Features

Saturday Deluxe / 26 Sep 2015

Bob Dylan 1965-1966 / The Cutting Edge: The Bootleg Series Vol 12 Collector's Edition 18CD

Dylan Dilemma

Be honest, did you ever think a music box set would be released that included “every single note recorded by Bob Dylan in the studio in 1965/1966″? Me neither, but that’s exactly what Sony/Columbia have done with their ‘Collector’s Edition’ of the newly announced Bootleg Series Vol 12, which has the moniker The Cutting Edge. 18CDs isn’t actually that much – we’ve had bigger sets from King Crimson and The Grateful Dead, but I guess it’s quite a lot for such a narrow period of time (two years, 1965-1966).

The 379-track collection includes a ‘certificate of authenticity’, although what that’s supposed to prove, I don’t know. If someone goes to the trouble of faking this lavish box set with its 180-page 11″x 11″ hardcover book, I’m sure they’d have the enterprise to fake a bit of paper that has the words ‘certificate of authenticity’ on it! Also, since there are only 5000 of these behemoths you’d think Bob could have signed them, especially for the price, which is a hefty $600 (about £400). Talking of the fee required, you can’t help but feel someone came up with a price point first and then tried to justify it with the content…

18CDs, great – what else?“…

Nine mono seven-inch vinyl singles, great – what else? we need more!

A leopard skin printed spindle? I like it, what else!?

A strip of film cells from an original print of the ‘Don’t Look Back’ film great, we’re done here!”

The big problem is that Sony aren’t officially supplying any of these Collector’s Editions from anywhere outside the USA, so the European Dylan fan has to pay very expensive shipping costs ($80 or £50 to the UK) and then worry about import duty and VAT which I have calculated is £108 for this box set. So import duty and delivery charges to the UK add an incredible £158 to the ticket price – that’s $240, so us Brits pay $840 for ‘our’ boxes! Great!!

Despite the all-encompassing and lavish nature of the Collector’s edition, those costs make the £100 six-CD deluxe edition seem like excellent value – if we’re concentrating on the key component – the music – you get more than a third of what’s on the big bugger for less than a fifth of the price!

Bob Dylan 1965-1966 / The Cutting Edge: The Bootleg Series Vol 12 / 6CD Deluxe

6CD deluxe is good value (relatively)

It’s certainly an intriguing prospect being offered EVERYTHING recorded during album sessions, and I wonder, is this the beginning of a new Uber Deluxe Edition (yes, I know U2 nicked the title) where at some point in the future the super deluxe editions of, say, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, or Hunky Dory will be demoted to ‘mid-range’ status, standing in the shadow of a £300-400 uber deluxe which gives you every take, every cough, every ‘let’s take it from the top’ from album sessions. Imagine a Let It Be ‘collector’s edition’, like the new Bob set? Pleasure or pain!?

Read more: Bob Dylan / The Cutting Edge: Bootleg Series Vol 12


David Bowie / Five Years 1969-1973 CD box set

Bowie Box Blues

Friday came and went and I didn’t have a David Bowie Five Years box in my hands. Argh! Because I took advantage of my own advice, I bought my vinyl box from Amazon Italy for £148 (thanks to this long-since-ended deal alert). Fantastic price, but patience is required since the box isn’t going to be delivered until the end of next week. Oh well. I did get the individual CD reissues. In case you are wondering, they all come in jewel cases, with eight-page booklets with lyrics and photos etc. Not too bad for about £8 each.

hunky_p

Don’t like the Parlophone logo (click to enlarge)

They’re not perfect – I know the RCA logo was here on some editions but the Parlophone logo sits uneasily on the top left of the Hunky Dory front cover (and the bottom left of The Man Who Sold The World), and the layout, fonts, and colours on the spines are all over the place.

The front cover of David Bowie/Space Oddity looks as dodgy as ever, so the first thing I did was flip the booklet around to promote the ‘wrong’ 1972 Space Oddity imagealthough that artwork is really washed out and yellowed. A quick comparison with my 1990 Rykodisc shows the 25-year old booklet looking much sharper with more natural skin tones than the new one. I’ll be interested to hear from those of you that do have the new CD box with the vinyl replica sleeves – what’s the verdict? I plan to do an SDEtv video soon, which takes one Bowie album and illustrates all the various CD issues over the years – stay tuned!

Read more about David Bowie’s Five Years box here

IMAG32bow95

Space Oddity front covers (click to enlarge)

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37 responses to Saturday Deluxe / 26 Sep 2015

  1. Will W says:

    I was so hoping that the individual Bowie albums would come in cardboard sleeves like the Ziggy and Aladdin 40th anniversary reissues. What are the booklets like?

