Greatest Hits Albums

"The myth of the starving artist is a myth. The big bankers and the prominent young ladies who buy art started it. They just wanted to keep the artist under their thumb. Who says an artist can't have any money? Look at Picasso. The starving artist is usually starving for those around him to starve. You don't have to starve to be a good artist. You just have to have love, insight and a strong point of view. You have to fight off depravity. Uncompromising, that's what makes a good artist. It doesn't matter if he has money or not. Look at Matisse; he was a banker. Anyway, there are things that constitute wealth and poverty besides money."
Bob Dylan, Malibu, 1978.

For an artist who has had so few hits in the true sense of the word, there is a bewildering array of Greatest Hits and Best Of packages available to those who prefer Dylan in bite sized chunks. These collections are rarely, if ever, representative of Dylan as an artist and are usually just excuses for record companies to top up their coffers at the expense of their clients. There seems to be no distinction between Best of and Greatest Hits, other than to attach a modicum of variety to the titles, and to these are added other superlatives like Essential and Very Best. We have not yet seen The Pick Of or The Cream Of, but I suppose it is just a matter of time.

Greatest Hits - 1967
greatest hits us cover greatest hits uk cover
(U.S.A.)Rainy Day Women #12 & 35: Blowin' In The Wind: The Times They Are A'Changin': It Ain't Me, Babe: Like A Rolling Stone: Mr. Tambourine Man: Subterranean Homesick Blues: I Want You: Positively 4th Street: Just Like A Woman. (U.K.)Blowin' In The Wind: It Ain't Me, Babe: The Times They Are A'Changin': Mr. Tambourine Man: She Belongs To Me: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue: Subterranean Homesick Blues: One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later): Like A Rolling Stone: Just Like A Woman: Rainy Day Women #12 & 35: I Want You.

Two versions of Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits were released in March 1967, one British and one American, with significantly different track listings. For the purposes of this page, we will be looking at the American version unless otherwise specified.

Dylan's output in the early part of his career had been prodigious to say the least, seven albums in just over four years, the last three (all major contributions to his catalogue) in an amazing fourteen month period. His forced inactivity due to a motor-cycle accident in July 1966 forced his record company to consider the possibility of a notoriously fickle public being deprived of any new material for an unspecified spell. Their response was to issue a Greatest Hits package that would plug a gap that would eventually stretch to a career damaging twenty months. Dylan's "hits" during this period were few, as he was already being thought of in terms of albums rather than singles, but "Like A Rolling Stone" had reached number two in the Billboard chart, amazing for the time when one considers its length, and "Positively 4th Street" reached number seven, equally amazing for a song that Paul Williams described as having " chorus (no recognizable repeating phrase) and the title of which is never mentioned in the song." Even though it was not included on any album and has only been performed live once (Pittsburgh February 6th 1966) it is one of Dylan's best and well known songs of that period. These two tracks aside, GH leaned heavily on 1965's "Bringing It All Back Home" and 1966's "Blonde On Blonde" (eight of the UK version's twelve tracks came from these two albums) with the eponymous debut album being, perhaps not surprisingly, ignored completely. No real surprises then, "Blowin' In The Wind," "Times," "Rolling Stone" and "Mr. Tambourine Man" were all well known and have all gone on to become concert favourites, being performed countless times over the years. The remaining tracks, "Blonde On Blonde's" raucous opener "Rainy Day Women," the thoughtful and honest "It Ain't Me, Babe," the frenetic "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and the other two "Blonde On Blonde" cuts "I Want You" and "Just Like A Woman" are lesser known but by no means inferior inclusions. "Mixed Up Confusion" a song that was recorded in October 1962 during the "Freewheelin'" sessions had been issued as a single in December of that year, backed with an alternative version of "Corrina, Corrina" but failed to make a dent in the charts, hence its omission here. Other contenders for inclusion would have been "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" and the superb "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window" out-takes from "Bringing It All Back Home" and "Highway 61 Revisited" respectively. Although both had been issued as singles, Columbia were obviously playing it safe. Their caution paid off, Greatest Hits went to number ten in the album charts and remains one of Dylan's best sellers. Although not a greatest hits package in the true sense of the words, it serves as a passable introduction into the early years of Dylan's career, and achieved its objective in bridging the gap between "Blonde On Blonde" and "John Wesley Harding."

