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The Original Mono Recordings Box set

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The Original Mono Recordings + Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 + Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 (3LP+2CD)
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Oct. 19 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 9
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • ASIN: B003XRDYX2
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,894 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Product Description

2010 nine CD collection. The Original Mono Recordings collects Bob Dylan's first records as he mixed them and as they were originally meant to be heard - in mono. The box set features his first eight albums, from 1962's Bob Dylan to 1968's John Wesley Harding, as most people heard them and as they were expected to be heard - as one channel of powerful sound, direct and immediate. These mono-version albums have never been available on CD and will not be released individually. The albums are packaged in paper sleeves and all fit in a deluxe slipcase. The package comes with a 64 page book with new photos, album information and liner notes from eminent Rock historian Greil Marcus.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By chuck on Nov. 18 2012
Format: Audio CD
I bought this new this year at a local cd shop. I love the detail when it come to the individual CD'S.

As for the CD's I thought the sound was superior in mono as compared to the remastered stereo releases except for one CD. BLONDE ON BPONDE. I'll admit I was surprised that I really didn't like the mono as much. Compare Visions of Johanna and Mobile Blues again. The drums and the "thin mercury" sound overall is better in stereo IMO. The fold out album is impressive though. But having the music the way it was meant to he listened to is a must have for obsessive Dylanites like myself.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Those albums were made for mono and i've heard them first in mono in the 60s,

Good to rediscover that big sound for the rock numbers, and the center sound for the accoustic ones with just Dylan and his gtr and harmonicas..
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 11 2011
Format: Audio CD
What can I say-That hasn't been said better? Nothing, I just wanted to say to this very demographically focused audience-" Jack Ellison!-Where are you-Homeboy?"
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2 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bruham on Nov. 13 2010
Format: Audio CD
For Someone who has a Hearing deficiency as I do I only hear in Mono anyway and this resuces the background noises for me so that I can enjoy it far more.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 79 reviews
81 of 84 people found the following review helpful
of discs and sleeves Oct. 26 2010
By Malachi Beale - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The mono recordings: If you're a Dylan fan, these mono recordings are essential, absolutely. Dylan's early "solo" albums always sounded pretty awkward in stereo, the only available format when i was "coming up" ten years removed from the 1960's Dylan. Not until i started finding mono records in used bins did i really begin to appreciate early Dylan. Jazz and rock mono recordings from the 50s and the 60s have a wholly different sound and present a wholly different aural vision, so to speak, than stereo. The best examples i can think of to illustrate this point are mono editions of Coleman's "Shape of Jazz To Come" in which, without stereo separation, you can really get a sense of the sonic sculptures Coleman was creating with his music, or Cream's "Disraeli Gears", Jefferson Airplane's "Surrealistic Pillow", "Paperback Writer", and the Stones' early singles and the mono edition of "Let It Bleed", in each of which the music is, compared to their stereo counterparts, much more forcefully propelled from the speakers because of the monolithic assault perpetrated by the unseparated sound: cutting guitars, booming basses, thundering drums all competing against each other to be heard, and the listener often gets an image of almost violent pushing and shoving to be heard bordering on chaos, but--in the hands of capable engineers--so properly balanced that something greater than the sum of its parts erupts and cascades from the speakers. And if that ain't rock and roll, what the hell is?!? Same goes for Dylan's "rock" albums. Most simply stated, as Greil Marcus points out in the booklet accompanying the discs, they were recorded to be heard in mono.

Sound quality: Wonderful! The remastering of the discs never disappoints; Dylan's recordings were generally well produced and mastered in the first place. The early "solo" recordings can only be properly heard in mono. Dylan's rock albums have much more force in mono than in stereo. Pay attention to "Desolation Row" and hear the depth, the warmth, and the clarity of guitars, bass, and Dylan's voice. You can hear the wood of the guitar in the resonance of the lead runs! And the force of the music is perhaps unique to mono--stereo separation allows too much space, and encourages the sounds of the instruments to spread out and relax. Not that that's a bad quality by any means, just one the absence of which demands the music to shape itself otherwise, and on these discs that shape is the sound of a freight train. The beauty and subtlety of the songs on "John Wesley Harding" absolutely need monophonic reproduction to have the quality of "plot unity" so essential to great literature and--in this instance--great music. There is a handful of albums i cannot listen to in stereo since discovering the mono versions: "John Wesley Harding" is one of them. ("Shape of Jazz", "Revolver", "Sgt. Pepper", "Beggar's Banquet" are some others, to give an example of the esteem i think "John Wesley Harding" deserves!)

