Dylan's Time Out of Mind remix is Stunning
"Time Out of Mind" was always a powerful record, despite the murky original mix.
Now, with most of the sonic muck that producer Daniel Lanois smeared onto the music scraped off and rinsed away, it's full glory is revealed. Abetted by terrific SQ, its impact is stunning.
The old mantra "original mixes are always better" is blown out of the water by this.
For my tastes, this is one of the best releases in the Bootleg Series-- a dream come true for Dylan lovers-- and one of the best Dylan releases since "Blood on the the Tracks".
Lyric fragments keep cycling in my head. . .
"People on the platforms
waiting for trains
I can hear their hearts a beatin'
like pendulums swingin' on chains"
Yeah, that’s one of my favorite tracks, too.
This mix is so much better, it’s hard to imagine why Dylan approved the original.
No doubt, he had his reasons at the time but we can all be thankful he changed his mind somewhere along the way.
I considered picking up the 2 CD version of the previous Bootleg Series release that includes "Infidels" but from what I could discern on Spotify, the heavily effected drum sound that I never cared for has been retained. I may still relent. All the songs from those sessions seem to be included and the combination of Taylor + Knopfler is hard to resist!
I'd be very interested to hear what you like about the original mix, if you care to elaborate. How does Daniel Lanois' esthetic contribute to your enjoyment?
With no other alternative, I appreciated what I was able to appreciate in the original mix but I always felt the production limited my enjoyment. Having heard the remix, I have no interest in the original version but I am curious what you hear in it.
I thought the original CD sounded better than most.
With tons and tons of atmosphere, bandwidth and reverb on it, Time Out of Mind was a huge Grammy winning album for Dylan, I loved it.
Let's not also forget that the 1989 Lanois produced Oh Mercy was the great comeback album for Dylan after a rather lengthy barren period.
I've not heard this new remix, not am I in any hurry to do so, but no doubt I will at some point but there will be some who prefer hearing precisely recorded individual instruments instead of a sonic painting of the kind that Lanois is famous for.
I get that, but that's not what Daniel Lanois does.
Some would argue that Daniel Lanois was the Phil Spector of the 80s and the 90s and his work with everyone from U2 to Robbie Robertson to Emmylou Harris to Brian Eno as well as Dylan himself made him the producer of those 2 decades.
As far as the removal of 'sonic muck' goes, I don't think that can apply here. However if we're talking about the 1990s Don Devito remix of Street Legal, well, that's another story...
I love Spector’s early-mid 60’s productions, of Pop singers (all his girl groups, The Righteous Brothers, Ike & Tina Turner, etc.). But not his Beatles, George Harrison, Leonard Cohen, Ramones, or Robbie Robertson (that album just oozes pretentiousness, imo.).
Guitarist Denny Freeman has in interviews recounted how Lanois vetoed a lot of his guitar parts during the recording of TOOM (Dylan chose Freeman for a reason: his guitar playing. It might surprise you, but I suspect Dylan may have been intimidated by Lanois.). Lanois was endeavoring to create a "sonic painting", rather than record a singer-songwriter with a backing band. I prefer the latter. Of course, the consumer now has his or her choice: the album Lanois wanted to make, or the one Dylan did. Or both, for that matter.
Dylan was never happy with the sound of the original release. Lucinda Williams felt the same about her Sweet Old World album (but not just the sound, the performances as well), and in 2017 rerecorded the entire album, releasing it in a 2-LP set and titling it This Sweet Old World. I agree with Lucinda, preferring the rerecorded version. It had previously taken her three complete recordings of Car Wheels On A Gravel Road to get the album she was trying to make.
cd381, I agree with all you say here.
Oh Mercy is another Dylan/DL record that I just love. The sound on Man In the Long Black Coat is outrageously great, such a mood-setter.
I guess I'm simply happy to have both versions of Time Out Of Mind, and love each of them. I can put either on and revel in the greatness of the songs, the music, the sounds, the artistry.
bd, I find it impossible to accept Dylan being intimidated by anyone in a studio.
Sonic "finger-painting", to my ears!
BTW, the notes accompanying the 2 cd Fragments set quote Dylan regarding the contrast between Lanois' approach to producing and Dylan’s own.
"Sonic Muck" was the only phrase I could come up with to describe what I hear.
This is an esthetic response, not an engineering/technical assessment.
I wasn’t referring to the fidelity of the recording but to the "artistically murky" "sound painting" that resulted from Lanois’ manipulations of what was heard in the studio, pre-production
How else can I put it...?
