October 1998

James Taylor - Dad Loves His Work
Mobile Fidelity UDCD 726
Originally Released: 1981
Remastered Released: 1998

by Marc Mickelson

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

[Reviewed on Gold CD]No amount of money spent on your audio system can accomplish what Mobile Fidelity has with James Taylor’s Dad Loves His Work. They’ve taken an enjoyable but dark-sounding recording and turned it into a disc you can use to demonstrate your audio system -- or just listen to over and over again. The music is great -- Dad Loves His Work is my favorite James Taylor recording -- but the remastering job is amazing. I’ve owned both the original LP and Columbia/Sony CD, but MoFi’s gold CD is full of nuance that I never noticed in the thick mix of the originals. Air has always been a problem with Dad, but not with the MoFi remaster. And perhaps an even greater improvement is the bottom end, which is deep and taut where it used to be overripe and diffuse. Dynamic contrasts are greatly improved, as are overall resolution and tonality -- Taylor has rarely been in better voice than on Dad Loves His Work. But you’ll never know it unless you break free from the shackles of the far inferior regular issue to hear the MoFi version.

Of course, great sound alone can’t carry a recording -- at least not in my listening room -- and Dad Loves His Work showcases Taylor at his most grounded and, as the title suggests, utterly self-assured in his craft. The songs are diverse, from the bittersweet "Her Town Too" with vocals by Taylor and J.D. Souther, to the infectiously happy "Summer’s Here." I am especially fond of the historical chronicle "Sugar Trade," a subject Taylor treats with insight, never sounding overly sentimental. And on the a cappella opening to "That Lonesome Road," you can pick out the individual performers in the soundstage and even have fun figuring out where the two most famous voices, those of Taylor and Jennifer Warnes, reside.

MoFi’s remastered version of Dad Loves his Work is a gift to audiophiles and music lovers. If MoFi were to give Taylor’s Flag, one of my guilty pleasures, the same treatment, I’d be the first in line to buy it (hint, hint).