Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)

Rickie Lee JonesMobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFSL 1-392
Format: LP

Musical Performance ****1/2
Sound Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment *****


I first saw and heard Rickie Lee Jones on Saturday Night Live, in April 1979, when an appearance on that show could make a musician’s career. Her eponymously titled debut album had been released only a few weeks before, and that night she became a sensation. “Chuck E.’s  in Love,” one of the songs she performed that evening, went on to hit No.4 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and her album sold over two million copies. Her music had hints of jazz, R&B, folk, and Tin Pan Alley, and Rickie Lee Jones was the beginning of a recording career that would be marked by quality and unpredictability.

My copy of the original LP is so old that on its inner sleeve is a coupon for ordering a two-record set called Limo. Beginning in the late 1960s, Warner Bros. Records released several dozen promotional samplers, most of them two-LP sets, available by mail-order for $1 per disc and comprising tracks by artists on Warner’s various labels. I have several of those sets, and they were terrific. The sequencing was always done well, the liner notes were clever, and you could discover music you didn’t know much about. A time when a major label was willing to offer a two-LP set for two bucks that could help you discover new music was also a time when that same label would sign a hard-to-peg musician like Rickie Lee Jones.

When I played my CD of Rickie Lee Jones in preparation for this review, I thought it sounded pretty good. But when I switched to the original LP, the finger snaps and background vocals sounded more natural. MoFi’s new LP is even more striking in its presentation of the music. The marimba that accompanies Jones’s acoustic guitar in the opening is easier to hear, and the acoustic guitars layered throughout the song are better separated. Steve Gadd’s drum roll at the end of the bridge rings out with more authority, and the reverb around the finger snaps is in sharper relief and sustains longer than on my other two copies.

Jones’s voice in “On Saturday Afternoons in 1963” is much more holographic and realistic on the MoFi than on the original LP or CD, and the piano that accompanies her in the opening verses has more openness and life. The bass in “Night Train” is snappier on the MoFi -- it sounds a little lifeless on the CD -- and the acoustic guitars ring out so that I can hear the harmonic qualities of the chords. The strings in Nick DeCaro’s arrangements for both of these tracks have more richness on this LP as well.

The bass and hi-hat set the tone of “Danny’s All-Star Joint,” and on the MoFi they have more sparkle and clarity, as does the electric piano that enters after the first verse. The kick drum is more exciting and gives the track more foundation on this pressing. The elements that make “Coolsville” so haunting, from the chorused guitar at the beginning to the dynamics of the piano, are in greater definition on the MoFi. Each instrument has more space to itself, more room to make its point, and Jones’s voice, bathed in a hint of reverb, is in the room with the listener in a way it isn’t with the CD or the original LP.

One of the album’s most moving tracks is “Company.” Johnny Mandel’s orchestral arrangement highlights Jones’s voice, and on the new LP the strings are full and luxurious. Throughout this pressing, I found myself being pulled into great details I hadn’t noticed before, such as the dynamics in the horns in “Weasel and the White Boys Cool.” In his mastering for MoFi, Krieg Wunderlich has taken a good recording and let it breathe fully, with the results of more inner detail, more dynamic range, and a more involving soundstage.

The reproduction of the cover art is one of MoFi’s best, and the pressing is up to RTI’s usual high standard. I know that Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab has also pressed Jones’s second album, Pirates, on vinyl. I have to get a copy.

. . . Joseph Taylor