Dylan BlondeOnBlonde c inner left photo 1500

a Blonde On Blonde labelography and price guide

THIS IS A LABELOGRAPHY and price guide for the ini­tial press­ings of Bob Dy­lan’s 1966 two-record album BLONDE ON BLONDE. It is in­tended as a com­ple­men­tary piece to the ar­ticle “What Was the First Rock Double-Album of the ’60s?” Whereas that piece was for a gen­eral read­er­ship, this ar­ticle is in­tended for col­lec­tors (al­though many of those gen­eral readers can enjoy the photos and some of the his­tory).

We de­ter­mined that the of­fi­cial re­lease of BLONDE ON BLONDE was at least two weeks after the re­lease of FREAK OUT. This gives the Mothers brag­ging rights over Dylan for the “first rock double-album.” That is, the first two-record set of newly recorded ma­te­rial of rock music. Frankly, this is so much nit­picking, as the two al­bums were re­leased within a week of each other.

Nit­picking aside, Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa ef­fec­tively con­ceived, recorded, and re­leased the first two rock double-album at the same time. Be­fore pro­ceeding here, I sug­gest you read “What Was the First Rock Double-Album of the ’60s?

What fol­lows here is a look at Dy­lan’s album and the back­ground in­for­ma­tion if the pre­vious ar­ticle will clarify things.

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde m c top 500

Bob Dylan: Blonde On Blonde
Co­lumbia C2L-41 (mono) 
Co­lumbia C2S-841 (stereo)
Re­leased: July 4, 1966

Co­lumbia re­leased Blonde on Blonde in mono (C2L-41) and stereo (C2S-841). The ac­tual date of re­lease of Blonde on Blonde is un­cer­tain at this time. It may have been re­leased as early as June 27, 1966, in se­lect mar­kets (no­tably Los An­geles) but it may have not been re­leased until July 10, 1966.

Dy­lan’s first round of recording ses­sions his sev­enth album began on Oc­tober 5, 1965, at Columbia’s Studio A in New York City. The final ses­sions were held at Columbia’s Studio B in Nashville, Ten­nessee, on March 10, 1966. The last overdub ses­sion was on June 16. Bob John­ston was the pro­ducer for these ses­sions.

That is, Bob began work on his project five months be­fore the Mothers’ first of­fi­cial ses­sion for Verve, yet fin­ished two days after they had wrapped up their ses­sions. Of course, it was well worth the ef­fort and the wait!

Those of us who came of age in the ’60s grew up with the legend that Dylan wasn’t cer­tain that he had a two-record set until the last ses­sion. At that point, he and Bob Johnson re­al­ized they had too much ma­te­rial for a single record but not enough for two.

Then Dylan stepped up to the plate and hit a grand-slam, writing all eleven min­utes of “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Low­lands” in one sit­ting just to fill up the fourth side!

Anyway, some­thing along those lines is how the legend went.

Hah!

We now know two facts that ruin that legend:

1. There was plenty of ma­te­rial for two LPs be­fore “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Low­lands.”

2. “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Low­lands” wasn’t even the last track recorded!

The album’s con­tents and their se­quencing were in­ten­tional. The re­leased album could have held more music, but Dylan didn’t want any more on the records than what he se­lected. The de­ci­sion to place “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Low­lands” as the sole track on the fourth side was ex­actly that: an aes­thetic de­ci­sion. And a bril­liant de­ci­sion it was!

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde m c full 500

This is how the album looked when the gate­fold jacket was opened flat. This was a rather im­pres­sive sleeve de­sign for the time—including the fact that it was de­void of any text ex­cept for the Co­lumbia logo in the upper left corner.

Photography

Ex­cept for one photo, all the im­ages on the inner and outer covers were taken by Jerry Schatzberg.” Ac­cording to the pho­tog­ra­pher:

“I wanted to find an in­ter­esting lo­ca­tion out of the studio. We went to the west side, where the Chelsea Art gal­leries are now. At the time it was the meat-packing dis­trict of New York and I liked the look of it. It was freezing and I was very cold. The frame he chose for the cover is blurred and out of focus.