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Greatest Hits Vol. 2 - 1971
greatest hits vol.2 Watching The River Flow: Don't Think Twice, It's All Right: Lay Lady Lay: Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight: All I Really Want To Do: My Back Pages: Maggie's Farm: Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You: She Belongs To Me: All Along The Watchtower: The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo): Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues: A Hard Rain's A'Gonna Fall: If Not For You: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue: Tomorrow Is A Long Time: When I Paint My Masterpiece: I Shall Be Released: You Ain't Goin' Nowhere: Down In The Flood.

Greatest Hits Volume 2 is a strange animal that contains some undoubted nuggets that are not available on other albums. The UK title is "More Bob Dylan Greatest Hits" and again, the track listing is different, "She Belongs To Me" and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" are replaced by "Positively 4th Street" and "New Morning" respectively. Like its predecessor it was issued to plug a gap, but it also came at a time when Dylan was obviously struggling with his muse. Released in November 1971, "Greatest Hits Vol. 2" succeeded 1970's "New Morning" but it would be more than two years before the public saw an album of new material, if one excludes 1973's soundtrack album "Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid."

The album opens with "Watching The River Flow," a song that Dylan had recorded with Leon Russell in March and is very much in keeping with the country themes of his early seventies work. It was issued as a single in June of 1971, preceding this album by some five months. A great but underrated song this, but even better is the later (the chronology of this album is way out) "When I Paint My Masterpiece" which was recorded at the same sessions. Interesting when you look at these two, one has Dylan wondering why he has nothing to say and the other has him wondering if he ever will. "River" had been released as a single, backed with "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue" (not the version that was later released on "Dylan") but had failed to make the top forty, and "Masterpiece" was known from The Band's "Cahoots" that had been released earlier that year. The following ten tracks are all pretty standard stuff, but it is significant how few come from recent albums. Only two from 1969's "Nashville Skyline," "Lay Lady Lay" which had been a hit, it reached number seven, and "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" which had not been. Equally two from 1968's "John Wesley Harding," "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" which would be successful in later years for Robert Palmer, and the song that Jimi Hendrix took to a new dimension, "All Along The Watchtower." The balance is made up from Dylan's other sixties albums, reaching as far back as 1963's "Freewheelin'," with the debut album again being ignored. Next up is "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo), the live version from 1969's Isle Of Wight concert that appears on "Self Portrait" and why this should be included is anybody's guess, that night was not Dylan's finest moment, and to include the same track on two albums whose release dates were less than eighteen months apart makes no sense. But in terms of hits, this was one of course for British group Manfred Mann. Of the next four tracks, only one "If Not For You" is from a recent album, 1970's "New Morning." Australian pop tart Olivia Newton-John had a hit with that, but more importantly the late and very lamented George Harrison included it on his 1970 triple album "All Things Must Pass." The other three are cherry-picked from sixties albums, again going back as far as "Freewheelin'." The surprise, and a very pleasant one it is, comes with the last five tracks, which Dylan himself selected as a sort of quid pro quo arrangement with Columbia that allowed him to include some lesser known material. The first of these, "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" is taken from the April 12th 1963 concert at the New York Town Hall. It was one of Dylan's first major concerts and his nervousness is quite apparent but he still turns in a stunning performance of this short but beautiful song. There is no studio recording of this song, so this is the definitive version, Paul Williams describes it thus "It's a great performance, naked and heartfelt, with a vocal texture that sends shivers down the spine." This is followed by the already mentioned "When I Paint My Masterpiece," Dylan's version of which leaves The Band's standing, even though his voice sounds as if it is about to crack and splinter at any moment. The final three tracks come from a session that Dylan had with Happy Traum on September 24th 1971 in New York (Traum, a long time friend of Dylan, is a multi talented musician, who with his brother Artie has released several albums). Two of these "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" and "Down In The Flood" would later turn up on 1975's "Basement Tapes" (but not these versions) and the third (again a different version) would appear on 1991's "Bootlegs Vols. 1-3." Not surprisingly, these three songs have a unity of sound about them, and were recorded specifically for this album "...we just went in one afternoon and did it, it was just two of us and the engineer, and it was very simple." recalls Happy Traum "We cut about five songs and chose three of them on the spot and mixed them..." The lyrics of "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" are changed significantly as Dylan seems to be having a good natured dig at Byrd Roger McGuinn, perhaps for his groups remarkable success with Dylan songs! The version of "I Shall Be Released" appears not only on this album, but also on "Masterpieces," "Biograph," "The Essential Bob Dylan" and the 1997 album "The Best Of Bob Dylan." This "...rewarding mini-symphony" as Paul Williams calls it, is a fine example of exactly where Dylan was musically in 1971.

