News Flash: Sony Recalls Dylan's Re-Released Biograph

A double CD jewel case version of the 1985 Bob Dylan box set Biograph was quietly released last month by Sony Music Entertainment, but fans of the folk singer likely had something to say after they gave it a listen.

Sony announced a recall because there are three differences between the original box set version and the 5,000 copies released on the Columbia label in jewel cases. Two of the differences are mistakes in production: The spoken word introduction to "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" was missing a sentence. On "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," Sony used an original master that had not been played in about 30 years and neglected to fade out the last five seconds of the song.

Lastly, the live recording of "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)" on the original was from Dylan and the Hawk's May, 1966 concert performance in Belfast, while the new version was from the Manchester show on the same tour. The Manchester show was one of the most infamous shows in rock 'n' roll history, with the English audience being quite vocal about their distaste for Dylan's new electric sound. At one point during the concert (bootleg recordings of which have circulated for years) an audience member shouts out "Judas!" Dylan responds with a contemptuous "I don't believe you," then screams, "You're a liar" before delivering a devastating version of "Like A Rolling Stone."

On the Usenet newsgroup rec.music.dylan, die-hard Dylan devotees have been discussing the differences between the two discs since its release. The differences mentioned above are the only ones announced by Sony, but fans on the newsgroup say they found others.

For example, they were quick to notice that the original Biograph had an alternate mix of "Mixed Up Confusion," although the liner notes identified it as the single version. The new edition of Biograph corrects the error and supplies the single version. In addition, some fans have speculated that the original Biograph's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" was billed as the 1966 Manchester performance, but that it didn't match what is heard on a bootleg of that performance called Guitars Kissing & The Contemporary Fix. The new version, however, sounds exactly like the bootlegged version.

Sony has recalled all the jewel-box versions of Biograph, an act which sent collectors scrambling to record stores. Both Tower Records and the Virgin Megastore in San Francisco reported an influx of people dropping by to see if any copies were left.

In their initial announcement, Sony reported that they did not yet know how many of the erroneous copies had been sold. Calls to Columbia, Dylan's label, were not returned by press time. -- Randy Reiss [Wed., Sept. 10, 1997, 2 p.m. PST]