The sleeves: So many people are commenting on the various permutations of sleeves; here's what's in my box set: "Bob Dylan" has repro Columbia ad sleeve, "Freewheelin'" has repro generic Columbia sleeve, "The Times" has white sleeve and insert with "poetry", "Hwy 61" has white sleeve and insert with sketch of Dylan, all other discs have white sleeves and no inserts. The quality of the reproduction of the jackets is absolutely superlative!

Yup, this box set is worth every penny. Dylan must be pleased to know that HIS box set beats the hell out of Lennon's! Now what we need is a Rolling Stones mono box set.
86 of 92 people found the following review helpful
Bob in Mono Oct. 26 2010
By Andrew M. Bland - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I must admit that I was skeptical about this set when I first heard about its upcoming release. It seemed to me that Columbia was cashing in on the success of the Beatles' mono set last year. My doubt arose from the fact that, unlike the Beatles (especially McCartney), Bob has always been one to favor the spirit of the moment in recording, and never one to look back. That said, I am not convinced that he had the patience to sit through the extensive trial and error required to create these mono mixes (which is what Columbia wanted us to believe).

However, I decided to give the "Best Of" disc a shot. Upon my first listen when it arrived last week, I became convinced of the value of this release and decided to go with the whole set. Even though Bob probably had little to do with the original production (aside from providing notes in response to an acetate copy of "Blonde on Blonde" while on tour in '66), it is worth giving ample credit to Hammond, Halee, Johnston, etc. for their efforts to present his work so well.

I would say that the mono mix of "Freewheelin'" alone justifies the purchase of this set. The subtle expressive nuances in Bob's voice are much more upfront when juxtaposed directly against the downstroke of his guitar. And it is also nice to hear Bob's spontaneous vocal asides during the harmonica breaks in "Bob Dylan's Blues" uninterrupted by the engineer trying to keep up on the panning dials!

Other highlights include the warmth of Bob's Nick Lucas Special in "Mr. Tambourine Man" (which had been starkly flattened in stereo), the clarity of the nylon string guitars in "Just Like a Woman" and "Fourth Time Around," the art of guitar weaving in "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat," and the punch of the rhythm section in "Subterranean Homesick Blues," "You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine," "She Belongs to Me," and "Absolutely Sweet Marie" (which lost its power when separated into stereo). I agree with others' comments that McCoy's and Buttrey's musicianship on "John Wesley Harding" appear much stronger in mono, and I would add that the same can be said for Strzelecki's bass playing on "Blonde on Blonde" and Gregg's drumming on "Back Home" and "Highway 61."

Perhaps the weakest of the mono mixes is "Another Side." Wilson's reverb makes Bob's voice sound synthetically trebly at times (this is not aided by the fact that it was mixed at a slightly accelerated speed, making the songs shorter and higher than normal pitch). In comparison with the stereo mix, the clarity of his guitar playing becomes muffled, the harmonica can be overwhelming, and the overall sound feels cloistered. Also, on several of the mono electric tracks (i.e., "Love Minus Zero") the incidental percussion feels overaccentuated and distracts from the mood of Bob's poetry. (It seems that the intent was to appeal to the mid-60s pop market; however, to my ears it just doesn't seem to have stood the test of time.)

Pricewise, I will admit that I am still bugged by Columbia's hype. This set really only offers five (not eight) albums previously unavailable officially on CD in mono (Bob's first album and "The Times" were presented in mono on the 2005 remasters, as was "Another Side" on the old 1990s CD), and at a higher price per album. Furthermore, it is hard to overlook the inattention to detail in calling this set the "original mono recordings." For example, the first mono pressings of "Highway 61" featured an alternate take of "Buick 6," and the first pressings of "Blonde on Blonde" included Claudia Cardinale's photo in the gatefold.