Of course, everyone was trying to in­ter­pret the meaning, saying it must rep­re­sent get­ting high or an LSD trip. It was none of the above; we were just cold and the two of us were shiv­ering. There were other im­ages that were sharp and in focus, but to his credit, Dylan liked that pho­to­graph.”

Most of us didn’t see the gate­fold jacket fully opened un­less we or a friend bought it and took it home. As the jacket was man­u­fac­tured over time, the tones of the colors on the front and back covers varied some­what.

As this was a gate­fold jacket, it opened up into two leaves, both of which in­cluded black and white photos. The song ti­tles were printed across the top with ad­di­tional data such as mu­si­cian credits along the bottom. The song Stuck In­side of Mo­bile with the Mem­phis Blues Again is listed simply as Mem­phis Blues Again.

Orig­inal jackets had nine photos, two of them of women who are not iden­ti­fied (in­cluding a promi­nent one later iden­ti­fied as ac­tress Claudia Car­di­nale). The black and white photos have grey tones. Sup­pos­edly, copies exist with black and white photos with blue tones.

In 1968, the inner panels of the jacket were changed: The two photos of the women were re­moved and one shot of Dylan was en­larged. All sub­se­quent print­ings of the jacket fea­tured these seven pho­tographs on the in­side.

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde c inner 1 750

Ex­cept for the shot of Dylan in con­cert in Philadel­phia on Feb­ruary 24, 1966, in the lower left corner, the photos were taken by Jerry Schatzberg. Orig­inal jackets had nine black and white photos with grey tones. Two photos have uniden­ti­fied women in them, one being of Italian ac­tress Claudia Car­di­nale that Schatzberg had taken in 1963.

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde c inner 2 750

In 1968, the jacket was al­tered: the two photos of with the women were re­moved and one shot of Dylan was en­larged. All sub­se­quent print­ings of the jacket fea­tured only seven pho­tographs on the in­side. Copies of this ver­sion of the jacket can be found without the ti­tles at the top and the credits at the bottom exist and are rather rare.

Mono and stereo versions

While the cat­alog num­bers for the mono and stereo al­bums are C2L-41 and C2S-841, the in­di­vidual records have in­di­vidual cat­alog num­bers. The two mono records are CL-2516 and CL-2517 and the two stereo records are CS-9316 and CS-9317.

•  The mono records have sig­nif­i­cantly dif­ferent mixes than the stereo records and the length of some of the tracks differ.

•  The mono ver­sions is­sued in Canada and France in the ’60s con­tained ear­lier, dif­ferent mixes than the mono records re­leased in the US.

•  In 1968, Co­lumbia started using a slightly dif­ferent mix on the stereo records, making the stereo al­bums from the ’60s that much more at­trac­tive to fans and col­lec­tors.

For even more vari­a­tions, check out the Elec­tric Dylan web­site.

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde m c full dj 300

Pro­mo­tional copies had two strips with the song ti­tles and their playing time (title & timing strips) af­fixed to the bottom of the gate­fold jacket for radio sta­tion per­sonnel to better gauge what could be played.

Promotional pressing

Like most al­bums of the time, Co­lumbia pressed spe­cial pro­mo­tional copies with white la­bels pri­marily to be shipped to radio sta­tions for air­play.

They were usu­ally mono records and some copies had two white stickers with the song ti­tles and their playing time af­fixed to the bottom of the back cover.

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde m Side2 1 wlp 600

Pro­mo­tional press­ings were mono records with white la­bels with two styl­ized speaker logos (or “eye logos”), one at 9 o’­clock and one at 3 o’­clock. The word “Non­break­able” does not ap­pear on the left side. In the perimeter print at the bottom, there is a tiny speaker-logo to the left of “Marcas.” The second song on Side 2 is listed as Mem­phis Blues Again.

