The Master Is Remastered
One could be skeptical about Columbia’s Complete Mono Recordings. Could this reworking of Bob Dylan’s first eight albums really improve them? Would a shift from stereo sound to mono make that much of a difference? How much more brilliant could they be, anyway?
These questions were answered (and fears allayed) halfway through the first track. These American classics have been masterfully rejuvenated. From 1962’s Bob Dylan to 1967’s John Wesley Harding, the albums have regained a passion that was lost in the name of technological advancement. Dylan’s characteristic gravel is no longer separated from a wailing harmonica or thumping bass, and the result of this unification is nothing short of stunning.
Each track feels as if it’s been lovingly caressed; the stereo recordings are sharp and jarring by contrast. Songs like The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan‘s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” have morphed into something like a hymn – soft and beautifully intimate.
Electric numbers also sound more cohesive: the rousing chorus of “Like a Rolling Stone,” for example, has never been more affecting. Every element fits together perfectly and naturally, allowing Dylan’s iconic voice to truly soar.
Albums like Bob Dylan, Blonde On Blonde and The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan are especially enhanced by the mono mixes, but the entire set simply sparkles. Although every word and every plucked string has become part of our collective memory, the Complete Mono Recordings seems to do the impossible: it transforms them into something fresh. These folk classics remain as relevant and resonant as ever, and finally sound the way they were meant to be heard.