Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with plenty of advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of RLJ.
On the best of the Hot Stamper copies it becomes abundantly clear just how well the string bass was recorded — assuming you like the close-miked, maximum-presence quality they were after. You hear all the fingering, the wood of the body resonating; all the stuff you could never hear live unless you were ten feet from the guy. Natural it’s not, but natural is not what most hit records are all about anyway.
Credit — or blame — belongs squarely with LEE HERSCHBERG.
There’s no question that he knew exactly what he was doing, he’s the pro’s pro, so let’s give him credit for making the sound of the record really POP.
In-Depth Track Commentary
Chuck E.’s in Love
Rickie’s biggest hit is a great test track for side one. The guitars should have some twang but not too much. The typical pressing errs in one of two ways here — either they are overly smooth and lacking texture, or they are a bit bright, giving the guitars a glary, hi-fi-ish sound.
Also listen for a big room around the finger snaps. If you don’t hear a lot of ambience around them you won’t hear it on the rest of the side either.
On Saturday Afternoons in 1963
This track should sound warm, sweet, and breathy, but will almost always be plagued by a bit of surface noise behind the quiet intro.
This song is a great test for bass definition. No MoFi ever made will have the tight bass found on the best pressings of this record.
There’s a wonderful version of this song on Lowell George’s solo album that we love every bit as much. Check it out if you have a copy.
The Last Chance Texaco
Danny’s All-Star Joint
Bar none the toughest test track for side two. Only a superb copy will get all the orchestral instruments right. Listen for texture on the strings, extension on the chimes, and lots of room around the timpani. This is another track with a quiet intro that will almost always be a bit noisy.
Weasel and the White Boys Cool
Much like Chuck E.’s In Love, you’ll want to hear just the right amount of twang on those guitars. If your copy don’t sound punchy and lively on this track, we suggest you contact us for a Hot Stamper pressing ASAP!
After Hours (Twelve Bars Past Goodnight)