Get The Knack was THE power pop party record of the 80s. Can the MoFi version breathe audiophile qualities into the party sound?
Which versions of Get The Knack are we comparing?
On the one hand, there is the German first pressing with the matrix designations A1, B1 from 1979. It was released on Capitol and distributed in Germany by EMI Electrola, where it was also pressed on 144g vinyl. The record is in a single sleeve, and has a printed inner sleeve.
The MoFi, released in 2017, is from the Original Master Recording (OMR) series and is limited to only 3,000 copies. It also only has a single sleeve and no printed inner sleeve. Instead, it has everything else that belongs to a release from the OMR series: anti-static sleeve, stiffener, extra-heavy cardboard for the cover. The lacquer was cut by Krieg Wunderlich with the support of Rob LoVerde from the analogue master tape. The pressing was done by RTI on 200g vinyl.
A little background on Get The Knack
The Knack formed in Los Angeles in 1978 and were initially rather mediocre. Their demo tape got a lot of rejections from record companies. The tide only turned when their performances became the hot shit in the LA rock star scene. Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen or Ray Manzarek from the Doors were just some of the prominent fans who showed up at The Knack’s club gigs and sometimes even came on stage for guest appearances.
By December 1978, the band had received 13 offers for record contracts. Some of them from the same labels that had turned them down just a few weeks before. In January, The Knack finally signed with Capitol Records.
The debut album Get The Knack was recorded in just two weeks under the direction of producer Mike Chapman (Sweet, Blondie) with a budget of a slim $18,000 – after all, the band was well-rehearsed after their many live performances.
How good do the 1979 and Mofi pressings of Get The Knack sound?
Two things are already noticeable during the first seconds: The 1978 is audibly louder and it plays at a minimally higher pitch. Since most of the songs on the MoFi also last a few seconds longer, both were presumably cut from an analogue master tape, which, however, was played back minimally faster in 1979 when the lacquer was cut. The higher playback speed should give the performance the final kick.
Actually not necessary at all. Because the MoFi version of Let Me Out sounds just as energetic as the 1979 version. At the same level, the MoFi seems a little rounder and more balanced, while the 79 seems more agitated.
Oh Tara! also runs a little faster again on the 79. Differences are also apparent in the stereo stage. The German first pressing focuses strongly on the centre, while the MoFi creates a somewhat wider stereo image. This makes the instruments a little easier to hear.
Further distinguishing features are the vocals. Doug Fieger’s vocals on the 78 pressing have a tendency to twang, the MoFi version reduces this slight tendency for the better. No wonder. After all, master god Krieg Wunderlich has already succeeded in driving the twang out of Bob Dylan’s voice on Bringing It All Back Home or John Wesley Harding.
How do the level and frequency response of the 1979 and Mofi pressings differ?
The waveform for Let Me Out shows why the 79 version seems louder. Here, the limiter and compressor were used a little more, which is why there are more peaks that reach the level limit. With the MoFi, there is more air between the maximum levels.
The waveform for Maybe Tonight paints a similar picture. Furthermore, the difference in running time can be read very clearly here: The MoFi version plays a few seconds longer than the 79. Even in the intro, the MoFi remains somewhat quieter than the 79, the effect when the band kicks in fully becomes more dynamic in this way.
My Sharona is the ode to Sharona Alperin, later girlfriend of bandleader Doug Fieger. The drum sound is considered a masterpiece of production engineering in the late 70s. The dynamics of the drum beats were somewhat better preserved on the MoFi, because the differences between loud and soft are somewhat greater here. In the listening test, however, this difference between the versions did not play an audible role.
The frequency spectrogram for Let Me Out shows slightly less loud bass for the MoFi. This can be seen from the slightly smaller violet areas. But since the Mofi has a lower average level, this difference should no longer matter at the same volume.
As soon as you change the scale for the frequency spectrogram of Let Me Out to a linear scale, differences in the range of and treble become visible. The 79 shows a focus in the range between 5,000 and 15,000 hertz. Above 15,000 hertz, on the other hand, not much can be seen. Instead, the MoFi plays up into inaudible ranges beyond 20,000 Hetz.
This difference is even more apparent in the frequency spectrogram for Maybe Tonight. The 79 cuts frequencies north of 15,000 hertz by filter. Instead, the MoFi reproduces frequencies without limit up to the highest heights.
The broader spectrum in the treble range is even visible in the frequency spectrogram for My Sharona with a logarithmic scale, where the MoFi flares out to the edge of the diagram. In the bass range, on the other hand, the 79 seems to offer more energy. However, since it has a higher average level, the bass content converges as soon as you adjust the volume of the Mofi.
Which pressing of Get The Knack is better?
Great album, great sound – from a slightly higher room volume, the album is fun in both pressings. From an audiophile point of view, however, there is a clear winner. The MoFi offers the more mature sound. A wider stereo stage, more dynamics and a considerably broader frequency spectrum. Doug Fieger’s vocals are the main beneficiary of this. But the more differentiated sound of the MoFi also brings out a few more details.
- Let Me Out
- Your Number Or Your Name
- Oh Tara!
- (She’s So) Selfish
- Maybe Tonight
- Good Girls Don’t
- My Sharona
- Siamese Twins (The Monkey And Me)
- That’s What The Little Girls Do
|Title||Get The Knack|
|Label||Capitol/EMI Electrola||Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab|
|Catalogue number||1C 064-85 906||MFSL 1-473|
|Revolutions/minute||33 1/3||33 1/3|
|Cover||Single Sleeve||Single Sleeve|
|Lacquer cut||Not specified||Krieg Wunderlich, Rob LoVerde|
|Pressing plant||EMI Electrola||RTI|
|Matrix-Runout||85 906 A-1 85 906 B-1||MFSL1-473A1 26575.1(3) KW@MoFi MFSL1-473B3 26575.2(2) KW@MoFi|
|Country of manufacture||Germany||USA|