Earlier this year, Mobile Fidelity announced a pair of remasters to add to their excellent Gain 2 Ultra Analog LP reissue series: one, an often lambasted psych-rock staple, the other a landmark in lushly orchestrated cool jazz. Though Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida and Miles Davis’ interpretations of Porgy and Bess couldn’t be much further apart stylistically, they not only shine on their own merits, but when taken together, these 180-gram reissues demonstrate the breadth of MoFi’s catalogue and the skills of their mastering engineers who work their magic across all kinds of genres.
Up first, Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. It’s an album that gets ridiculed sometimes, one that’s firmly of-its-era, and probably not the first title to come to mind as needing a deluxe vinyl reissue. But the wizards at the label have proven that there’s more to this album than what meets the eye. I compared my MoFi against a VG copy of an Atco original, purchased second-hand in the early days of my record-collecting habit. I’d bought it for likely the same reason most people did – to hear that side-long epic with its lengthy jam and heady, demented-Elvis-like wailing. The novelty quickly wore off and, though I enjoyed some of the other, more standard rock fare, I can’t say I returned to it much. Doing an A/B comparison with the MoFi’s 180-gram 33 1/3-rpm remaster, it was clear why I didn’t grab that original press anytime the hankering for music came. In short, the Atco is a murky mess. That’s likely due to a number of factors – vinyl quality, wear and tear, and no doubt the vintage mix. Placing the needle on the MoFi master of that same mix, the stunning sense of clarity was immediate, and I was eager to rediscover the album once more. Somehow, the MoFi treatment doesn’t take away any of the sonic trademarks of this psychedelic classic. But the grimy guitars and piercing organ sounds for which Iron Butterfly became known are presented without that layer of murkiness that plagued the original pressing. MoFi has not only remastered the music from the original master tapes to create a more detailed soundstage, they’ve also used their proprietary Gain 2 Ultra Analog cutting system to unveil more detail than would have been possible fifty years ago. The result is a musical experience worth returning to again and again.
MoFi has also applied this technology to Miles Davis’ beautiful Porgy and Bess, which saw him matched up with another musical creative, Gil Evans. Between Gershwin’s incredible material, Davis’ increasingly modal playing, and Evans’ boundary-pushing arrangements, the album remains a high-water mark in a career full of them, a musical statement that enhanced the possibilities in jazz. Now, MoFi has presented the classic in a new way – remastered from the original tapes and pressed at RTI onto two 180-gram LPs that run at 45rpm. It’s all wrapped in a newly designed gatefold sleeve boasting restored artwork.
As is usually the case when a single LP is spread across two discs, the new issue has plenty of deadwax. But any disappointment dissipated when the needle hit the record. Compared against a commonly available mid-’70s Columbia reissue, there’s no contest. The lush and layered arrangements are given greater detail on the new issue and the sonics are more enveloping and arresting than ever. All told, if you’re a fan of this music, the MoFi is the pressing to get.
Once again, Mobile Fidelity have outdone themselves. The label has proven that across disparate genres, they deliver time and again. You can find Miles Davis’ Porgy and Bess and Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida wherever fine records are sold, but they’re strictly limited so get your copy today! We’ve provided an Acoustic Sounds link on the cover above for Iron Butterfly (though the LP is back-ordered, new orders are still being accepted) and an Amazon U.S. link for Miles Davis.