Let’s begin by establishing the fact that the music on this three CD set is essential. There can be no argument on that point. What can be discussed is whether this particular collection is required. After all, there have been a number of Bob Dylan retrospectives over the years, including three volumes of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits. There is nothing here that is previously unreleased, but the 51 songs have been remastered for the occasion.
Disc one of this set covers the five amazing years from 1962–1967, a.k.a. the years that Bob Dylan helped to remake the world of popular music. Any disc that covers material from “Blowin’ In The Wind” to “Like A Rolling Stone” is undeniable. The second disc covers what might be called Dylan’s middle period. This time period includes albums like The Basement Tapes, Blood On The Tracks and Slow Train Coming. It’s here that you might be pleasantly surprised by the appearance of some songs that you haven’t heard in a while. The final disc presents the late-era Dylan, right up through 2006’s “Modern Times”.
Columbia/Legacy has released Dylan in three different configurations. There’s an 18-track condensed version, a basic three CD set, and a deluxe three CD boxed set that includes special CD sleeves, vinyl replica CDs, a perfect bound 40- page booklet, and 10 postcard lithograph prints, all enclosed in a cloth covered, velvet lined hinged box.
Hardcore Dylan followers will already have everything that’s here. Even more casual fans might have most of it. It would however serve as a great introduction for someone looking to begin their study of rock’s greatest poet, or someone who just likes the idea of an updated, career-spanning retrospective.
In A Word: Music: Indispensable, Package: Dispensable