Mobile Fidelity Reissues Love's "Forever Changes" at 45rpm

One of the great albums of the 1960s—for me an essential album— gets the double 45rpm treatment from Mobile Fidelity. Rhino reissued this a few years ago mastered by Chris Bellman and Bernie Grundman Mastering from the original tape.

You can read that reissue's review here so it's not getting the full treatment again here.

So how does the sound here compare to Rhino's reissue? It's been made to sound warmer and more luxurious. The strings have added warmth and sheen and the acoustic guitar parts have a tactile, burnished feel. The tonal balance is similar to the hybrid SACD that Mo-Fi issued last year, which for me was too warm compared to my gold label Elektra original as well as compared to an early '80s Japanese reissue and also compared to the Rhino reissue.

The half speed mastering does produce luxurious depth and precise transient articulation, especially on Arthur Lee's vocals, but in my opinion and on my system at least, the overall softness and warmth detracts from the musical excitement and drive.

Despite the strings and brass, this is after all, a rock album. While this reissue has some superior qualities, overall I prefer Chris Bellman's more lively take.

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luvvinyl's picture

I have the Sundazed, the Rhino and this new 45rpm by Mobile Fidelity. I would have thought this one would have blown you away. It certainly did me! To me this version puts Arthur Lee and Love right in my room like I'm in the recording studio! Not warm at all on my system, very revealing and exciting. I was going to e-mail you to let you know about this one, but now I'm disappointed that this version didn't blow you away like it did me. I told people to buy the Rhino version before, but I've been telling everyone I can that this is the best version of all! I really can't believe it didn't blow you away. Oh well, I can chalk it up to my electrostats. Very disappointed.

wylddave's picture

I have the Rhino and Sundazed vinyl LP 33 RPM editions as well as the Rhino Deluxe CD reissues. Is the new 45 2 LP set worth venturing into?
Best Regards,

Michael Fremer's picture
For me the Rhino at 33 1/3 is the better reissue but as you can read others disagree. This is after all a matter of opinion and definitely system-dependent.
la musique's picture

Luvvinyl, If you like the sound of the album on your system,that is what counts.
What you like is for you to enjoy. If someone doesn't like what you like, well that is their problem.
You have some good ears i am sure, so trust what your ears tell you.
I belive Michael knows what is talking about, but at the end of the day, this is only his opinion.
Just Enjoy the Music.

Michael Fremer's picture
I 100% agree with what you wrote. It will be both system and sonic taste-dependent.
firedog's picture

Good album. Essential? One of the best of the 60's?
Not close. Not in the top 100-200.

If it had been a commercial success, it wouldn't be called "great"; it's lauded b/c it failed miserably and is basically unknown. So it continually gets brought up as "the great" unrecognized album

or92log's picture

Mike tends to favour "unknown" albums over the well known ones. Check out his Beatles passion! You may not always share his taste in music, of course. I think "A House is Not a Motel" is a great song. Try to take a listen. And do try to hear the cover version by The Hellacopters too. Sometimes the greatness of a song is hidden in a choice of production that is not of your taste.

AZ's picture

But it doesn't "fail" these days.

Michael Fremer's picture
Everyone is entitled to their opinion about this record, but I bought it new as a fan of the group from when the first album was released and it blew me away then and still does! However to say it's "unknown" is simply not true....
Moodeez1's picture

.....must have missed this one altogether.. Incredibly unenlightened.

Bmonster13's picture

Stop with the meathead comments. Forever Changes is brilliant. Countless musicians, critics and fans have raved about it for decades, and for good reason. Don't comment like your word is fact when it's just opinion. I;m guessing you've not heard this entire album beginning to end more than once, if ever. It's not lauded cuz it failed, douf. It's lauded because of its gorgeous melodic qualities along with the harder edged songs, its lyrical cleverness and overall insightful intelligence, its great musicianship, excellent production, and Arthur Lee's voice.

luvvinyl's picture

I wasn't making my comment to berate Michael. I was making my comment because I find I usually agree with his findings. I wanted to let him know that I was just shocked because our systems usually reveal the same things. Hope this clears things up. Peace!

Findog3103's picture

After viewing the Stones video preview, I have been waiting in anticipation of the first comparisons of the mono records. Right now I can do without Love. I need my Stones.

avanti1960's picture

latest Rhino SACD of this incredible album and am disappointed by the sound. the original recording mix is so awful that i doubt anything can be done to make it sound very good. they can remaster all they want to but they simply do not have enough to work with. you can polish a piece of debris only so much.

