On August 19, 1997 Sony released remastered versions of Biograph [C3K 65298] and The Bootleg Series, Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) [C3K 65302]. Biograph was originally released as a five-LP set [C5X 38830] on October 28, 1985, and as a three-CD set [C3K 38830] later that year. The Bootleg Series was originally released on March 26, 1991 as a three CD-set [C3K 47382].
The 1997 reissues were both remastered using Sony's SBM 20-bit technology. While sound quality is improved, the upgrade in sound quality varies from track to track. On some the improvement is quite noticable and others much less so.
By accident or design the remastering of Biograph resulted in a handful song variations and substutions from the original. The most notable of these are:
By the end of October 1997 "corrected" versions of the remastered Biograph were being shipped to stores. The "single" version Mixed Up Confusion [CO 76982-14] was retained, but old "unfaded" version of Baby, Let Me Follow You Down and the Belfast performance of I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) were restored in the "corrected" remastered Biograph. It appears the packaging on the two versions of the remastered Biograph is identical, except for the grey color on the front cover. On the recalled version it's a true grey, but on the corrected version there's a reddish hue to the grey.
The 1997 reissues are each repackaged in a double CD jewelcase. And both of the accompanying booklets have been redesigned as well. Each is now the same size as a CD jewelcase, but not as thick. As would be expected the font size of the text is considerably smaller, and the photographs and graphics have been cropped or reduced in size from the original booklets or some cases both.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Murcura)
Subject: New "Biograph" -- Mixed Up Confusion!
Date: 2 Sep 1997
Well, I bought the new jewel-boxed Biograph today, proving once again that I spend too much money on CDs and probably need professional help. (This is, BTW, my third Biograph: 5-LP box, 3-CD box, 3-CD remaster.) I've given it one listen all the way through; I can confirm the foul-ups/substitutions that others have raised, and I will add a couple points of my own. To sum up:
1) The package does have the SBM Super Bit Mapping logo on it, and there are definite sonic improvements, to my ears anyway. Moreso on the "previously unreleased" tracks than the album cuts.
2) 21 seconds have been lopped off the beginning of "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" [CO 68732-1]. The first vocal heard on this "edit" is "Rick's a blues guitar player..." This cannot be intentional; why have the second half of the spoken intro and not the first half? This is the only change I've heard which can indisputably be called a f***-up.
3) "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" [NCO 120961] lasts five seconds longer and comes to a full ending, with no fade-out. A minor variation, true; but this is, as far as I know, the only variant/alternate/oddity to ever emerge from the John Wesley Harding sessions. Correct me, please, if I'm mistaken (JWH is one of my faves).
4) As reported by others, the Belfast "I Don't Believe You" [1/145] has been replaced by none other than the legendary Free Trade Hall/Manchester (a.k.a. "Royal Albert Hall") version of May 17, 1966 [7/151]. It runs about 15 seconds longer than the Belfast version.
5) The original Biograph had an alternate Masterpieces mix of "Mixed Up Confusion" [CO 76982-11], although the liner notes identified it as the "single" version [CO 76982-14]. The new re-package does have the single version -- and it sounds great! So this "mistake" actually fixes an original goof-up. I don't know if it's significant, but all five of these anomalies appear on disc 1.
6) This one hasn't been mentioned by anybody yet, so I'll offer it for public debate. The original Biograph "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" was billed as the 1966 Manchester performance [4/151], but it doesn't match what I hear on the Guitars Kissing & The Contemporary Fix boot. In particular, there's a microphone "pop" at 0:07 on the Guitars Kissing version not present on the Biograph version; also, the Biograph "Baby Blue" fades with guitar-tuning sounds not present on the Guitars Kissing version. The "new" Biograph version matches Guitars Kissing *exactly*. My question: Is the new version just a dramatically remixed version of the original track, or did the first Biograph not actually use the Manchester version at all?
7) Just a note: All of the mistakes on the new Biograph occur on discs 1 and (maybe) 2. In addition, virtually every time listing on the back of the new Biograph is different -- on discs 1 and 2. Disc 3 presents the exact same time listings between the old and new Biograph's. Coincidence? It seems to me that they lost the tapes for discs 1 and 2 and had to "reassemble" them, leaving the door wide open for the wrong versions to slip into the master. I mean, would some schmoe working in the Sony archives really know the difference between the Belfast and Manchester "I Don't Believe You"?
Anyway, that's all the info we have so far; we should continue to report these anomalies as we discover them. If anyone really wants any of these variants, you should run out and get the new Biograph now, because the "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" edit is truly grotesque enough to warrant a recall. I am also curious to know if there are any differences with the new "Bootleg Series" repackage; so far we've only heard about Biograph. Any reports from owners of the new Bootleg Series set would be welcome!
From: Paul Loeber (email@example.com)
Subject: Biograph/Bootleg Series reissue?
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 1997
"It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" is the same performance (Manchester) [4/151] as originally on Biograph, but it is from a different source tape, namely the 3-track recordings made by IBC Sound Recording Studios of London. That means that the new small box of Biograph has a vastly superior recording of the song than did the old set. This and "I Don't Believe You" show how great the Manchester 1966 CDs will sound once they are released.
Bob Dylan CD Set Becomes Hot Collectible
Sunday September 7 3:35 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES (Reuter) - A newly reissued Bob Dylan album has become an instant collector's item because of several errors that forced the rock singer's label to recall unsold copies.
Sony Music Entertainment Inc last month shipped about 5,000 copies of "Biograph," a three-CD compilation of hits and rare tracks. It was originally released in 1985 in a cardboard box; the reissue was repackaged as a double CD jewel case. It was on sale for just a few days before Sony learned of the problems.
The label said Sunday it was too early to tell how many copies were sold, because retailers respond to recalls with varying speeds. Three songs on the first disc were affected.
A "technical software error" during the mastering of "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" meant that the first line of Dylan's spoken-word introduction was omitted. On the reissued version, it begins "Ric's a blues guitar player," when it should have been preceded by, "I first heard this from Ric von Schmidt. He lives in Cambridge."
The reissue also used a wrong version of "I Don't Believe You." Instead of the version from Dylan's May 1966 concert performance in Belfast, the label mistakenly inserted a version from the Manchester stop on the same tour.
The third glitch affected "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight." During the mastering process, Sony used an original master that had not been played in about 30 years. However, it neglected to fade out the last five seconds of the song to mirror the track the way it originally appeared.
The company said the problems would be fixed, and the set would be re-shipped "in the near future."
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Howells)
Subject: Remastered Biograph recall -- Info
Date: 8 Sep 1997
So, Sony puts on the superior version of "I Don't Believe You" from Manchester and a full unfaded version of "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" and calls them "mistakes" that must be corrected. Arrrgh! Well, at least they didn't say that they would be correcting the mistake of putting on the superior original single version of "Mixed Up Confusion"!
From: Jerry and Linda Tenenbaum (jerry.tenenbaum@UTORONTO.CA)
Subject: Biograph: Telling The Difference
Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 18:05:20 -0500
In September 97, I purchased 2 copies of what I believe is "mistaken" ultimately recalled version of Biograph. Recently, I purchased what I believe may be the revised (now acceptable to Sony) version of Biograph. I have not removed the shrinkwrap from any of these. I have reviewed the surfaces of all 3 packages. The ONLY difference I can detect ( and my family members independently noted this as well) is the colour of the grey on the front cover. Whereas the recalled version is a true grey, the revised (Sony acceptable) version has a reddish hue to the grey. The difference is obvious when they are put side by side.