  2. Tim Barton says:

    I had ordered my Five Years CD box from Amazon Japan, and was dismayed by the same delay. I ended up picking it up in Tower, and cancelling my Amazon order, but biting the bullet and paying more. Fortunately, if there’s a bright side apart from getting my hands on it earlier it’s the fact that Tower has a good point system, and I boosted mine significantly, plus I got a points coupon, so the price I paid over the cheaper Amazon order might work out well for me!

    As for the contents, the sleeves are Japanese-style cardboard, with plastic inner sleeves like I get when I purchase ‘LP replica’ CDs here. Parlophone has also provided replica paper inners, but not all of the plastic sleeve-housed CDs fit into them-some do, some don’t. That’s kind of annoying.

    Positive points are the textured Man Who Sold The World jacket, the hardback book-which is really nice, and the sturdy outer case. In truth, my Toshiba-EMI and Sony Japan paper sleeves from some years back, which had coupons for free cases to house the works, are still superior. Haven’t had a listen yet. The extras discs contain a few things available previously, so I am not sure if the CDs are really worth it to anyone with the previous reissues through EMI.

    Perhaps the vinyl is a better option, but it is a handsome collection!

  3. Paul Kent says:

    This is the dilemma, isn’t it… when does a super deluxe become TOO super deluxe? It becomes a contest and a perceived measure of your loyalty to an artist as to whether you purchase a behemoth like that Dylan box. In all honesty, I think it’s a positively ridiculous product. I mean, I don’t like Dylan but imagine there was a comparative set being released by, say, Queen, covering the period of ’75-’76. I love Queen but there’s no way I could sit through a CD full of different takes of “You’re My Best Friend”! This is a deconstruction too far!

    We are feeding the machine, however. Ever since the Beatles’ Anthology sets reissues rely more and more on demos and very little else. It worked on Anthology as a complete history was spread over 6 discs with thought and care taken over the selections. Now it just seems to be a case of arbitrarily picking an anniversary and throwing all available tapes at it to see what sticks. A case in point is the new Phil Collins campaign. He seems happy enough to throw out any old random detritus on the bonus discs and think “that’s what I want, sod the fans!”. We all threw our toys out of the pram BUT… we will buy them anyway. I certainly will as it’s the only way I’ll get remastered versions of those albums.

    The Dylan box is even more cynical, as it preys on the collector in us. His “Bootleg Series” started as reasonably priced, well conceived archive releases that were attractive and available to all. Now, we have reached a point where every burp and fart from a moment in time are being boxed up and exorbitantly priced because they know they will sell… because the words “Bootleg Series” have been incorporated in the title! And so, the Dylan collector will look mournfully back and forth between volumes 1 to 11 and their overdraft and think “I need this to complete the series”. And the real collector won’t go for 2 CDs when there are another 4 available… or another 16!

    I never listen to the Anthology albums now. They are a snapshot, albeit very interesting, but a snapshot nonetheless. I don’t need to listen to take 4 of “Can’t Buy Me Love” anymore as I can listen to the superior 2009 remaster of it. Archive can work if it is done well – the XTC blu ray reissues have proven this, with demos and rehearsal tapes sitting alongside all circa-specific officially released material and copious different listening options available – however, just emptying the vaults does not work. Quality beats out quantity every time.

    • Bert says:

      You’re not forced to buy the 18 disc set, you can simply buy the 6 disc set. And if that’s too much, there’s a 2 disc set. But the important thing is: you get to have a choice.

      That Bob Dylan release is ludicrous, but I’ve seen similar releases from The Stooges (“The Complete Fun House Sessions”, way back in 1999; and “Heavy Liquid” in 2005).

      Meanwhile Prince fans can only hope someone somewhere is leaking yet another gem from Prince’s vault, because apparently that’s the only way we’re ever going to hear those exquisite recordings. Prince could have extracted tons of money from his fans in the past 20+ years by organizing a carefully curated archive-clearing bonanza, combined with superb remastered re-releases of his classic albums. Instead we get yet another rubbish album, this time the absolutely abysmal HitNRun which features a 57 year old doing pale imitations of bland EDM-type sounds, which he promoted by talking about his admiration for Willow Smith(!).

      I cannot imagine the number of discs a similar Prince set would encompass, and that’s just based on what is documented; who knows how much we don’t yet know about.

      • Paul Kent says:

        You’re right, Bert, there is a choice, but Sony know full well that some will make that 18-disc choice – a choice which is, as you state, ludicrous. Good to see they have made more realistic options available, though.

