Unbiased reviews of new vinyl releases, audiophile reissues, and more

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde Mofi 45 RPM Vinyl Box Set























Mofi is back with their 45 RPM remastering of Blonde on Blonde-- likely the most anticipated title in their 45 RPM series of Bob Dylan audiophile vinyl to date. There are certain titles that catch every record collector's eye when he sees them:  Exile on Main St., Kind of Blue, the White Album. For me, Blonde on Blonde is one of those titles. And there are numerous reasons besides the tremendous music. There are mono and stereo iterations, U.S., Canadian, and UK versions--and of course, Claudia Cardinale. So, like many others, I have acquired more than my share of this particular title over the years. 


Packaging and Pressing
The Mofi 3-LP set arrived in a box made of heavy cardstock, with the front cover photo pasted on the box front. The three slabs of 180 gram vinyl arrived flat and clean, and played predictably quietly throughout.  The vinyl is housed in Mofi's own rice rice paper sleeves and are protected by two foam liners--evidencing a nice attention to detail in this offering. Rounding out the package, is a 12-page booklet featuring the inner gatefold cover art, as well as some additional photos from the period. Sadly, Claudia Cardinale is not included in this booklet--likely due to the inability to gain pubishing rights, which necessitated pulling her image in later pressings of the album over forty years ago.























The Sound
Having owned various versions of this record in both mono and stereo, I'd previously whittled my stereo versions down to my top two favorites: the original UK and Canadian pressings--and that's what I've compared to this 45 RPM set from Mofi.*  Blonde on Blonde has been described as "that thin, wild, Mercury sound." And if the mono versions of the record offer the best representation of that "sound," the best of the stereo versions have always offered a smoother alternative--and this Mofi pressing does it the best that I've heard to date.

The allure of the Canadian stereo press has always been its full, smooth, mellow presentation--in contrast to the wilder, brighter, thinner sounding mono pressings of the record. And for this reason, I kept it as one of my go-to copies of the stereo mix. The UK stereo, while not quite as smooth sounding as the Canadian, has a richer midband, with more of an upper-midrange emphasis that brings Dylan's voice further forward, and also adding a layer of complexity and increased dynamics missing in the Canadian pressing. 

This new 45 RPM version, mastered for Mofi by Krieg Wunderlich and Shawn Britton, gives you the best assets of the Canadian and UK stereo pressings and more. These new pressings take full advantage of the 45 RPM format, with the most dynamic, grain-free presentation of the music I have heard to date. Like the Canadian version, this Mofi pressing has a smooth, buttery sound--but does so with a full dynamic range, greater vocal complexity, and most of all greater detail that is simply missing from every other version of the record I have heard. Guitar flourishes in I Want You, make the song even more of a celebratory gem. The kick drum jumps from the speakers in Rainy Day Women, as does the percussion in Stuck Inside of Mobile, and Dylan's vocals in Just Like A Woman are presented with an emotion unequaled on other versions of the record.  


 *The Mofi vinyl was reportedly cut from a remix. However, given how many variations of this album have reportedly been issued over the years, I will not be addressing the original vs remix issue in this review.

Conclusion

Given the number of times this record has been reissued over the years, this premium priced product from Mofi had to be very good to warrant a recommendation--and Mofi has certainly delivered, with what is simply the best sounding stereo version to date. Pick this one up, and you can forever forget about chasing that elusive UK or Canadian pressing. Consider yourself done.

Highly Recommended









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