The All-Time Best Bob Dylan Record? by John Bauldie (Telegraph 1992)
tells Steve Hoffman's story of his remastering Highway 61 Revisited for
DCC Compact Classics. Hoffman's hounding of Columbia paid off when he
unearthed the primordial master tapes marked "Do Not Use" which were
actually better than the tapes that had been used to make the original LP.
While Hoffman's initial plan was to do a lot of the Bob Dylan albums
(especially Blonde On Blonde), Columbia decided to do their own series
of gold CDs leaving Hoffman and DCC Compact Classics out of it.
Sony produced a gold remastered version of Blonde On Blonde
using their Super Bit Mapping technology.
Order numbers and other information:
GZS 1021 Highway 61 Revisited
Columbia (issued 1992)
DCC [Digital Compact Classics] (Manufactured and marketed by DCC Compact Classics, Inc.)
CK 53016 Blonde On Blonde
Sony/Columbia (Sony 53016 issued 1992, Sony 64411 issued 1994)
[The following are limited 1996 Japanese runs, believed sold out, a quite separate project and a different remastering!]
SRCS 7904 Highway 61 Revisited
Sony SRCS 7904, Japan, (issued 1996)
SRCS 7905 Blonde On Blonde
Sony SRCS 7905, Japan, (issued 1996)
I've read several posts in the past few months wondering whether the gold _BoB_ was worth the extra money, so, having finally picked it up myself, I thought I'd offer my opinion:
If you like Blonde On Blonde, log off the internet, shut off your computer, get in your car, and SCOUR THE EARTH UNTIL YOU FIND THIS CD!!!!!!!!!!
All right, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but this CD is truly a revelation -- and I'm not listening to it on any high-falootin' audiophile equipment, either. Instruments I've never heard before pop out of the speakers; for example, some great piano on both "I Want You" and "Pillbox Hat." A guitar line that had always been buried on "Johanna" is now gloriously crisp. Random drumbeats, entire bass-lines, and assorted other sundry instruments appear as if for the first time. And the whole thing is wrapped up in a "you are there" atmosphere.
BoB has never been one of my favorites (sacrilege!), but the gold disc is forcing me to reconsider. If you can justify the extra bucks, run out and get it!
>This 24kt gold business is a joke. Does anyone realize >what a rip-off these things are? A CD produces DIGITAL >SOUND!!! this means that a cd just gives a list of >numbers to the CD player and the CD player interprets >the numbers to play music. It doesn't matter what >the CD is made of. It's just a list of numbers. >The only way the sound is going to be different is if >the numbers are different. >SAVE YOUR MONEY, PEOPLE!!!Now, I can't say whether the gold is what is responsible, but I have a number of gold discs (generally picked up second hand -- they ARE expensive) and the sound is certainly superior. This may just be down to good engineering, but the difference is quite plain for anyone to hear.
[A recent blindfold test seemed to suggest that people couldn't tell the difference, but I remember the results of a blindfold test concerning drink found that most people can't tell the difference between red and white wine! The difference is surely there for anyone who cares to concentrate.]
In particular, the discs from DCC engineered by Steve Hoffman seem to be excellent. He is responsible for remixing 4 great Miles Davis quintet titles Cookin', Workin', Relaxin' and Steamin', all of which are strongly recommended in any format, and Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited. He also did The Band's Stagefright, though I haven't heard this one. Any comments, anyone? Sony's gold discs seem good, though not quite up to DCC. Mobile Fidelity's discs are rather erratic, but the Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf titles are superb!
Although I can't state anything definite on the technical side, I have been told that a) the reflective quality of gold is superior, and b) there is no possibility of oxidization, a scare possibility that was raised a few years ago, and has yet to be proved or disproved with standard CDs. The first people to raise the issue said that there was a possibility of this occuring to CDs after 10 years or so, and we are past that mark, but not by much.
I think if your ethics are such that you can bring yourself to support the poorer quality producers of Dylan albums such as Coopers/Sony/Columbia then you must accept the production standards such people have.