        Your Prince comparison doesn’t make sense in this context, though. The 6-disc Dylan set is just multiple takes of the same songs people already own. I’m imagining that the 18-disc version stretches that concept to an interminable breaking point. The Prince vaults are a different matter. Yes, there may be songs in there we already know but have only heard in grainy, crackly, several-generations-later copies. An official release would clean these up and present them in an ordered fashion. Rather than one big splurge of material, I’d like to see multi-disc sets with a remastered album with b-sides and single edits, a disc of 12″ and extended mixes, and a DVD of videos, live performances and TV appearances. A SDE of each album could add discs of era-specific unreleased gems from the vault and live shows… not the same songs over and over and over again, ad infinitum!

        • Bert says:

          “not the same songs over and over and over again, ad infinitum!”

          But they could do that. Already there are songs where so many remixes were leaked that they take up an entire CD (e.g. “Love Sign”), and I wouldn’t be surprised there are many more such things languishing in the vaults. There was a short special about Prince on Def II’s Behind The Beat back in 1988 or so (on BBC Two) and that showed Femi Jiya working on a “Lovesexy” remix — and yet somehow that’s all we know about that particular track.

          Of course we’re not going to get a set like Dylan’s from Prince, for the simple reason that Prince had different studio habits. But we already have endless rehearsal jams like “Billy’s Sunglasses” or multiple versions of “Soulpsychodelicide” and I don’t see why there wouldn’t be more like those.

          That’s why it is such a shame that it’s 2015 and we still don’t have remasters and expanded editions, because by now we should be into “ludicrous box set” territory. For instance: I doubt we’ll ever going to get a “legal” release of all the Madhouse recordings, including a concert recording (like the soundboard recording of that aftershow in Germany a while ago), because considering Prince’s 1980s canon it is a minor release, way below on the long list of things I’d wish to see released.

          I don’t want to see this all get dumped into one humongous box set, because I feel that a well-designed archival release would greatly increase Prince’s reputation. I want magazines to pour over these sets and print special issues etc., I don’t want any of that “well there’s a lot to digest here and some of it is good and some of it isn’t” superficiality.

  4. Mani says:

    Re: Dylan 18 disc set. This may go the same way as the Complete Masters 30 disc Presley box which Sony did – originally a limited run with a certificate, then later repressed without a certificate. Either way, both editions are now rare and fetch hefty sums.

    • howie says:

      Regarding the comment about the Dylan set going the same way as the Elvis 30 disc boxset, I hope it does, straight to a popular torrent site to grab for nothing in glorious lossless quality.

  5. Jim says:

    Have you secured the Uber-Deluxe Edition domain yet?

  6. Steven says:

    I have the CD box and its curious why/how the CD box has the other images of Space Oddity. I may get the individual CD too just to have both covers. The Mini LP cardboard sleeves are decent, “The Man Who Sold the World” is textured even… But Pinups does feel a bit washed out…

    P.s., if anyone really wanted this US-only box, I’d willing to buy it and ship it for free if someone could get their hands on – and trade me – the gold-colored HMV Morrissey vinyl re-issues in Mint shape. I know they are ‘worth’ a lot – but they did not cost a lot if you’d found them in HMV in the late spring/early summer…

  7. Steven says:

    Meant to specify “the U.S. Only DYLAN box set…”

  8. bob says:

    On another site I visit someone bought the Bowie CD box from their local independent shop and was given a really cool box with coasters, each coaster had a pic of a different album cover from the box set.
    It must have been some kind of promotion but I bet most of the staff keep these for themselves.
    Looking forward to your review of the box Paul.

  9. Simon says:

    Date typo at the end if the first Dylan paragraph Paul.

  10. Bert says:

    The link to “Read more: Bob Dylan / The Cutting Edge: Bootleg Series Vol 12″ goes to the Amazon listing. Shouldn’t that link to your article about the set?

  11. William Keats says:

    This box well sell out easily but to only two types of buyers: resellers who will put the unsealed shipping carton away and never hear a note, and Dylan fans who simply get it all without any second thought. But the nature of Dylan’s recording process will certainly be worth hearing for the fans who know how unenthusiastic he is about doing retakes and other common studio practices. Generally, multiple Dylan takes are in fact a series of unique performances that may have little to do with each other. The full CD of Like a Rolling Stone reflects the transformative process from his piano sketch in waltz time to a hit single. This type of release is very important to those who cite Dylan as a game-changer for popular music — as was Miles Davis for jazz — pointing the way for others while moving on to the next phase. That was certainly a commonly-held belief in Dylan’s glory years, which at best ended in the mid-70s with Blood on the Tracks, although his latest work seems to have actually receded in time stylistically by several decades.

  12. baward says:

    Regarding the idea of Uber Deluxe Editions, I wonder if (or when) bands will have their output remixed a second time (maybe they’d call it ‘reapproached’ or something) for 5.1? I’m sure everything will get re-sold until the end of time, come to think of it.

