So, I thought I’d just say a quick word to wrap up all these Dylan records I’ve been reviewing. This set contains Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-changin’, Another Side of Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde & John Wesley Harding as well as an MP3 download of Positively Fourth Street. These eight albums were all released in both mono & stereo and this set releases the original mono versions, obviously. I can’t really get into the whole mono vs. stereo thing; I’m not enough of an audiophile to say that these are better or worse or whatever. But it is really amazing to hear these eight albums as a single set. It’s essentially the first six years of Dylan’s career (excepting a Greatest Hits release) and I found it amazing for two reasons. First of all, it’s this astounding body of work that’s just really unprecedented; in just six years, he turns out no less than four masterpieces & two near masterpieces. Second, it’s amazing to see just how chameleonic Dylan really is; you hear it a lot, but when you listen to these eight albums in a row you realize that he’s already shifting tones and styles and voices like mad. Freewheelin’ is totally different from his debut; A-changin’ is totally different from Freewheelin’; Another Side is completely different from the first three; Bringing It All Back Home, obviously, a watershed; Blonde on Blonde really takes the Back Home/Highway 61 model and just explodes it; and then John Wesley Harding sounds like none of the others. These albums are not all equally good; I just firmly recommend against his debut and you can just do whatever with Another Side. So this is perhaps not the best way to encounter the great albums here. Anyway, I can’t exactly say you have to hear this; you can get the good albums here elsewhere without the mediocre/bad stuff. But still, it’s an amazing set of music. If you don’t know why Dylan’s a legend, after these eight albums, you will. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – Dylan’s first eight albums are fascinating to listen to as a single unit; but there is some variable stuff here, so if you want, get the great stuff elsewhere. 3 ½ stars.