This collection is of course no more a Greatest Hits package than its predecessor was, how can an album that consists largely of tracks that have never been issued as singles and others that have never been issued at all possibly be called Greatest Hits? Added to this, the sequencing is all over the place, but Dylan himself had a hand in that and announced that he was more than happy with it. That said, it is probably wise not to be over critical of this album as the previously unissued stuff is well worth having, and it would be the last such package for almost a quarter of a century.

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Greatest Hits Vol. 3 - 1995
greatest hits vol.3 Tangled Up In Blue: Changing Of The Guards: The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar: Hurricane: Forever Young: Jokerman: Dignity: Silvio: Ring Them Bells: Gotta Serve Somebody: Series Of Dreams: Brownsville Girl: Under The Red Sky: Knockin' On Heaven's Door.

In the twenty-four years that separates Greatest Hits Vols. 2 and 3, Bob Dylan released sixteen official studio albums, all but four of which, "Dylan"(1973) "The Basement Tapes"(1975) "Saved"(1980) and "Empire Burlesque"(1985) are represented in the fourteen tracks on offer here. The only real hit that Dylan had had during this entire period was "Baby, Stop Crying" (number 13 in the UK) from 1978's superb "Street Legal" and perversely that is not included here, so again the title is something of a misnomer. That said, the mix of tracks on this album though chronologically incorrect is quite good. The opening four tracks all demonstrate Dylan's amazing and unique dexterity with imagery and wordplay, beginning with 1975's convoluted and angst-ridden "Tangled Up In Blue," one of his most enduring songs from that period. This is followed by the wonderfully reflective "Changing Of The Guards," possibly his most underrated song, which gives way to "The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar" another fine and complex song from 1981 that was criminally omitted from the original pressings of "Shot Of Love." Next up is the well written but probably ill-advised "Hurricane," Dylan's stinging and libel inducing story of boxer Ruben Carter. Odd that this should be included here, given that Dylan had distanced himself from Carter's dubious quest for justice and had not performed the song live since early 1976. "Forever Young" has been played so often in concert that there is a danger of becoming blasé about it, but it is worth revisiting this, the slower (and superior) of the two versions on 1974's "Planet Waves." A jump of almost a decade gives us "Jokerman" one of Dylan's best from his post-Christian period, that is not without its religious overtones. Morality rather than spirituality is the theme of "Dignity" a song that really should have been included on 1989's "Oh Mercy." The sublime gives way to the ridiculous with "Silvio." Co-written with Robert Hunter, this is one of the better (or least bad) tracks from 1988's poor album "Down In The Groove" and is a song that Dylan obviously has an affinity for, given the number of times that he performs it live. Four excellent tracks follow, the first two of which, "Ring Them Bells" and "Gotta Serve Somebody" have a thematic link even though chronologically they are ten years apart, the latter having won a Grammy in 1980. The third is another omission from "Oh Mercy" the evocative and dreamlike "Series Of Dreams," a song that had already been released on 1991's "Bootlegs Vols. 1-3" and for which a surprisingly understated video comprised mainly of old film footage had been made, an undertaking that for once worked. "Brownsville Girl" the song that saved 1984's "Knocked Out Loaded" from being a total disaster is arguably the high point of this collection. Another co-written song, this time with Sam Shepard (the point should be made that for someone who so rarely collaborates three of the fourteen songs here are joint efforts) although the extent of Shepard's input was probably minimal and may well have all but disappeared in the rewrites that produced this, the final version. This outstanding piece of work is one of the few highlights from a decade that saw Dylan's credibility sink so low that he was sadly almost off the radar. The penultimate song is the title track from 1990's "Under The Red sky" that is often overlooked or dismissed as trivial which is a pity, because it marked a departure that while not wholly successful, was certainly interesting. The perennial favourite "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," follows, this is a song that most people would associate with Dylan, probably even more so than "Blowin' In The Wind." This fact alone justifies its inclusion here, and its position as the final track. Like "Forever Young," because it has seen so many different manifestations over the years, it is worth revisiting this, the definitive, original 1973 version.

A reasonable mix then spanning the years 1973 to 1990, but with only one previously unreleased track. Anybody not wishing to shell out on all the albums released in that period would probably find "Greatest Hits Volume 3" good value for money. A footnote to this is that Greatest Hits Volumes 1, 2 and 3 are now available in a boxed set package.

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Best Of Bob Dylan - 1997
best of bob dylan Blowin' In The Wind: The Times They Are A'Changin' Don't Think Twice, It's All Right: Mr. Tambourine Man: Like A Rolling Stone: Just Like A Woman: All Along The Watchtower: Lay Lady Lay: I Shall Be Released: If Not For You: Knockin' On Heaven's Door: Forever Young: Tangled Up In Blue: Oh, Sister: Gotta Serve Somebody: Jokerman: Everything Is Broken; Shelter From The Storm.

Coming so soon after "Greatest Hits Volume 3" one can only assume that the reasoning behind this release was purely financial. Of the eighteen tracks on offer here, only three "Oh, Sister," "Everything Is Broken" and "Shelter From The Storm" (not the original "Blood On The Tracks" version, but the one that was used in the movie Jerry Maguire) are unavailable on previous packages so it is difficult to figure out what the target market was. Dylan's output had been sporadic in the early part of the nineties, and his last two albums of original material had been well received critically but had been commercial failures, and the only official album since "Greatest Hits Volume 3" had been the "MTV Unplugged" album which was something of a missed opportunity. "Best Of..." leans heavily on Dylan's sixties and seventies albums, with only two tracks coming from later than "Slow Train Coming." All the sixties albums are represented, with the exception of the debut album and "Another Side Of Bob Dylan," with 1963's "Freewheelin'" getting two selections. As for the seventies, "Self Portrait" and "Dylan" are (predictably) ignored, as is "Street Legal" (less predictably), and all the live albums. Of the two post "Slow Train" tracks, "Jokerman" had been included on "Greatest Hits Volume 3" so its inclusion here is a little odd, and there were several tracks on "Oh Mercy" that were more deserving than "Everything Is Broken," but you can never please everybody with these things.

It is hard to imagine anyone not having all these tracks already, in many cases more than once, so I cannot see who would buy this album. Even the age old ploy of including one rare or previously unreleased track in order to entice completists is unlikely to work here, because the one such track on this album is totally unremarkable.

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Best Of Bob Dylan Vol. 2 - 2000
best of bob dylan Things Have Changed: A Hard Rain's A'Gonna Fall: It Ain't Me Babe: Subterranean Homesick Blues: Positively 4th Street: Highway 61 Revisited: Rainy Day Women #12 & 35: I Want You: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight: The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo): Simple Twist Of Fate: Hurricane: Changing Of The Guards: Licence To Kill: Silvio: Dignity: Not Dark Yet.

Like its predecessor, "Best Of Vol. 2" relies heavily on early material, with nine of the seventeen tracks coming from the sixties, with only the decade's opening and closing albums not being represented. Of course though, the real reason for this album is the transparent marketing exercise of building it around "Things Have Changed" the song that Dylan wrote (and won an Oscar for) specifically for the Michael Douglas movie Wonder Boys. The song in which Dylan paints a mellower version of himself is superb, and check out the video if you want to see him hamming it up outrageously. That aside, the rest of the album is pretty predictable, virtually all of the sixties stuff is available on other collections and the repetition of it here does little more than cheapen it. "Positively 4th Street" pops up again, and one has to ask the question why? As good as this song is, there are other gems from that period that could replace this song that has already graced other greatest hits packages. As to the later stuff, it's good to see "Simple Twist Of Fate" get some recognition at last instead of the ubiquitous "Tangled Up In Blue" (again an excellent song, but let's hear something else from "Blood On The Tracks"), and "Hurricane" and "Changing Of The Guards" were both on "Greatest Hits Vol. 3." I have no problem with "Licence To Kill" replacing the overused "Jokerman" as the representative track from "Infidels," but either of the last two tracks from that album might have been a better option. "Silvio" is perhaps the strangest selection of all, already available on "Greatest Hits Volume 3" this surely does not warrant being included in the title "Best Of..." and although it's difficult to think of a substitute, if that album had to be included, why not use "Ninety Miles An Hour" or even "Rank Strangers To Me" (possibly the best track on "Down In The Groove"). "Dignity" is also available on Volume 3, so it can no longer be classed as previously unreleased, so again, why not something else from "Oh Mercy." Just about anything from 1997's superlative "Time Out Of Mind" would have fitted in here, so "Not Dark Yet" is very welcome, even though it feels as if it has been tacked on as an afterthought. This intense, haunting piece is indicative of where Dylan was in the late nineties.

An uneven collection then, even if the tracks do run in chronological order (excluding the opener of course) but as predictable as its predecessor. The only real reason for buying this would be to obtain a copy of "Things Have Changed," and there was a limited edition with an extra cd containing live versions of "Highlands" and "Blowin' In The Wind."

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The Essential Bob Dylan - 2000
the essential bob dylan Blowin' In The Wind: Don't Think Twice, It's All Right: The Times They Are A'Changin' It Ain't Me, Babe: Subterranean Homesick Blues: Maggie's Farm: Mr. Tambourine Man: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue: Like A Rolling Stone: Rainy Day Women #12 & 35: Just Like A Woman: Positively 4th Street: All Along The Watchtower: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight: Lay Lady Lay: The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo): If Not For You: I Shall Be Released: You Ain't Goin' Nowhere: Knockin' On Heaven's Door: Forever Young: Tangled Up In Blue: Shelter From The Storm: Hurricane: Gotta Serve Somebody: Jokerman: Silvio: Everything Is Broken: Not Dark Yet: Things Have Changed.

