Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home

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  • This Red Label ’70s reissue pressing boasts very good Hot Stamper sound on both sides
  • These pressings can be quite good – lively, transparent, and fairly rich, with dramatically more immediacy in the midrange than anything to be pressed in the modern era
  • 5 stars: “With Bringing It All Back Home, he exploded the boundaries, producing an album of boundless imagination and skill. And it’s not just that he went electric, either, rocking hard on “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “Maggie’s Farm,” and “Outlaw Blues”; it’s that he’s exploding with imagination throughout the record.”

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Bob Dylan singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 54 years old), 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 less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

Shootout Criteria

What are the sonic qualities by which a Pop or Rock record — any Pop or Rock record — should be judged?

Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, vocal presence, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, spaciousness, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, three-dimensionality, and on and on down the list.

When we hear a fair number of the qualities mentioned above on the side we’re playing, we will provisionally award that side a Hot Stamper grade, which is often revised over the course of the shootout as we hear what the other copies are doing. Once we’ve been through all of our side ones, we then play the best of the best of them against each other to arrive at an official Shootout Winner.

Other copies have their grades raised or lowered depending on how they sound relative to the shootout winner, the record that was doing it all (or as much as possible – even some Triple Plus copies have been known to have a minor shortcoming or two). Repeat the process for the other side and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides of each copy match up.

That’s why the most common grade for a White Hot stamper pressing is Triple Plus (A+++) on one side and Double Plus (A++) on the other. Finding the two best sounding sides on the same LP does happen, but it sure doesn’t happen as often as we would like (!) — there are just too many variables in the mastering and pressing processes to ensure consistent quality.

It may not be rocket science, but it’s a science of a kind, one with strict protocols that we’ve developed over the course of many years to ensure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can make them.

The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on this Hot Stamper pressing — or your money back.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Subterranean Homesick Blues 
She Belongs to Me 
Maggie’s Farm 
Love Minus Zero/No Limit 
Outlaw Blues 
On the Road Again 
Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream

Side Two

Mr. Tambourine Man 
Gates of Eden 
It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) 
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

With Another Side of Bob Dylan, Dylan had begun pushing past folk, and with Bringing It All Back Home, he exploded the boundaries, producing an album of boundless imagination and skill. And it’s not just that he went electric, either, rocking hard on “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “Maggie’s Farm,” and “Outlaw Blues”; it’s that he’s exploding with imagination throughout the record.

After all, the music on its second side — the nominal folk songs — derive from the same vantage point as the rockers, leaving traditional folk concerns behind and delving deep into the personal. And this isn’t just introspection, either, since the surreal paranoia on “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” and the whimsical poetry of “Mr. Tambourine Man” are individual, yet not personal.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, really, as he writes uncommonly beautiful love songs (“She Belongs to Me,” “Love Minus Zero/No Limit”) that sit alongside uncommonly funny fantasias (“On the Road Again,” “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream”). This is the point where Dylan eclipses any conventional sense of folk and rewrites the rules of rock, making it safe for personal expression and poetry, not only making words mean as much as the music, but making the music an extension of the words.

A truly remarkable album.