Michael Fremer's picture
I don't think Bruce Botnick is capable of "awful" and I have always thought this was a great sounding record and still do!
AZ's picture

It sounds beautiful and definitely not "awful", even when compared to many top-notch audiophile recordings.

avanti1960's picture

and quite enjoyable, but not even close to the best sounding recordings in my collection.
the Sundazed LP of "DA Capo" for example sounds awesome and significantly better.

AZ's picture

Honestly, I haven't heard the SACD, but I have almost every other version and IMO this recording never sounds "awful". If you're into vinyl, try the 2012 Rhino reissue (AAA Chris Bellman cut) and maybe you'll like it better... Of course, the MoFi 45's are great too, but they're twice as expensive.

SpinMark3313's picture

Tried to get into this. I get that it had something special / innovative / sophisticated in the 60's pop world, but I just couldn't connect. Sold my pristine Rhino copy. No more snot caked on my pants :-) A 45rpm version does not sound like a good time...

Michael Fremer's picture
If you don't like it at 33 1/3 you are not going to like it at 45rpm!
Michael Fremer's picture
If you don't like it at 33 1/3 you are not going to like it at 45rpm!
avanti1960's picture

to really get into this one. multiple listens over time- and then it grabs you and you really appreciate it. try again.

TommyTunes's picture

Since the stereo mix has been reissued a number of times, MFSL should have went for a reissue of the mono mix. I have to agree with Mike, I like the Rhino reissue better, it has a bit more punch. Now someone should do Love first album.

AZ's picture

Is there a dedicated mono mix of FC?

zzcorey's picture

Didn't know this record, bought the bellman mastering per your recommendation, sounds great on my system (lyra delos on xtension 10, current era mcintosh gear with upgraded tubes, wilson sabrina)

jdgjr's picture

and I have the Sundazed version, which does not sound very good to me....very lack-luster and I have to turn up the volume higher than with most other records. But I like this record enough to buy it again if it's different enough from the Sundazed.

AZ's picture

It's miles better than the Sundazed pressing and it's only 25$...

Kirby's picture

Thanks Michael for calling it like you hear it. It does us no good if you were to gush over each MoFi release like it's the end all be all. Got the Rhino and will live with that. I think it sounds great! So instead of getting this reissue I've ordered Forever Changes Live on vinyl instead, mostly from your remarks in the other review. PS the Mofi 45rpm is $85 here in Canada and the Rhino is $20.

ViciAudio's picture

There is so much more "meat to the bones" on the MFSL, it's quite amazing. Michael you're saying you feel more musical propulsion/drive on the Rhino? Well for me it's the opposite, the sheer power of the lower frequencies, the vibrancy of the mid-range, without feeling forced or EQ'ed at all, just sheer power of the instruments and the music, pulls me into the songs with much more determination and it just rocks more! What most people are calling "warmer" or "soft", I think they are using the wrong words, it's just not "brighter" and the bass is there with actual power and density, not warmer in my opinion, I'm extremely happy with this version of Forever Changes and will be selling my Rhino LP soon, it used to be a favorite of mine but MFSL just revealed what was missing from the Rhino, and also what was added...

ViciAudio's picture

and I'm really impressed... I used to love the Rhino, but this is another level. My thoughts are that this must be really difficult to cut at 33rpm with the wide frequency range and dynamic swing, quite unusual for this type of music, that probably explains a lot of the "now" thin sound of the Rhino, and I suspect they tried so hard to make the sound cleaner with EQ to make the bass less muddy, but that severely affected the voice and strings, mostly the mid range is artificial in comparison to the new 45rpm MFSL... I'm perplexed by this. Sure the bass is "dirtier" on the MFSL but it's also much more vibrant and dynamic, it moves the air like it should! The voice sounds incredible, full and present, without the "cleaning" EQ, and the punch is superb, when it goes, it really goes fast and thundering, I'm forever in love with Love Forever Changes 45rpm cut

hi-fivinyljunkie's picture

I am perplexed by your conclusions on this Mike.The MFSL is so much better it isn't true. I think the other posters have covered why. It's nothing to do with added warmth. Steve Hoffman claims that it was never possible to cut this recording properly on a 33 rpm LP and the MFSL tends to support that view. I suggest you have another listen!