rejected the album, is actually an original attempt to resurrect some of the vintage 1950's Chess Records sounds. It works but it's still not essential although it IS more entertaining after living with it for a few years than I previously gave it credit for. Beware though that the CD does not really convey the production at all well due to the abysmal remastering job. Album score (5.5/10) / CD score (2/10) CITH is not an album that many people can really honestly play and enjoy. It was meant for a good cause and I applaud Bob for this (feeding the hungry). However, I'd rather hear Bing or Elvis doing these numbers (10/10 for purpose / 3/10 for listenability). "Tempest" is one album too many for this reviewer. It still sounds like a pastiche of a much better earlier Dylan. It is cynical and not a great ride to take with the artist (4/10)

Please note that the last 5 albums all benefit from vinyl masters. Some people have said elsewhere that you have to hear Dylan on vinyl, he has never benefitted from being made digital. To a certain degree I can empathise with this stance and in recent years I have purchased the mono albums on vinyl in addition to the CD box set. However, the difference between the two is not exactly earth-shattering. The revelation of vinyl really appears on the post "Time Out Of Mind" albums, which were produced in an era of ridiculous LOUDNESS obsession. The remaining discs are all live / film soundtrack / compilation of odds and sods. Apart from "Hard Rain", the live albums are really all quite poor. They do not reflect the best moments from the tours they are culled from. In addition, some of Dylan's ideas for rearranging his back catalogue on stage do not really work. "At Budokan" is by far the worst example of this although "Dylan & The Dead" is probably the worst excuse for a live album in the Dylan canon. At a risk of repeating myself about the wonders of good vinyl issues, I would add that the MOV release of "Hard Rain" knocks this CD remaster into a cocked hat. The Side-Tracks compilation is mastered okay but still too compressed. The material is uniformly excellent. I won't be giving up my vinyl "Biograph" for it any day though!

I haven't yet mentioned "The Basement Tapes" as these need a lot more space to explain the main issue here. These recordings were released in 1975 but were never complete. The CD included contains a remaster (2009) of the original folded down mono recordings that were released in 1975. These crude 1967 recordings were originally created with two mikes and presented as demos in stereo. Presumably these were folded down to create a more studio type recording when released officially by CBS. Bootleggers have stepped in over the years and provided the serious listener with most of the sessions including the crude stereo versions which are full of character and charm. It is ironic that Dylan sounds better in mono for his first eight releases but in these particular recordings, the mono fold down loses something that was inherent in the basement mix. For some fans, these bootlegs containing 4/5 CD's also provide the best unauthorised material that anyone has ever produced for any artist. I would tend to agree. These sessions are full of wonderful boozy laid back story-telling, jokey humour and great musicianship as Dylan was backed by The Hawks (later The Band) in several informal sessions in the basement of Big Pink, a house in Woodstock outside New York.

Official versions of The Basement Tapes always appear to be something of a missed opportunity. It is anticipated that a forthcoming "Bootleg Series" of these sessions will finally correct this.

In conclusion then, this Complete Album Collection is a good set for the newcomer. It is nigh on worthless for anyone else. It is not for the age old Dylan fan or collectors. However, given the amount of weak albums in Dylan's catalogue and the corresponding number of poorly remastered albums, should anyone rush to this? For my money I would recommend carefully buying the albums individually and being selective with it. If you do not have access to a turn-table you are really missing out. However if CD is your only playback medium and you are convinced that you can relive through Dylan's 80's period unscathed, this might be worth it for you. I recommend holding out until the price is halved though. In the meantime, buy a few of the essential albums and fret not that you haven't heard "Dylan" (1973) yet!
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The Complete Album Collection
The Complete Album Collection by Bob Dylan (Audio CD - 2013)
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