MOFI - WHY VANILLA FUDGE? WHY MONO?


"Since the beginning, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab has typically sought to acquire recordings with stellar sonics. It is generally felt that, if the master tape of a recording sounds fantastic before we even come into the picture (Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side Of The Moon", Steely Dan's "Aja", Beck's "Sea Change", to name a few) then our process will only help that recording speak more clearly to the audiophile."

"And, while that is a logical, tried-and-true philosophy, it is just as exciting and rewarding to apply our mastering techniques to recordings which may not be status symbols of high technological refinement. Although, some recordings may not reach the sonic heights of certain studio masterpieces, they are surely worthy of our attention and preservation.

Vanilla Fudge's self-titled debut album, a new addition to our catalog, could be considered as an example of that type of recording.

Recorded at Ultra-Sonic Recording Studios in 1967 (the address, 149 N. Franklin Street in Hempstead, NY now houses a laundromat), Vanilla Fudge's first album was produced and "directed" by Shadow Morton and recorded by Joe Veneri & Bill Stahl. The results of those recordings were certainly brash and exciting, but one would hardly describe the resulting sound as pure or polished. High sound pressure levels and overloaded equipment clearly ruled the room at these sessions. But, it is what the creators of this album intended and, therefore, is to be entirely respected.

Vanilla Fudge delivered this LP in both mono and stereo. Since 1967 was the last full year of mono LP production in the U.S., the mono mix became scarce only a short while after its release. The fact that the complete mono album has never been issued in any digital format would be a good enough reason for Mobile Fidelity to select it, instead of the stereo album, for our reissue. However, there is an even better reason, which guided our decision.

The album's biggest hit, "You Keep Me Hanging On" was only mixed to mono at the conclusion of its performance. Additionally, the last section of "Take Me For A Little While", when the background vocals shouting "Please!" appear, was only mixed to mono, as well. Clearly, mono was still the boss during the making of this record.

Once we decided to present this album in its mono format, it was then time to audition and evaluate the master tapes. Luckily, the masters still survive and in very good condition. As always, the goal was to play them back utilizing our proprietary technology and our customary exacting approach, precisely capturing all of the musical information that was recorded. Interestingly, during our mastering process, it was discovered that the master of "You Keep Me Hanging On" contains more than a few splices; edits made to piece together different parts to create the whole. Even more interesting, the different pieces of tape were recorded at differing azimuth calibration at the record head during mixing. For optimal results, our tape playback machine was re-calibrated, as necessary during transfer, in order to "trace" the azimuth settings of the original tape recorder, allowing us to capture phase-accurate, full-bandwidth reproduction.

So, while this is not a recording to compare with 1967's "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", what we are offering to you is Vanilla Fudge's classic first album, its sound fully intact, mastered directly from the original mono master tape played back to perfection. Nothing added or removed.
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab is thrilled to present our upcoming release on 180-gram, 45 RPM double LP and Hybrid SACD to fans who have been listening to this legendary album for over 50 years and to a new audience who will, hopefully, appreciate it today. Just last year, Quentin Tarantino featured "You Keep Me Hanging On" in the final act of his great film, "Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood". With coverage like that, we feel that there has never been a better time to check out the Fudge."

Rob LoVerde
Mastering Engineer
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab