When Chad Kassem's first 200 gram vinyl copies of Tea For The Tillerman rolled off the presses at his Quality Record Pressings plant in Salina, Kansas last August, there was considerable skepticism regarding whether he would be successful. After all, it was the insistence by Classic Records on producing 200 gram records and the resulting inconsistency in vinyl quality that, while perhaps not causing the undoing of the company, certainly helped turn the tide of consumer sentiment against them. With the release of this 200 Gram version of Just A Little Lovin, Kassem has taken an additional big step towards silencing those skeptics and demonstrating his commitment and ability to produce a top notch all-analog vinyl reissue.
Just over three years ago, I reviewed the initial vinyl release of Just A Little Lovin. And despite an initial vinyl run that was marred by noise--and a second one that was still a bit noisy, I recommended it as the sonics were so good. Shelby Lynne was very outspoken when she did the initial publicity for Lovin, emphasizing that she recorded to a Studer, using two inch analog tape, rather than recording digitally. Nontheless, due to some vinyl plating irregularities, the initial 180 gram vinyl release was mastered from a 24/96 digital file.
|Shelby Lynne, recording Just A Little Lovin|
The 200 gram version from Quality Record Pressings reviewed today, is thus, the first truly all-analog version. Doug Sax of The Mastering Lab, who runs an all-analog mastering chain without the use of a digital preview head, went back to the original tapes to produce a truly all analog master for this cutting, which was reportedly quite time-consuming and expensive. The result is a version of this album that is a tad warmer tonally, goes even deeper in the lower bass, and has an overall ease to the presentation that makes it the best version yet of this record. In fact, the super-silent 200 gram vinyl surfaces particularly benefit an ultra-dynamic recording such as this, so that previously unheard details such as the lightest cymbal flourishes can now be heard.
While it isn't fully clear whether it was the mastering--or the plating and pressing that was responsible for the improvement, there's no doubt that there is one. If you've never been bothered by noise on your original copy, I'm not going to say that you should immediately run out and buy this--as the original is still a great sounding piece of vinyl. On the other hand, if this is one of your favorite demo discs or if you shied away from the original Lost Highway release, this 200 gram version from QRP is a must-buy.