Appendix F: Notes on methods and source materials

 

Comparison Methods

A great deal of tolerance has to be allowed when comparing vinyl discs.  Cutting engineers would often apply their own adjustments to the sound in order to get what they considered a good result. This means that copies mastered from the same version of the mixdown tapes but cut by different engineers at different locations can have significantly different sound characteristics. This would appear to be the case with the first and last sides of Blonde On Blonde, for example, when heard in the US and French editions; but it can also apply to different copies pressed at different locations within the same country. 

Indeed, it is occasionally hard to tell whether the same or differently-mixed master tapes have been used for different vinyl editions. A cutting engineer's boosting of a particular frequency range can give the impression that a particular instrument has been brought to the fore at the mixing stage.

I have tended to err on the side of caution and rely wherever possible on editing differences to identify different mixes. By this I mean splices, overdubs and edits to particular instruments or vocals.  I have also generally assumed that a different fade-out indicates a different mix, though in theory a shortened fade-out might be the work of a cutting engineer.

Another element of variation between different vinyl pressings is the speed (and therefore pitch) at which they play.  Many pieces of analogue equipment were used in the production chain, and each would be potentially subject to slight inaccuracies in operating speed.  Sometimes these would cancel each other out, but sometimes they added together to produce significant variations in the end product.  To eliminate any further variation at the playback stage I have set the speed of my turntable using the strobe markings on the platter.

In the analogue world, the recording and playback speeds of a track will affect its length, and this is one reason why comparing track lengths is particularly difficult. So instead of comparing total track lengths, I have concentrated on timing the length of additional music in the longer of two versions; doing it this way, any error will be much smaller. I have also ignored the timings printed on album sleeves and labels, as these are very unreliable.

Recordings Used

All comparisons were made using the following recordings:

US mono vinyl: original copy (Columbia C2L 41); 2002 vinyl reissue (Sundazed LP 5110).

Canadian mono vinyl: original copy (Columbia C2L 41).

French mono vinyl: original copy, early pressing (CBS 66012).

UK mono vinyl: original copy (CBS DDP 66012).

Mono 45 r.p.m. releases: UK single Rainy Day Women Nos. 12 & 35 / Pledging My Time (CBS 202307); French EP Rainy Day Women Nos. 12 & 35 / Pledging My Time / One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later) (CBS EP 5660); UK single I Want You / Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (CBS 202258); UK single Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat / Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine (CBS 2700). Also reissue 45s included in The Cutting Edge 1965-1966, Collector's Edition.

Original stereo vinyl mix: UK pressings circa 1971 and 1981 (CBS SDDP 66012); first-generation tape of US first pressing (Columbia C2S 841 with -2 matrix numbers); CD-Rs of original sides of US "hybrid" copies from late 60s / early 70s; original copy of late 1970s Japanese edition (CBS/Sony 40AP 274-5); CD-R of 1999 UK Simply Vinyl reissue (SVLP 063).

Revised stereo vinyl mix: 1992 Dutch reissue (Columbia 66012 1); CD-R of US 70s copy, and CD-Rs of remixed sides from US "hybrid" copies circa 1969-70 (Columbia C2S 841).

Original CD mix (1st abridged version): UK edition (CBS CDCBS 22130).

Original CD mix (2nd abridged version): CD-R of 2nd US pressing (Columbia CGK 841, matrix no. DIDP 70406  2)

Original CD mix (full-length): US "Nice Price" issue (Columbia CGK 841); European edition (Columbia 463369 2).

MasterSound CD mix: original issue (Columbia CK 53016); Japanese 20-bit CD reissue (Sony SRCS 7905); UK Millennium Edition (Columbia MILLEN15).

SACD stereo mix: Original SACD (Columbia CS 841); UK hybrid SACD (Columbia 512352 6).

SACD 5.1 surround mix: UK hybrid SACD reissue (Columbia 512352 6).

Mixes for The Bootleg Series Vol.12 The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: 18-CD Collector's Edition (Columbia/Legacy 8887512440218).

 

Books, Magazines, Websites etc.

