I pulled out my old Columbia CD of Dylan's JOHN WESLEY HARDING just to be sure....

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Aug 14, 2004.

  1. ssmith3046

    ssmith3046 Forum Resident

    Arizona desert
    I'm replacing my record collection that I sold with CDs so all I have to do is seach the music forum for best sounding CD of ( blank) and I get my answer. You can't beat having this kind of information at your fingertips.
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  2. So where does the story with the edited out plosives come from regarding this album?

    The only place you can hear it without the Popping P's is on the original CD release, which has such improved fidelity (wider stereo spread and less hiss, even after you re-EQ the high end back in) over the SACD or the MoFi I can only assume it was a remix. The original 1967 vinyl never had the plosives edited out.
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  3. Solved it, the original Columbia CD is a remix. There is stereo reverb on Bob's vocal on the 1990 CD, but the reverb on the original mix is mono.

    I guess they decided to cut out the popped P's on the remix.
  4. mikeja75

    mikeja75 Forum Resident

    So...are you assuming that the original stereo mix (for vinyl) is unique to that time period -- i.e. that true mix/master hasn't made it to the digital age (or is this the version on the Columbia Album Box?).
  5. The 1967 stereo vinyl, 2003 remaster and 2015 Mofi SACD all use the original stereo mix. All have the popped P sounds intact.

    The 1989/90 Columbia CD is a stereo remix. This one has all of the popped P sounds manually edited out.
  6. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    ICE, CD Watchdog column. People were complaining about how different the 2003 SACD remaster sounded and (ironically, given what you've found) wondering if it was a remix. Stephen Berkowitz of Legacy was interviewed and said that it was not a remix. He claimed that both the original LP and the previous CD had used a cutting master in which the bass was cut and the popping p's had been sliced out of the tape manually with a razor blade. He obviously was not aware the older 1987 CD was a remix itself.

    BTW, just did a quick listening comparison, and it appears the Audio Fidelity CD of Greatest Hits II used the 1987 remixes for the two JWH tracks.
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  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Well, duh.
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  8. C6H12O6

    C6H12O6 Senior Member

    My lab
    Hah, all this time, no one else noticed. (Not even me, I compared it to the MFSL and just wrote off the old CD as thin sounding.) Crazy. Good work!
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  9. Malcolm Blackmoor

    Malcolm Blackmoor Forum Resident

    Depending upon when this (alleged) popping edit was done, it would be easy now by working on a digital work station and cutting close on the pops and then moving those tiny moments to another pair of tracks. Then you place a bass cut - maybe at 160 - on that track and re-copy the whole thing.

    All very fast and not edited as such, in that nothing has been removed except the pops. I only have the original UK LP and the pops are so obvious that maybe the engineers were too intimidated to put a pop shield on the mic and ask him to back off by six inches.

    Just in case anyone here doesn't know, the technique with studio mics isn't the same as with stage close singing mics.
  10. GregM

    GregM The expanding man

    Daddyland, CA
    I have the Sony SACD and just received the MoFi SACD. I'll try to do a comparison today but MoFi is a real wildcard in my experience. Sometimes they get it right but I don't think the QC is there the way it is with other boutique labels. I don't think they excel at what I would call a flat transfer. Since I was less than impressed with the JWH Sony SACD and was able to get the MoFi for $20, I decided to get it. More soon.
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  11. It’s not alleged, if you line up the mofi or 2003 Frankie Lee and Judas Priest with the original Columbia CD version, every time there is a popped P they go out of sync by a significant amount.
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  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    We used to edit pops out of tapes with a razor blade. At the end of a long day, we would splice all of the slivers of pops together to make a long PPPPPOOOOOOOPPPPP. Good times.
  13. Of course no one should be playing this album in this new fangled stereo.

    The mono sounds fantastic, balanced and natural to me. The stereo is very odd sounding in comparison....off centred drums, piano, bass, harmonica etc

    It's not a great example of stereo.
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  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    It really is, you know.
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  15. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    Wasn't the AF release supposed to use all original mixes?
  16. Roger Ford

    Roger Ford Forum Resident

    Bristol, England
    I agree, and there's no doubt in my mind that the original 1987 CD is a remix, not a remaster. You're quite right about the reverb on the vocal - for example, compare the original stereo LP (or the 2003 Sony remaster) with the old CD on "Dear Landlord", in particular the phrase in the second verse "and anyone can fill his life up" (1:52). I wouldn't swear the vocal reverb on the stereo LP mix is absolutely mono, but it's quite definitely wider on the 1987 CD. Easiest heard on headphones, of course.

    But there are other, perhaps more obvious clues to the remixing:
    • The acoustic guitar is often placed further to the left, and is more laterally spread out in comparison with the LP mix. Check out the beginning of "Frankie Lee & Judas Priest".
    • On "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight", the drums are much closer to the centre, while the pedal steel is still way out on the right.
    • Throughout the album, the bass guitar is much tighter and more focused on the 1987 CD than it is on the other stereo editions.
    While I love the sound of the original CD, I can't say I like having the drums panned hard right, particularly on headphones. Or, really, having the acoustic guitar placed to the left of the vocal. The answer I've found is to make a narrowed stereo copy, just mixing the two channels to a suitable degree - easily done. This makes it a lot closer to the way the JWH outtakes are mixed on the recent Travelin' Thru Bootleg Series release: much more of a tight trio presentation, but with enough separation and ambience to put you there in the studio with them. But if you're a lover of 1960s wide stereo, let it be.

