Mr. Castro (and others) insist that the cd mix is terrible and that once you hear the vinyl mix, you'll see the greatness of the album. And you know what? There is a huge difference. Huge. It's warmer, more direct, Dylan's voice is much bigger on it. Sounds far, far better.
It's the same mix. The difference is in the mastering
, or the EQ and compression applied.
Dylan is mic'd so loud, his voice is so much bigger than all the instruments together, that it takes the power out of the music.
I think this is a way of allowing Dylan to be subtle and tuneful with his wrecked vocal chords -- which he can't really do in concert when the band plays loud.
So, my theory, in order to allow his singing to come forward, to be tuneful, Dylan mic'd himself (as producer) extremely loudly. This way, he can sing very softly. And the band sound is balanced way down.
The result: A song like Thunder on the Mountain, which seems like it ought to rock, to be an energetic, danceable number, feels a little anemic. Dylan barely raises his voice at all on this one. Just a little growl or a little spitting of syllable feels like a lot. And the band, the drums, the bass, the guitar, are all (as if on one speaker) in the background.
I can see why BennyBoy would not be so fond of this album given his love for the Hard Rain, Desire Dylan who was all passion and power and whose voice overpowered the band (in some ways) precisely without the technical tricks of MT.
A theory, anyway.
I do agree with your observations, but I think it's a strength of the record rather than a weakness. His voice definitely sounds better on MT than any other record this decade. I love that he doesn't flail around on this one but is very focused and controlled, seeming to know just how much effort to expend without wasting any. And I don't see how one could listen to a track like, say, ROLLIN' AND TUMBLIN' and think the band is not loud enough. A lot of the songs, including THUNDER (as opposed to how it's been done in concert) just have a laid back feel to them. It's not an aggressive record and was never meant to be. You're not supposed to hear every instrument up front, it's supposed to be a unified backing for him with little details poking through here and there. That's much more the way music used to be recorded prior to the 60s/70s.