October 19, 2010
Folk, AM Pop, Psychedelic, Country-Rock, Album Rock, Folk-Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Rock & Roll, Political Folk, Singer/Songwriter

Album Review

Like any recording artist of the ‘60s, Bob Dylan had his albums mixed for mono during the bulk of the decade. Stereo mixes were simultaneously released, but they didn’t take precedence until the end of the ‘60s, when the industry and public tastes shifted toward two speakers. As the decades rolled on, those original mono mixes never again surfaced, but the unexpected success of 2009’s The Beatles in Mono box opened the doors for 2010’s The Original Mono Recordings, a handsome nine-disc box containing Dylan’s first eight albums in remastered mono and housed in attractive, stiff, mini-LP cardboard sleeves. As a package, The Original Mono Recordings is undeniably alluring -- the LP replicas are accurate, right down to the inclusion of the sheet of poetry in The Times They Are A-Changin’, the booklet thorough, highlighted by liner notes by Greil Marcus, and several rarely-circulated photos -- and that’s a large part of the battle of a collector bait set like this, which seeks to re-create the experience of listening to the original albums. Any fan investing in a set this expensive expects an experience as attractive as this, but the main draw is, naturally, in the music, whether the mono mixes offer a different experience than the stereo and, by and large, they do. Granted, sometimes this experience is rather subtle, particularly on the first four acoustic albums, which don’t feel drastically different, only slightly more intimate as they’re narrowed down to a single speaker. In contrast, the next four albums -- particularly Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde, the hardest rock here -- bear the hallmarks of ‘60s mono rock & roll, they’re punchy, forceful, and direct, a more forceful listen than the stereo mixes. Of course, this may not be everybody’s cup of tea -- the stereo mixes allow for somewhat greater appreciation of the instrumental interplay since there is more space to breathe -- but these bold mixes were the sound of the times, and since it was a time ruled by Dylan, it is fascinating to hear these records this way, and for any serious fan of him or the ‘60s, it’s essential too.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. You're No Good
  2. Talkin' New York
  3. In My Time of Dyin'
  4. Man of Constant Sorrow
  5. Fixin' to Die
  6. Pretty Peggy-O
  7. Highway 51
  8. Gospel Plow
  9. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down
  10. House of the Risin' Sun
  11. Freight Train Blues
  12. Song to Woody
  13. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
  14. Blowin' in the Wind
  15. Girl from the North Country
  16. Masters of War
  17. Down the Highway
  18. Bob Dylan's Blues
  19. A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall
  20. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
  21. Bob Dylan's Dream
  22. Oxford Town
  23. Talking World War III Blues
  24. Corrina, Corrina
  25. Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance
  26. I Shall Be Free
  27. The Times They Are a-Changin'
  28. Ballad of Hollis Brown
  29. With God on Our Side
  30. One Too Many Mornings
  31. North Country Blues
  32. Only a Pawn in Their Game
  33. Boots of Spanish Leather
  34. When the Ship Comes In
  35. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
  36. Restless Farewell
  37. All I Really Want to Do
  38. Black Crow Blues
  39. Spanish Harlem Incident
  40. Chimes of Freedom
  41. I Shall Be Free No. 10
  42. To Ramona
  43. Motorpsycho Nitemare
  44. My Back Pages
  45. I Don't Believe You
  46. Ballad in Plain D
  47. It Ain't Me Babe
  48. Subterranean Homesick Blues
  49. She Belongs to Me
  50. Maggie's Farm
  51. Love Minus Zero/No Limit
  52. Outlaw Blues
  53. On the Road Again
  54. Bob Dylan's 115th Dream
  55. Mr. Tambourine Man
  56. Gates of Eden
  57. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
  58. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
  59. Like a Rolling Stone
  60. Tombstone Blues
  61. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
  62. From a Buick 6
  63. Ballad of a Thin Man
  64. Queen Jane Approximately
  65. Highway 61 Revisited
  66. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
  67. Desolation Row
  68. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
  69. Pledging My Time
  70. Visions of Johanna
  71. One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)
  72. I Want You
  73. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
  74. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
  75. Just Like a Woman
  76. Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine
  77. Temporary Like Achilles
  78. Absolutely Sweet Marie
  79. 4th Time Around
  80. Obviously 5 Believers
  81. Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
  82. John Wesley Harding
  83. As I Went Out One Morning
  84. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
  85. All Along the Watchtower
  86. The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
  87. Drifter's Escape
  88. Dear Landlord
  89. I Am a Lonesome Hobo
  90. I Pity the Poor Immigrant
  91. The Wicked Messenger
  92. Down Along the Cove
  93. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight