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Review of Bob Dylan Archive from the upcoming issue of UK Dylan fan magazine “The Bridge” (www.two-riders.co.uk).


by Terry Kelly

“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.” John Keats said that in his Endymion (1818). Bob Dylan Archive from USA-based company Box of Vision is a Bobby Dazzler. I said that. Basically a deluxe storage facility for every official Dylan album to date – with space for future releases – Bob Dylan Archive is a visual and tactile delight for any serious Dylan fan. Retailing for around £100 in the UK, the Dylan box was lovingly created and produced by Jonathan M. Polk for BOXOFVISION LLC, which has already created a similar object for Beatles’ fans. With the blessing of Sony Music Entertainment, the Dylan set comes complete with a lavish “catalography,” with a stunning Jerry Schatzberg photograph on the cover. The booklet lists every Dylan album, with track lists and relevant reviews, from the pen of such critical luminaries as Robert Shelton, Michael Gray and Edna Gundersen, plus archive advertising material. Even more lavish is a hardback book, featuring vinyl size reproductions of every Dylan album, plus original liner notes and – where included – lyrics. A visual delight, from its embossed cover onwards, this book allows fans to read – for the first time – Dylan’s extensive notes to Biograph between hard covers. And there is a sense of retrieving a piece of rock history by seeing the Dylan album sleeves as they originally appeared. (So the Blood on the Tracks album reproduction comes complete with Pete Hamill’s sleeve notes – later omitted – which were based on the original pressing, featuring alternative lyrics, before Dylan re-recorded some of the tracks.) Stretching from Bob Dylan to Christmas In The Heart, this beautiful book is almost worth the admission price alone. Next up is the CD container case, with plastic pouches for every official Dylan album, plus holder spaces for future releases. The Dylan – Box of Vision is a luxury in these hard times, but the tender loving care behind its production is a sheer delight. Creater Jonathan M. Polk should feel proud. For more details, visit http://www.BoxOfVision.com


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24 Hours left to save $25 on The BOB DYLAN Archive, THE BEATLES Box Of Vision and THE JOHN LENNON Box of Vision

BOX OF VISION FLASH SALE For Father’s Day…..Sale ends Friday

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A Box O’ Dylan: Conversation with Jon Polk, by Mike Ragogna, Huffingtonpost.com April 15, 2011

Mike Ragogna Radio Personality on Solar Powered KRUU-FM, Music Biz Vet

A Box O’ Dylan: Conversation with Jon Polk
Posted: 04/15/11 12:22 AM ET

A Conversation with Archive Designer Jon Polk

Mike Ragogna: Jon, what does Bob Dylan mean to you?

Jon Polk: Wow, his music is so much a part of my identity, it is difficult to have complete perspective on it. Growing up, music was the single most important thing to me, and singer-songwriters were what mattered to me most. It all led back to discovering Bob Dylan. I was always strongly effected by both his lyrics and his music, and he was the first artist I felt that way about. Today, my three-and-a-half-year-old son is obsessed with Bob Dylan, seriously. He got exposed to it, of course, while I was working on this project, but he really took to it and can sing along with at least ten songs, and makes lyrical references that blow me away. I am very proud of that, and could not be happier that he chose Bob as his first musical influence. Take that, Bieber!

MR: Do you have any stories about how his music affected you, meeting or working with him, and what are your thoughts or opinions on how he affected the culture?

JP: As I said, his music is so much a part of my identity, I cant imagine my world without it. Dylan and The Beatles were the two alchemists that everything good was filtered through, both before them and after. They obviously were strongly influenced by everything before them, but magically turned it all into something different and better. And, of course, they had an important effect on shaping each other. And in some way, everything good that came after seems to owe them some debt. I was aware of all that for as far back as I can remember. I have not met him. I have stood within ten feet of him on a number of occasions, but never crossed the line. I don’t know what I would say to him that he would find remotely interesting, and could not risk saying something stupid I’d regret forever. I love the concept of the artist on the pedestal and like to avoid personal experiences where I have to mentally remove them from that perch. He is the very rare artist that has managed to maintain mystery, even to this day and I love that, respect it, and don’t want to have to lose that feeling. Everything I did on this project was run through his manager. It is my understanding that he approved certain elements himself… but even that, I don’t need to push. It was a rewarding experience knowing I was given the license to do this, and that the end result is something he approved whether directly or not.

MR: Who came up with the content strategy for The Bob Dylan Archive Collection?

