I also have both the SHM and the MOFI CD's. I agree the MOFI is the best CD copy I have heard.
On vinyl, I have probably 10-12 different copies of AJA. I am a HUGE Steely Dan fan. I also like the Cisco, but I prefer the last Japanese release that was done a few years ago. I also have a German copy that is wonderful.
if you can afford it, go to tom ports site http://www.dccblowout.com/
he sold me an amazing copy of aja (as well as all of the dan's portfolio). there is no comparison.
he has also found great copies of supertramp.
get on there and read his discription of aja on cisco, mfsl, and his found copies.
I can't really offer you much advice about AJA, (Not one of my favorite Steely Dan albums to be honest), but I agree that the MoFi LP is just okay.
However, for the Crime of the Century LP, I can offer some advice, which is that you already own one of the best versions available, (i.e. The Speakers Corner version). This compares very favorably to all of the versions I have heard, including the UHQR that MoFi put out "back in the day".
As far as CD copies of either album? (Who cares when one has vinyl to listen to?! Needless to say, guess what media format I like the best?!) ;-)
My two cents worth anyway.
I´m sorry but I disagree.
I rather choose the SHM version of Aja vs the Mofi. I think this last one sounds colored and slow, if you prefer warm.
The SHM version brings the guitars forward -like all SHM Steely Dan´s CDs- and Chuck Rainey´s bass sounds very good too.
G M C -- Thanks for the link to BETTER RECORDS. Outstanding site to learn from and to buy from. You (and members like you) are why I continue to participate at AudioGon. Many thanks!
I have a rainbow yellow ABC, and the Cisco. I need to compare the two directly, as I have yet to do it. IMO, the ABC first press sounds great. It was like $8.00, so you can't go wrong. I would look for a clean used copy, and get more opinions on the Cisco as well as that Japan pressing that Mofimadness refers to.
Dramapsycho, my pleasure. Tom Port, the owner of Better Records, is very knowledgeable and opinionated. He is also controversial. There is a lot to read there. The records can be very expensive, and many here would never spend hundreds of dollars on a record even though tens of thousands often get spent on equipment. I am trying to get to the immediacy of great artists and their masterpieces. A great stereo with mediocre music gets you nowhere. Tom has gotten me there with his amazing pressings. I have never been disappointed.
When Aja came out, it was a popular demo disc in audio shops because the sound on the original vinyl was top notch and the music had wide appeal.
I've heard some decent CD versions that are pretty good over the years, but nothing that betters the original standard issue vinyl that can be foud and had for not much. If you have a phono rig, I would not waste money trying to better this particular recording with more $$$$s.
I have first pressings of bogh and never heard them really topped and certainly not some alleged hot stamper.
I was just reflecting on this very question as I listened to an beat-down LP copy of AJA from 70s or 80s. I need some of the mid-range magic and punch of good vinyl, but where to turn with this oft re-released classic?
I was eyeing the CISCO 180g version and then found the "hot stamper" (sic) link to their "review" of Cisco versus their $800 "hot stampers," the very sound of Shangri-La.
Hot Stampers In Heaven. Now that is one idea --buying perfection at top dollar-- than brothers Fagen and Becker worked hard to disabuse of in songs like "Babylon Sisters" and the sad homecoming of Odysseus in "Home At Last." So the irony is delicious. Similarly dumbfounding is the claim on that website that they listen critically to 100 lps to find the one stand-out of the crowd. And then we learn that they use a $4000 cartridge whose delicate stylus can dig deep, deep into the grooves to find the music that other lps are missing.
Hmm. Are there unbiased blind-tests available anywhere for the claims on the best AJA albums? It seems that Steely Dan tend toward the highly cerebral and ironic and scholarly, so where are the scientific studies on whose groove is deepest, whose vinyl is hottest, whose pressing is finest, when dealing with a mere $5000 set up (all-in) rather than a $100,000 bond trader's showcase?
For $800 buy 400 $2.00 used copies in good shape and test them one by one.
All will sound really good. Only one will sound best, but you can decide.
Take your time.....
Audiofeil- have you ever played and compared one of Tom Port's hot stampers, or you just that all-knowing?
Mapman- 400 x 10 minutes to clean each copy, say 15 minutes of play time for each per copy to compare times maybe a 1000 spins total to narrow it down to the best copy... add the time to find and buy each copy... do the math... and you are still not guaranteed to find a great copy. I dont have the time or patience to do it and besides, I would hate the album after that effort.
The poster asked "So, which is the ONE COPY of this album that is THE MUST HAVE?" The best usually costs more, right?
Have any of you naysayers had a BAD experience with Tom Port? Have any of you nay sayers even tried one? There is a money back guarantee! Try one and then get back her and give us an opinion with some legitimate evidence to back up your statements. Or, are you all just that all-knowing?
chill, brother. one needn't be all-knowing to know that $500 for a used mass market record that was a best-seller for years and years and is in no way a rare item IS a very high price indeed.
one needn't be soaking in ressentiment (what Nietzsche famously called slave morality in THE GENEALOGY OF MORALS--a book crucial for fans of Steely Dan and meditators on the "royal scam" and such) to venture this opinion.
And of course to appreciate a $500 album one would presumably need a $20,000 system with a $4000+ cartridge, as Mr Port himself admits. So let's put all this in perspective, as this is a fun hobby that includes teachers, preachers, musicians, orthodontists, insurance adjusters, social workers, legal aid lawyers, and hedge fund managers.
I remember my local audiophile salon (where they sell $10K turntables and such) had plastic bottles of "ultra pure water" available in the glass case behind the counter. I asked the salesman about its worthy provenance in contrast to distilled water. He shrugged his shoulders, giggled conspiratorially, and noted that "like all hobbies, some customers do go over the deep end."