"John Wesley Harding" 3-Way Reveal!

AnalogPlanet recently posted 3 96/24 "John Wesley Harding" files recorded from original, Sony Legacy and Mobile Fidelity mono records and asked readers to weigh in on what they heard and which they preferred (if any).

File "JW1" is the Sony Legacy reissue cut at Sterling Sound from the original mono tapes.
File "JW2" is an original Columbia "2-eye" pressing
File "JW3" is the Mobile Fidelity double 45rpm pressing

When these three LPs were played "live" at various store and club events the Mobile Fidelity was the overwhelming favorite and that's the editor's conclusion as well. However, the amount of bass energy on that record means that on some systems it might sound bloated and out of control. Also the treble energy on Dylan's harmonica, while sounding "just right" on the best systems can sound unbearably shrill on others.

Chemguy's picture

I picked up the 2lp 45rpm a few weeks ago, and have enjoyed it immensely.

“The shrill is gone...the shrill is gone away...”

It is easily the best I have ever heard of this beloved record. I’m actually getting rid of my two-eye, because it is too painful to listen to...as is my 70s reissue. I can’t see the Mofi being shrill on any rig, Michael...it has been done right!

jokerman's picture

Without losing your minds, compare the one you like the best with the old CD. It's the best sounding version of this to me. The 45rpm may have the best detail on upper end and some other parts but the CD is only one that gets it all balanced right with the right amount of bass.

Eskisi's picture

I wonder if that is why this — or any other Bob Dylan album — doesn’t do much for me. This jumble of lyrics about confusion and prisons (hence the misspelled name of the outlaw in the title?) combined with biblical references, Babylon, camels...did that all add up to something deep and meaningful back then?

Tom L's picture

...are largely surreal and subject to individual interpretation. A lot has been written about them, but even Dylan doesn't know where some of that stuff came from. His subconscious, I guess! The 60 or so Biblical references and dark tone of most songs lead me to believe that Dylan was concerned with the impending doom facing society as we charge into the future with no road map. Of course there are a couple of love songs, too...

Oh well, when you look at these lyrics closely it may be that comprehension requires psychoactive drugs after all.

Jay's picture

I can honestly say that the only surprise here is how good the Sony Legacy issue sounds. That said the original 2-eyes pressing is the one I want.

Mikel77's picture

i have a first pressing and the harmonica, on my system, sounds way too shrill and i wonder if the MOFI is the same. Will i get the same shrillness? my system is a Rogue Sphinx amp and Music Hall Ikura turntable Ortofon cartridge and Klipsch Cornwall speakers. There are certain records where certain instruments sound too shrill on this system .

Chemguy's picture

...the Mofi 45 rpm mono. Shrill harmonica alleviated. It’s truly excellent.

fishbone35's picture

Can anyone provide a comparison to the 2003 SACD?

Steelhead's picture

I wish I could. I have the SACD and it is excellent.

Mofi vinyl is overall killer but the SACD totally satisfies this listener and although I do not have both to contrast and compare I find the SACD to be excellent. No shrill sound with both my electrostatics and modded horns.

fishbone35's picture

Thanks Steelhead for your comments. I've been quite happy with the SACD for some time and realize that one can throw unlimited $$$ at new reissues (again and again and again if you have those $$$), so I think I'll remain happy with the SACD.

Steelhead's picture

Come over and look at my 4 different versions of Rickie Lee Jones debut and ask me how I can relate. I even bought the Mofi twice because a pop annoyed me on the first copy.

Yes, I find the Dylan SACD's to be very well done and have a lot of Bob on vinyl but am not interested in chasing down the penultimate version. Hell if I was smarter when I was younger I could have caught him in an actual coffee house live.

Happy Spinning.