- Our Shootout Winning stereo copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides – this is As Good As It Gets, folks!
- Not the quietest copy we’ve ever played – Mint Minus Minus to EX++ – but clearly the best sounding
- Fitzgerald’s performance on this album won her the Award for Best Vocal Performance, her 7th Grammy (!)
- “The singer has rarely sounded better than during this period. Fitzgerald sticks mostly to familiar standards and is particularly memorable on “Don’t Be That Way,” “What Am I Here For,” “I’m Gonna Go Fishin’,” and “I Won’t Dance.”
Take it from an Ella fan, you can’t go wrong with this one, assuming you can put up with some light crackle underneath the music. The record itself looks exceptionally clean and well-cared for, but it clearly does not play as quietly as we would have hoped.
The sound is rich and full-bodied in the best tradition of a classic vintage jazz vocal album. You could easily demonstrate your stereo with a record this good! The space is HUGE and the sound so rich.
Prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic as well, which is key to the best sounding copies. The sound needs weight, warmth and tubes or you might as well be playing a CD.
Tubey Magic from 1961
This early stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What to Listen For (WTLF)
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep Nelson’s string arrangements from becoming shrill) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.
We’re glad to report this copy was doing more of what we wanted it to do than any other we played.
And we know a fair bit about Ella’s recordings at this point. As of today we’ve done commentaries for more than a dozen different Ella Fitzgerald albums, and that’s not counting the sixteen (yes, 16!) titles we put in our Hall of Shame.
We’ve searched high and low for her records and played them by the score over the years. We plan to keep a good supply on the site in the coming years so watch for new arrivals in the Vocal section you see linked to the left.
Hardness and Brashness
Want to know what we are on about with all this talk of hardness and brashness? Easy, just play the average copy. Unless you have been exceptionally fortunate and chanced upon a properly mastered, pressed and cared for copy, you will hear plenty of both.
It’s one of the main reasons we have such a hard time doing shootouts for Ella’s releases from the ’50s and ’60s. The other of course is the poor condition most copies are in. Few pressings do not have marks that play or damaged grooves. The record players of the ’50s and ’60s, not to mention their owners, were ruinous on the albums from the era.
Which is simply another reason not to expect another top copy of this album to come to the site any time soon. Give us two or three years or so and we might be able to find another batch with which to do a shootout. In that time we will surely look at fifty copies, buy ten, and end up with at most five that are worth offering to our customers.
Obviously we wouldn’t bother if the music and sound weren’t so good. When you are lucky enough to find a copy that sounds as good as this one, you cannot help but recognize that this era for Ella will never be equaled, by her or anyone else.
When Your Lover Has Gone
Don’t Be That Way
Love Me Or Leave Me
I Hear Music
What Am I Here For?
I’m Gonna Go Fishin’
I Won’t Dance
I Only Have Eyes For You
The Gentleman Is A Dope
Mean To Me
Pick Yourself Up