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Bob Dylan – The Nobel Prize Box (Crystal Cat CC 1079 – 1084)

Bob Dylan, “Nobel Prize Box” (Crystal Cat CC 1080 / 1084)

1st April, 2017 – Waterfront Auditorium, Stockholm, Sweden.
Disk 1 – Intro / Things Have Changed / Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right / Highway 61 Revisited / Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ / Full Moon And Empty Arms / High Water (For Charly Patton) / Melancholy Mood / Duquesne Whistle / Love Sick / Tangled Up In Blue
Disk 2 – Pay in Blood / Standing in The Doorway / Scarlet Town / I Could Have Told You / Desolation Row / Soon After Midnight / All Or Nothing At All / Long And Wasted Years / Autumn Years / Blowin’ In The Wind / Why Try To Change Me Now / How Deep Is The Ocean (29/6 – 16) / That Old Feeling (16/7 – 16) / Stay With Me (16/7 – 16) / Simple Twist Of Fate (13/10 – 16) / Nobel Prize – Television news.

2nd April 2017 – Waterfront Auditorium, Stockholm, Sweden.
Disk 1 – Intro / Things Have Changed / To Ramona / Highway 61 Revisited / Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ / Full Moon And Empty Arms / Early Roman Kings / Melancholy Mood / Duquesne Whistle / Love Sick / Tangled Up In Blue
Disk 2 – Pay in Blood / Spirit On The Water / Scarlet Town / I Could Have Told You / Desolation Row / Soon After Midnight / That Old Black Magic / Long And Wasted Years / Autumn Years / Blowin’ In The Wind / Why Try To Change Me Now / This Nearly Was Mine (7/5 – 17) / Summer Days (22/7 – 17) / Make You Feel My Love (12/7 – 17) / Once Upon A Time (22/7 – 17)

Bonus disk – Nobel prize ceremony, 10th Dec. 2016, MMXVI. Nobel lecture in literature 2016

God damn, we know a good bootleg when we see one. D’yer remember the beautiful computer box case of that first issue of ‘Destroyer’ or Great Dane’s BBC box (Also their Dylan 1965 boxed set), the gorgeous and also outrageously priced multi-disk presentations by Vigotone, not to mention Tarantura’s and Empress Valley’s offerings which already have you holding your breath before you reach the end of the email and, thump, straight in the wallet comes the confirmation of the price. Those packages that leave you gawking at the full gamut thinking – if THESE guys can do it, why can’t the majors? Then also we ponder the shipping – that must be so much back breaking work hoofing those pieces around the world that it’s near impossible to believe that some of these ripe prices aren’t just a contingency to pay for their next hernia operation and a nice pair of soft shoes.

The Crystal Cat label have produced their best looking set this side of the Cristiana Dylan box of their early days. A set that’s nearly impossible to reproduce in any real kind of quality that’s going to make you want the original any less, becoming the jewel of your collection (And more about this bountiful presentation later).

BUT, and here’s the debate, this glorious wooden (Wooden!) box contains two Dylan sets from, er, 2017. the first two shows of Bob’s Spring European shows. Let’s make the case here – it’s not Paris 1966 (And let’s be fair, despite it’s mythic legacy, was that anything that still gets talked about after it was dropped in to the official boxed set?) and it’s not a long lost soundboard from the Rolling Thunder Revue where Dylan was spitting out various levels of fire alongside his chums – It’s Dylan, 2017. Poet laureate, artist, dee-jay, song and dance man still but is it still worth shilling out your hard earned for such a lavish little piece?

Listening to the first set, I’d say that’s an emphatic yes. The recording is a close, wide stereo, there are bustles of audience interaction throughout but honestly, if you were there it possibly wouldn’t sound much better. Dylan is on form, his pronunciation is clear (generally), you can even hear the count-in’s it’s that pure. The set is a brilliant example of Dylan on form these days and highlights a great night.

The bonus tracks on disk two are of slightly lesser quality and ever so slightly distant as compared to the main. There are some interesting changes though as one of the verses of Simple Twist Of Fate (from the 13th Of October, ’16) is changed from “He woke up, the room was bare, He didn’t see her anywhere, He told himself he didn’t care, pushed the window open wide, Felt an emptiness inside to which he just could not relate, Brought on by a simple twist of fate” to “He woke up and she was gone, He didn’t see nothing but the dawn, Got out of bed and put his shoes on, Then he pushed back the blinds, found a note she left behind, but it said, ‘You should have met me back in ’58, we could have avoided this simple twist of fate’”

The second set sounds just as good – A little less bassy, a little more clear – there are little changes in the set list (Always useful!) such as ‘To Ramona’ replacing ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’ as the second track as well as, ‘Early Roman Kings’, ‘Spirit On The Water’, and ‘That Old Black Magic’ taking the place of ‘High Water (For Charly Patton)’, ‘Standing In The Doorway’ and ‘All Or Nothing At All’, respectively.

The bonus tracks here are other rarities played on the tour. Nearly all standards apart from one, again, a shade under the sonic clarity of the initial set, these are still of a quality that we’ve become accustomed to. ‘Make You Feel My Love’ goes under a soft remake, it sounds warmer, more swaddling and lilting perhaps. Certainly after comparison to previous renditions, it catches the ear and holds you in.

The bonus disk to this set features the audio to Dylan’s Nobel speech – Giving credence to the tale that when asked to give testimony in court, Dylan was reluctant as he mentioned that anything that could be captured would be bootlegged. This recording, however, is entertaining and the something extra that you’ll find yourself listening to more than once.

As I may have mentioned, there’s something about the design of this box – It must have cost CC a great load of his profits to produce this set that one might almost believe that it’s a swan-song of sorts – that is just stunning. Housed in a hinged wooden box embossed with the tours pink hued, glitz and glamour of old, poster that threw light on to the tone of the show, on the front, a bold black font on the back, detailing the track listing for the CDs inside including that bonus disk.

The covers for the CDs are their usual compliment of full colour images (Some of them horribly pixelated but I’d be prepared to give the label it’s due as trying to get a picture of the concert as it went was as difficult as catching eye contact with the man as he played) and write ups and tour dates (Including ones that, at time of writing, haven’t been performed yet!) on delightfully glossy photo paper throughout.

Also included are posters and other paraphernalia with Dylan’s nobel prize in mind including a glossy postcard and large poster detailing the other Nobel winners of 2016 and a fat book detailing Bob’s nobel win from announcement to transcribing the speech itself. Though this version isn’t signed and won’t cost you $2,000. The bonus disk comes in a simple plastic sleeve but after all the extras and other bumph included in the box, it would be churlish to have requested anything extra really.

If, IF, I had to point out design flaws, it would be that the box has no chance of fitting next to your existing collection comfortably (Including the new Firefly festival release from the same label) and has no obvious decoration to it’s spine but as it stands as one of a kind, you’ll have no problem spotting it. The box is the presentation over the EAP Brighton set, this of us who are more budget expectant might want to stick with the Peach as the recording is just as good but the CC version is fantastic if you want to splash out.

If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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One comment

  1. sjew, this review makes me beggin even more than before when i’ve heard of this (then forthcoming) release…
    wonder if it brings me as many shivers down my spine as it did, in the days before, with the Doorses Matrix booklet 4cd set…from the legendary KTS.

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