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Here is the story of my first encounter with a amazing sounding copy of Zep II.
I had a friend who had come into possession of a White Label Demo pressing of the album and wanted to trade it in to me for the Mobile Fidelity pressing that I had played for him once or twice over the years, and which we both thought was The King on that album.
To my shock and dismay, his stupid American copy KILLED the MoFi. It TROUNCED it in every way. The bass was deeper and punchier. Everything was more dynamic. The vocals were more natural and correct sounding. The highs were sweeter and more extended. The whole pressing was just full of life in a way that the Mobile Fidelity wasn’t.
The Mobile Fidelity didn’t sound Bad. It sounded Not As Good. More importantly, in comparison with the good domestic copy, in many ways it now sounded wrong.
Let me tell you, it was a watershed moment in my growth as a record collector. I had long ago discovered that many MoFi’s weren’t all they were cracked up to be. But this was a MoFi I liked. And it had killed the other copies I had heard in the past.
So I learned something very important that day. I learned that hearing a good pressing is the best way to understand what’s wrong with a bad pressing.
Needless to say, the trade didn’t go through: he kept his copy and I was stuck with mine. But I knew what to look for. I knew what the numbers were in the dead wax. And I started hunting them down.
Our Review of the Mobile Fidelity Zep II
This pressing has to be one of the worst audiophile remastering jobs in the history of the world. There is NOT ONE aspect of the sound that isn’t wrong. Not one!
The highs are boosted, the upper midrange is boosted, the mid-bass is boosted, the low bass is missing — what part of the frequency spectrum is even close to correct on this pressing? The answer: none.
I used to sell the Atlantic German import reissue LPs years ago. At the time I thought they we’re pretty good, but then the Japanese Analog Series came out and I thought those were the best.
Boy was I wrong. Those Japanese pressings, I realize now, are way too bright. Surprisingly, the German reissues sound more or less correct to me now. They’re tonally balanced from top to bottom, which is more than you can say for most Zep II’s if you don’t have an RL pressing.
And of course the Classic Records Heavy Vinyl pressing is an absolute DISASTER — a ridiculously bright, ridiculously crude, completely unlistenable piece of garbage.