SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited – [TrackList follows] Columbia Records/ Sundazed mono vinyl

A vinyl reissue—fine—but why mono when a terrific stereo SACD is available?

Published on April 15, 2013

Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited – [TrackList follows] Columbia Records/ Sundazed LP 5071 180gr. audiophile mono vinyl **:

(Bob Dylan, guitar/harmonica/piano; Michael Bloomfield, guitar; Alan Kooper, B-3 & piano; Paul Griffin, piano & B-3; Bobby Gregg, drums; Harvey Goldstein, bass; Charley McCoy, guitar; Frank Owens, piano; Russ Savakus, bass)

There’s no doubt this is one of the top albums in the history of rock, and well as probably the best of all the Dylan albums. It’s been issued in a variety of forms, and Sundazed has jumped on the mono vinyl bandwagon with this 180-gram release, even though the album has been available for years now in the original stereo vinyl form, as well as a stereo CD and a fine stereo-only SACD from Columbia. (It seems to carry a 2001 date—don’t know if that’s an error.)

There seems to be almost a cultish accent on mono vinyl occurring lately.  While I do appreciate the clear announcement of this disc being mono on both a front sticker and on the actual sleeve and disc, I don’t understand why this is being done since the stereo versions are far superior. (The actual Columbia disc label even still says “360-degree surround” on both sides of MONO…) There have also been many audiophile CD reissues—xrcd, gold, etc.—which were mono and were not so labeled anywhere. I’ve done A/B comparisons of several audiophile mono reissues lately, and must say this one is the most blatant of any. The vinyl is at a much lower level than the SACD, sounds totally muffled and closed-in, and the highest frequencies are missing. The rockin‘ backing Dylan has achieved is all lumped together with his vocals between the two stereo speakers or out of the center speaker if you have one. Compared to the SACD, it even gets slightly worse as the grooves approach the center label on “Ballad of a Thin Man.”  And on something less than a hi-end turntable system such as mine, this would sound even worse. I don’t understand it. I no longer have the standard stereo CD but I’m sure even it would sound far superior to the vinyl.

TrackList:  Like a Rolling Stone, Tombstone Blues, It Takes a Lot to Laugh It Takes a Train to Cry, From a Buick 6, Ballad of a Thin Man, Queen Jane Approximately, Highway 61 Revisited, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Desolation Row.

—John Henry




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