Mo-Fi Does the "One Step" With Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years

Seven years ago (2014) Sony/Legacy reissued for Record Store Day a swell version of Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years, mastered by Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound and pressed at RTI. It was positively reviewed on this site.

Re-visiting the album, which won two 1975 Grammys for Album of the Year and Male Pop Vocal, now makes clear a few things: the first is the connection between the title track and Simon's "Saturday Night Live" relationship. As I wrote in that review, Michael Brecker's title tune sax solo essentially became Lenny Pickett's finale music and the song has the SNL vibe. The additional years also makes clear that while the production is less fussy than on There Goes Rhymin' Simon, it still has a studio gloss that unsurprisingly makes it sound more like a piano-centric Billy Joel album than one from Paul Simon. The Phil Ramone connection makes that so. With his marital break-up fresh, Simon was at low ebb and some of the songs reflect that. There are hints of Jackson Browne in the writing that I'd not previously picked up on, nor had I fully appreciated how full-throated and powerful was Simon's singing on the album.

So, how good is Mobile Fidelity's 45rpm "one step" mastering and RTI pressing? Compared to the original and the 2014 RSD edition? Rather than me telling you, you tell me! Below are 1 minute and change excerpts from all three versions you get to listen to "blind". As an additional bonus, you get to hear them played back on the $500,000 Air Force Zero turntable fitted with the SAT CF1-09 arm and Lyra's Atlas SL Lambda cartridge feeding CH Precision's P1/X1 phono preamp, the total cost of which is in excess of $600,000. All 3 versions should sound to you pretty damn good! The output of the darTzeel NHB-18NS preamp fed the Lynx HiLo A/D converter at 96/24 resolution.

I'm not here to tell you the digitized version sounds as good as "live", but since all 3 were digitized, it's a pretty fair test. The levels were not all identical and I made to attempt to normalize levels so that's up to you.If you hear a slight hum, remember I'm still waiting for my electricity and grounding upgrade. It's getting closer but that shouldn't affect your listen. Please comment and after a while I'll reveal the file identities.

File "1"

File "2"

File "3"

P.S.: I could find no mention of this album on the Music Direct website so either it's already sold out of it's limited edition pressing run, or it's not yet up for sale.

Cam08529's picture

Then #1 and lastly #2. I have no idea which is which but that’s my order of preference.

These are fun and I hope Michael can continue to get permission from the artists/ recording companies to do these comparisons.

ab_ba's picture

3's the mofi. I played my copy of the mofi one step, and it sounded closest to 3. So that's my vote. (Even digitized, Michael's clip sounds better. Sigh. I can feel the upgrade-itis creeping in...)

Tullman's picture

File one is the one step.

Tullman's picture

I meant to say file 3.

Tullman's picture

1. RKS

2. OG


Tullman's picture

I prefer file 3.

chris8519's picture

I did my own shoot out when I received this.
The RKS had a very similar hot distortion-like tambourine, exactly like file 1! I thought it was just my cartridge or setup.

I did a live A/B with the digital and my 1Step and file 3 seems to match closest.

I'm voting:
#1 = RKS
#2 = OG
#3 = MoFi

Hope I'm right!

mtemur's picture

1. file 3: full bodied, balanced and dynamic
2. file 1: a little bright but still dynamic
3. file 2: not dynamic and all the instruments are pushed back of vocal.

I guess file 3 is the original, file 1 is mofi one step and file 2 is RSD.

Espen R's picture

#1 Sounds superior. Way ahead, more dimensional, cleaner and more "there" there. MoFi?
#2 The least good. Original?
#3 Better than #2, but just a better version of the second clip. Ryan Smith 2014?

Vinylguroo's picture

Interesting, File 1 is the closest to my original TML cut, I also have a Sterling which is ok but the TML has been my goto since I purchased it.

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

I love my original UK TML pressing as well. I got rid of the STERLING pressing, I wonder which is the original mastering... STERLING or TML? The UK is a 1975 pressing.

James, Dublin, Irelad

DigMyGroove's picture

Like many, I too thought #1 was the Mofi, not the RSD reissue I've owned since 2014. While all three sound good in their own ways, I prefer the Ryan K. Smith mastered RSD version, particularly once I put the record on and listened through my system. It was so much better than the digitized sample in every way, and did not require any EQ adjustments.

For me it comes down to a reminder that maybe it isn't necessary to spend an extra $100 to get what may or may not be the "ultimate version". To those who take that path, enjoy and have fun, for me I'll be far more cautious about driving down that pricey toll road. Thus far the only one of these I've sprung for is the AP UHQR "Kind of Blue", but I haven't received mine yet. I've got the original Classic Records 2 LP version, so will do a direct comparison when the time comes.

amhifi's picture

There seems to be a steady spurious signal at about 28.8 kHz on File 1 that is not there on the other two which is higher that the actual signal level most of the time - Any idea what it is?

sirnose's picture

... I want Paul in my living room for that amount of money, not that fucked up and distorted number one or muffled and distorted number two or average number three!!!!!
And I have to forgive a slight hum?

CAD66's picture

I love this album and have a few versions but the quad mix is fantastic and long overdue for SACD release (please Paul?). I don't see this as needing the deluxe treatment since it sounds pretty great already. Graceland would be more fitting for a box set.

Alan Abentrod's picture

I like file 1 best.

39goose's picture

final declaration ?
These type of reviews suck for some.............

andrewslattery's picture

Listening on a new MacBook pro's speakers.
1) Ryan
2) Original
3) Mofi

3 is the most 3 dimensional and balanced

theqrm's picture

...for the unveiling! :-)

jpgr1966's picture

Hello Mr. Fremer,

I am currently in the process of making a decision on which version of this album to purchase. Could you please reveal the answer?

Thank you!

Bill Demars's picture

It's a great album, but every copy I own, I have mistracking issues on 50 Ways (don't need to discuss much) and Night Game (and the tarpaulin). Do others have this issue? And if so, does the OneStep solve this or is it more tolerable?