JP: It was my idea. The basic format followed what I did with The Beatles Box Of Vision, and The John Lennon Box Of Vision. The big content difference was using the historical album reviews to create a sort of guided journey through his discography. Album reviews were my comic books growing up — I devoured them as a kid deeply into music. I always felt that even the really great critics brought impossibly high expectations, even when Bob exceeded them, and got too personal when reviewing his albums. I thought it would be a great way to look at Dylan’s catalog, and at the same time, it would be an interesting look at how rock criticism was born, grew up, and even entered middle age, all through the body of reviews of Dylan albums.

MR: What are the components and dimensions overall of each piece separately?

JP: The showcase box is over 13 inches high, 15 inches wide, and four inches deep. Fully loaded — before you store your CDs — it weighs in at 15 lbs. The LP artwork book is larger than LP size so the artwork can be LP size with a respectful border in a 220-page, hardcover book of restored LP art. The “Catalography” discography book is 54 pages of discography, classic album ads, and historic review excerpts in a similarly oversized, soft cover book. And the CD storage book, also larger than LP size, is wide enough to showcase 17-18 LP spines and hold 48 plus CD albums.

MR: What assets were you given to create the layout, especially for the album artwork portion?

JP: As with The Beatles and any artist pre-1980, it is impossible to find much of any of the original film or artwork. Sony Music was gracious enough to allow me access to their archives. But I had to supplement by going to collectors, combing vinyl record stores, and, thank God for eBay.

MR: Can you describe the “scrapbook” feature that holds all 43 of Dylan’s CDs?

JP: It is essentially a binder, albeit a really nice, industrial looking one. Each page is laid out specifically to store four CD albums on each side, so eight albums per page. I designed and even hold a the US patent for a method for storing CDs and CD booklets in one-to-one correspondence with each other on a page so you don’t have to store the CD in one pocket and the booklet in the pocket next to it. You can even store digipak boxes and mini LP sleeves, and there is a neat way to store double-size digipak boxes, like for Blonde On Blonde and The Basement Tapes). You can even store both the mono and stereo versions of the same CDs in the same compartment. It allows you to efficiently and elegantly store and display a lot of CD albums in a single book (as) an entire body of work. It comes with six pages, so it comes with storage for 48 CD albums. The artwork specifically designates where to store each of the 43 official chronological Bob Dylan albums. And you can even add pages to store more.

MR: So the binder will be able to be expanded with new releases?

JP: Yes and it comes with a few “blank” spaces already which can accommodate a few already.

MR: What went into assembling the “catalography” information, how was it researched?

JP: A good four months of hunting down and reading every Bob Dylan review I could find. There were a few great (book) anthologies of Dylan reviews that I consulted to keep in check. But it was mostly researching newspaper and magazine archives, and reading, reading, and reading.

I tried hard to be broadly representative, but it was irresistible at some point to keep a few consistent voices. I wanted it to be readable straight through. I leaned towards comments that more broadly described the albums than specific songs. I tried to include things that i thought were surprising. And, I couldnt resist to get some humor in there wherever possible. I held an online contest a few months back where I offered a free Archive to Dylan fans who could identify which albums 13 selected excerpts where about. It took three days for anyone to get them all right, and a full week for even five people to do it. So I think I did a good job turning up some surprises, for even the most devoted fans.

MR: What’s the cost and where can one purchase the Bob Dylan “Archive” Collection?

JP: It is $130 (US), £85 (UK) and €100 (EU). You can buy it online at http://www.BoxOfvision.com.

MR: What other artists will be given the “Archive” treatment in the future?

JP: There are many that I hope to do. Aside from the ones with the more obvious large iconic catalogs — there are a bunch i am thinking about right now — there are ones that present particular challenges for music storage. For example, I am working on a way to store a Grateful Dead fan’s entire collection — the studio LPs, their show tapes, and their digital downloads. I’d also like to do an artist whose body of work is really post LP, but present LP versions of all the artwork. I have ambitious hopes and plans.

MR: Do you have any advice for new artists?

JP: Learn from the masters, but aim to be an alchemist. It should not be about trying to be a new Dylan or a new Beatles. Use your influences but create something new. But a real artist doesn’t need my advice — they will do what they do because they have to.


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BOB DYLAN Archive from Box of Vision in UK Shortlist…


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Bob Dylan Quiz answers: 8, 9, 10 and 11

continued from prior post.


