Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning music and recordings.
How does the MoFi pressing sound?
We have no idea; we’ve never bothered to order one, for at least one very good reason. This is an album about rhythm. Half-Speed mastered records have sloppy bass and, consequently, lack rhythmic drive. Who is his right mind would want to half-speed master an album by Little Feat, one of the most rhythmically accomplished bands in rock and roll history?
The obvious answer is that it was a bad idea. But, if you’re Mobile Fidelity, and that’s the only idea you’ve ever had because you are in the half-speed mastering business, then what else can you do? As the old saying goes, to a hammer everything looks like a nail.
OUR PREVIOUS HOT STAMPER COMMENTARY
Folks, this is no demo disc by any means, but the later pressings strip away the two qualities that really make this music work and bring it to life: Tubey Magic and Big Bass. This side two has both in SPADES.
Listen to how breathy and transparent the chorus is on the first track. Now layer that sound on top of a fat and punchy bottom end and you have the formula for Little Feat Magic at its funky best. This is the sound they heard in the control room, of that I have no doubt, and it is all over this side two. No side of any copy we played was better.
This is A Triple Plus As Good As It Gets Little Feat Sound, the best we have ever heard for any of the early albums.
That WB Sound
Side one earned a grade of A+ to A++. It lacked the top end that lets the sound open up in the choruses, a very common problem with early WB pressings which have a marked tendency to be dull. (We know; we’ve played them by the hundreds, from Deep Purple to the Doobie Brothers to America to Van Morrison and scores of others too numerous to mention. There are ten dull WB pressings for every one that’s bright. )
The bass is excellent and the piano really sounds right on Dixie Chicken, but when you flip the record over you will hear what it could have sounded like (and practically never does).
The All Music Guide (and lots of other critics) think this is Little Feat at their best. With tracks such as Two Trains, Dixie Chicken, Fat Man in the Bathtub and Roll Um Easy, who’s gonna disagree!? (I guess I am. I prefer Waiting for Columbus and The Last Record Album but cannot deny that Dixie Chicken is probably the best of the albums that came before them.)
One of the Greats
Little Feat was a wildly eclectic band, bringing together strains of blues, R&B, country, and rock & roll. The bandmembers were exceptionally gifted technically and their polished professionalism sat well with the slick sounds coming out of southern California during the ’70s. However, Little Feat were hardly slick — they had a surreal sensibility, as evidenced by George’s idiosyncratic songwriting, which helped the band earn a cult following among critics and musicians. — AMG
Roll Um Easy
On Your Way Down
Kiss It Off
Walkin” All Night
Fat Man in the Bathtub
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
It all adds up to a nearly irresistible record, filled with great songwriting, sultry grooves, and virtuosic performances that never are flashy. Little Feat, along with many jam bands that followed, tried to top this album, but they never managed to make a record this understated, appealing and fine.