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde s shrink sticker 600

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde s shrink sticker2 400

Some of us saw the album for the first time with this sticker hyping the in­clu­sion of two hit sin­gles. This par­tic­ular factory-sealed stereo copy with the first hype sticker sold for more than $1,600 on eBay in 2015—many times what a sim­ilar copy would have sold for even with mint records in a mint jacket. After its ini­tial re­lease, Co­lumbia had a new sticker af­fixed to the shrinkwrap of BLONDE ON BLONDE hyping the hit sin­gles and listing the rest of the al­bum’s song ti­tles.

Commercial pressings

From 1966 through 1969, BLONDE ON BLONDE was man­u­fac­tured with Columbia’s red la­bels with two speaker logos on each side of the spindle hole, one at 3 o’­clock and one at 9 o’­clock. On the bottom, “360 Sound” ap­peared on both sides of ei­ther “Mono” or “Stereo” in white print.

During these four years, there were three vari­a­tions on the mono la­bels and four for the stereo records:

 

dbl BOB label v1m 1

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde s Side2 1 600

With NONBREAKABLE and MEMPHIS BLUES AGAIN

Both mono and stereo records (1966) have red la­bels two styl­ized speaker logos (or “eye logos”), one at 9 o’­clock and one at 3 o’­clock. The word “Non­break­able” ap­pears on the left side below the cat­alog number. In the perimeter print at the bottom, there is a tiny speaker-logo to the right of “Marcas.” The second song on Side 2 is listed as Mem­phis Blues Again.

As both the pro­mo­tional pressing and the album jacket list Mem­phis Blues Again, I as­sume that the com­mer­cial pressing listing Mem­phis Blues Again is the first pressing while those listing Stuck In­side Of Mo­bile With The are later pressings—although they could be al­ter­na­tive first press­ings.

This is the most common of the label vari­a­tions from the ’60s. Nonethe­less, as the first pressing it is also the most sought after—if you’re a Dylan or ’60s col­lector and want one copy of BLONDE ON BLONDE to have in your col­lec­tion, this is the copy to have!

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde m Side2 2 600

dbl BOB label v2s

With NONBREAKABLE and STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE

Both mono and stereo records (1966) have red la­bels with two styl­ized speaker logos (or “eye logos”), one at 9 o’­clock and one at 3 o’­clock. The word “Non­break­able” ap­pears on the left side below the cat­alog number. In the perimeter print at the bottom, there is a tiny speaker-logo to the right of “Marcas.” The second song on Side 2 is listed as Stuck In­side Of Mo­bile With The.

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde m Side2 3 600

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde s Side2 3 600

With NONBREAKABLE and STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE

Later pressing mono and stereo records (1967-1968) have red la­bels with two styl­ized speaker logos (or “eye logos”), one at 9 o’­clock and one at 3 o’­clock. The word “Non­break­able” does not ap­pear on the left side. In the perimeter print at the bottom, there is a tiny speaker-logo to the right of “Marcas.” The second song on Side 2 is listed as Stuck In­side Of Mo­bile With The.

 

dbl BOB label v4b

Without NONBREAKABLE with STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE

Later pressing stereo records (1968-1969) have red la­bels with two styl­ized speaker logos (or “eye logos”), one at 9 o’­clock and one at 3 o’­clock. The word “Non­break­able” does not ap­pear on the left side. In the perimeter print at the bottom, the tiny speaker-logo is to the left of “Marcas.” The second song on Side 2 is listed as Stuck In­side Of Mo­bile With The.

 

dbl BOB label v3b

The new Columbia label

In 1970, Co­lumbia changed the look of their label: it re­mained red but dropped the speaker logos and the “360 Sound” and in­stead had “Co­lumbia” in print printed in gold six times around the perimeter.

Ti­tles re­leased prior to the change kept their orig­inal cat­alog num­bers, hence BLONDE ON BLONDE re­mained C2S-831. This label re­mained in use into the ’80s and most Dylan al­bums from the ’60s with these la­bels sell for ap­prox­i­mately $10 in NM con­di­tion.

