Bob Dylan – Planet Waves

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Planet Waves

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this superb pressing of Dylan’s 1974 release 
  • With wonderfully rich, natural tonality, these early pressings are by far the best way to hear the album sound the way it should
  • Lots of great material on this one, not sure why it doesn’t get more respect: On A Night Like This, Going Going Gone, Forever Young, You Angel You… these are seriously good, very well-recorded songs
  • “Reteaming with the Band, Bob Dylan winds up with an album that recalls New Morning more than The Basement Tapes, since Planet Waves is given to a relaxed intimate tone…”

This is an excellent recording, boasting not only great Bob Dylan sound, but some of the best sound for The Band that you’ll ever hear. That’s right, Dylan is backed by Messrs. Robertson, Danko, Helm, Manuel and Hudson on this album, and I don’t know when we’ve ever heard such audiophile quality sound from that crew. It’s a real treat to hear their signature styles without the cardboard-y, compressed quality we usually find on their albums.

Lots of great material on this album — we’re not sure why it doesn’t get more respect. On A Night Like This, Going Going Gone, Forever Young, You Angel You… these are wonderful, well-recorded songs! This is not one of Dylan’s best-known or most-loved albums, but it’s definitely a good one. You can certainly tell that these are very emotional songs for him, and it really shows in the performances.

This vintage Asylum pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Planet Waves have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1974
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Planet Waves

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Rob Fraboni in this case — would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

On a Night Like This 
Going, Going, Gone 
Tough Mama 
Hazel 
Something There Is About You 
Forever Young

Side Two

Forever Young (Continued) 
Dirge 
You Angel You 
Never Say Goodbye 
Wedding Song

AMG Review

Reteaming with the Band, Bob Dylan winds up with an album that recalls New Morning more than The Basement Tapes, since Planet Waves is given to a relaxed intimate tone — all the more appropriate for a collection of modest songs about domestic life… There are moments — “On a Night Like This,” “Something There Is About You,” the lovely “Forever Young” — where it just gels.

More Reviews

The critical reception was generally positive, if a bit muted. The consensus was ultimately strong enough to secure Planet Waves at #18 on The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for 1974.

“In a time when all the most prestigious music, even what passes for funk, is coated with silicone grease, Dylan is telling us to take that grease and jam it,” wrote critic Robert Christgau. “Sure he’s domestic, but his version of conjugal love is anything but smug, and this comes through in both the lyrics and the sound of the record itself. Blissful, sometimes, but sometimes it sounds like stray cat music—scrawny, cocky, and yowling up the stairs.”

Ellen Willis of The New Yorker wrote, “Planet Waves is unlike all other Dylan albums: it is openly personal…I think the subject of Planet Waves is what it appears to be—Dylan’s aesthetic and practical dilemma, and his immense emotional debt to Sara.”

Wikipedia

Discography

BOB DYLAN DISCOGRAPHY THROUGH 1989 
(After that you’re on your own.)

1962 Bob Dylan
1963 The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
1964 The Times They Are A-Changin’
1964 Another Side of Bob Dylan
1965 Bringing It All Back Home
1965 Highway 61 Revisited
1966 Blonde On Blonde
1967 John Wesley Harding
1969 Nashville Skyline
1970 Self Portrait
1970 New Morning
1973 Dylan
1974 Planet Waves
1974 Before the Flood
1975 Blood on the Tracks
1975 The Basement Tapes
1976 Desire
1976 Hard Rain
1978 Street Legal
1979 Slow Train Coming
1979 At Budokan
1980 Saved
1981 Shot of Love
1983 Infidels
1984 Real Live
1985 Empire Burlesque
1986 Knocked Out Loaded
1989 Oh Mercy