Of all the collections discussed here, this is the one that comes closest to doing what it says on the can, two compact discs opening with 1963's "Blowin' In The Wind" and closing with 2000's custom written "Things Have Changed." Most of Dylan's official albums are represented here, and although a few of the omissions are obvious ("Self Portrait," "Dylan" and "Knocked Out Loaded" for example) some are not ("Street Legal" and "Under The Red Sky"). As in the past, the sixties are well covered here with sixteen of the thirty tracks coming from that decade, but as ground breaking as 1965's "Bringing It All Back Home" was, it is difficult to justify the inclusion of four tracks from it. The two succeeding albums only have three tracks between them (and not the best) and they were in many ways more important, and of course "Positively 4th Street" appears again, and a song that was once a rarity is now available on about half a dozen different collections. Two predictable tracks from "John Wesley Harding" give way to an equally reliable choice from "Nashville Skyline," although "Lay, Lady, Lay" was actually a hit. The version of "The Mighty Quinn" is thankfully from the Basement Tapes sessions and not the live version from the 1969 Isle Of Wight concert, this is the same version that was used on 1985's "Biograph." Only one song "If Not For You" from the early seventies country squire period, and then two tracks ("I Shall Be Released" and "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere") from the 1971 Happy Traum sessions, both of which are on "Greatest Hits Volume 2." The next two tracks are both favourites for live performance, with the first "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" having been recorded by countless people over the years, but this, the original from the 1973 soundtrack to Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid is still the definitive version. The second perennial favourite is 1974's "Forever Young," the same version that is on "Greatest Hits Volume 3" and the song that Dylan performed with Bruce Springsteen at the September 1995 opening of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland. Into classic mid-seventies territory, and I suppose there is an inevitability about "Tangled Up In Blue," and while one cannot deny the status of this song, it would be a pleasant change to hear something else from "Blood On The Tracks," talking of which, "Shelter From The Storm" crops up again, but this time it is the official album version, and not the alternate that was used on the first "Best Of..." collection. The ill-advised and totally predictable "Hurricane" is the only cut from "Desire," and the Christian period gets sparse recognition with "Gotta Serve Somebody." Again, one cannot deny the excellence of this song, but it is available on several other albums, so why not something else (perhaps "Precious Angel" or the title track from "Slow Train Coming") from this period? There is also a good case for the inclusion of 1981's outstanding "Every Grain Of Sand." The entire eighties decade is represented by a mere three songs, and while one has to acknowledge that these were not Dylan's finest years, there are other songs from that period that are far more essential than "Silvio," which had already made an (inexplicable) appearance on "Greatest Hits Volume 3." "Jokerman" is of course one of the finest songs from that creatively poor decade and deserves inclusion here, but is "Everything Is Broken" really the best choice from 1989's "Oh Mercy"? particularly as it is also available on the first "Best Of..." collection. As both of the early nineties acoustic albums are ignored here, there is precious little to include from that decade ("Unplugged" I hear you say) until one comes to the brilliant "comeback" album "Time Out Of Mind" and it would have been no bad thing to include two tracks from that here, but we have to settle for the dark haunting beauty of "Not dark Yet," something I can certainly live with. The superb final track, "Things Have Changed" sees Dylan in reflective mood, pondering a world of different values and standards "People are crazy and times are strange/I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range/I used to care, but things have changed" and in a rare flash of almost confessional insight "I hurt easy, I just don't show it/You can hurt someone and not even know it," a great song.

There are of course several significant omissions from "The Essential Bob Dylan" and some inclusions that should not be there, but overall and for the price, somebody looking for an introduction into Dylan could do a lot worse. It's uneven sure, and it won't please everybody, (these things never do), but at least the chronology is correct. There is an Australian version available which includes six extra tracks, "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?," "I Want You," "Changing Of The Guards," "Blind Willie McTell," "Tight Connection To My Heart," and "Dignity" which sounds like a good deal, but you will pay quite a bit extra for it. And for those with money to burn, there is a limited tour edition that contains the above six tracks along with another six, "John Wesley Harding," "I Threw It All Away," "Wigwam"(?), "Watching The River Flow," "George Jackson" and "On A Night Like This." The addition of these twelve tracks redresses the balance a little, but makes it a very pricey article.

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Honourable Mention

Masterpieces - 1978
Japan And Australasia
masterpieces Knockin' On Heaven's Door: Mr. Tambourine Man: Just Like A Woman: I Shall Be Released: Tears Of Rage: All Along The Watchtower: One More Cup Of Coffee: Like A Rolling Stone: The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo): Tomorrow Is A Long Time: Lay Lady Lay: Idiot Wind: Mixed Up Confusion: Positively 4th Street: Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window: Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues: Spanish Is The Loving Tongue: George Jackson: Rita Mae: Blowin' In The Wind: A Hard Rain's A'Gonna Fall: The Times They Are A'Changin': Masters Of War: Hurricane: Maggie's Farm: Subterranean Homesick Blues: Ballad Of A Thin Man: Mozambique: This Wheel's On Fire: I Want You: Rainy Day Women #12 & 35: Don't Think Twice, It's All Right: Song To Woody: It Ain't Me, Babe: Love Minus Zero/No limit: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight: If Not For You: If You See Her, Say Hello: Sara.

