Bob Dylan’s first recording of Blowin' in the Wind since 1962, produced by T Bone Burnett, is being auctioned at Christie’s in London on new vinyl/CD hybrid called Ionic Originals.
Would you pay £1m for a new Bob Dylan recording on a format which very little is known about? Ionic Originals (not to be confused with the FitBit Ionic or the Hot Tools Pro Signature Salon Ionic AC hair dryer) are, apparently, lacquer painted onto an aluminium disc, which sort of sounds similar to a LaserDisc that can be played using a DVD player.
So, analog music on a 12-inch CD-like disc? Not so fast; Burnett has said that each Ionic Original contains "a spiral etched into it by music… which can be heard by putting a stylus into the spiral and spinning it" which sounds like vinyl all day long, so we can't be sure.
The thing is, I still find it desirable – because love him or loathe him (I'm in the former camp, obviously) it's a first in music history: a unique piece of music in a physical format that you might be the only person ever to own.
And that's not all! This is the first recording to utilise multi-Grammy award-winner Burnett's patented technology. Burnett notes that the tech used to create an Ionic Original disc “advances the art of recorded audio and marks the first breakthrough in analog sound reproduction in more than 70 years, achieving dramatic improvements in listening experience and durability.”
So, July 7 is the big day: in Bob Dylan's impressive 60th anniversary year as a recording artist, this historic lot presents a unique opportunity for international collectors, music fans, historians, aficionados and audiophiles to own something truly special.
Want to hear it before placing your best and final offer? Me too – we can be friends. Exclusive in-person listening experiences of the Blowin' in the Wind Ionic Original will take place in advance of the auction: by-appointment in Los Angeles (June 8) and New York (June 15) and as part of the public pre-sale exhibition in London (July 2-7).
Opinion: the actual, physical, tangible music format is still deeply important
I almost didn't write this piece, because the current cost of living crisis can make a mockery of such events; some of us are choosing whether to heat or eat and here I am, waxing lyrical about £1m formats some of us may not own the kit to actually play?
But that would have been grossly remiss of me – and not just because if you head to the listening sessions, you'll be able to hear it on a top McIntosh audio system comprising an MT5 Precision turntable (aka one of the best turntables in existence, and proof it does play like a record!) an MP1100 phono preamp (see also, the MA6300 integrated amp), and a MHA200 headphone amplifier, which will surely be hooked up to some of the best over-ear headphones available, all without having to buy said sound system.
No, the reason this needs to be shouted about is that it's one of the most important songs written in the last century, and now, 60 years after Dylan first wrote it and cut the record, he is giving us a new recording of the track; one that is both deeply relevant for our times and resonates with me profoundly – and I'm certain I'm not alone here.
It's also a reminder of what can be achieved from humble beginnings: Dylan first sang it on the diminutive stage of Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village in April 1962, but today it is woven firmly into the fabric of American culture – and soon, it will be auctioned for a massive fee.
I'm not alone in thinking that analog, tangible music needs to be preserved and improved. Why else would vinyl have seen such an incredible resurgence in the past few years? The fact that Burnett is doing that is to be commended – albeit in a cost-prohibitive way. But don't you remember how expensive turntables used to be? Now, we can buy a deck for the cost of a nice meal, or from Ikea.
For now, just close your eyes and imagine Dylan's slightly reedy, emotive, inimitable dulcet tones. How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man? Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly before they're forever banned? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind. The answer is blowin' in the wind. (You can call your bank manager about the possibility of a loan later).