Top Artists – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan – Knocked Out Loaded

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Knocked Out Loaded

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this superb pressing of Dylan’s 1986 release – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides here are super rich and full with excellent bass and tons of energy
  • “… the 11-minute epic “Brownsville Girl”, co-written by Sam Shepard, has been cited as one of his best songs by some critics.”
  • “… [Dylan’s] scattershot approach has its charms, especially when it results in winding epics like the Shepard collaboration ‘Brownsville Girl.'”

This is one of the better sounding Dylan records from the ’80s. It’s not exactly Blood on the Tracks, the only Dylan album we think is qualified to be on our Top 100 Rock and Pop List, but it sounds good for a record from this era. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks

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Blood on the Tracks

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  • With Double Plus (A++) sonic grades on both sides, this is an outstanding Blood on the Tracks from start to finish
  • For musical, un-hyped acoustic guitars and vocals, the sound of this album is tough to beat in Dylan’s catalog 
  • The better copies are rich, warm, tubey and full-bodied – in other words, they are exactly what’s good about vintage analog
  • 5 stars: “…it’s an affecting, unbearably poignant record, not because it’s a glimpse into his soul, but because the songs are remarkably clear-eyed and sentimental, lovely and melancholy at once. Dylan made albums more influential than this, but he never made one better.”

This is an outstanding recording — a member of our Top 100 in fact — but it takes a special pressing to bring it to life. It’s nice when the copy in hand has all the transparency, space, layered depth and three-dimensionality that makes listening to records such a fundamentally different experience than listening to digitally-sourced material, but it’s not nearly as important as having a rich, relaxed quality. A touch of smear and a slight lack of resolution is not the end of the world on this album. Brightness, along with too much grain and grit, can be. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Another Side of Bob Dylan (in Mono)

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Another Side of Bob Dylan (in Mono)

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  • An excellent Mono copy of this early Dylan classic with surprisingly good Double Plus (A++) sound throughout   
  • We were impressed by just how clear and present Dylan’s voice sounded on this copy – this is the way you want to hear the man
  • Many classics are here: All I Really Want To Do, Chimes Of Freedom, My Back Pages, It Ain’t Me Babe and 7 more
  • 5 stars: “Another Side of Bob Dylan is a more varied record and it’s more successful, too, since it captures Dylan expanding his music, turning in imaginative, poetic performances on love songs and protest tunes alike. The result is one of his very best records, a lovely intimate affair.”

This early mono pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

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 55+ 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.

What the best sides of this groundbreaking More-Than-Just-Folk-Music Album 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 in1964
  • 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.

It’s tough to find copies of this album that give you all the tubey richness and warmth that this music needs to sound its best. Too many copies, especially of the ’70s Red Label reissue variety, seem to be EQ’d to put the vocals way up front, an approach that often makes Dylan’s voice hard and edgy. Copies like that sound impressive at first blush (“Wow, he’s really IN THE ROOM!”) but become fatiguing in short order.

While Dylan’s albums may not be big-production sonic spectacles – he played every instrument on the album himself – hearing these great songs sound so intimate and lifelike on a top quality pressing can be a sublime experience. We should know; we enjoyed the hell out of this copy.

What We’re Listening For on Another Side of Bob Dylan

  • 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 -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

All I Really Want to Do 
Black Crow Blues 
Spanish Harlem Incident
Chimes of Freedom 
I Shall Be Free No. 10 
To Ramona

Side Two

Motorpsycho Nitemare 
My Back Pages 
I Don’t Believe You 
Ballad in Plain D 
It Ain’t Me Babe

AMG 5 Star Rave Review!

Another Side of Bob Dylan is a more varied record and it’s more successful, too, since it captures Dylan expanding his music, turning in imaginative, poetic performances on love songs and protest tunes alike.

This has an equal number of classics to its predecessor, actually, with “All I Really Want to Do,” “Chimes of Freedom,” “My Back Pages,” “I Don’t’ Believe You,” and “It Ain’t Me Babe” standing among his standards, but the key to the record’s success is the album tracks, which are graceful, poetic, and layered.

Both the lyrics and music have gotten deeper and Dylan’s trying more things — this, in its construction and attitude, is hardly strictly folk, as it encompasses far more than that. The result is one of his very best records, a lovely intimate affair.

BOB DYLAN’S DISCOGRAPHY

These are his albums through 1989, after which you are on your own. The later recordings have never sounded right to us and we have no plans to do shootouts for those releases.