We needn’t bow our heads in shame because this is the best album of 1975. It would have been the best album of 1967 too. And it’s sure to sound great in 1983.


of course…. I couldn’t resist including this one.
By Robert Christgau, 1975, in The Village Voice


One well know American critic said the following, in reviews of three different Bob Dylan albums (presented below chronologically):

(i) ”… this is his best album since “Blood on the Tracks.” (B+)

(ii) “…his best album since Blood on the Tracks.” (B+)

(iii) “…Dylan’s best album in 15 years “(A-)


Of course these are all by Robert Christgau as well. A good many of you got these– they are easy to find on the internet (not that I think that is how YOU figured it out).
At one point I thought about trying to find every review that ever said a new Bob Dylan album was his best since Blood On the Tracks. I collected a good bunch. i might print them in one these blog posts eventually.


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BOB DYLAN QUIZ Answers…questions 3 through 7

continued from prior post….


[It] is not only his most satisfying album since “Blonde on Blonde”…but also his most finely honed look at one of the acclaimed songwriter’s favorite themes: romance…. The musical textures…offer his boldest mix in years of his early folk, country and blues influences. In some ways, the album is a hookup with the organ-accented “Blonde on Blonde” sound….But the lyrics continue to be the most important lure. Despite the constant surprises, some things in his music never change, he’s always got something to
say…..Though some of the arrangements…are a touch slick, there’s a haunting, authentic quality on the best tracks that’s suggests…a confident return to the “Blonde on Blonde” mystique.


From another review by ROBERT HILBURNin theLos Angeles Times from June 27, 1978.
I thought this was the hardest, mainly because Street Legal seems to be an album you love or hate…and i think the people who love it (count me in) think they are alone, and are surprised when someone else loves it too. Count Robert Hilburn in, in 1978. But clearly, Hilburn was in some ways elevating this album above Blood on The Tracks and Desire at the time. I dont know how you winners got this right, other than process of elimination coupled with “counter-intuitive” thinking, as one of the winners shared with me: if it seemed obvious that this had to be Blood On The Tracks, then it couldn’t be.


Dylan seems to feel no need to respond to the predominant trends in pop music at all. And he is the only major pop artist about whom this can be said….What we are forced to see…is Bob Dylan growing up. In every possible respect. On this album Dylan’s songs are no longer just him, they are separate identities which exist apart from their author. And we see Dylan moving toward an identity of himself as a classical artist, not as just a pop artist…I think we are also beginning to see a Dylan who is prepared more than ever before to accept uncertainty, to give up the search for the finite, a Dylan who no longer feels that each of his songs must tell us everything he knows. He is prepared to look at the pieces of reality, and let the miller tell his tale.


Form a review by JON LANDAU in Crawdaddy! in May 1968.

Here is where people started getting answers correctly. I think this one became obvious given the album choices.

8) 5) Which BOB DYLAN album were they talking about?

It takes only one listening to realize that [this] is the best album Bob Dylan has made since “The Basement Tapes” …The more I hear the new album…the more I feel that it’s one of the finest records Dylan has ever made. In time, it is possible that it might even be considered his greatest…. Bob Dylan has, at long last, come back into our lives and times, and it is with the most commercial LP he’s ever released…. Bob Dylan once again has something urgent to sing. He’s back in the land of opportunity, fate and inexplicable twists. [This album,] built on an accumulation of reluctant and arduous changes, is the record that’s been a long time coming, with an awesome, sudden stroke of transcendent and cohesive vision. This is what makes it so overwhelming….


From a review by Jann S. Wenner in Rolling StoneSeptember 20. 1979.

A good many people figured that out. Its a pretty amazing review. We include a large part of it in the Catalography book.

8) 6) Which BOB DYLAN album were they talking about?

The intimacy and warmth of the key tracks suggest that this American rock legend enjoys the rare freedom to step away from the expectations and pressure surrounding new collections of his own tunes and simply play music on a more relaxed level…… While [it] lacks the essential quality of a collection of gripping new Dylan tunes, its best moments offer an interesting blueprint of a landmark musician’s own musical heritage.


Yet another from ROBERT HILBURNin the Los Angeles Times May 29, 1988
(Hilburn had so many interesting Dylan reviews, that if any one reviewer is over-represented in the Catalography, it is him. But I think it was well worth it.

This one was easy enough to figure out given the choices. (I resisted sticking in another curveball choice…Self Portrait maybe?)


He has, in effect, dragged folk music, perhaps by the nape of its neck, into areas it never dreamed exi

sted, and enriched both it and himself a thousandfold by the journey. Now, for the first time, I think, with this album, we have finally progressed out of Then and into Now. With a Minnesota gypsy leading us, we have truly become contemporary….


By PAUL NELSON, from Sing Out! in February-March, 1966.

A real classic, that many of you had little problem figuring out.

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