    I'd guess the remix for the original CD was done by Columbia staff engineer Tim Geelan, who also remixed Blonde On Blonde and, I think, Bringing It All Back Home for CD at around the same time. With those other two albums, the reason given was that all copies of the original stereo mix tapes were too worn to be used, but that clearly wasn't the case with John Wesley Harding: witness the 2003 Sony remaster and the more recent one from MFSL, both using the original stereo mix. I assume the reason must have been something to do with those popped 'P's, and maybe taming the harmonica without impacting on the clarity of the guitar and drums. It was a great result, anyway, and arguably much more uniformly successful than the 1987 CD remixes of those other aforementioned albums.
  17. Flaming Torch

    Flaming Torch Forum Resident

    Gosh! Thanks Roger for all the work. Slightly off topic but why is it that several people I know and myself really found the 2003 stereo sacd/hybrid a really hard listen? I still do not care for it much and usually play the old Columbia cd as per this thread or the mono cd in the Dylan mono box. Answering my own question I guess from the 1990s on to 2003 I did not play the stereo vinyl copy of JWH and perhaps had forgotten some of the details of the sound of the songs on that version.
  18. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    Besides being more narrow, the mix just sounds very processed, and not in a good way.

    Interestingly the MFSL SACD is wider and somewhat more open sounding. It's almost like splitting the difference between the Sony SACD and the original CD.

    It's also worth noting that there's at least one further alternate mix of I'll Be Your Baby Tonight on some comps. I don't recall offhand if there are further alternate mixes or not.
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  19. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    I wonder what this one sounds like?


    Recently auctioned and sold for $1000, this acetate was described (in part) by the seller thus:-

    "I am simply appalled by how good this acetate sounds and how beautifully underequalized and uncompressed it is (although it is possible that the dramatic difference in sound stems not from equalization or compression, but from the simple fact that this acetate is the very first generation of the pressing, the very next step from the original, unequalized session tapes) . The rhythm section - bass in particular - kicks some serious a$$, and Dylan's harmonica wails and screams dramatically like I've never heard on this title before (stock mono pressing comes relatively close to this stereo acetate in the dynamics department, but definitely falls short - the acetate is superior by the order of magnitude).


    "N-level you see written at the bottom of the labels means "normal" operating level. Whatever tone or tones were printed on the tape, in the '60s, would have been a uniform standard, most likely 185HZ. That way if there were any problems with the needle tracking on the test pressings or the artist or producer wanted the tracks hotter or quieter, the cutting engineer could cut 1dB hotter (N+1), or bring down level (N-1), etc. There would be instructions notated on the cutting cards which are kept both in the tape box and in a separate file at the studio. These cards still exist at Sony/Columbia in nearly all cases and are frequently referred to each time a new master needs to be made due to tape wear, the need for a duplicate tape copy, etc. If the dramatic difference between this acetate and the commercially released version was, as I suspect, achieved through a deliberate compression (i.e. "limiting") of the dynamic range, Columbia's mastering engineers may have had a mitigating circumstance working in their favor: the compression may have been used to keep the record stylus from jumping out of the grooves due to groove excursions.

    "The truth is: we don't know how to explain the massive sonic difference between this acetate and the released LP, but there is something intangibly different about this acetate that is making the whole listening experience radically different. The quality of sound is so much superior that, at times, it really feels like a completely different mix. With the released version, you kinda never know which way Dylan is heading, the entire recording occasionally sounds mushy and murky and devoid of dynamic peaks and valleys. With the acetate, his vision is loud, clear, precise, self-assured - even cocky - and decidedly uncluttered."


  20. Roger Ford

    Roger Ford Forum Resident

    Bristol, England
    A question for Steve H. (or anyone else well-informed on the matter!) :-

    If we're right in thinking that at least three of Dylan's early albums (John Wesley Harding, Bringing It All Back Home and Blonde On Blonde) were remixed c.1987 for their first CD release, would the remixing have been analogue or digital at that time? Columbia CDs seem not to have used the SPARS code (AAD, ADD etc.) that would have told us. And if it was digital, what might have been the resolution of the finished mix?
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  21. mpayan

    mpayan Forum Resident

    Well, I hope they did a needledrop at least.
  22. jamesmaya

    jamesmaya Senior Member

    Mudwest, SoCal
    Interesting. I assume you’re not referring to the original released mix of “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” but with the complete full stop ending (instead of fading out) which was mistakenly included in initial cd pressings of BIOGRAPH.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2020
  23. Floatupstream

    Floatupstream Forum Resident

    I wish I could forget the harmonica. The shrillness marginalizes an otherwise brilliant album.
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  24. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    To be clear, that was on the initial pressing of the 1997 Biograph remaster, not the original CD issue.

    And yes, that mix differs from both the original mix (LP, Sony SACD, MFSL SACD) and the remix on the original JWH CD. In particular, the drums are hard right, not right-center like on the original JWH CD. Although, like the original mix, this mix has mono reverb on the vocal. Could *that* be from the original mixdown master, later dubbed for the original LP? Whatever the case, the same mix (with fades) also seems to be on both the original Greatest Hits 2 CD and the 1999 remaster of GH2.

    The original Biograph CD seems to use the original mix.
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  25. slane

    slane Forum Resident

    The notes from the original mixing sessions indicate that one of the mixes of I'll Be Your Baby Tonight was a mix of just the end section (around 30 seconds) with a fade-out applied. Presumably this piece was edited onto the end of the unfaded mix for the original album, but the 1997 Biograph mis-pressing somehow used the unedited/unfaded master mix (without the 'fade-out' edit piece).

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