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 [never heard this album sound better than tolerable]
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

Bob Dylan – Blonde On Blonde

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Blonde On Blonde

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  • With 10.5 pluses out of a possible 12, this copy was one of the best we heard in our recent shootout — exceptionally quiet vinyl too  
  • You won’t believe how big, rich and full this album can sound on a copy this good
  • Includes tons of quintessential Dylan classics: Rainy Day Women, I Want You, Just Like A Woman, and more – they all sound phenomenal
  • 5 stars: “Blonde on Blonde is an album of enormous depth, providing endless lyrical and musical revelations on each play… It’s the culmination of Dylan’s electric rock & roll period — he would never release a studio record that rocked this hard, or had such bizarre imagery, ever again.”

It takes a properly mastered, properly pressed copy like this one to get both Dylan’s voice and harmonica — two of the most critically important elements on any of his recordings — to sound smooth, full-bodied and clear. Any pinched quality will be painfully obvious to the listener, and for that shortcoming you lose a lot of points here at Better Records. That said, upper-midrangy sound on any vintage Dylan record to one degree or another is almost always audible. The less the better, but none is really not an option. (more…)

Bob Dylan & The Band – Before The Flood – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

One of the great Live Classic Rock albums of all time, now available in White Hot Stamper form! We recently undertook a massive shootout for this spirited double LP and three of the better sides from the whole shebang are on this here pressing. Sides one and two each earned our top grade of A+++, while side four clocked in at A++. Side three, as is often the case, was not quite up to the same standards. 

We feel that the best material is contained on the other three sides, so we doubt this will be a dealbreaker for many of you. (more…)

The Traveling Wilburys – Volume One

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  • You’ll find very good Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this copy of the Wilbury’s debut album – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Proof that, when you put Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne in a recording studio together, something good is bound to happen
  • Certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, this album was Grammy nominated Album of the Year in 1989 
  • 4 1/2 stars: “There never was a supergroup more super than the Traveling Wilburys… It’s impossible to picture a supergroup with a stronger pedigree.”

It’s hard not to enjoy this music. Put Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne in a recording studio together and something good is bound to happen, right?

This album is proof that it did! (more…)

Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2016

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This is a 2-pack of two Mono pressings, each with a killer Triple Plus (A+++) side. The White Hot sides are amazingly spacious, full-bodied, natural and clear with great presence. We greatly prefer the best Mono pressings to the best stereo copies, but they are very hard to come by.

This is our favorite of the early Dylan albums for both music and sound! We’re picking up both mono and stereo copies when we see them clean (which is rare) but the best mono copies truly take this music to a whole new level. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Street-Legal

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This copy has an insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) side one backed with an excellent Double Plus (A++) side two. 

Which breaks the rules a bit because most side twos earned a sonic grade that was about a half plus higher than the average copy’s grade for side one. Side two most of the time just plain sounds better than side one, so when evaluating your copy be sure to check side two first to hear what is probably going to be the best sound on the album. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Slow Train Coming

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

We packaged together our very best A+++ side one with a different copy that boasted our best side two with the same top grade to give you this QUIET White Hot Stamper 2-pack! I doubt this is anyone’s very favorite Dylan album, but it’s sure a lot more enjoyable when you have sound like this. And if you want to hear what’s missing on the typical pressing, flip either copy over to the non-WHS side to see what we’re talking about. 

The big hit here is Gotta Serve Somebody, and Mark Knopler of Dire Straits is featured throughout the album. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline (Reviewed in 2008)

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

STUNNING MASTER TAPE SOUND ON SIDE ONE, BACKED WITH A TOP SHELF SIDE TWO! It ain’t easy to find Hot Stamper copies of this album, but when you play one like this it is worth all the trouble. When Johnny Cash starts singing, it is positively chilling. That’s the Man In Black, folks, and the immediacy of this copy puts him right there in the room with you! 

The presence and clarity of the vocals on this copy are BEYOND ANY REASONABLE EXPECTATION! Folks, believe me when I tell you that for Nashville Skyline, this copy is As Good As It Gets (AGAIG) on side one and darn close on side two.

Not only that, but the vinyl is unusally quiet — mostly Mint Minus for both sides with much less inner groove distortion than we’re used to hearing. It’s one of the QUIETEST Hot Stamper copies of this album we’ve ever put up! (more…)