Forbes has broken a story about new $300 CD set with free digital downloads but will it be a bust?

Bob Dylan and his band in Ireland 2010

Dylanologists will be ecstatic –  or not – this fall when Sony / Columbia releases a complete box set of everything Bob Dylan has recorded. The set will include singles and songs like George Jackson which have never been released before.

This could be great news or a counter attack against Dylan and other artists who will see their copyrights revert by Act of Congress in 2013. Sony could be just blowing the value of the Dylan catalog out the window in one last nasty parting shot.  Dylan has already launched a pre-emptive strike against the resistance of his label to free up his work. The labels are trying to declare the artists’ work prior to 1978 as “works-for-hire” which allows them to retain the copyright in a loophole left by Congress.

“Bob Dylan has already filed to regain some of his compositions,” wrote Larry Rother in the New York Times, “as have other rock, pop and country performers like Tom Petty, Bryan Adams, Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Waits and Charlie Daniels, according to records on file at the United States Copyright Office.”  Record Industry Braces for Artists’ Battles Over Song Rights August 2011 NY Times

Hank Williams The Lost Notebooks

You’re thinking the record companies aren’t that sleazy? Remember when Dylan left Columbia in the 1970s and Columbia released an album of studio out-takes called Dylan. With warbling on Elvis Presley songs such as Can’t Help Falling in Love and (Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I, Dylan fans were aghast. It was liking finding out Mick Jagger crooned Perry Como in the shower.

Since then fans have come to expect the unexpected from Dylan, such as Christmas in the Heart. Last year we got a  lump of coal that turned out to be a gem, The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams.

Dylan Box Sets

Bob Dylan SACD

We’ve been getting regular dose of Dylan special releases almost every autumn. The best of these box sets have been works of love with exhaustive notes about the music, large booklets with new photos, and re-mastered or never-released out-takes.

In 2003 Columbia remastered some of the greatest Dylan albums as Super Audio CD’s which improved on the sound of any remastered CDs that were shipped. I return to the SACD disks first when I am listening to Dylan – they simply sound better. Dylan SACD Box Set worth the change

2010 saw Bob Dylan’s The Original Mono Recordings which seemed more like a completists wish than something new.

Bob Dylan, disappearing digital music

Tell Tale Signs The Bootleg Series # 8 (2008) is one of the best Dylan box sets. It contains out-takes from Oh Mercy to Modern Times. It is in constant rotation at my place, in the car, on the stereo on on the computer. The vinyl version is worth it for the sound quality and large book that is included in the box set. The different versions on Oh Mercy back up the stories about how Dylan and Daniel Lanois produced Dylan’s 1980s come-back CD.

The Dylan box sets are best in the vinyl versions. The booklet has full sized pictures and text that you can enjoy reading. The box itself is collectible and the sound of vinyl is the real deal.

If you are going to get the vinyl, it’s best to order it when released. The prices are better on release and usually the vinyl goes out of print. Guys definitely find a girl friend or spouse handy around Christmas to keep their Dylan collections growing. A few well dropped hints is usually all it takes.

Breaking story

Roger Friedman of Forbes broke this story of an all Dylan recorded CD set with a $300 price tag.

The word is Columbia Records is preparing the ultimate Bob Dylan box set– a collection of all his albums including his bootleg series. The massive box will be a Dylanographer’s delight, collecting every single track including single tracks like “George Jackson” that never made into onto an album. There will also be a couple of CDs with miscellaneous tracks, so that just about everything you ever heard, had, lost, or wanted is all in one place. The price for this super collection is said to be $300–but there’s an upside. I am told that there will be a code so buyers can download the whole thing for free as well. “It seemed crazy to say here it is, now go upload the whole thing into your computer too,” says a source.

Jeff Rosen (center) , Dylan's manager seen here at the NYC premiere of No Direction Home with co-producers Nigel Sinclair and Susan Lacey (photo Kevin Mazur/

“Then time will tell who fell and who’s been left behind…”
Dylan sang. We will see if the rumoured box set for this fall is collectible.

Dylan has very strong control over his catalog. I hope it will be a great box set that lands under my Christmas tree with copious notes and background information from Jeff Rosen and the rest of the Dylan team at Sony Columbia.

Jeff Rosen, along with being Bob Dylan’s manager, has been the keeper of the Dylan legacy. He has produced all of the Dylan retrospectives with great care and attention to Dylan’s work and reputation.

Other Dylan box sets