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TURN-ONS AND TURN-OFFS IN CURRENT HOME ENTERTAINMENT RELEASES : ****Excellent ***Good **Fair *Poor : COMPACT DISCS

October 13, 1987|ROBERT HILBURN | Compiled by Terry Atkinson

"Blonde on Blonde." Bob Dylan. Columbia. The final entry in the string of four mid-'60s Dylan albums (others: "Another Side of Bob Dylan," "Bringing It All Back Home" and "Highway 61 Revisited") that arguably represents the most compelling creative streak ever by a rock artist. Though it doesn't offer the musical explosiveness of "Highway 61," the softer, more folk-oriented "Blonde" grapples with romantic relationships with a probing, artful edge that has lost none of its poetic vengeance or endearing grace. In listening to the album again, one isn't just captured by Dylan's words; his vocals here have an intimacy, elegance and command rarely shown fully before or consistently matched since. In putting the two-record set onto a single disc, however, Columbia eliminated a minute of music (shorting some instrumental fades)--an unnecessary step since compact discs are now capable of holding 75 minutes of music. The problem is that the album was mastered for CD at a time--late 1985--when 72 minutes was believed to be the maximum CD length (problems with artwork and other priorities held up the CD release). The album has now been re-mastered so that future shipments will reintroduce the "lost" music; hopefully, Columbia will put a sticker on the new packages so consumers will know which version they are buying. ****

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