Unlike honest companies, they expect you to have bought vinyl, then pay again for CDs, then again for adequate pressings in 24K gold! You have paid the copyright fees at least three times. Forget pyramid selling or chain letters to support your coke habit saddle up that Harvard MBA and then hit the gullible public for all their worth.
Three pressings before an album is listenable. Recurrent whistlers. Call your trading standards officer now and report these cowboys before they further damage Bob's career!
James Hannigan (email@example.com) wrote: : This is a different question about BoB. I recently bought an early copy : (with the extra inner photos) and was amazed to find on Leopard Skin Pill : Box Hat that Bob's guitar solo was mixed way down from what I was used : to. Was this remastered on later LPs? The solo is just not at all out : front, like I had always heard it. Thanks- Jim firstname.lastname@example.org (John Howells): "Blonde On Blonde: Again, some startling differences here. One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later) doesn't fade out at the end, as it does on the stereo (vinyl LP at least) version. Also, the stereo version has an organ break that doesn't show up on the mono version (which is also true of the original single). Visions Of Johanna has guitar parts on the mono version that don't appear at all on the stereo version (or at least not until the recent CD re-issue). The hi-hat is less intrusive on the mono. The bass and drums again have better tone and are blended with the instruments in a more pleasing fashion. Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands has some big differences in the mix, but offhand I can't really tell you what they are. I've always preferred the way the mono one sounds, though. If you had them side by side for comparison, you'd really be able to tell." email@example.com "I have a mono copy of this record and, of course, a stereo copy of the compact disc. The mixes are different on One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later). Not just the levels, though. After the choruses on the mono version (the brief instrumental section before he starts to sing a verse...), one short instrumental section has only the piano pounding chords and the other, after a different chorus, has a great organ doodle. The stereo version has the organ doodle repeated in both places, with the piano pounding not heard at all." [There have been four different pressings of this CD, the first two had problems with lost seconds on some tracks, but in different places on each! (Thirty seconds faded out of Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands, and a few seconds faded off the end of Just Like A Woman on the first pressing, Just Like A Woman was complete on the second, all tracks were complete on the third.)] CK53 Blonde on Blonde [May 1966] Sony/Columbia Re-release in higher quality re-mixed, re-mastered edition (SBM - - Super Bit Mapping -- a noise shaping technique which permits better signal-to-noise response by moving some noise to outside of the audio band, pressed with a 24k gold plated surface as opposed to aluminum).
I don't have any knowledge of the regular CD, but I can vouch for the sound of the gold CD. It sounds quite full and warm (I doubt I could rationally explain that).
I started with new vinyl, so the transition was a little uncomfortable. I heard things on the cd that I never noticed on the vinyl, and I am still a little jarred by them. One is a guitar riff right after "skeleton keys and the rain" that sounds flubbed; also in the last verse somewhere around the fish truck is a heavily vibratoed or tremoloed riff that I'd never heard and am not crazy about. The guitar riffs are given too much prominence in the gold CD, IMHO. In "Sad-Eyed Sara of the Lowndes'", an intermittent bass drum that comes in once in the third verse and a couple of times in the last verse usually interrupts the opiatic bliss [note: these things are interruptions primarily because they violate my previous vinyl understanding].
The harp-o-glories solo at the end of "Pledging" is not extended in the way that the mono version apparently is, and I have an odd vinyl copy that has a longer "Temporary" end solo. "Sooner or Later" comes to its full end, and "Sara Sad-head" is not cut like the first Cd's.
I still petulantly prefer the vinyl, but its nice to listen all the way through on cd.
firstname.lastname@example.org writes: >the audiophile gold CDs do tend to be made from the best tapes >available and use better transfering techniques than the regular >releases. So if you compare, for instance, the regular release of Blonde >on Blonde on CD (which sounds very harsh and tinny) with the Gold release, >you can hear a big difference. The difference is not in the gold, it's in >the care put into the whole product.This is true, I think. I have the DCC gold "Highway 61" and it's a lot better than the regular release. The same goes for Sony's gold "Blonde on Blonde" which is superior to the Nice Price one. However, Sony recently released both "Highway 61" and "BonB" in 20-bit remixes in Japan (in cardboard sleeves) and the sound of these is equal to (or maybe even better than) the gold versions.
