The Best Ever "Bringing It All Back Home"?

One side electric, one side acoustic, both sides of this March, 1965 release announced in both words and music Dylan's liberation from his folk music and "spokesperson for a generation" straight jacket and a turn towards more personal expression.

The Chuck Berry influenced opener, "Subterranean Homesick Blues," with its sly, rapid fire word-spew that literally alerted a generation to the master plan trap into which most of it had fallen could arguably be said to be the first rap song, but I nominate the jingle to Palisades Amusement Park then also on the radio—at least in the New York Metro area. The sequence from D.A. Pennebaker's film "Don't Look Back", where the song accompanies Dylan holding up cue card-like lyric sheets blazed the path for rock videos.

Any adolescent hearing the song for the first time got the message and a good musical slap in the face too, even if it took numerous plays to sort out the references to the civil rights movement, the SDS, drugs and the rest of the time's (that were changing) political and social brew. Hearing it either on a juke box or the A.M. radio made the lyrics that much more difficult to decipher.

The basic message and warning about getting off the cookie cutter treadmill before it was too late resonated with at least the hipper members of a generation. I first heard it on the jukebox of a Cornell freshman dormitory breakfast eating establishment called Fred's Barf Bar and it definitely turned me around, if then only in my mind. It was the beginning call to arms of the "youth subculture" even if that was not Dylan's intention, though I think it was.

"Maggie's Farm" was Dylan's rejection of the role of a generation's spokesman in which he'd been cast, though ironically, the album's opener couldn't have framed him better as just that and its leader, whether or not it watched its parking meter.

Rather than continue the shallow analysis, let's just say that these electrified folks songs set in motion a movement or three whether or not Dylan was so intending. Even without the lyrics, the folkie benefactors who had supported him felt outraged and betrayed.

The rapid wordplay and surreal images in the song lyrics and on the back jacket's painfully personal poem influenced yet another segment of a generation: the musicians. "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" combined the bold personal poetry and musical forward thrust that would carry Dylan through a decade's worth of albums. The side ending "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" was for most young people who heard it, an encapsulating jumble of a lifetime's worth of education liberated from its seriousness. "They asked me for some collateral so I pulled down my pants"—perhaps you had to hear that line in 1965 to understand how truly outrageous was it and the rest of this raucous tune.

Dylan's vocalizing doesn't sound all that unusual now but back then it too represented an earth-shaking break with what was supposed to be "singing." It liberated a generation from the pretty pop crooning in which even The Beatles seemed mired, not to mention the Fab Four's conventional lyrics. This was the album that broke everything wide open, musically and culturally for a generation—even those who never heard it then or haven't yet heard it now, their lives were forever changed.

When the first side ended, first time listeners back then feeling their heads exploding couldn't imagine what was in store on side two. How could Dylan crank it up even further? He couldn't so side two opens with just Dylan and guitarist Bruce Langhorne on a liquid electric in the left channel. Was the song about an LSD trip as some theorized? No. It was actually about a tambourine.

Speaking of crazy interpretations: the cover art was back then the subject of all kinds of craziness. There was speculation that the gal in the photo was actually a transvestite! I remember that. Everyone busied themselves trying to come up with the cover's "meaning" and to identify all of the album covers in a pre-Internet age. It wasn't easy! Most people then didn't know about Robert Johnson's King of the Delta Blues or who Lotte Lenya was, though some knew The Impressions and a few comedic hipsters scoped out Lord Buckley on the mantle. The woman turned out to be manager Albert Grossman's wife.

It's difficult to look back now and decide which side was more life-changing for listeners. With "Mr. Tambourine Man" opening side two, soon to be covered by The Byrds, and the epic surreal imagery of "Gates of Eden" followed by "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), that was enough to lead to teenage exhaustion but Dylan wasn't finished so he ends with the tear inducing heartbreak of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue."

When I read today's "futurists" so eager to bury "the album" i just want to bury them. Why should a generation of youngsters not reach for these heights even if they fall? How else can anyone reach these heights if no one tries? Okay there won't be "another Dylan" and maybe these times have finally changed (for the worse) but I'd like to think coherent life-changing albums can still be produced and again move a generation even in the Internet age.

