Sticky Fingers  File Identities Revealed

Let's not drag this out. Here are the file identities:

File #1 is the Japanese reissue. I think it sounds quite good, perhaps a bit bright.

File #2 is clearly the Mobile Fidelity reissue. The bass has been cartoonishly dialed up but the 1/2 speed mastering produces extreme transient clarity.

File #3 is the new reissue.

File # 4 is the original Rolling Stones Records issue cut at Atlantic Studios.

I'm not surprised people generally liked File #3 and in a short excerpt confuse it with the original pressing. Remember I wrote:

"This one doesn't sound quite as compressed, but when you sit down to listen, the music just seems to float by without creating much of an emotional impact, partly because of the dynamic compression but also because the bass is kind of weak and there's a bit of added edge on top. However, in terms of overall EQ, it's not grossly off the mark", which is why in a short excerpt the two sound similar.

However, I stick with my original conclusion: the bass is lacking in impact compare to the original (forget the Mo-Fi, but if your system doesn't go really low the reissue's lack of bass weight won't be a problem for you), and the compression, though mild, robs the music of visceral impact and makes it sort of float by....

martinjohnbutler's picture

Now I have to start looking around for an original copy eh? I thought I was done when I got the SACD's, arrgghh..

While walking around Broadway and 72nd St. last month, I managed to find original mint versions of Blood Sweat & Tears, Damn the Torpedoes, No Action and My Aim is True for $3 each, so I'll see if I can set my sites on the Stones this month and vibe in another street find, or a good score at a dealer.'s picture

yup- I live in that neighborhood and buy from that old guy. He stores it all on the street.
I often wonder how that stuff doesn't "go missing" in the the night.
He usually yells at me for taking my time to inspect the vinyl.

FWIW- I have an original SF and I actually dig the sound on the new remaster.
My original is a bit scratchy and has that dirty/party Stones sound- which is cool.
From I have read- SF was never a great audiophile sounding LP to begin with...?

english pete's picture

Track 1 & 2 were the only ones I could ID correctly. And myself I do prefer my MoFi reissue of SF.
I must admit I'm a big fan of MoFi re-issues, but not all.
Your recent review of Costello's "King of America" led me back to my UK first pressing which beat the MoFi hands down. And thankfully it is in really good condition.
Which brings me to my next point. My original pressing of the Jam's "All Mod Cons" is bad, full of needle burn from being a young punk with no cares. How about a piece on the Jam reissues. I would love to know the background on these pressings before I spend more money on crap sounding reissues.
Didn't I once read that you one opened for The Jam at CBGBs?

Michael Fremer's picture
I did open for them but I have to admit I wasn't a huge fan and have only a few of their records....
gMRfk6LMHn's picture

This review of Sticky Fingers encouraged me to 'root' out my copy which was issued in 1979 and cut by Nick Webb at Abbey Road. It also encouraged me not to buy the current reissue.

James, Dublin, Ireland

PS: When is a review of Roger Waters Amused To Death reissue in the offing.

Snorker's picture

Rather than on the computer with iPhone earbuds! I actually own the 2015 reissue and the Japanese copy and mis-identified both! I thought file #1 sounded bright, but on my actual system that Japanese reissue has lots of bass and doesn't sound bright at all. Just goes to show how system-dependent this can be. Also shows you how much MoFi messed with the EQ!

Kirby's picture

Nailed it.

Kirby's picture

After hearing to your files I decided to give my LPs a listen, pulling out my probably 80s Canadian copy ( has bar code & says also on CrO2 Cassette)and my Mofi, when low and behold I had another copy I had forgotten about, a 1971 US Edition! Well guess which one sounded the best, Org all the way with the Canadian beating out the Mofi for the same reasons. Kinda sounded 1/2 way between the Japanese and the new release on your files. Good fun, great comparisons. No need to be buying the new one when the old ones sound this good. Thanks for the lesson.

AnalogJ's picture

I thought that the first one was the MoFi, as the midrange sounded scooped out. The guitars, drums, and vocal sounded more hollow than any of the other pressings. The last one seemed to have the least separation among the images so I guessed the original or Japanese.

Hats Domino's picture

So the majority of people liked the reissue, and now we're being told why that opinion is wrong? Maybe the compression (although slight) is what people like. There's a reason compressors are commonly used during mastering. They make mixes hold together better. They add punch and excitement. It's possible people are hearing the elevated energy of the newly mastered version.

usernaim250's picture

I didn't like 1 at all and it does sound bright to me--as many Japanese remasters do. But based on MF's review I figured the worst would be the 2015. For me 3 and 4 were the best, though the big bass of 2 was fun for a listen. This was through Senn HD600s btw. Maybe my big rig would have sounded different.

Oksana's picture

Why can't recordings just be accurate instead of having added punch and excitement? Rarely have I listened to live music and thought it needed punch and excitement.

PanaSound's picture

I pre-ordered the Sticky Fingers re-issue. I owned an original US pressing until it got old & noisy. On an audiophile scale of 1 to 10 the original US pressing as I remember was an easy 8. I've played the new re-issue twice and it's bad. Absolutely no bass, highly compressed and a flat 2D sound stage. In other words a total freakin' waste of money. I wanted a new copy so bad I broke the vinyl re-issue #1 golden rule - "never pre-order. Let someone else waste their money". Rule #2 - "let MF listen first". Some people never learn - and I resemble that remark.

wyatt72's picture

just left my opinion in the first thread today without knowing the answers were posted...and just saved €33 for the purchase (after listening to the files I canceled the order as I was sure it was file 3). To my ears the difference lied in the low frequencies the bass in file 3 was kind of restrained, it was just cut off, while in the other recordings it was more natural, you could hear the decay of the notes...