Top Artists – Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee Jones – Rickie Lee Jones – MoFi Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: B

Another MoFi LP reviewed, and this one’s pretty good for a change

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: backward. 

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. All our Hot Stamper copies are guaranteed to trounce it. (more…)

Rickie Lee Jones – Rickie Lee Jones – Good Demo Disc / Bad Test Disc

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

RLJ’s first album is what we would consider a Good Demo Disc but a Bad Test Disc.

Meaning that this record can sound good on really crappy stereos — which explains why it is so often heard at stereo stores and at shows, where really crappy stereos are usually found in abundance. But it’s not what the System Doctor ordered if the goal is to work out some problem or fault with the reproduction of all your other recordings. In other words, records like this can be misleading. 

Of course, all records have that quality to one degree or another, which is why you need to use a basket of recordings to make judgments about equipment. Don’t rely on any given recording to be The Truth. None of them are.

Wait a minute. Perhaps I spoke too soon.

Here is an excerpt from the commentary for the Blood Sweat and Tears album we like so much:

Concerning Good Demo Disc, Bad Test Disc, this disc is actually both a Good Demo Disc and a Good Test Disc, and practically the only record I can think of off the top of my head that is. The good copies of this album sound good on almost any system. But the better systems bring out qualities in this recording that you are very unlikely to have ever heard on another.

No matter what level your system is at, any change you make will be instantly obvious on this recording, for good or for bad. Nothing can fool it. It’s too tough a test, the toughest I know of bar none. For this record to sound right, truly right, every element of its reproduction has to be working at the highest level. Any shortcoming will be glaringly obvious. The record may still sound good, but it won’t really sound right, and you should be able to hear that.

If you want to improve your stereo, this is the record that will show you whether or not you’ve succeeded. It’s the perfect record to set VTA, adjust subwoofers, position speakers… You name it, this record is the ultimate audio test disc. Live music is the real test, and this recording comes closer to that sound than any I know of.

Rickie Lee Jones on Rhino Heavy Vinyl – Not My Idea of Good Sound

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Sonic Grade: C

We were fairly unimpressed with the Rickie Lee Jones on Warners that came out a few years back. It has that phony Modern Mastering sound we find so unappealing on the Rhino reissue of Blue. (We seem to be pretty much alone in not liking that one, and we’re proud to say we still don’t like it. Hey, play The Blue Game and maybe you’ll see why.)

We liked the new Sweet Baby James Hoffman and Gray cut. We note in our review that “Hoffman and Gray can take pride in this Sweet Baby James. It’s some of the best work I’ve heard from them to date. If more DCC and Heavy Vinyl reissues sounded like this, we wouldn’t be so critical of them. Unfortunately they don’t, and there are scores of pages of commentary on the site to back up that statement for those of you interested in the subject.”

We went on to say “The amazing transparency and dynamic energy of the best originals will probably never be equalled by an audiophile pressing like this. (It hasn’t happened yet and we remain skeptical of the possibility.) Considering that this pressing is sure to beat most reissues, imports and such like, we have no problem heartily recommending it to our customers, especially at the price.” (more…)

Listening in Depth to Rickie Lee Jones

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Listening in Depth

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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. (more…)