 

Dylan SaturdayEveningPost 6 30 1966 400

BLONDE ON BLONDE pho­tog­ra­pher Jerry Schatzberg’s im­ages were used for this great cover ar­ticle on Dylan “(the Rebel King of Rock­’n’Roll”) for the June 30, 1966, issue of The Sat­urday Evening Post.

Inner sleeve

Be­tween 1963 and 1967, Co­lumbia re­leased all of their LPs with clear plastic inner sleeves in­stead of the more common paper inner sleeve. These sleeves were loose and Baggies-like and rounded at one end and sealed at the other end, which was straight across. That is, you could break the shrinkwrap on the album and still have a still-sealed record.

To open, you had to pull off a quarter-inch strip of the baggy along a per­fo­rated line.

So all orig­inal press­ings of BLONDE ON BLONDE from 1966 into 1967 should have the record housed in two Baggies-like sleeves. Later press­ings were is­sued with stan­dard com­pany paper sleeves ad­ver­tising other Co­lumbia artists and ti­tles.

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde c sticker5 Deluxe 300

Copies of BLONDE ON BLONDE with this generic sticker that reads “Deluxe (2) Two Record Set” are hard to find.

Special stickers

There are at least three unique stickers that were af­fixed to the shrinkwrap of com­mer­cial copies of BLONDE ON BLONDE and sev­eral generic stickers af­fixed to com­mer­cial and pro­mo­tional copies of the album.

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde c sticker1 500

Com­mer­cial copies of BLONDE ON BLONDE can be found with spe­cial stickers af­fixed to the shrinkwrap on the front of the album. Rainy Day Women 12&35 and I Want You had both been re­leased prior to the album, so Co­lumbia was safe in printing the sticker noting those two hits the first press run of the album in mid-1966.

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde c sticker2 500

Once BLONDE ON BLONDE was com­pleted and re­leased, Co­lumbia could print a new sticker noting the two hits plus listing the rest of the al­bum’s tracks. This sticker was used in the second half of 1966 and may have been printed and used into 1967.

 

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This is an­other sticker that lists the con­tents of the album that was ap­par­ently af­fixed to al­bums in 1966. It is the rarest of the three con­tent stickers.

 

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This sticker was af­fixed to the jacket of white label pro­mo­tional press­ings of the album and shipped to radio sta­tions for air­play.

 

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Dylan BlondeOnBlonde s Side2 dj sticker 400

This sticker was often af­fixed to the jacket or the la­bels of com­mer­cial al­bums that were des­ig­nated for pro­mo­tional pur­poses. These were generic stickers that Co­lumbia used on thou­sands of dif­ferent ti­tles over the years.

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde c SpecialProducts promo sticker 300

This gold sticker iden­ti­fies the album as being des­ig­nated for pro­mo­tional use by Columbia’s Spe­cial Product di­vi­sion. The first time I ever saw these stickers in gen­eral use was in 1968 when the US record in­dustry deleted mono al­bums from their cat­a­logs and then dumped mil­lions of them on the market, usu­ally by selling them for a frac­tion of their normal whole­sale price to de­part­ment stores across the country.

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde songbook deluxe 500

Schatzberg’s photos were used for the song­books re­leased with the al­bum’s music. Aside from this Deluxe edi­tion, there were spe­cial­ized song books pub­lished for Easy Guitar & Har­monica; Dylan Style Guitar; Ukulele, Bari­tone Uke, Tenor Guitar; and 5 String Banjo, Tenor Banjo, Man­dolin.

Pressing plants

The records were pressed at each of the Columbia’s three press­ings plants in Pitman, New Jersey, in Santa Maria, Cal­i­fornia, and in Terre Haute, In­diana. The Pitman press­ings usu­ally have a cap­ital “P” stamped into the runout vinyl; the Terre Haute press­ings usu­ally have a cap­ital “T” stamped into the runout vinyl; the Santa Maria pressing have a cap­ital “S” or a back­ward cap­ital “S” (“Ƨ”).

