by Bob Dylan


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Historically, Biograph is significant not for what it did for Dylan's career, but for establishing the box set, complete with hits and rarities, as a viable part of rock history. Following Biograph, multi-disc box sets for veteran rockers became accepted and almost the norm, but that doesn't discount this set's strengths as a summary of Dylan's career, using the familiar and the rare to draw a fully rounded portrait of his strengths as a songwriter, musician, and record-maker in a way that conventional choices alone couldn't achieve. Certainly, the chief attraction of this set, even years after its initial release, is its smattering of rarities that aren't just rare, but revealing -- ranging from forgotten rock B-sides and singles to demos, alternate takes, and unreleased songs that rival official releases. But Biograph is really remarkable for weaving these songs into a fabric that reveals the true trajectory of Dylan's career, offering as much to the curious as it does to the dedicated. That sets a standard for box sets that has rarely been matched, making Biograph all the more impressive in retrospect. [In 1997, Columbia Records issued an upgraded, reconfigured version of Biograph, with a new catalog number (65298), a lower list price, and with its packaging and booklet reduced from an LP-size box to a CD-size slipcase. The original 1985 set in the large-size box, which marked the first time that the label had gone back to original first-generation tapes on a Dylan CD, was pretty impressive; but the 1997 CD-size box version, remastered in Sony's Super Bit Mapping process, is a significant improvement over that, and is to be preferred.]

Product Details

Release Date: 10/17/1990
Label: Sony
UPC: 0074643883047
catalogNumber: 38830

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4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
I will try not to plow the same ground the other reviewers covered quite well. I simply state that this is probably the best way to survey bob Dylan's first 20 years. It covers his journey from folk singer to rocker to gospel artist with all its twists and turns. The newer Dylan 3 CD set is a chronological overview. These discs mix his different guises into one heady stew, putting obscurities with well known classics. You will find some favorites missing (Memphis Blues studio and Idiot Wind live are mine) but controversy is part of Bob's bag of tricks. One thing I noted on my latest listen is that the recklessness of the pre-1975 tracks was replaced by a professional sheen on the later ones. Buy Biograph and revisit the career of an American icon
poughkeepsiejohn More than 1 year ago
When Bob Dylan decided it was time to make a career retrospective boxed set, nobody was really expecting much out of it. He had just released two very good albums ("Infidels" and "Empire Burlesque") which were followed by two awful albums ("Knocked Out Loaded" and "Down In The Groove"). He also just finished his Born-Again Christian period which not only didn't produce a lot of good music but also alienated much of his fan base. When "Biograph" was released in 1985, it became the first truly successful boxed set, going platinum several times. The genius of this set is not just in the talent that is Dylan. It is also with the set up. Rather than arrange the songs in chronological order, the songs are literally (and wisely) all over the place. You have Dylan tearing into "Tombstone Blues" followed by a shot of true religion in "The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar". "Positively 4th Street", one of Dylan's finest stand-out alone singles is here, too, right next to "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?", another great single. There are also a lot of impressive outtakes which should've made it to Dylan's albums, such as the shimmeringly inviting "Up To Me", an outtake from the 1974 classic, "Blood on the Tracks". The set covers just about every aspect of Dylan's career, even making his Born-Again material (like "Gotta Serve Somebody") relevant alongside more obscure stuff (such as "Time Passes Slowly"). And there are lots of live performances here, some of which include his highly touted Rolling Thunder Revue of 1975-1976. However, his finest, most vibrant performances are with The Band, from 1966 when he and his group were villified and booed everywhere they went to 1974 when he and the group were triumphantly greeted with cheering, sold out crowds every night. "Biograph" also comes with a booklet featuring a rambling interview that Dylan gave to Cameron Crowe. There are also explanations of each song on the record by Dylan himself, which is probably unnecessary considering that Dylan has always believed in letting his music speak for itself. Hard to believe at the time "Biograph" was released, some were writing off Dylan as "washed up". Since "Biograph" came out, Dylan has become a Traveling Wilbury, has been on a so-called Never Ending Tour, his 1997 album "Time Out Of Mind" won the Grammy for Album Of The Year and he has made two more brilliant, rootsy albums: "Love And Theft" and "Modern Times". Giving his ability to reinvent himself and giving the fact that his music still carries much weight, as Dylan turns 70, I have a feeling he's not finished yet. Not by a damn sight.
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