OK, if what the musicians played was "clean water", then Lanois' manipulations turned it to "dirty water". It makes little difference to me how well he polished the "bottle" . It's still "dirty water" to me.
That's cool, we all have different tastes in production.
For example I could never stand what Steve Lillywhite did to the Pogues third album, If I Should Fall from the Grace of God. For sure it sounded clean and tidy, but it also sounded small and squeezed and squashed.
It just wasn't the Pogues and it just didn't breathe.
A massive disappointment after the Elvis Costello produced Rum, Sodomy and the Lash 2nd LP that was everything it's successor wasn't.
I guess production style, like guitar playing is mostly a matter of taste. Some like Hank B Marvin some prefer Hendrix. Some might even like both.
I'm sure that this remix will become an interesting adjunct to the original, but it's hardly likely to replace it, is it?
I find it impossible to accept Dylan being intimidated by anyone in a studio.
Virtually right from the start of his recording career, like the Beatles were, he's been very much his own man. The other great thing is that he does seem to care about sound quality and he's forever chasing that perfect sound in his head.
His comments from a few years back about the large sonic losses from studio to CD/LP were interesting too.
I wonder if he still feels the same way today?
Oh, hey: Anyone who wants to hear the Spector Wall-Of-Sound applied really successfully to Rock ’n’ Roll, get a copy of Dave Edmunds’ 2nd album, Subtle As A Flying Mallet. For those unfamiliar with Dave, he is a Chuck Berry and Everly Brothers-influenced guitarist and singer (and record producer: The Every Brothers, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Stray Cats, Carlene Carter, etc.), but on this album he went into Rockfield Studio in Wales and came out with an amazing assortment of recordings, some songs ("Da Doo Ron Ron", "Baby I Love You", "Maybe"---a fantastic song by The Chantels, "Let It Be Me"---The EV Brothers, Dylan did it on Self Portrait, "Born To Be With You"---a Dion song) complete with an incredible recreation of Spector’s sound.
Each side of the LP closes with a live recording, Dave backed by the UK band Brinsley Schwarz (whose bassist was Nick Lowe, later Dave’s partner in the super-group Rockpile), performing blistering versions of two Chuck Berry songs: "No Money Down" and "Let It Rock". 100% American Rock ’n’ Roll! Makes The Stones sound like the wankers they are ;-) .
Oops; the Robbie Robertson album I above referred to was not a Spector production, but a Daniel Lanois. I REALLY dislike it. Though The Band greatly benefited from Robertson’s songwriting and guitar playing (but certainly not his "singing". In The Last Waltz he constantly pretends to be singing into his mic, but I dare you to find his notes. When Levon Helm, Rick Danko, and Richard Manuel are all singing together, what you hear is 3-part harmony. So what is Robbie singing? He’s not, it’s a pose. Just another Rock ’n’ Roll wanker ;-) , he needed them far more than they needed him.
While Robertson tried his hand at acting (in the dreadful movie Carny), Levon did a far better job in his acting roles (Coal Miner’s Daughter, The Right Stuff, End Of The Line, Fire Down Below, Shooter, a few others.). No one ever hired Robertson as actor after Carny. And it was Levon who was awarded two Grammy’s; Robertson none. Though winning a Grammy is not necessarily a sign of anything, winning in the Traditional Folk and Americana genres IS.
End of Levon vs. Robbie rant ;-) .
"... he needed them far more than they needed him".
In terms of guitar playing, I'd readily agree but given the disparity of opinions regarding who wrote the songs, I don't know what to think.
I love the Daniel Lanois produced Robbie Robertson S/T album.
And! I WAY prefer Lucinda Williams - "Sweet Old World" to her later version - "This Sweet Old World". Excitedly purchased "This Sweet Old World" on vinyl when it was first released. 2 passes through it, and back to the record store it went towards trade-in credit.
I just put the new Time Out Of Mind in the Que. Looking forward to hearing it.
Thanks @stuartk for the review.
I am a lifelong Dylan fan and completist.
Given the opportunity to hear competing mixes made at the time or later, nearly every time I feel the best choice of mix was made for the original release. This applies for other artists than BD. This may be because the team was hot in the original sessions. It may be that I have become so accustomed to the mixes released at the beginning that I subjectively feel anything else is wrong.
Where a new mix is made many years after the first sessions, the original artist is not involved in their creation. So BD almost certainly approved the new mixes but equally certainly was not involved in making them.
I feel there is a tendency to create new mixes just for the sake of it, or even as a gimmick. This would apply to the Beatles remixes issued some years ago when John, George and George Martin were not involved at all.
Specifically on the TOOM mixes I find most of these inferior to the originals. Many are musically less complex and for me tonally less engaging.