Information was drawn from the following:

Terry Hounsome & Tim Chambre, New Rock Record, Blandford Press, 1981 (http://www.recordresearcher.com)

Clinton Heylin, Dylan: Behind The Shades, Viking, 1991

Rod MacBeath, Looking Up Dylan's Sleeves, Part 1, in issue 50 of The Telegraph, 1994

Michael Krogsgaard, Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions, Parts 1 & 2, in issues 52 & 53 of The Telegraph, 1995 (these can be seen online at http://www.punkhart.com/dylan/sessions-1.html and http://www.punkhart.com/dylan/sessions-2.html )

Clinton Heylin, Dylan: Behind Closed Doors, Penguin, 1996

M. C. Strong, The Wee Rock Discography, Canongate, 1996

Andy Gill, Classic Bob Dylan 1962-69: My Back Pages, Sevenoaks, 1998

Michael Fremer, Analog Corner, Stereophile magazine, February 2000

Robert Norris, Interview with Michael Brauer, Quad Recording Studios News, Vol.1, Issue 1,  May 2001 (formerly at http://www.mbrauer.com/articles/quad_interview.asp, now removed)

Howard Sounes, Down The Highway, Doubleday, 2001

Richard Younger, Interview with Bob Johnston, in Issue 20 of On The Tracks magazine, 2001

Michael Fremer, Interview with Bob Irwin in Stereophile magazine, February 2002

Christopher Walsh, Reissues reveal another side of Dylan, in Billboard magazine, September 2003

Sean Wilentz, Mystic Nights: The Making of Blonde on Blonde in Nashville, in Issue 58 of Oxford American, September 2007 (see http://theband.hiof.no/articles/mystic_nights_tmobob.html ). This piece was later incorporated, with minor amendments, into Sean Wilentz's book Bob Dylan In America, The Bodley Head, 2010

Daryl Sanders, Blonde Ambition: Looking back on Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde, the record that changed Nashville, published on the Nashville Scene website, May 2011 (see http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/looking-back-on-bob-dylans-blonde-on-blonde-the-record-that-changed-nashville/Content?oid=2420805&showFullText=true )

BBC radio programme Nashville Cats: The Making of Blonde on Blonde, broadcast on BBC Radio 2, 16 May 2011 (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01130ty for a fuller description, though sadly the programme is no longer available for listening)

Barney Hoskyns, Across The Great Divide: The Band and America, Pimlico, 2003

Alan Fraser, Searching For A Gem - illustrated online catalogue of rare and not-so-rare Dylan releases from all corners of the globe.

Robbie Robertson, Testimony, Crown Archetype, 2016

Derek Barker, Back to Black, Issue 190 of ISIS magazine (UK), 2017

 

Acknowledgements

I'm much indebted to Al Kooper for answering some questions about the original recording sessions, to Michael Brauer for talking to me about his remixing of Blonde On Blonde for the Super Audio CD release, to Bob Irwin for answering my endless questions about his researches in Columbia's tape vaults and the remastering of the Sundazed mono edition; and to Steve Berkowitz and Mark Wilder for talking about the preparation of The Original Mono Recordings.

I'd also like to thank Tim Anderson, Martin Andrzejewski, Richard Batey, Wieland Bauder, Pachi Becerril, Bruce Borgerson, Mark Bozen, Peter Stone Brown, Brian Budde, Patrick Buzby, Geoff Chappell, Dave Chesterman, Peter Clerides, Phil Cohen, Peter Coulthard, Larry Crum, Arie de Reus, Andrea Falesi, Richard Feirstein, Michael Fournier, Alan Fraser, Martin Gayford, Dennis J. Green, Jack Guerreiro, John Harju, Jon Heinink, Jim Heppell, Steve Hoffman, Pete Howard, Marty Howe, John Howells, Bruce Hughes, David Hwycdrrev,  John Jones, Les Kokay, Robert Kornovich, Paul Loeber, Damián M, Jon McAuliffe, Daniel McLean, Jack Manuel, Luke Pacholski, Jeff Partyka, Nishant Patel, Andoni Perez De Lema, Tony Perry, Tony Pignataro, Andrew Russ, Stephen Saper, Jean-Luc Sarrabayrouse, Hans Seegers, Leila Seneca, David Sims, Bob Stacy, Jordi To, Sam Visser, Andreas Volkert, David Whiting, Paul Woods, Ian Woodward and Matthew Zuckerman for their information, opinion and encouragement. And a special thank you to the late Sandy Gant, who long ago very generously provided me with tapes (and, later, CD-Rs) of numerous US vinyl copies of Blonde On Blonde

Lastly, my thanks to all those who've posted contributions on the subject to the newsgroup rec.music.dylan, or on the Steve Hoffman Music Forums, if they're not already mentioned above.

 Last updated November 2017

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