What irritates me these days is the way CD companies advertise some re-release of a re-release (i.e. the "new" Byrds releases) as having:
1) digitally remixed sound [If it's on CD it's going to have to be digital.]
2) from original master tapes [And you can bet they didn't advertise the first CD releases as being "from 4th generation tapes"! Was the elevator down to the vaults not working back then, or did they just forget that they owned the masters?]
3) "specially prepared" booklets with "extensive" notes. [What is the opposite of a "specially" prepared booklet? In a very few cases, the "specially comissioned" notes are extremely good, most notably with Folkways Smithsonian and other such labels, but in most cases it's just a sleeve note that has been transformed into a selling point.]
4) original artwork [Now come on! Again, some companies state that they went back to the original negatives to make sure that they got good quality photos, without any recognition of the fact that this should be standard procedure.]
5) Mid-price. [Well, thank you. Taking the Byrds releases as an example, we have something like this: Columbia releases original albums in the mid-60s at regular price. They sell well and presumably all involved make a profit. Sometime later, they are switched to mid-price and continue to make a modest profit for many years. Then comes the CD revolution and 4th generation tapes are hurridly mixed and released at full price and with, presumably, a hefty profit margin. A few years later, they are switched to the Nice Price series which still earns them a modest margin. Then someone remembers the original masters down in the vaults. These are finally taken out and remixed. A few bonuses are included and someone is paid to write a few notes (and paid very little, usually -- I should know, I've done it) and the new versions hit the stores ready to rake in a new killing. In Japan (where I'm living) the Nice Price releases sell for 1,600 yen and the new releases are going for between 1,900 and 2,000, which means there's a $3 or more mark-up on the last releases.
Now Columbia/Sony are not the worst offenders here. Impulse has just released remixed editions of Coltrane. One of them, "Africa/Brass," clocks in at around 35 minutes. Now someouttakes from the sessions were released in the 1970s as "Africa/Brass, vol. 2" and when they were first put out on CD they were combined on one 70-minute disc (albeit with poor sound and sleeve notes which were just taken from the album and reduced (!) so that a magnifying glass is needed to read them). Now it's been released as a 2-CD set, each disc clocking in at way under 40 minutes! Full price, of course.
Tryly, if these companies were bootlegers, they would not be able to survive. To live outside the law you must be honest.
P.S. Sorry if I've tempted anyone with mention of the 20-bit releases of Highway 61 and BonB. They were limited runs and they're all sold out.
_________________________________ Matthew Zuckerman (email@example.com) (phone/fax/modem: 81-3-3986-7468)
As previously mentioned, Sony in Japan have just released Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde in 20-Bit remixes, packaged in cardboard sleeves and plastic slipcases. (Blonde on Blonde is a single CD but is packaged in its original LP-style sleeve with b+w photos inside). There are extensive notes in Japanese, lyrics in English and Japanese, and for Highway 61, sleevenotes translated into Japanese. I've just done a careful comparison of these two CDs with the gold DCC (Highway 61) and gold Columbia (BonB) releases, which are generally accepted as having the best sound since the original mono editions. It's a close call, but IMO, the new releases improve on the sound, in particular with Bob's voice and with the "sounds in the air", e.g. the shimmering cymbals on "Visions of Johanna". Most revealingly, the initial snare drum on "Like a Rolling Stone" sounds magnificent -- a pistol shot between the ears. No Colt revolver clicking here. Catalog numbers are SRCS 7904 and SRCS 7905 respectively. The price is 2,000 yen (around $20) and if you have a decent sound system and are as crazy as me, I'd recommend purchase even if you have the gold editions.