    • Phil Cohen says:

      It’s not for nothing, that in the Led Zeppelin expanded editions that Jimmy Page restricted the selection of vault materials to selections that could be found on already existing mixes, so there can eventually be yet another Led Zeppelin reissue series: the albums newly remixed(stereo & surround) plus the additional outtakes that can be found on the 8-track, 16-track & 24-track multitrack tapes.

  13. Bob H says:

    You say you have a choice to buy the Dylan 18-CD box set or not. The choice for some folk like me is do I have a spare £400+ to buy the box set.
    Would I like to hear all the recordings, of course I’d like to hear and own everything but at a price I can afford.
    Does 18 CD’s at £400+ sound like value for money? No, not if you’re only interested in the music.
    I know there’s plenty of Dylan fans who can afford the sets but not every Dylan fan is rich enough to buy the set so it changes the demographic of the fans who will buy this.

  14. Charles says:

    I was on the fence about the Dylan Deluxe set until I read that there is indeed a certificate of authenticity. Dodged a bullet on that one! I’m buying it no questions asked, this set reeks of something that would haunt me for the rest of my natural life if I didn’t.

  15. Peter says:

    Paul, did you get the 2015, Aladdin Sane and Ziggy individual releases, nothing on Amazon UK about them ?

  16. Simon F says:

    Spin CD’s have Bob’s big bugger box for £599.99!

  17. Andy says:

    Aside from the 18cd version, the other forthcoming versions of the Dylan Bootleg Series (vinyl 3LP, 6cd and 2cd) are all far cheaper than Amazon on base.com

  18. Christopher Straub says:

    I’m going for the 6 CD set. $600 for 18 CD’s? Dylan could take a lesson from King Crimson. 3 huge boxed sets and another on the way, none of them weighed down with silly gimmicks and all at pretty reasonable prices. I’m sure a stack of 9 45’s and a strip of film cells all look very nice, but I can’t help but think they are there just to justify the price. I’m also hoping that one of these days a stripped-down version of the 18 CD set gets released.

  19. Will says:

    Btw, that ” 11′ x 11′ ” Dylan book will be quite large. Is it a Spinal Tap edition?!

  20. Mark Zutkoff says:

    I actually like the idea of an artist (or record company) releasing a rock box set with all the takes of the songs from one or more sessions on it. Jazz aficionados have had such offerings made available since a few years into the CD boom (and a few select cases, like the Charlie Parker Dial Sessions, on vinyl years before that). Rock has followed a pattern of keeping things tightly locked up in the vaults and releasing them in dribs and drabs – and almost NEVER complete, in order to allow for that one (or two) bonus track(s) on a later reissue. What gets me with the Dylan sets is the price points. The 6-CD set is currently on Amazon.com (US) for $150 – that’s $25 per disc. And the 18-CD set is a whopping $34 per disc, unless you factor in the extras and reduce that to, say, $30 per – and the shipping cost will probably re-inflate that. Even the pretty exclusive Mosaic Records jazz label that specializes in “complete” box sets charges between $14 and $17 per disc. Their 180-gram vinyl sets are $30 per platter, but these days, vinyl is premium-priced pretty much everywhere. Where is this all headed? More pricey sets with more content – or more pricey sets with LESS content??

  21. Lance says:

    The Dylan comp ensures they don’t have to release a “50th Anniversary Collection” for 1965/66. They’ll make way more money from it, and it will be accessible to many more.

    I’d expect the next Bootleg Series to follow more chronologically to keep ahead of European copyright expiration, thereby preventing the recordings from legally entering the public domain there.

  22. Presley Spigot says:

    Some more thoughts about the Dylan 18CD price. I’ve always wondered about labels who sell a limited edition of something at a fairly decent price, but so limited that they know in advance it’s going to end up on a secondary market for much greater sums. The Weeknd Trilogy is a case in point. Only 500 produced, sold out quickly, now selling for well over $700, original price $199. I imagine $600 is priced to prevent this secondary market from taking flight so quickly, or rather, to grab at that secondary market’s profit.

    For those cynical about the release of “every single note” of Dylan’s from 65/66, I think it’s worth remembering that we’re getting a lot of complete takes of very different versions of songs we know & love. It’s that completeness, and differentness, that, for me at least, makes this fascinating, not to mention we’re talking what is possibly the greatest trilogy of all time. At $34 a disk, it is still an unfair price, but burps & farts it ain’t.

  23. Peter says:

    Now we have had Bowie reissues, remastered etc for many a year but tbh listening to Hunky Dory out of this set, it is just brilliant, a new album and experience.

  24. Jimmy King says:

    The Dylan release is wonderful. For those who long to hear it all, well, there it is in all its glory. I have always thought of listening to music as a very personal experience. The ladder of superlative indulgence is there for all to chose what is right for them. To Dylan fans, I simply say enjoy at your own pace.

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