It is reported there were more than 30 studio takes of Like A Rolling Stone. The band and producers had pretty much given up before the released take was recorded. It is said Dylan was ready to abandon the song, as he abandoned some other great works in the years after 1966. The released take is acknowledged as one of the greatest tracks ever recorded. It has never been re-mixed.
" I just put the new Time Out Of Mind in the Que. Looking forward to hearing it"
I hope you enjoy it !
Dylan was VERY involved in the new TOOM mixes. I read an interview with the engineer involved, who said Dylan approved every mix, rejecting the engineer’s mixes that didn’t create the sound Dylan was looking for (he never liked the sound of the original TOOM).
One thing Lanois did in recording TOOM was tape Dylan’s voice in two manners: one track directly from Dylan singing into a microphone, a second with the mic’s signal sent to a guitar amplifier, the sound of Dylan’s voice coming out of that amp recorded on a separate track. Lanois then used both tracks when doing his mix back in ’97, blending the two to create a single sound.
As an aside: This information perfectly illustrates why Harry Pearson’s command that a hi-fi shall reproduce the sound of live music is absurd when it comes to studio recordings of Popular---i.e-non Classical music (excluding perhaps Jazz recorded in the 1950’s and 60’s). What do you high-end audiophiles think of a recording made in this fashion?
Spend as much as you want on your system; it will never sound any better than do the recordings you play through it. The majority of my favorite music doesn’t really justify having a high-end system. To reproduce what---a low-fi recording? My Hank Williams LP’s and CD’s sound like sh*t, yet the music still manages to thrill me. Luckily, some was well recorded, like The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, and early RCA Records Elvis (his Sun Records recordings are not good, but the music of course is).
The new remiix engineer did something similar to what Lanois did, but somewhat different. He originally used only the direct mic track, and Dylan didn’t like the result (guess Bob is as critical of his voice as are his detractors ;-) . The engineer came up with the idea of sending the mic track to a cassette deck (the identity of the deck undisclosed ;-), playing the cassette recording on monitor speakers (again, undisclosed. Hopefully not the dreadful Yamaha NS-10 ;-) and recording the sound coming out of the speakers, then mixing that track with the direct-mic track. Dylan liked it! THAT is what you are hearing in the new mix.
As I said Dylan approved the mixes but was not involved in their production.
But thanks for the additional information and comment, most of which I didn't have.
As to well recorded early rock, the Stones were very lucky to be signed to Decca. Or at least their fans were. My original Aftermath still sounds brilliantly clean, despite running for close to 30 minutes per side. No wonder these early/mid 60s Stones original LPs are now priced well above my willingness to pay.
Some other well-recorded "Rock", and the record labels involved:
- Vertigo Records. Their early releases (on which the center paper label on the LP’s is filled with a drawing of 3 concentric circles. When the LP is spinning the circles create a.....you guessed it---vertigo effect. I hear collectors talking about many Vertigo’s which I don’t have, as the music they contain is not to my taste. The one I do have is the s/t album by Manfred Mann Chapter Three, which is the British Invasion group Manfred Mann with only Manfred and drummer Mike Hugg (by now switching to piano and vocals) remaining from the original line up. The music is Rock/Jazz Fusion, a genre I don’t normally like. This is the rare exception, and the sound quality is quite good.
- Amongst the very best sounding Popular music albums ever recorded is Tea For The Tillerman (Cat Stevens, of course). It’s on Island Records (in the UK, A & M in the U.S.), and the Island Records "pink label" pressing has long been known for it’s sound quality (brought to the attention of audiophiles by Harry Pearson). I had an Island "sunray" label (the second pressing of the album) copy, but the reissue by Analogue Productions is (imo, and that of others) even better than either (thanks to mastering engineer Bernie Grundman. For one thing, Bernie found there had been a very serious mistake made in the mastering of the Island original: it was done with a Dolby A noise reduction circuit engaged. Problem is, the recording was not made with Dolby A!).
- The only other pink label Island I own is the 2nd album by Traffic (their best, imo. Dave Mason was still in the group), and it too sounds mighty fine. Good music too.
Actually, the original production’s overall sonic ambience is what drew me to the music in the first place. No issue w/the original recording at all ( Album Of The Year, c’mon). Too, much of the "ethereal" sound was instigated by Dylan himself. Lanois recalled in one interview how Dylan asked him if he could make the harmonica on one specific song sound "more electric". Lanois ended up using a Tube Screamer overdrive/distortion pedal (for the guitarists out there, you’ll recognize this very widely-used effects pedal (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lee Ritenour, Trey Anastasio, John Mayer and Gary Moore are/were among its users). Dylan liked the sound so much, he had Lanois use it on every song on the album. Add in the fact that the album's recording was started (and finished) in an old, circa 1940s Mexican porno cinema in Oxnard California that Lanois transformed into a studio, and.........there you go. Instant ambience.
