Mobile Fidelity - MFSL2-423 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl -
Numbered Limited Edition - Pressed at RTI
Mastered by Kreig Wunderlich
1/4" / 15 IPS analog copy to DSD 64 to analog console to lathe
The sessions for John Wesley Harding took place in Columbia’s Nashville recording studios, where most of Bob Dylan’s previous album, Blonde on Blonde, was also recorded. Bob Johnston was again the producer, and the core sidemen on JWH—Charlie McCoy (bass) and Kenny Buttrey (drums)—also played on the BoB sessions. Yet the albums are radically different. Musically BoB was looser and the sound much fuller, with electric guitar and organ playing prominent roles. Much sparser is JWH, where the rhythm section (and especially the electric bass) is relatively high in the mix while Dylan’s acoustic guitar and piano are recessed. (Pete Drake’s pedal steel on “Down Along the Cove” and “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” offer the closest thing to adornment.) Somehow the sober, stripped-down recording seems to fit Dylan’s new persona (part moralist, part mystic), his lyrics and voice both conjuring up an older America. Razor-sharp in its presentation of clean-sounding drums, taut bass, a tamed (i.e., less shrill) harmonica, and Dylan’s rich, understated vocals, MoFi’s remastered JWH brings things clearly into focus for an album that will always serve as a model for those who believe less is more. The Absolute Sound
Stripped-Back, Unobtrusive 1967 Album a Mellow Return to Dylan's Roots and Harbinger of Country Rock
Leave it to Bob Dylan to follow three of the most pioneering electric-based albums in history by again deviating from the norm and straying from expectation. Hinting at a return to his folk roots and firmly pointing toward the field that became country rock,John Wesley Harding breathes with relief and freshness, the sound of an artist re-engaging with the past, forging a future, and stepping into new realms after recovering from an motorbike crash and unimaginable pressure.
Mastered on Mobile Fidelity’s world-renowned mastering system and pressed at RTI, this restored 45RPM analog version presents the 1967 album with the finite details and impressionistic tones. Immediately notable for the slimmed-down instrumentation, brisk flow, and simple approach, the record continues to endure via a rustic, era-defying naturalism tied to the organic sounds and warm production swathing Dylan’s acoustic guitar, mellow voice, breezy harmonica, and minor accompaniments. All of these traits translate with incredible realism and lifelike air on this reissue, which also brings out the low end of Charlie McCoy’s bass with a previously unheard supple character. Wider grooves mean more information reaches your ears.
Recorded around the same time as the sessions that yielded The Basement Tapes, John Wesley Harding came together after just three studio sessions and approximately 12 hours of time. While many specifics are shrouded in mystery, a majority of songs are tied to Biblical figures, ominous matters, and morality themes. Making not just a clear sonic break from his most recent efforts, but a songwriting transformation as well, Dylan embraces a strict economy of scale, dropping beat-poetry techniques in favor of stanzas that waste no words and progress narratives at every turn. It’s as if the Bard is saying that truth is spoken here. Few, if any artists, have captured the American myth and its population of immigrants, drifters, and outlaws with such convincing scope and parabolic sagacity.
Combined with the lyrical evolution and unabashed move towards country conventions, Dylan manages to turn popular music on its side, forging a subdued hybrid style no other peers had yet attempted. Arriving during a period of intense experimentalism and psychedelia, John Wesley Harding functions as a sigh of relief, a piano- and pedal steel-flavored set steeped in requisite simplicity in an environment that was increasingly marked by chaos and madness.
Climbing to number two on the Billboard charts and quickly tallying one million in sales, the pared-down work resonated with a public ensnared by its myriad charms. Then, of course, there’s the utter brilliance of every one of the songs here, each seemingly occupying a timeless space that suggests they could’ve been made in 1967, 1937, or 2007. With “All Along the Watchtower,” Dylan landed upon a tune that would soon become one of the most-covered and revered tracks in history. And yet it isn’t even a standout on an album on which every note just belongs.
• Numbered, Limited Edition • 45rpm Speed Edition
• Mastering by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab • Specially Plated and Pressed on 180 grams of High Definition Vinyl
• Special Static Free - Dust Free Inner Sleeve • Heavy Duty Protective Packaging
• Mastered from the Original Master Tapes • Pressed at RTI
Bass – Charles McCoy
Drums – Kenny Buttrey
Engineer – Charlie Bragg
Producer – Bob Johnston
Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Piano – Bob Dylan
1. John Wesley Harding
2. As I Went Out One Morning
3. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
4. All Along the Watchtower
5. The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
6. Drifter's Escape
7. Dear Landlord
8. I Am a Lonesome Hobo
9. I Pity the Poor Immigrant
10. The Wicked Messenger
11. Down Along the Cove
12. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
GAIN 2 Ultra Analog™ is a proprietary cutting system built and designed by legendary design genius Tim De Paravicini, with consultation from one of MFSL’s founding fathers – Stan Ricker, an audio engineer responsible for many of MFSL’s most heralded past releases.
The GAIN 2 Ultra Analog™ system is comprised of a Studer™ tape machine with customized reproduction electronics* and handcrafted cutting amps that drive an Ortofon cutting head on a restored Neumann VMS-70 lathe. (*It is worth noting that independent studies have confirmed that the GAIN 2 Ultra Analog™ system can unveil sonic information all the way up to 122kHz!)
First and foremost, we only utilize first generation original master recordings as source material for our releases. We then play back master tapes at half speed enabling the GAIN 2 Ultra Analog™ system to fully extract the master’s sonic information. Our lacquers are then plated in a specialized process that protects transients in the musical signal. (Due to this process, there may be occasional pops or ticks inherent in initial play back, but as the disc is played more, a high quality stylus will actually polish the grooves and improve the sound). We further ensure optimum sound quality by strictly limiting the number of pressings printed for each release. These limited editions, in addition to being collectors’ items, ensure that the quality of the last pressing matches the quality of the first.
As you can imagine, all these efforts involve a tremendous amount of time, technology, cost and effort. The introduction of GAIN 2 Ultra Analog™ maintains Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s position as the world’s leading audiophile record label, where a passion for music with extraordinary sound quality matters most.