- An outstanding vintage stereo pressing of Dylan’s live 1976 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish
- This copy is hard to fault – big, open, clear, with space and three-dimensionality that modern pressings can only dream of
- “At times, Hard Rain sounds bloated, featuring performances that are sometimes too ragged; though knowing the subtext of the events, some moments feel triumphant: musical and personal. We may not know Bob Dylan, but it’s an awfully close look at a stranger.” – Magnet Magazine
- This pressing boasts very good Hot Stamper sound from the first note to last
- These sides were doing just about everything right – they’re clean, clear and spacious with weight down low and strong vocal presence
- “Oh Mercy was hailed as a comeback, not just because it had songs noticeably more meaningful than anything Bob Dylan had recently released, but because Daniel Lanois’ production gave it cohesion… at the time, this production made it seem like the equivalent of his ’60s records, meaning that its artiness was cutting edge, not portentous…”
- 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.”
- KILLER sound throughout with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on sides one, three and four, and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second side – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- “The fire and brimstone are behind Dylan, [but] this hardly means the fight has gone out of him: Bob Dylan at Budokan is a very contentious effort—and, for the most part, a victorious one.” Rolling Stone
This vintage Columbia pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 outstanding sides such as these 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 1979
- 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 concert venue
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 Listen For on Bob Dylan At Budokan
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- 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 so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mr. Tambourine Man
Shelter From The Storm
Love Minus Zero/No Limit
Ballad Of A Thin Man
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Allright
One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below)
Like A Rolling Stone
I Shall Be Released
Is Your Love In Vain?
Going, Going, Gone
Blowin’ In The Wind
Just Like A Woman
Simple Twist Of Fate
All Along The Watchtower
I Want You
All I Really Want To Do
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding
The Times They Are A-Changin’
The noisy (aren’t they all?) mono copy we keep around as a reference presents Dylan and his guitar in a starkly immediate, clear and unprocessed way. The stereo version of the album is simply that sound with some light stereo reverb added.
More than anything else the mono pressing on some tracks sounds like a demo. It’s as if the engineers threw up a mic or two, set the EQ for flat and proceeded to roll tape. This is a good sound for what it is, but it has a tendency toward dryness, perhaps not on all of the tracks but clearly on some. Certainly the first track on side one can have that drier sound.
What the stereo reverb does is fill out the sound of Dylan’s voice respectfully. The engineers of the late ’50 and ’60s had a tendency to drown their singers in heavy reverb, as anyone who’s ever played an old Tony Bennett or Dean Martin album knows all too well.
But a little reverb actually benefits the vocals of our young Mr. Dylan on The Times They Are A-Changin’, and there is an easy way to test that proposition. When you hit the mono button on your preamp or phono stage, the reverb disappears, leaving the vocal more clear and more present, but also more dry and thin. You may like it better that way. Obviously, to some degree this is a matter of taste.
The nice thing about this stereo copy, assuming you have a mono switch in your system (which you should; they’re very handy), is that you have the option of hearing it both ways and deciding for yourself which approach you find more involving and enjoyable — if not necessarily truthful.
We suspect your preference will be both listener- and system-dependent. Isn’t it better to have the option and be able to make that determination for yourself? (more…)
- A KILLER sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
- The big hit here is Gotta Serve Somebody – Mark Knopler of Dire Straits is featured throughout
- I doubt this is anyone’s very favorite Dylan album, but it’s sure a lot more enjoyable when you have sound like this
- With two amazingly good sides, each rating a sonic grade of Triple Plus (A+++) or close to it, this original pressing has the magic of analog in its grooves
- We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
- 4 1/2 stars: “Say what you want about Empire Burlesque — at the very least, it’s the most consistent record Bob Dylan has made since Blood on the Tracks, even if it isn’t quite as interesting as Desire. However, it is a better set of songs, all deriving from the same place and filled with subtle gems… this is as good as Dylan gets in his latter days.”
- A wonderful sounding original Columbia 360 Stereo pressing of this pivotal Dylan LP, with insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to them on both sides
- Here is the bass, richness & vocal presence that make John Wesley Harding one of the better sounding Dylan records from the late ’60s
- The title track, Dear Landlord, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, All Along the Watchtower and I Pity The Poor Immigrant are but a small sampling of the more memorable songs here
- 5 stars: “The music is simple, direct, and melodic, providing a touchstone for the country-rock revolution that swept through rock in the late ’60s.”
- With Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and Double Plus (A++) on the second, this copy has the real Nashville Skyline magic – fairly quiet vinyl too
- We guarantee that Bob’s duet with Johnny Cash on this Shootout Winning Triple Plus side one (Girl from the North Country) will blow your mind, or your money back
- “Lay Lady Lay,” “To Be Alone With You,” “I Threw It All Away,” “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” are true country-rock standards
- 5 stars: “It’s a warm, friendly album, particularly since Bob Dylan is singing in a previously unheard gentle croon — the sound of his voice is so different it may be disarming upon first listen, but it suits the songs.”
- A superb copy of Dylan’s 1970 release with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last
- We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true for whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently being foisted on an unsuspecting record-buying public
- “… it’s a fun, affectionate, sometimes beautiful, often entertaining, occasionally goofy record. As a tangle of roots and enthusiasms, it looks forward to Dylan’s two early-90s albums of folk-song covers, to his eclectic satellite-radio show, which ran on Sirius from 2006 to 2009, and to his recent string of albums with their timeless-sounding fusion of blues, country, folk, and pop.” – Bruce Handy, Vanity Fair