As expounded upon before, I’m not an advocate of vinyl purely for its tactile pleasures (although I love holding a real record as much as the next guy), but for quite a few years now there’s been a trend whereby new music released on vinyl has received a kinder and more faithful mastering than that which is released on CD (or mp3), where the abuse of the process of dynamic range compression has resulted in blaring and ultimately-wearying recordings being foisted upon a largely unsuspecting public. (Also known as the Loudness War[s].) The Dylan CD releases of the past several years seem to have progressively improved in that respect. Together Through Life on CD didn’t sound quite as bad as Modern Times had, and Christmas in the Heart seemed (to me at least) better still. (By the way, with the mercury frequently hitting triple digits in many parts this summer, I am glad to suggest that putting on Christmas in the Heart makes for some pretty effective aural air-conditioning. There’s nothing like listening to Bob Dylan sing “Winter Wonderland” when it’s 104 degrees in July. Just try not to get so enchanted that you light up some logs in the fireplace.)
I don’t know how the mastering will go on the forthcoming release, but Sony/Columbia is continuing the recent pattern of offering a vinyl package that also includes the album on CD. This is a smart way of selling it, I guess, albeit that one might wish for a lower price-tag.
Amazon.com is offering Tempest for pre-order as two vinyl LPs with one CDfor (at the time of writing) $25.99. Through the BobDylan.com site, on the other hand, you can pre-order the same thing for four dollars more.
That deliciously brings to mind Bob’s couplet from his song “Po’ Boy”:
I say, “How much you want for that?” I go into the store
The man says, “Three dollars.” “All right,” I say, “Will you take four?”
Of-course, may the Good Lord hasten the way when all honest consumers will be able to obtain the recording as it was meant to be heard regardless of the medium in which they purchase it. Does that seem so much to ask?