John R. Weikart wrote in a reply to Luke: >You make an excellent point; whether gold or silver is used in a CD is >unlikely to make any audible difference whatsoever. The 24K Gold is >really an attention getting marketing gimmick. Some people would disagree with your assessment of the 24kt. plating as a "marketing gimmick." DCC Compact Classics (they did the Highway 61 Revisited disc: http://www.westnet.com/%7Egsmith/remaster.htm#A5) claim that one of the reasons their discs sound better is that they are created without the "irregularities in the aluminum plated surfaces...24kt. Gold, unlike aluminum does not tarnish or oxidize." >However, the audiophile gold CDs do tend to be made from the best tapes >available and use better transfering techniques than the regular >releases. So if you compare, for instance, the regular release of Blonde >on Blonde on CD (which sounds very harsh and tinny) with the Gold release, >you can hear a big difference. Yes, indeed - a big difference on a good stereo system. >The difference is not in the gold, it's in the care put into the >whole product. And the better plating is part of the whole product.If this sort of discussion is of interest, see Mobile Fidelity's page: http://www.mofi.com/cgi-win/hubws.exe?Mofi:homepage:703871
Michael Dealy wrote: >This 24kt gold business is a joke. Does anyone realize what a rip-off >these things are? A CD produces DIGITAL SOUND!!! this means that a >cd just gives a list of numbers to the CD player and the CD player >interprets the numbers to play music. It doesn't matter what the CD >is made of. It's just a list of numbers. The only way the sound is >going to be different is if the numbers are different. I am not saying that all of the 24-k discs are noticeably superior to the standard releases, I am only familiar with the Dylan discs: Dylan's Blonde on Blonde - CK53016 & SRCS 7905 - *remastered* w/longer play time Highway 61 Revisted (not HWY-51) - SRCS 7904 - *remastered*Perhaps you don't know first hand what you are talking about, i.e., the sound quality of some of the 24-gold discs or just exactly what these discs are about. Or maybe your stereo system doesn't do these justice. So save your money, I don't care, but you are mis-leading uninformed readers by your diatribe. Or maybe I just misunderstand you and your gripe is with the "24kt gold business."
Both of the above discs sound GREAT and noticeably superior to the standard releases (on my stereo system).
If after reading thiss post, Michael, you still think it's a joke, fine. But the hour's getting late for me to begin a series of online arguements so this is my last comment.
Let's consider this information (culled from previous posts; hope it is ok to quote you guys, Craig, Steve, Brian):
---Quoted material follows--------- [from Craig Jamieson] GZS 1021 Highway 61 Revisited [August 1965] DCC [Digital Compact Classics] Matrix: GZS 1021 SP SZA Re-release in higher quality re-mastered edition. (Mastered with more care from the actual master tapes by Steve Hoffman. It took him a year of badgering CBS before they could find the right tapes for him to use. They were labelled DO NOT USE! He also located an Ampex vacuum tube tape machine of 1965 vintage to make sure the tapes were properly reproduced!) But Sony's attempt is not as incompetent as you'd expect from such a sad outfit: CK53 Blonde on Blonde [May 1966] Sony/Columbia Re-release in higher quality re-mixed, re-mastered edition (SBM - - Super Bit Mapping -- a noise shaping technique which permits better signal-to-noise response by moving some noise to outside of the audio band, pressed with a 24k gold plated surface as opposed to aluminum). ------------------ in response to my [Richard Batey] query In article <199506161148.AA05286@amaranth.com>, you wrote: > Can anyone tell us the difference between these two releases from > Sony/Columbia: > > Blonde on Blonde 24K gold plated, Sony 53016, released Dec. 92 > > Blonde on Blonde 24K gold plated, Sony 64411, released July 94 and > REPACKAGED. > > What exactly is the repackaging job on the latter release of the same cd? > They cost is the same for both albums. > > Has anyone out there heard HWY61 24K gold plated on a high end stereo? Is it > audio magnificence? > Richard response from Brian------------- I have the 64411 release. I can't compare it to the first 24K gold release, but I can say that it is ** much ** better than the first normal Blonde on Blonde CD in which the music sort of of falls apart and the classic BOB sound is lost. Here is what the packaging says: MasterSound edition: Reissue Prducer: Amy Herot Remixed and Remastered by Mark Wilder, Sony Music Studios, NY Each MS disc is guarunteed to have been maufactured from the first