I was going to skip Masterpieces. This is the triple-LP greatest hits collection that Columbia issued in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan in March 1978 in anticipation of his tour there. There’s not much for me to say because I don’t actually own it (I did see a copy in January at a used record store, but I don’t own a turntable and it seemed odd to pay collector’s prices for an album that I can’t play and which I have all the music anyway, so I passed).

What I can say is that it’s a terrific Greatest Hits package in terms of song selection. Thirty-nine tracks, and almost every one a winner. Probably a much better package than the two American Greatest Hits collections, which also amount to three LPs.

Anyway, I was going to pass, but in googling around I was reminded of this site. These people (it can’t be one person, can it?) trace the different versions of everything Dylan has ever done. I mean, ever done. This site is incredible. They have scans and photos of the labels from the various releases. They have pictures of the cassette tapes! This is a level of obsession that I can admire, but that this project hasn’t even come close to touching. This is the work of a lifetime, not a year. This is close, attentive listening to bootlegs and studio outtakes to identify minor technical differences.


Check this: About the version of “Mixed Up Confusion” included here:

R-0145-3 Mixed Up Confusion, 1962 – out-take from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylanrecorded at Columbia Studios, New York, 1 Nov 1962 (take 10), and overdubbed with different backing, probably on 8 Dec 1964.  It is therefore not Bob’s first single R-0007 (see 1962) as expected, but the alternate take without the first harmonica solo from the Japanese promo LP Mr. D’s Collection # 1 (see 1974) and promo EP, Mr. D’s Collection  #2 (see 1976). This is Side 3, track 1.  As on those other releases, it is a mono mix of the overdub take.

I can’t compete with this. Hell, I can only barely comprehend it!

They have some great trivia here (“Dr. George Christos informs me Masterpieces was once given away by an Australian beer company with a purchase of 24 cans of beer!”)

It’s all a bit too much for me, I’m afraid.

2 thoughts on “Masterpieces

  1. Rusty

    That’s a great site–I’m delighted to hear that Dylan (may) be doing a cover of The Beatles’ “For No One” on a tribute album (not my absolute favorite song on that album, but now I want to hear Dylan do it). And now I also want him to do “I Want To Tell You”. . .

    Don’t sell short your own efforts here–the “Searching For a Gem” people have done work you would want done but don’t want to do yourself, just as you’re doing work I’m glad is done but would never want to do either (like listening to the Xian stuff and reporting back). In other contexts it’s called “scholarship.”

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