All in all, though, I still would suggest going with the whole set (vs. just downloading individual albums). The LP cover replicas and the booklet are a nice touch (even if a little unevenly cut/folded at times), and a CD played through a good set of speakers always trumps playback from an iPod. There's enough going on here to justify sitting down and *listening* for a while.
80 of 87 people found the following review helpful
By Stuart Jefferson - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Nine discs which follow the original vinyl releases. The sound is warm and clean, with good sonic separation. Each disc is housed in a very substantial cardboard reproduction of the original album jacket. Inside is a paper sleeve (first album, "Bob Dylan", only) that reproduces ads ("The Sound of Songs...Stereo...Bands...Jazz...Dancing...Fun...on Columbia Records") for other (then current) Columbia Records artists-a nice touch. The album "The Times They Are A-Changin'" has a lyric sheet insert that's a continuation of the lyrics, printed on the back of the album cover. The remaining paper sleeves don't have this artwork. All discs are housed in a substantial cardboard slipcase. The 56 page booklet contains an overview of Dylan and his career (by noted Dylan writer/critic Greil Marcus) up through the last of these releases. Included is an album by album chronology, with song titles/dates, and musicians on each album, plus a list of album/singles release dates beginning in 1962 up through 1967. There's also many new photos of Dylan-in both color and b&w. The bonus disc, "Bob Dylan In Concert Brandeis University 1963" is approximately 38 minutes in length, and has pretty good sound. There's a bit of echo to Dylan's voice, but overall, the recording is very worthwhile. The disc is in a cardboard jacket which, on the back, uses a reproduction of a ticket stub from the concert, with a list of the songs and other interesting concert information-another nice touch. There's also a digital download that has the song "Positively 4th Street" (in mono) as a bonus-that can be found on the single album of tracks taken from this box set.

I came to Dylan, through a friend, somewhere in the summer of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" in 1963. I had heard the first album, but "Freewheelin'" was the first record that told me there was something to this Dylan guy. The next two albums had songs I liked, but it wasn't until "Bringing It All Back Home" that Dylan delivered what I heard as a devastatingly good rock 'n' roll record. This same friend also told me about a movie Dylan was in with my favorite song "Subterranean Homesick Blues" in it. We went on a Saturday with all the other people who seemed hip (we all thought we were privy to something others didn't know) to what Dylan was all about. Wow-that was it! Dylan was all over the car radio-AM, there weren't any FM rock stations. And as rock writers/historians have written, you really could, once in a while, walk down the street and hear Dylan blaring from kids windows. That impressed me. All the above is just a prelude to this wonderful box set of mono albums. In that long ago era we first heard Dylan in mono-on our little "pocket-size" transistor radios, or on our simple record players-the kind with the speaker built into the box under the (slightly wobbly) turntable. Stereo albums were around, but they cost a dollar more-a lot for teenagers in those days. And now this box set brings back that illusive sound that captured so many people's ears, when each Dylan record was fresh and new and exciting.

As most people know, these albums were originally meant to be heard in monophonic sound. They were recorded with mono sound in mind-something Dylan thought was very important to his sound on (then) albums. Stereo releases of some of the original vinyl albums had fairly harsh separation between the voice and the instrument (s)-stereo was almost an afterthought at the time. Back in the days of car radios (with one tiny speaker!), or a simple home record player (before the emergence of widespread stereo use in later years), mono sound was very important. And this doesn't include the (originally mono) horrific sounding "re-channeled for stereo" records that were released for a time before people heard how horrible they were. This music (at the time) was meant to be heard through one speaker-no matter if it was a quality speaker or something simpler. I still recall hearing Bob Dylan, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, and other groups of the era in full, powerful mono sound. And while stereo Dylan albums were sold concurrently (which I, too, bought), a number of people (like me) still clung to their mono copies of cherished bands/musicians. And Dylan was at the forefront as an example of what immediate, powerful sounding music (especially the acoustic tracks), listened to in glorious monophonic sound, could be.

Good mono sound is truly something to hear. Today's younger listeners don't know the pleasure of good, uncluttered monophonic sound. No left/right channels, no voice/instrument splitting from two or more speakers-just great sound, like you hear at a rock concert that has a line of amplifiers putting out that sound. Live music,for me, is heard by the ears/mind in monophonic sound-it's only at home (or in the car) that music is heard in left-right separated stereo, with some engineer's idea of what the music should sound like, by splitting the music into parts-if he thought about it at all. Sometimes stereo was an afterthought in the early days.

