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Customer Review

72 of 108 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 Vol. One (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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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 106 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Nov 2013 14:28:10 GMT
LPpsb says:
My word, Thomson, you have truly outdone yourself this time.

I need to take an indigestion tablet to help digest the drivel that comes spewing forth from you like a river of bilious, nauseating magma.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2013 14:29:59 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Nov 2013 14:34:10 GMT
L J Thomson says:
Coming from the troll who sold his Dylan collection to buy it again here says something mere words can't convey. Do I need to listen to you again? I think not.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2013 15:23:26 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Nov 2013 15:32:24 GMT
LPpsb says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2013 15:32:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Nov 2013 15:36:20 GMT
L J Thomson says:
Just what is your problem? I've reviewed this set honestly. Some of it is classic, some great, some good, some poor. Not all of it is essential. It is not for die-hards, obviously. Some of the mastering leaves a lot to be desired. Anyone wondering whether to buy this might want to check a few reviews to get other opinions about what is included before they buy. I've given my honest opinion. All you've done is offer insults and jibes. Let's see your review, shall we? In the meantime, go and troll elsewhere. As for votes, I'm well aware that trolls who have a mental block over any review that doesn't auto-generate a 5 star response, vote "unhelpful" to express their torment. You are obviously one of those. I care not one bit. Why not sell your Miles Davis collection so you can buy it again in one handy little box? Do you compartmentalise your anger in single boxes too?

"Planet Waves" - with the Band after they'd peaked. Sounds rushed and unfinished but there are some notable songs: "Forever Young", "On A Night Like This". CD sounds superb and better than the dodgy vinyl prints (avoid Simply Vinyl issue like the plague). Rating 6/10

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2013 15:41:04 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Nov 2013 15:49:19 GMT
LPpsb says:
Yes, Thomson, indeed you have reviewed the set honestly. A set you have not personally purchased. What you have done is simply poured out your scorn for many of Dylan's albums. The fact that you think "Nashville Skyline" is poor or "Desire" is weak is not really relevant. Neither are your opinions as to who should or should not buy this box. I felt like buying the box, so I did. Big deal.

Many people are giving you "unhelpful" votes for the above reasons, I am sure. I have not got a problem with you not liking an album or, in your case, several. But your personal likes and dislikes within a box set are not relevant. I despise mono. I despise vinyl. I'm not a fan of "Hard Rain", but there would be no point in saying so in a review of this product.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2013 15:47:55 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Nov 2013 15:50:55 GMT
L J Thomson says:
Who are you to say what I have or haven't purchased? Are you my postman in disguise? I know you like to follow me around but this is stupid. In fact, I was GIVEN this set! I would not choose to buy it as I do not "need" it in the most casual use of the word. I'm sorry you believe everything you like should get ***** in your opinion but life isn't like that. Get over it. I'm not dictating who buys this. How stupid a comment. My review is stating that due to the lack of unreleased material, it is hardly aimed at the collector or long-time fan who will own most or all of it anyway. It shouldn't need this much explanation.

How is my opinion "irrelevant" exactly? My opinion is as worthless as yours and this is an Amazon review. What exactly do you think a review is, you fool? It's a place for consumers to express their opinions! Dugh.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2013 15:54:57 GMT
LPpsb says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2013 16:01:37 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Nov 2013 16:07:13 GMT
L J Thomson says:
You do not understand irony, my friend. Of course no persons opinion is any greater than anyone elses BUT the point of these reviews is to express one's opinion to provide a larger "collective" review to help potential customers decide if they want to purchase or not. I hope anyone reading my review will conclude that some of the albums are a lot better than the others and maybe then evaluate what the costs are and whether they really want to buy it all in one go.

Or let me put this another way. If I could be sure that everybody who reads this already owns everything and is planning to buy it again anyway (why?), I wouldn't review it; there is no point. If you can guarantee me that everybody who will ever look at this on Amazon will already own everything but is undecided on whether to buy it, my review would simply state what was in the box and confirm that lack of unreleased material. But you can't do that, can you? My review is written for the person who has heard one or two Dylan albums and doesn't yet know it all.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2013 16:14:41 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Nov 2013 16:18:06 GMT
LPpsb says:
Of course I understand irony. I am exceptionally intelligent.

OK, I have just re-read your "review" and accept you have put considerable effort into it and I have to admit that in a perverse way, I enjoyed reading it. I just happen to disagree with large chunks of it.

As opposed to throwing darts at you, I'll offer my opinions on your work.

The 1960s. The acoustic albums sound fine in mono. The BIABH albums onwards are immeasurably better in stereo, in my opinion. None of the debut album, "Another Side Of.." or "John Wesley Harding" are 10/10s, in my opinion.

The 1970s. "Self Portrait" is nowhere near as bad as perceived wisdom would have it. I much prefer it to "Nashville Skyline". I agree with you totally with regard to "New Morning" and "Planet Waves". I disagree with you re: "Desire".

The 1980s. Disagree with you quite a bit here. Yes, Dylan suffered due to 80s musical trends, but so did The Stones, Springsteen, The Who, Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney etc etc.

I believe there is more than one good song on "Shot Of Love". "Heart Of Mine"; "Lenny Bruce; "In The Summertime". I quite enjoy "Saved" and "Under The Red Sky" and even some of "Empire Burlesque", although I do accept their shortcomings.

the 1990s. I agree re: "Love and Theft" and "Modern Times" but not so much a fan of "Time Out Of Mind"

Live albums. I really like "Real Live" and I really like "Budokan". I am not a fan of "Hard Rain", however much I listen to it.

So there you go. My worthless opinion for you.

(I also don't believe someone who only has two Dylan albums will shell out £140 for this. It will be people like me who buy it).

Posted on 8 Nov 2013 16:23:06 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Nov 2013 18:00:32 GMT
Every on Tom,Dick L.G has the right to the right express themselves but what comes of their mouth is different thing.The title of your review should: Read at your own peril and what a waste of time reading your review as I could listen Idiot wind instead.I have all Dylan CD and still bought this box set.What is bliss to have all his studio CD in one place instead one under the bed or sofa.I can not wait to have Volume 2.My answers to your review,the answer is blowing in the wind,idiot wnd or I wonder how can you can write such thing,It is all right ma I am only writing,I was tangled in words,The wicked messenger and for my reply:No time to think and I got to serve somebody...could be sony
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