A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
TWO STUNNING A+++ SIDES! This is an excellent recording, but you’d never know that listening to the average pressing. This copy is a big step up from the average pressing with real fullness and weight, plus SIZE and ENERGY that must be heard to be believed!
The sound throughout is A+++, absolutely As Good As It Gets! Big and lively with real dynamics and ambience, this just destroys the typical pressing in every way. You don’t often hear this kind of size and energy coupled with rich, balanced tonality, but this side keeps everything in perfect proportion. White Hot Stamper material, all the way!
A Tough Task Starting in 2007
We know many of you have been eagerly awaiting Hot Stamper copies of this record, a longtime audiophile favorite and Demo Disc par excellence, but frankly, we’re always a bit hesitant (some might say afraid, but I prefer hesitant, thank you very much) to take it on.
So many copies of this album sound so bad — grainy, compressed and cardboardy are the first three adjectives that spring to mind.
And so many are noisy, having been pressed on the reground dreck that passed for new vinyl in the late ’70s. Slogging through dozens of noisy, grainy sounding copies was not going to be a day at the beach. We like the music, but could it possibly be worth it? Would the ends justify the means?
Ah, but this album was such a smash last time around we felt we owed it to our loyal following to do it again, to dig them up a copy of RLJ with the kind of AMAZING sound we knew the album could have. The late ’70s produced some knockout pop records; two of the best are Rumours and Rickie Lee Jones. It was time. We rolled up our sleeves and started cleaning.
The lifting was heavy right from the start. For one thing the stamper numbers are all over the map. The stampers we used to like for this album years ago turned out to be very good, but far from the best. We basically found ourselves starting from scratch, with no choice but to throw all the old notes out the window and begin the shootout again with open minds and fresh ears.
Let’s Talk MoFi
And another thing: the Mobile Fidelity pressing of this album can actually be pretty decent (if you get a good one, that is). Audio perfection it ain’t, but all in all it’s a very enjoyable record. Its strengths are many and its faults are few. Let’s give credit where credit is due; the MOFI is dynamic, transparent, sweet, and open, and you won’t hear us saying that about very many MOFI pressings. It belongs in their Top Ten, toward the bottom I would guess, due to its own sloppy bottom, but that’s half-speed mastering for you. Like most new audio technologies it was a giant step in the wrong direction: backwards.
We suppose you could live with the blubbery MoFi bass found on their remastered LP — most audiophiles seem more than happy to, right? — but instead we’re happy to report that it will no longer be necessary.
Designed To Pop Out Of Your Speakers
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.
Let’s face it: Everything on this record is designed to “pop” out of the speakers, and everything does. The important thing is that the bass sounds just as good as everything else while still staying in correct proportion to the rest of the music.
This is not an easy thing to do. Many recordings have qualities that draw attention to themselves at the expense of the overall presentation. The mix will have an “unbalanced” quality, with some elements coming on too strong and some getting lost.
How ‘Bout Them Players!
One of the first things you should notice after you get used to the amazing quality of the sound is the amazing quality of the musicianship. Rickie has backed herself here with a cast of top-notch studio cats — real “musicians’ musicians”, to say the least. Among the players are such heavyweights as Randy Newman, Michael McDonald, Jeff Porcaro, Victor Feldman, Tom Scott, Fred Tackett (of Little Feat) and the great Willie Weeks on electric bass (a job he also handles very capably on Donny Hathaway Live — a Better Records favorite).
The best copies have the kind of transparency that lets you hear the contributions of everyone involved. They’re all there, right in front of you. Pick out your favorite musician; on the best copies you can hear exactly what he’s doing. Rickie is front and center: she’s hard to miss. The best copies not only give you all the nuances of her vocals, they show you that everyone else in the room is doing his best to bring this music to life. Those guys get paid the big bucks and they earn every penny.
The musicians and producers and engineers are the ones that made Rickie’s debut a multi-million selling Must Own album in 1979. These Hot Stamper copies we find today make it a Must Own album for Sound. And you can take that to the bank.
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)