One-of-a-kind Bob Dylan records are expected to fetch upwards of PS1m at Christie's auction on Thursday.
The disc includes a new version by the star of Blowin' in The Wind, which was recorded with longtime collaborator T Bone Burnett in March 2021.
BBC News: "It felt sacred," he said. "It always feels holy to me playing with Bob - I believe we did it in one go, if I am not mistaken."
This is Dylan's first studio recording of the song.
This limited-edition release features a unique record that combines the components of vinyl and CDs, and promises better sound quality than vinyl.
The new format can be played on any standard turntable. Burnett, who helped to develop it, describes it as "the pinnacle sound".
Only one Dylan fan with deep pockets will be able to own the new Blowin' in The Wind version. Fans can still listen to the record at Christie's London before it goes on sale.
They will then be taken into a side-room where they will handle the 10-inch disc with silk gloves. Then, the disc will be placed on a PS30,000 hi fi system.
The warmth and precision of sound are immediately evident when listened to through headphones. There may be a few crackles or pops, maybe four, that can be attributed to static or dust on the record's surface.
Dylan's voice is clear and smooth throughout. He had taken a long break from touring during the Covid-19 pandemic.
His distinctive rasp adds weight to the lyrics when it is heard. It is inextricably connected to the civil rights movement that took place in the 1960s.
The lines "How many times can an old man turn his head and pretend that he doesn't see" are a classic example. When sung by an 81-year old who has seen history repeat decade after decade, these lines resonate more than ever.
The song becomes more reflective, a reflection on our failings. Dylan's lyrics are spelled out as if he is contemplating each line again. It takes almost a minute to reach the song's end.
The 2021 re-recording, unlike the original, features a full band recorded live in the studio while Dylan sang. The song's subtle, but sympathetic arrangement with Greg Leisz on the mandolin and Don Was playing bass adds an additional dimension without distracting from the message.
It is almost a shame, it seems, that this copy of Bob Dylan’s 2021 album ,.... will be the last to ever be made, according to the Christie's catalog. This recording will not be available in any other format.
Burnett says, "We are only making one because this work is the equivalent of an oil paint." He is most well-known for his Grammy-winning work with Raising Sand by Alison Kraus, Robert Plant, and the soundtracks to O Brother, Where Art Thou. The Big Lebowski.
He hopes future releases of the format will "help create a music space for the fine arts", which will allow artists to fight "the devaluation of our work through the commoditization of the internet".
"I don’t know what Bob Dylan singing one the most important songs in the last century is worth today. But I do know that it's not $0.001 divided by five billion which is the reality musicians now face."
Its price range is between PS600,000.000 and PS1,000,000 due to its exclusivity.
Christie's senior Americana specialist Peter Klarnet says it is difficult to estimate the cost of an item like this, since nothing of its kind has been sold before. An analogy that comes closest is the Wu-Tang Clan's album Once Upon a Time In Shaolin. It was only one CD in 2015.
Martin Shkreli, a hedge fund manager, initially purchased the record for an undisclosed sum. The US Department of Justice sold the album again for $4m (PS3.35m) after he was convicted of fraud. This made it the most expensive piece of music ever sold.
Klarnet believes that the Dylan record will not surpass this amount, but he suggests that his initial estimate was conservative.
Burnett is excited about the potential of his physical audio format, known as an Ionic Original.
It was announced in April and consists of "lacquer painted onto a disc made from aluminium with a spiral music-etched into it".
This technology is similar to the one used by the music industry for decades to make test pressings. They are also known as dubplates or acetates.
These acetates are generally praised by musicians for their superior sound quality to vinyl. However, they can be damaged quickly due to the pressure of the needle pressing into the groove.
Burnett says, "So we began looking into what they use to shield the Space Station from direct sunlight." "And we were able to coat it with that, and it removes enough friction so that the acetate doesn’t degrade over thousands.
According to him, the coating is made of a gradient from sapphire and Quartz. It reduces crackling associated with vinyl.
He explains that friction creates static electricity which attracts dust which causes pops. This coating removes friction so that if dust does get on the needle it cleans it. The discs are basically self-cleaning.
The discs are not mass-produced at the time of writing. They will therefore remain collectibles and investment opportunities. Burnett is hopeful that they will be more widely used in the future.
He says, "I don’t see this as a substitute for anything." "I simply see it as an additional arrow in my quiver for all musicians in the world [and] a new way to earn a living than we have ever had before."
Burnett isn't the first to venture into audio formats. He developed the hi-fidelity technology KhODE (or code) in 2008 that allowed listeners to "studio quality" recordings using a DVD player.
The format was released by John Mellencamp in Life, Death, Love and Freedom. However, the format was quickly abandoned.
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