Oh well if that's not going to happen there's still this! This is an album that will endure for generations and one that can be repeatedly played to appreciate fully as the lyrics tumble out in Dylan's snarl.

This edition is mastered from the "master tape" but it's a remixed "master tape" created by Michael H. Brauer and my friend and former Columbia/Sony Legacy Producer Steve Berkowitz, who has heard this in a good recording studio but never on a great home audio system. He has no idea what he's done here—or at least what he's done as heard in a good home environment. He's got a standing invitation but so for he's not accepted but I've been to his place and trust me, he has no idea!

The remix was done at Quad Studios, Nashville, formerly Quadraphonic and they've got the analog goods for a pure analog mix, which this was. The bottom line is this: this remix wipes the floor with the somewhat harsh and less than sonically attractive original.

If all you know is the original, trust me, from the minute the album starts you'll realize you've never heard it sound this liquid when liquidity is called for or as positively hard-edged when that's what's called for. You've never heard Dylan's voice so transparent and present front and center, or so three-dimensional. I know some thought early Mo-Fi's of this era were soft and I don't disagree but this album's transients are stupendous.

The double 45 format means every song can be heard in the tape's full frequency range and dynamic expression. Combine that with superb mastering, a great RTI press (though my copy was covered in an easily removable white haze that looked and felt like mold release compound or something leeching from the sleeve?) plus great gatefold packaging featuring black and white candid studio shots and you have a record that makes for great listening now and probably a reasonably safe investment for the future. I think of all of the out of print musically significant Classic Records that were considered "pricey" a decade ago when new and are now selling for ten times the original price and more.

This probably won't be in print forever but even if it is it's one no record collection should be without. And for those who think SACDs are 'the ultimate' do yourself a favor and don't listen to this, that's all I can advise! Bring this one home. (Comparison made with previously released SACD version).

Music Direct Buy It Now

WaxtotheMax's picture

I have never owned a remastered or reissued Dylan of any sort. This will be the first! Great review!

tbromgard's picture

I've ordered a few MFSL reissues lately. Im glad MFSL is still in the business and apparently stronger than ever.

homersoddishe's picture

There's a thread over at the Steve Hoffman forum about how a batch of new MFSL rice paper sleeves is leaving some sort of gunk on the LP's.  Not sure if the issue has been resolved.  You might check and see if the LP is contaminated again, if you returned them to the sleeves they came in.  Just a thought.



Michael Fremer's picture

I will do that... I got a batch of new Mo-Fi LPs and they all had the residue so maybe it is the sleeves.... I'll check into it..

cc's picture

the remix wasn't done for this mastering, was it? but for the remasterings of '03 or so? Is it also an improvement on the original issue?

Michael Fremer's picture

This was the older remix not a new one..

christpher.reid's picture

When I was a kid- I never really got into Dylan. The first hit that I actually remember when I began listening to music and radio was Lay Lady Lay from Nashville Skyline. I just never bought his music or cared about it.


About 10 yrs ago I got into SACD's and grabbed Blood On The Tracks. Since then I've enjoyed Dylans work and thought to myself I can't believe I ignored his music all this time. I now have many of Dylans SACD's(from the Sony run), but want to get some of these analog releases.

Thanks Mikey-


kdl6769's picture

I don't doubt the sonic benefits of using two 45rpm discs instead of one at 33/13, but count me as one who thinks that the four-sided structure seriously compromises the artisitic impact and flow of a carefully sequenced record like this (one side accoustic, the other electric).  It's a distraction as well as an inconvenience to have to get up and flip the record every 10 minutes, and for me this outweighs the marginal (maybe even more than marginal) technical superiority of the double 45 rpm format. It's disappointing to me that so few of the pending Dylan reissues are in "standard" 33rpm form. This is also true of so many great jazz records that were not intended to be interrupted and flipped after 7-10 minutes.   The perfect is the enemy of the good, etc.  

storym's picture

I own the Sundazed Mono reissue. Any thoughts on comparing the two?