So one could say the original production is closer to what Dylan heard in his head, and so...........is what HE really wanted us to hear.
Yeah, I read about that recording of the harmonica too. But that was just a single, isolated incident. The TOOM recording sessions became very tension-filled, Dylan and Lanois butting heads throughout the making of the album. And Dylan has long let it be known he didn’t like the sound of the album.
You may note that Dylan didn’t want or ask for any of the previous Bootleg Series albums to be remixed. It was HE who instigated the remixes of the studio recordings in Volume 17, to create the sound he long wished the album had possessed (George Harrison did the same with his All Things Must Pass album, the sound of which he came to seriously dislike. I completely agree. Maybe it’s just the case of a musician’s view of recordings versus a fan/listener?). If Dylan liked the original, he would have left it as it was.
You should also note that since TOOM, Dylan has done all his own producing. "To Hell with ’em all. I’ll do it myself." ;-) I REALLY wish he’d have Buddy Miller produce him (Buddy has long served as Emmylou Harris' guitarist, harmony singer, and bandleader). For great production, listen to Buddy’s albums. And the album he produced for the duo with the unlikely name of War & Treaty. Absolutely fantastic!
"So one could say the original production is closer to what Dylan heard in his head, and so...........is what HE really wanted us to hear."
Yes-- the operative word being wanted --- past tense.
At the time, that's what he wanted... or at least, thought he wanted.
Clearly, he's changed his mind and presumably, it's the new mix that's more in line with what he "hears in his head".
I don't have a "pony" in this "race". I frankly don't care which mix Dylan prefers.
In this case, on my system, to my ears, I find the new mix conveys a much more palpable sense of being in the studio with the musicians, now that the "ambience" has been largely cleared away.
This is subjective-- there will be a divergence of opinion. But if you are pre-judging the relative merits of the two mixes without having actually heard both-- if you are unwilling to let your ears be the judge-- that, I do not understand.
Everyone hears differently and listens on different systems... all you can do is listen and see how it strikes you. Each to his/her own.
I totally agree. I think it's good they do these remixes. For one it allows them to re-monetize older material with a fresh presentation. It also gives end users more choices. For myself I can't think of any re-mixes that I whole heartedly prefer over older mixes. But I do enjoy hearing old content re-mixed just because it's interesting and fun.
Either way it's a great album.
For myself I can’t think of any re-mixes that I whole heartedly prefer over older mixes.
Once the initial hullabaloo wears off I usually go back to the original mastering.
The recent Beach Boys Sounds Of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach Boys box set sounded promising initially but after a few plays it became obvious it would never replace the originals.
None of the Beatles remixes can replace the original mixes either.
The one true exception for me was Dylan’s own Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965–1966.
Now that one is something every Dylan fan ought to check out.
As for the new Time Out of Mind, I just don’t find it to have any worthwhile difference for me to go and buy it again. I can easily imagine it remaining unplayed on my shelf for years and years if I did.
Others may disagree.
In his 2001 book Bob Dylan: Behind The Shades Revisited, well known Dylan scholar and author Clinton Heylin had this to say about the sound of Time Out Of Mind:
"Lanois produced perhaps the most artificial-sounding album in Dylan’s canon." He described the album as sounding "like a Lanois CV."
Stephen Earl Thomaswine (how’s THAT for a name? ;-) writes:
"Lanois bathes them (Dylan’s vocals) in hazy, ominous sounds, which may suit the spirit of the lyrics, but are often in opposition to Dylan’s performances." Bingo!
Michael Gray writes:
"Some tracks have Dylan so buried in echo that there is no hope of hearing the detailing in his voice that was once so central and diamond like a part of his genius."
I don’t know what Lanois had in mind, but he clearly got carried away, taking it too far.
I consider the sound of Time Out of Mind to be the best part of the album.
"I don’t know what Lanois had in mind, but he clearly got carried away, taking it too far"
"I consider the sound of Time Out of Mind to be the best part of the album".
And I consider the best parts to be the compositions and the musicianship.
It would appear we approach music-listening from profoundly different perspectives!
@stuartk No, not at all. I like this album’s sound. I listen to all manner of music. Music audiophiles would turn away like a rotten fish because it doesn’t sound like Diana Krall, Brothers in Arms, Aja, or Dark Side of the Moon.