generation mastertapes... For a tech. paper on Sony's revolutionary "Super Bit Mapping" process. write to \ SBM , Legacy, MasterSound, Radio City Station, P.O. Box #11526, NYC, 10101-1526 --------further post from Brian w/my note to him------------------------ >Brian, > Thanks for the informative post to me about BOB 24K gold plate. Have you >heard the HWY61 gold plate? I will probably get both of those releases in >the 24k edition. If I learn of the difference in the packaging between the 2 >BOB 24K releases, I'll let you know. > Richard I haven't heard the HW61 gold plate. But I have heard the regular HW61, and it sucks. Are we clear on the issue for a non-audiophile like me is not the "gold plate", but the mix. I am sending you an indepth discussion of the differences between various mixes of Blonde on Blonde. (I don't have such a list for HW61) ---------- October 3, 1994 10:08:34 PM Music Item From: Steve Wilson,The Safe House Subject: Re(6): Bob Dylan To: Music "Rodney, >>>>Do you own a Compact Disk player? The reason I ask is that I too like >>>>the Dylan albums you mention - so much that when I recently got one of >>>>those computer CD/s that play music I went out and bought a bunch of my >>>>favorite Dylan albums on CD. Blonde on Blonde in particular is not as >>>>enjoyable on CD. That great silvery rush of sound is falls apart a bit >>>>when you can hear it too clearly. Have you or anyone else noticed this? I bought the regular priced CD's. The record store also sells special Gold mastered CD's. Has anyone compared these to the regular ones? Are they better? Brian <<<<<< I'm not Rodney, but I am the one who started this Dylan thread. I just completed a comparison which may answer your question. First, though, I must tell you that I am one who is not locked into a particular format except that I prefer CD for the obvious reasons. Every form of sound reproduction has its own unique sonic signature, from the victorola to an AM radio in a 67 Ford to digital. I'm sure there are people who would prefer one of the above for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the emotion that particular sound generates in them. Music is about feelings; you obviously know that. The equipment: Sony PS-T33 direct drive turntable, Sony CDP-C50 5 disk CD changer w/4 times oversampling, MCS series 2256 (JCPenney) stereo amplifier 100 watts/channel, Polk Audio bookshelf speakers. Don't laugh, it could be worse! The songs: I Want You & Just Like a Woman The disks: First is a vinyl pressing of Blonde on Blonde, a recent one in pristine condition. Second, the vinyl version of Biograph, remastered digitally by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, N.Y.C. Third is Biograph again on CD. Fourth is the limited edition Master Sound Blonde on Blonde (24K Gold reflective surface) which was remixed and remastered by Mark Wilder, Sony Music Studios, New York. Results: As Brian said, the original album sounds great, a sound which is not reproduced anywhere else. But, although it is unique and dearest to the hearts of most Dylan fans over 40, it is not my favorite. I'll explain later. The two Biograph versions were particularly telling. Except for the obvious clipping of the highs and lows in the analog format (not much, though), the record and the disc sounded identical. If the CD Brian has is digitally remastered by Greg Calbi, then I can understand his disappointment. This mix creates a harsh and sterile environment with which the music must fight constantly to regain the playful palate and the otherwise ever-present mellow bouquet that makes this album one of Dylan's best. The Gold disc is my favorite for several reasons: 1) I can play it without thinking each time, 'another db bites the dust' 2)it is different from the original in that it has a much fuller sound without overdoing it 3) it is a little cleaner and clearer than the original 4) Like the original, it retains the well-aged-wine qualities listed above and remains intimate-sounding without effort. I would credit Mark Wilder for the success of the Gold disc and for the great sound on the Bootleg Series. If you like Blonde on Blonde, you'll love the outtake from those sessions found on Bootleg called She's Your Lover Now. Wonderful! Love always Steve Wilson B.T. ------------------------- firstname.lastname@example.org -------------end of quoted material----------------- There you have it from just a few people who feel it is not a joke. I mean you no disrespect Michael. Richard / / __/____ /`/` /-------\ \0/ / / ` ` |O O O| | / / ` ` o====+====+====+====+====+====o ` ` \ | ` ` ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`~`~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ email@example.com