Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs believes that mastering systems should be neutral and transparent. The essential idea is to unveil all the detailed musical information on the original master recording without adding deterioration, coloration or other sonic artefacts.
With proprietary innovations such as GAIN 2™, general music enthusiasts and audiophiles alike have reaped the benefit of a higher consumer audio standard without investing in costly new hardware.
A1: John Wesley Harding
A2: As I Went Out One Morning
A3: I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
B1: All Along The Watchtower
B2: The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest
B3: Drifter's Escape
C1: Dear Landlord
C2: I Am A Lonesome Hobo
C3: I Pity The Poor Immigrant
D1: The Wicked Messenger
D2: Down Along The Cove
D3: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
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 accident and unimaginable pressure.
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 favour 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-flavoured 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.
GAIN 2 Ultra Analog™ is a proprietary cutting system built and designed by legendary design genius Tim De Paravicini, with consultation from one of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab'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 customised 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, Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs only utilise first generation original master recordings as source material for their releases. MFSL then play back master tapes at half speed enabling the GAIN 2 Ultra Analog™ system to fully extract the master's sonic information. The lacquers are then plated in a specialised 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). MFSL 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.
Produced by Bob Johnson
Engineered by Charlie Bragg
Mastered from the Original Master Tapes by Krieg Wunderlich, assisted by Rob LoVerde at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, Sebastopol, CA on the GAIN 2 ULTRA ANALOG SYSTEM.
Label: Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, MFSL 2-423
Series: Original Master Recording, Gain 2™ Ultra Analog, 45RPM 180g Series
Format: 2 x Vinyl LP, 45RPM, Stereo, Limited Edition, Numbered, Remastered
Released: 14 Jul 2015
Genre: Folk Rock