Despite his solid middle-class upbringing, it wasn’t uncommon for fans to believe that Dylan really did ride the rails slinging a bag on a stick. Dylan, for a time, even encouraged this mythology of his own making. But if he wasn’t a hobo in the literal sense, he undoubtedly was one, musically, if one defines a hobo as “one who wanders from place to place without a permanent home.” Since his self-titled Columbia debut in 1962, Dylan has travelled the path from folk to blues, rock to country, gospel to the Great American Songbook. The path hasn’t been a straight one, with numerous detours and explorations over nearly fifty years as a recording artist. His catalogue may have the greatest breadth in the entire popular music canon, and as such, its sheer volume can be intimidating. The team at Box of Vision, however, may have something to offer both Dylan newbies and die-hard fans. The musical wanderer’s complete CD discography forms the basis of one of the most extravagant packages yet designed for collectors: The Bob Dylan Archive.
The Bob Dylan Archive follows the company’s creations for the complete catalogues of The Beatles and John Lennon. These are heavy, suitable-for-display “D.I.Y.” box sets. Similar to those boxes, Archive features three unique components which fit snugly into a colossal case adorned with artwork (in this case, a photograph of the artist). A 220-page hardcover LP-sized book replicates the complete, original LP artwork for each of Dylan’s releases. (A fleeting glimpse of the arwork for the box set Biograph shows us that the book’s scope is indeed broad.) A separate book contains a Dylan discography with historical reviews and original album advertisements accompanying the informational listing for each release. This too spans Dylan’s entire career. The centerpiece and raison d’etre is a storage book with plastic sleeves designed to store each album on CD plus the booklet and if desired, the tray card. (Most likely these sleeves will accommodate digipaks as the John Lennon Box of Vision did.) Underneath each sheet of sleeves is a page of artwork instructing you where to place each disc in chronological order. Bob Dylan at Budokan, for instance, has two slots, as it was a 2-CD set. So what’s missing? Only the CDs themselves are absent. Hit the jump for a video preview and more!
Judging from the promotional video set to “Shelter from the Storm,” the storage book contains slots for Dylan’s core catalogue only. This means that there are spaces for all of Dylan’s studio albums that have been released on CD (1973’s Dylan, assembled without the artist’s consent and disowned by him, has never received an authorized domestic CD release, but may have its own slot for completeness’ sake) right up through 2009’s Christmas from the Heart. There is also room for the official live recordings (Before the Flood, Hard Rain, At Budokan, Real Live, Dylan & The Dead, MTV Unplugged) and all three volumes of Greatest Hits. It does not appear that there are allotted spaces for Biograph, the multiple volumes of The Bootleg Series or “peripheral” live releases like Live at the Gaslight 1962, Live at Carnegie Hall 1963 or the upcoming Live at Brandeis, not to mention various releases like The Essential Bob Dylan or The Best of the Original Mono Recordings.There are a couple of empty spaces, and as with the Lennon box, it is likely that pages can be added for future releases. It is possible that the video features a mock-up of the set and may not reflect the final product; details will be officially announced in March. Interested readers can sign up for details directly at Box of Vision’s website. The Second Disc will, of course, be here to confirm when those details are set.
A proper complete Bob Dylan box set was discussed last year by Legacy producer Didier C. Deutsch; while that project remains a separate entity, it will be difficult for any project to trump The Bob Dylan Archive for sheer magnitude. Whether you’re just starting out as a Dylan collector and hope to be able to fill all of those sleeves one day, or you’re looking to store all your monumental Bob collection in one tabletop box, Archive might be for you. Box of Vision has designed Archive with this slogan in mind: “Store. Organize. Display. Appreciate.” One may do all of those things, and more, with this massive box. Watch this space for updates!