Martin's picture

It's a must. 

Nice review, enjoyed it as always. 

Dylan is only listenable on vinyl. 


It's the mofi liners. Apparently the new batch is indeed leaving residue on the vinyl. 

Maybe they forgot to dehusk the rice :-) 

Rice dust on vinyl??

JC1957's picture

What's wrong with the SACD? Don't leave us hanging.

Logansport Berry's picture

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the phrase "remixed master tape" while looking at  the Original Master Recording banner across the lp cover.  If it's not the original 2 track/stereo mix approved by CBS and Dylan in the 60s, then is it kosher to use the OMR reference?

andrew wilson's picture

Just ordered my copy today.Cost £51.98p sterling.Hope to have it by the end of the week;will keep you posted.This will be my first ever Bob dylan album.Andy.

andrew wilson's picture

Just ordered my copy today.Cost £51.98p sterling.Hope to have it by the end of the week;will keep you posted.This will be my first ever Bob dylan album.Andy.

Kirby's picture

Do I need another "Back Home"?, Do I want another "Back Home" ? These were the questions going through my mind when I first read that Mofi was going to reissue Dylan's early LPS. After all I had bought this lp when it was reissued in the  80s and it sounded awful I then bought the Sony SACD and it sounded much better, good enough? Than I read Michael Fremer  saying how good the Sundazed mono lp sounded. Ok maybe one more, Yes this is really good I told myself, cant get any better than this! Then I read this review, how could it sound better than my Sundazed! Well I have a lot of faith in Michael's words when it comes to music and sound quality, so I rolled the bones and spent the 60 bucks + shipping + duty (I'm Canadian EH) and a week later I had another copy of "Bringing It All Back Home" Did I want another? I guess so, I bought it, but did I need another? HELL YES!!! Not only does this best all other copies I own they don't even come close! The old cliche you'll hear things you never heard before doesn't even come close. I never thought this was a good sounding album, I was wrong this is a great sounding album! So if your asking yourself, whats wrong with my Sony SACD or my Sundazed mono Lp, well nothing really, but if you want to sit in the studio with Dylan in 1965 then you had better get this version because it's a friggin" time machine! What more can be said but thanks again Michael for turning us onto a great Lp.                                                                                                                   P.S. Michael, it was Bob Dylan's "Greatest Hits", maybe the 10th or so Cd that I bought in the mid 80s that really opened my ears to how truly awful they really did sound. When it got stolen I didn't even want to replace it! Serves the thief right, hope his ears are still bleeding!

Toddh76's picture

Hi, just wondering.

Music direct has the 9 LP Dylan mono box set for 199.

i can not find any reviews on those lp's and am wondering if I should go that route or just wait and buy the 45 rpm 180 gram issues.

I have been burned for the final time buying used Dylan vinyl, just bought my third used copy of back home and it's a disaster like the rest have been.

I just want to listen to the music!


Hellenback's picture

I noticed you compred this LP to the older SACD from 2003. I'm wondering how the new MFSL SACD sounds in comparison to both your reviewded vinyl and the older SACD?


Hellenback's picture

Maybe in all fairness you could compare the new MFSL SACD to the album under re

view here for those of us who like an analog sound but cannot afford to get into vinyl again.

Hellenback's picture

It's a bit frustrating reading your reveiew (and comments about the older SACD) without any reference to the new MFSL SACD.

If you choose to listen to vinyl that's great but please don't compare/knock how the SACD sounds relative to the LP without comparison to the latest (best?) SACD!

Hellenback's picture

"Dylan is only listenable on vinyl."

Yeah, his music lyrics are totally irrelevant and meaningless when heard from a digital medium. Oh, and that mono CD box was just terrible!

Vinyl snobs are never listenable.

DaK's picture

Hi Michael,
I have no idea if you are reading old threads. But have you heard the new Dylan MFSL mono reissues? Could you maybe compare them to the stereo editions? I am hesitating buying them since I have all the MFSL stereo albums, but limited to 3000 is not much, so I do not want to miss something sounding fantatstic!
Kindest David