 

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde Volume1 Germany 600

In some Eu­ro­pean coun­tries, BLONDE ON BLONDE was orig­i­nally is­sued as two sep­a­rate al­bums. On the front cover of this West German pressing, it reads “Bob Dylan Vol. 1” but the la­bels read “Blonde on Blonde Vol. 1.” All sub­se­quent press­ings were two-record al­bums.

Later pressings and reissues

While Co­lumbia dropped the mono ver­sion of BLONDE ON BLONDE from its cat­alog in 1967, it kept the stereo ver­sion in print as an LP, a pre­re­corded tape, and as a CD. There have been sev­eral reis­sues of the mono album in re­cent years, my fave being from Sun­dazed Records.

In 2002, Sun­dazed is­sued a re­mas­tered, fac­simile edi­tion of the mono BLONDE ON BLONDE taken from the orig­inal mono mas­ters (Sun­dazed LP-5110). Ac­cording to Sun­dazed’s Bob Irwin:

“There was clear vi­sion throughout the mono mixing. I can let you know, without a doubt, the mono mix was the one that was con­sid­ered most im­por­tant to everyone as­so­ci­ated with the album at the time. The final mono mix is much, much more com­pli­cated and de­lib­erate than the stereo.” (Elec­tric Dylan)

There were prob­lems with the quality of the vinyl and the pressing of the orig­inal Sun­dazed LP-5110 re­sulting in noisy and warped LPs. In 2008, Sun­dazed is­sued a re­mas­tered ver­sion of LP-5110 that fixed those is­sues. Both edi­tions have the same bar-code (090771511010) but the cor­rected ver­sion has “[email protected]” in the trail-off/runout area.

 

dbl Dylan IWantYou2

Schatzberg’s pho­tog­raphy was also used on the single I Want You that pre­ceded BLONDE ON BLONDE by a few weeks.

Price guide

First, the ver­sion of the album with the records that list the second song on Side 2 as Mem­phis Blues Again is the first pressing (1966-1967) and is also the most common pressing. The vari­a­tions with that song listed as Stuck In­side Of Mo­bile With The are ap­par­ently second press­ings (1968-1969) and are much rarer than the first pressing.

At this time, col­lec­tors have not dif­fer­en­ti­ated be­tween them in terms of prices paid:

                        VG           VG+            NM    
C2L-41    $ 40-6
0    75-100   150-200
C2S-841 
$ 20-30     40-60      75-100

White label promos are al­most im­pos­sible to find in any con­di­tion and can sell for $1,000 even in less than near mint con­di­tion!

The final mono mix of BLONDE ON BLONDE is much more com­pli­cated and de­lib­erate than the stereo. Click To Tweet

Dylan BlondeOnBlonde c inner left photo 1000

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was cropped from the in­side of the BLONDE ON BLONDE gate­fold jacket. It’s a photo of chain-smoking Bob lights up yet an­other cig­a­rette while gab­bing with man­ager Al­bert Grossman.

Much of the in­for­ma­tion above is from Frank Daniels’ Bob Dylan Press­ings. Frank also pro­vided me with scans of many of the im­ages below and proofed the text.

BLONDE ON BLONDE was cer­ti­fied by the RIAA for a Gold Record Award on Au­gust 25, 1967. This award rep­re­sented $1,000,000 in sales at the whole­sale level for ap­prox­i­mately 300,000-400,000 copies sold. It was fi­nally cer­ti­fied as Plat­inum for 1,000,000 copies sold on May 5, 1999.

Fi­nally, BLONDE ON BLONDE may be one of the dumbest ti­tles for one of the greatest rock al­bums ever but few of us who grew up with the album think about that any more than we think about the fact that Hopa­long Cas­sidy was Irish …

 

 

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Hello - I found this helpful in eval­u­ating two copies of Blonde on Blonde. (My hus­band and I fi­nally de­cided to merge our record col­lec­tions and sell or do­nate the du­pli­cates.) But I think there is a typo re: Pressing Plants. Would be strange for Pitman and Terre Haute to both use P in the runout. We have one with a T in the runout vinyl, pre­sum­ably from Terre Haute.