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: Right Off (26:54)
B1: Yesternow (25:36)
Miles Davis' A Tribute to Jack Johnson is the best jazz-rock record ever made. Equally inspired by the leader's desire to assemble the "greatest rock and roll band you have ever heard" as well as his adoration of Johnson, Davis created a hard-hitting set that spills over with excitement, intensity, majesty, and power. Bridging the electric fusion he'd pursued on earlier efforts with a funkier, dirtier rhythmic approach, Davis zeroes in on concepts of spontaneity, freedom, and identity seldom achieved in the studio. Mobile Fidelity's sterling reissue brings it all to fore with unsurpassed realism.
Indeed, utilising wah-wah and distortion, guitarist John McLaughlin comes on here with a nasty edge, slashing style, and vicious streak that allows A Tribute to Jack Johnson finally cross the divide between rock and jazz. Davis puts both feet in the former camp and permanently erasing any gap. In addition to highlighting McLaughlin's ripping performances, Mobile Fidelity's 180g LP showcases the headliner's white-hot trumpet solos like never before. Bristling with exuberance, Davis' high-register passages explode with authority and commanding presence. Around him, a barrage of urgent backbeats, knifing riffs, and three-dimensional bass lines emerge amidst an ink-black background.
The least-well known true masterpiece of Davis' career, the 1971 record - like Bitches Brew, seamlessly assembled from sessions by producer Ted Macero - was a victim of scant promotion. But to those that heard it, among them critic/musician Robert Quine and renowned writer Robert Christgau, A Tribute to Jack Johnson surpasses everything that came before. Davis treated it as a personal manifesto: An opportunity to salute the championship boxer admired for his threatening image to the establishment and taste in clothes, cars, women and music. Davis explains in the liner notes his affinity for Johnson - a stance revealed in the music, which simultaneously hits with a prize fighter's brutal force and reflects the graceful elegance with which a pugilist navigates the ring.
Producer and journalist Michael Cuscuna may have summed up the record's significance in 2003: "The dense textures introduced and developed the prior fall on the Bitches Brew recording sessions gave way to a lean, stripped-down, guitar-heavy sound. There was now only one drummer, and that kept the groove more pronounced and defined. The three-keyboard configuration appears only on the last session; the rest have none, one, or two, and they are used sparingly."
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 playback, 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 Teo Macero
Mastered by Krieg Wunderlich, assisted by Shawn R. Britton at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, Sebastopol, CA on the GAIN 2 ULTRA ANALOG SYSTEM.
Label: Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, MFSL 1-440
Series: Gain 2™ Ultra Analog, 180g Series
Format: Vinyl LP, Limited Edition, Reissue, Remastered, Numbered, Gatefold