These albums, now well known, have a subtle power and presence that's missing in stereo. The pure sound of Dylan's voice and guitar/band is very immediate sounding. Now, with these albums remastered, that sound is even better. All of these albums (especially the solo/acoustic tracks) benefit from mono sound. Dylan's voice has more power and presence than in the stereo releases. And the albums where Dylan is backed by a band (especially a full electric band), the power of those musicians comes through loud and clear. But there is a curious difference, with several instruments plus voice, sometimes a particular instrument isn't as loud sounding in the mix as heard on the stereo release. That's not a bad thing, just different. And while the recent stereo remasters are fine indeed, for people of a certain age (like me) these mono releases are truly fine sounding. Will these albums replace the stereo versions? No. Is this a better way to hear Dylan? Possibly. Along with THE BEATLES mono releases, this set is something many people have only dreamed about. Now, that dream has come true. Listen and hear for yourself.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Essential... Nov. 29 2010
By Benjamin Kenon - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I'm a little biased, seeing as how I own every Dylan album except for 'Saved' and 'Knocked Out Loaded'. But I think every Dylan fan ought to be lucky enough to get their hands on this thing!

I think this set, like the Beatles mono box, is a pivotal reissue. John Mellancamp released an entire album of new material in mono 2 or 3 months ago, and other, younger artists are following suit. Maybe Bob and the Beatles are pointing the way yet again...

These albums sound more alive than I've ever heard. The first three albums sound like Dylan is in the room with you. But the revelations begin with 'Bringing It All Back Home'. "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" had my hair standing on end. "Tambourine Man" sounds revitalized, and "Subterranean Homesick Blues" sounds like it was recorded yesterday. When you get to 'Highway 61 Revisited' I defy you to not be blown away by "Like A Rolling Stone". The drums come at you like gunshots, and the piano is (finally) audible over Al Kooper's organ. 'Blonde On Blonde' benefits most, though. Dylan's wild, thin, mercury sound is right there, front and center. There are details and contours to these songs you may never have noticed: the acoustic guitar arpeggios in the bridge to "I Want You" and the bass on "Visions Of Johanna" come to mind. 'John Wesley Harding' sounds even more stark and sparse than it does in stereo.

One of the little things I love about these mono remasters is that you can hear Bob's voice echo in the background. Another thing I love is hearing the musicians, some of the era's best, without the artificial seperation of the stereo mixes.

This set here is as good as it gets. The sound is sparkling, the songs are revolutionary and eternal, and there's something here for everyone!

The packaging is great, too. The discs come in miniature replicas of the original l.p. packaging, some of which contain inserts. I also found a coupon inside for a free mp3 download of the whole set. The booklet, with liner notes by Greil Marcus is... meh. I don't particularly enjoy anything Marcus has ever done. At least he stays on topic (for once) in the notes.

If only Bob would go back to recording in mono. Or, at least, put out a mono mix of 'Blood On the Tracks'. And 'Desire'. And 'Street Legal'. And just a couple of others...
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I can finally sell my Mono Dylan albums! Nov. 19 2010
By Paul Kalenak - Published on
Thanks to Columbia Records for continuing to mine the gold in their vaults for shiny new Bob Dylan nuggets. This box of Mono recordings assembles the first 8 Dylan albums from his 1962 debut through John Wesley Harding in 1967. They are without peer and without a doubt some of the greatest music made in the last half-century. The box itself is in the style of recent artist collections from Japan with mini-LP style discs. 60's inner sleeves, labels and inserts correctly replicate the original albums in every detail. A 60-page booklet includes previously unseen photos from these recording sessions, album details and an extensive essay by Greil Marcus. Also included is a link to mp3 downloads of this collection plus a bonus track, "Positively 4th Street". These mono mixes will be a revelation to those who've grown up with the stereo versions of these songs. At the time, stereo was just coming into use. The mono mix was given the full attention of the artist and producer, showing different musical choices from later stereo issues. This superbly designed box set belongs in every music collectors library. Hey, Capitol! How about a Beach Boys Mono Box?

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