I was LITERALLY thinking a couple of days ago that I would catch a break this year with Bob Dylan releases. Last year he put out the incredible Cutting Edge release, which came in several different editions. The most expensive one was the crazy super deluxe one, which was limited edition and had every second of every take of every song Dylan recorded in 1965 and 1966. Honestly, if there was a period in his career that required this kind of obsessive release, it was this period. The set is probably the definitive example of the perfect degree of historical importance and fan obsessiveness. He even expanded the set after release by making an additional 209 tracks recorded during his 1965 tour available as a download. Have I mentioned it's an obsessive collection?
The set was very expensive, but it is now out of print and has nearly doubled in price, depending on where you look, so money well spent. Still, the set was so over the top and it covered two full years of Dylan's career, so I really believed that this year wouldn't see another obsessive year end copyright extension collection coming out from him. Since 2012 we've seen major artists put out limited run collections, sometimes as small as 100 copies, just to extend the copyright of the material that's on them. Without these releases their work would become public domain. Dylan did two years of exceptionally limited run collections (which were predictably bootleged) and then last year he did the crazy obsessive 65/66 set to make some serious bank off this practice. Good on you, Bob.
This morning it was announced that Dylan will be releasing a 36 disc collection of virtually every show he performed during his 1966 tour. This is the legendary first big electric tour, complete with members of The Band and hostile audiences paying good money to abuse him. Definitely historic stuff, but 36 discs? It'll extend the copyright, that's for sure.
When I think about the bonus downloads that were given to folks that got the crazy deluxe Cutting Edge set, I think mostly of sketchy sound. There are a few shows that are high quality, but a distressing amount of the recordings are pretty murky. While they're important from a historical perspective (and, let's not forget, a copyright extension perspective) they're mostly nothing that one would listen to for enjoyment. As a result, I was pretty skeptical about the announcement of the 1966 set, and immediately felt it wouldn't be worth the expense to have so many discs capturing essentially the same set over and over on a tour. Still, it's the 1966 tour...
My opinions on the set have begun to thaw now that I've seen the list of what's on the discs, and where the recordings were sourced from. Most of them are soundboard or CBS Mobile recordings, with a few audience recordings thrown in to complete the set. If one can get past the redundancy, this will likely be a pretty exciting set. The concerts from this tour are pretty exciting, and the "us vs. them" element that the band throws into their performances is electrifying, so I think a person could randomly grab any show from this tour and hear a great show.
The price appears to be less than $200, depending on your source, PLUS it's coming out on Black Friday, so Sony knows a great holiday gift idea when they see it. Me... as much as I complain about this kind of thing, I sort of know that I'm going to end up with it in my collection. As a completist, my need to stay up to date often beats any sense of fiscal responsibility.
So I guess what I'm saying that you need to get ready to hear some live Bob Dylan on the show before the end of the year.