Mojo was Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ twelfth studio album, originally released in June 2010. The band's first airing of new material in nearly a decade was intended as a sort of ‘back to basics’ experiment: an informal blues-based jam session with everyone playing together in the same space and very few overdubs.

The album ultimately debuted at #2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and yielded a top-40 single in “I Should Have Known It,” proving that Petty had indeed ‘rediscovered his mojo’ after such a long hiatus from The Heartbreakers.

Some audiophiles may recall that Mojo was previously released on a limited-edition Blu-Ray Audio disc in 2010, featuring high-resolution stereo & 5.1 surround sound mixes by producer/engineer Ryan Ulyate. Ulyate had been working with Petty since 2005, and he would receive both mix & production credits on both Mojo and its 2014 follow-up Hypnotic Eye.

Mojo Blu-Ray Audio 5.1 IAA

The now-rare 2010 Blu-Ray Audio edition of Mojo.

In 2020, Ulyate upgraded his Topanga-based studio for Dolby Atmos monitoring and has since mixed Petty’s Wildflowers (1994), Angel Dream (1996), and Greatest Hits (1993) in the format. Now, over a decade later, he’s revisited Mojo in Atmos for the new “Extra Mojo Version” currently on the streaming services. 

Whereas the 2010 5.1 mix was fairly conservative in my view, utilizing the back speakers to create a greater sense of space, the new Atmos rendition is very much a ‘listener-in-the-center-of-the-band” experience with individual guitar & keyboard parts largely pinned to different speakers.

“Jefferson Jericho Blues” comes charging right out of the gate with Steve Ferrone’s drum kit wrapping all around the room and Petty’s vocal upfront, while Benmont Tench’s piano pops up from behind and Scott Thurston’s harmonica comes screaming from the top speakers.

Keys and organ percolate from behind throughout “First Flash Of Freedom,” while “Running Man’s Bible” spotlights both lead and rhythm guitar in the height speakers.

“I think I’ve kind of settled into a template with [mixing] The Heartbreakers in Atmos. Guitars are usually upfront, with the drums pulled out further into the room. Tom’s vocal is loudest in the center, but also present in the fronts. Then there’s all this space between the sides and rear for Benmont [Tench]. Sometimes I like to have the piano in the sides and organ in the back, which works nicely with the guitars in the front.”

Ryan Ulyate, 2022

“The Trip To Pirate’s Cove”–one of my favorites on the album–again features Mike Campbell’s lead guitar largely in the front left height speaker, with the spooky vocal delays hitting off the rear heights and keys from the back. The delicate “No Reason To Cry” is another highlight, featuring Campbell’s steel guitar soaring from the height array.

I was curious to see how the brash “I Should Have Known It” would translate into immersive audio, but the Atmos mix manages that tricky balance of spreading out the individual elements and effectively wrapping the song around the listener without diluting the visceral impact of the stereo version. Crash cymbals seem largely mixed to the side speakers, while the crunchy rhythm guitars that power the track stay upfront and solos pop in from above.

Perhaps most notably for fans, the new “Extra Mojo Version” includes two previously-unreleased songs–”Mystery Of Love" and "Help Me"–also mixed in Dolby Atmos. “Mystery Of Love” is another great bluesy rocker with a steady diet of lead guitar & harmonica up top, while the mellower “Help Me” also fills out the room nicely with its "Green Onions"-esque organ hook percolating from the front left channel.

Tom Petty Mojo Dolby Atmos

With WB/Rhino starting to show renewed support for immersive music on physical media with their revived Quadio series and the upcoming Blu-Ray release of Van Morrison's Moondance, I'm hopeful this is a title (along with Wildflowers & All The Rest) that they'll see fit to give the hi-res treatment on disc one day soon.

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About the Author
Jonathan is an audio engineering enthusiast from New York with a passion for immersive audio, having amassed a formidable collection of multichannel optical discs and quadraphonic vinyl. He earned his undergraduate degree in Television-Radio from Ithaca College and Master's degree in Audio Technology from American University.