This is the album that Columbia released in Japan (and later Australia and New Zealand) to capitalise on Dylan's 1978 tour to those countries. "Bob Dylan Live At Budokan" was the official album of the tour, but "Masterpieces" was later made available in the west. All the usual suspects are here, but the running order is way out of sequence, however there are a few tracks to interest completists. "Like A Rolling Stone" and "The Mighty Quinn" are both the Isle Of Wight/Self Portrait versions, and "Lay, Lady, Lay," "Idiot Wind" and "Maggie's Farm" are the live versions from "Hard Rain." "Mixed Up Confusion" is for some reason not the take that was issued as a single in 1962, "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?," is the 1965 single version, "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" is the live version from Liverpool 1966 (issued as a B side to "I Want You" in that year), "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue" is the solo version (not the one on "Dylan") that was issued as a B side to "Watching The River Flow" in 1971 and "George Jackson" is the Big Band version that was issued as a single in the same year. Other than this, all the tracks are the official album versions, or the ones you would expect them to be. Two further points, "Rita May" is an out take from "Desire" and a pretty inconsequential one at that, and this is the first greatest hits album (if that is what it was supposed to be) to contain a track from Dylan's debut album. "Song To Woody" was one of only two self penned songs on 1962's "Bob Dylan."

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Very Best Of Bob Dylan - 2000
(Swedish Import)
very best of Blowin' In The Wind: Don't Think Twice, It's All Right: A Hard Rain's A'Gonna Fall: The Times They Are A'Changin' It Ain't Me, Babe: Subterranean Homesick Blues: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue: She Belongs To Me: Mr. Tambourine Man: Positively 4th Street: Like A Rolling stone: I Want You: Rainy Day Women #12 & 35: Just Like A Woman: All Along The Watchtower: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight: Lay Lady Lay: If Not For You: I Shall Be Released: Knockin' On Heaven's Door: Forever Young: Tangled Up In Blue: Hurricane: Changing Of The Guards: Gotta Serve Somebody: Jokerman: Emotionally Yours: Brownsville Girl: Silvio: Love Sick: Things Have Changed.

Like "The Essential Bob Dylan," this album is heavily weighted in favour of the sixties, with more than half of the tracks coming from that decade. The selections are very similar as well, with predictability being the watchword. No surprises in the first half, "A Hard Rain's A'Gonna Fall" is the third track, that could have been on "Essential" and we also get the (by now) ubiquitous "Positively 4th Street," everything else is as you would expect. The usual tracks from the late sixties/early seventies give way to the well anticipated "Forever Young," "Tangled Up In Blue" and "Hurricane" from the mid seventies. After this, the track selection throws up a few surprises, "Changing Of The Guards" precedes the inevitable "Gotta Serve Somebody" which is followed by the pleasant surprise of "Every Grain Of Sand," one of the finest songs from the early eighties, and all too often overlooked. "Jokerman" is a song of such depth that one can never tire of it, and it certainly deserves a place here, but does 1985's "Emotionally Yours" really qualify as being among "The Very Best Of..."? The mid-eighties classic "Brownsville Girl" is always a welcome inclusion, but the choice of "Silvio" is to me, totally baffling. The last two tracks are really the only reason for buying this set, "Love Sick" is not the album track, but the live version from the 1998 Grammys, and "Things Have Changed" is still new enough and good enough to carry any greatest hits package. But even bearing that in mind, it is unlikely that those two alone would be enough to persuade many people to buy this relatively expensive package.


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