Bob Dylan

Original Album Classics, Vol. 3

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This set is one of Sony Legacy's inventory-clearing exercises: five Bob Dylan catalog titles are packaged in a slipcase for a budget price. It's an interesting cross-section of material, to say the least. Shot of Love is the middle volume in the trilogy of Christian records the songwriter released, bookended by the classic Slow Train Coming and the unfairly reviled Saved. Despite its hideous cover, it's actually a very strong record, drenched in blues and raw R&B, with the songs "The Bridegroom's Still Waiting at the Altar" and "Every Grain of Sand" still showing up in his set list in the 21st century. Infidels, from 1983, featured guitarist Mark Knopfler on guitar, and Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare in the rhythm section. Its first side boasted some killer tracks including "Jokerman" and "Sweetheart Like You," while the flip contained "I and I." Real Live from 1984 was considered a minor Dylan live record, but it is one of his tightest -- former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor is on lead guitar -- in a rocking program of hits as well as "I and I." One has to wonder what Dylan was thinking when he released Dylan & the Dead: though the shows were often brilliant, the recording is anything but; it's tired and uninspired. Finally, 1989's Oh Mercy was Dylan's first collaboration with producer Daniel Lanois, who was riding a popular wave, working with U2 and the Neville Brothers, and issuing his own acclaimed Acadie. Though it contains a couple of dud tracks, the better songs are minor classics including "Man in the Long Black Coat," "Ring Them Bells," "Where Teardrops Fall," and "Most of the Time." Hardcore fans more than likely have the albums they want from this set, but younger and newer fans unfamiliar with the catalog will find four of these records well worth owning.

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