(This Limited Edition-Deluxe Box Set includes over 50 digitally remastered Bob Dylan Classics, each CD is packaged in a mini-vinyl sleeve, 10 limited edition postcards plus a 40 page booklet with extended sleeve notes and rare photos.)
The most profound thing about yet another Bob Dylan collection is that every single one of the selections on these three discs is a cut above just about everything you'll ever hear in rock, folk or folk-rock music. By rights, Dylan should be a given a genre unto himself.
Starting with his earliest work, delivered in a thin but strong voice, and ending with a wizened but equally firm point of view, Dylan has taken on big issues of the late 20th Century in his trademark, iconoclastic vocal style. Social justice, racial equality, the search for compassion, forgiveness and salvation are all hot topics in his canon as are love and the reasons we hate. The timeless quality to his work is astounding -- whether he's raging against the "Masters Of War" or the powers that be in "Maggie's Farm," or singing the praises of the Lord in "Gotta Serve Somebody," Dylan's message is always right on time.
"Song To Woody" opens the show; it's his tribute to his hero, Woody Guthrie. "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" is a confrontational statement about the apocalypse. Of course these songs are delivered with just voice and acoustic guitar and in such bare-bones arrangement, they ironically come across even more powerful than if they were dressed up. Somehow, it's hard to imagine these songs done better in any other way.
"Subterranean Homesick Blues" heralds Dylan's electric, full band era and a change of sound. The song that some have called the number one single of all time, "Like a Rolling Stone," makes an appearance here.
As the decades wore on, styles changed and Dylan did too. Heading into the '70s on disc two, he entered a very strong period which yielded his albums Blood On The Tracks and Desire. The epic "Tangled Up In Blue," "Simple Twist of Fate" and "Hurricane," the true story of boxer Ruben "Hurricane" Carter, are the central pieces of the collection and disc two (Carter was actually released from prison on false charges, in part thanks to Dylan coming to his aid). When Dylan famously converted to Christianity, his album Slow Train Coming brought the news. The moving tribute, "Gotta Serve Somebody" became a top single and earned him a Grammy Award in 1980.
Disc three opens with arguably Dylan's greatest song of all: "Blind Willie McTell," with its reference to the legendary singer, a blues hero to Dylan. As he moves through his late period recordings, from the upstanding "Dignity," to the dealing-with-death "Not Dark Yet," one is staggered by the magnitude of Dylan's work. All of these flawless pieces, one after another, coming from one artist is truly remarkable.
Just when you thought you'd had enough or had heard it all, someone goes and compiles the Dylan catalog in a way that may allow you to hear it with fresh ears. And as for those looking to dip their toe in for the first time? You won't find a finer introduction to Dylan and his extraordinary half-century-spanning career than this.