Bob Dylan Mono Box Set Must Buy
Bob Dylan – The Original Mono Recordings (MONO-88697761051) recreates the first eight Dylan albums as they were intended to be heard.
Even the album cover and labels look like the originals and recreate the feel of opening the album as it was the first time. All of the music from the early 1960’s was produced for monaural playback on phonographs and radio. The artists themselves were usually involved with the mono versions of their recording sessions. The stereo versions of the material were almost always left to the engineers to make from the mono. These early Bob Dylan albums are no exception.
Unless you can find pristine examples of Bob Dylan’s first 8 albums, it is impossible to hear his music the way it was originally intended to be heard. If you could find perfect original albums, either they would contain audible ticks, skips and hiss, or each one would cost more than this reproduction box set of 8.
The Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab remasters of Dylan are certainly superior to anything else in terms of detail, lower recording hiss, and musicality. They are made for play back using today’s technology and they sound amazing, especially on high end stereo equipment. However for most music of the pre-1967 period, the mono version of the recording is the one to get.
Since most people do not listen to music from one speaker today the way they did in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the Dylan experience isn’t exactly the same. However, these reproductions are as close as people can get to the original listening experience.
The boxed set, first released by Sony’s Legacy Recordings in 2010, features Bob Dylan’s first eight studio albums in mono. They include:
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
As Marcus Greil writes in the liner notes, “This box collects Bob Dylan’s first eight 12-inch LPs… as most people heard them, as they were expected to be heard, and as most often they were meant to be heard: in mono.” Although mono recordings all but disappeared in the 1970s, stereo was still new when Dylan recorded his early albums. As a result, artists focused almost exclusively on mono when recording, while the stereo version was more of an afterthought.
Sundazed first reissued mono versions of the albums during the early 2000s. While owner Bob Irwin did an impeccable job with the remastering, the albums were only available in vinyl format. Bob Dylan – The Original Mono Recordings is available in vinyl and CD format (via Amazon). Both include a code for the free download for the MP3 version of the box plus the bonus track “Positively 4th Street.”
Steve Berkowitz produced when creating Bob Dylan – The Original Mono Recordings, while Mark Wilder is responsible for the outstanding remastering. They largely used first-generation master tapes. However, because the original versions of The Times They Are A-Changin’ and Highway 61 Revisited were not available, the two albums had to be mastered from other sources. Nonetheless, the entire box set is amazing and as close to the originals as possible.
While the music is certainly the main reason to buy this set, each one of the albums looks like the original from its packaging to the album itself. Even the label of Bob Dylan’s first album has six eyes like an original pressing. The box set also features a 56-page booklet, which includes newly published photographs, detailed discographical information, and an essay by well-known music critic and journalist Greil Marcus.