- Exceptionally present, real and resolving, this pressing is guaranteed to murder any remastering undertaken by anyone, past, present and future
- The superbly talented musicians and engineers deserve much of the credit for making this album a Grammy Winning Must Own Audiophile Favorite
- 4 stars: “One of the most impressive debuts for a singer/songwriter ever, this infectious mixture of styles not only features a strong collection of original songs but also a singer with a savvy, distinctive voice that can be streetwise, childlike, and sophisticated, sometimes all in the same song.”
- Another Must Own Title from 1979. Other recommended titles from 1979 can be found here.
- An outstanding copy of Rickie Lee’s EP, Girl At Her Volcano, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
- A superb pressing – rich, warm and full-bodied with excellent presence and exceptionally dynamic vocals
- The piano sounds tonally correct, with real weight to the keys
- Under the Boardwalk is killer on this album, one of the best reasons to own it
- “With such a quirky little voice, awesome dynamic shifts and the way she attacks the piano, moving between powerful and delicate, ranks this record as one of my standard demo recordings.”
We’re big fans of RLJ’s self-titled debut, a longtime member of our Top 100 list. I think this one is probably the next best thing she’s done. It may only be an EP but it’s a consistently good EP in which every track is good and some are amazing.
Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of RLJ.
Here are some albums currently on our site with similar Track by Track breakdowns.
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…)
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 equaled 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.”
So, What’s Wrong With Rickie Lee?
Simple. They took a somewhat artificial, hi-fi-ish, close-miked, heavy-on-the-reverb recording and made it sound even more artificial, phony and hi-fi-ish (but less-heavy-on-the-reverb; there is always a noticeable loss of resolution in these modern mastering jobs). What were they thinking?
The best copies have warmth, richness and sweetness to balance out the more unnatural elements in the recording. Copies with these qualities are few and far between but we have run across them in our shootouts and proudly put them up, where of course they sold quickly for lots of money. Major league audiophile appeal, this one. In its day it was heavily demo’ed in every stereo store in town, and for good reason — the sound positively jumps out of the speakers. (more…)
- STUNNING sound on both sides of this original Warner Bros. white label pressing of Jones’ sophomore release with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one
- Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage pressing like this one is the only way to go
- Lee Herschberg recorded Rickie’s debut as well as this follow-up, and both can sound shockingly good
- 4 stars: “The musical and lyrical variety on the album is best represented in the album’s centerpiece, ‘Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue),’ where she moves through mood and tempo changes with ease. Although the songs may not immediately grab the listener, the lyrical and musical complexities ultimately make this album more rewarding with every listen.”
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. (more…)
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.
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.
To learn more about records that sound dramatically better than any Half-Speed ever made (with one rare exception, John Klemmer’s Touch), please consult our FAQs, found here:
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 plentiful.
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. (more…)