Julie London – About The Blues

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More About The Blues

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  • About The Blues with KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last; we rarely have this title on the site 
  • Julie’s lilting vocals are clear, breathy, Tubey Magical, and sweet, like practically nothing you’ve ever heard
  • This copy is about as quiet as we can find these 1957 Turquoise original mono pressings, Mint Minus Minus* throughout
  • 4 stars: “About the Blues … may just be her best orchestral session. Since downbeat torch songs were London’s specialty, the album features an excellent selection of nocturnal but classy blues songs that play to her subtle strengths…”

Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.  

Take it from a huge Julie London fan, you can’t go wrong here, not for sonics, for music, or for anything else, including playing surfaces. In our experience, this lovely vintage pressing is as quiet as can be found. About The Blues is five times more rare than Julie Is Her Name, which makes finding clean copies much harder than it should be.

The sound is rich and full-bodied in the best tradition of a Classic Fifties Female Vocal album. You could easily demonstrate your stereo with a record this good, but what you would really be demonstrating is music that the listener probably hasn’t heard, and that’s the best reason to demonstrate a stereo.

And you would surely be making someone a fan of Julie London’s early recordings. They are simply amazing on every level, or at least the best ones sure are. This title slotted in between 1956’s Calendar Girl (which is every bit as hard to find) and Make Love to Me, from later on in 1957. All three are wonderful.

Midrange Magic

Get the volume right and Julie will appear right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. This early pressing also has the midrange magic that’s no doubt missing from whatever 180g reissue might be available. This one is guaranteed to be dramatically more REAL sounding. It will give you the sense that Julie London is right in front of you.

She’s no longer a recording — she’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. Her voice is so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.

This record is the very definition of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made that sound like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There actually is a CD of this album, and YouTube videos of it too, but those of us with a good turntable couldn’t care less.

What the best sides of this original Liberty label have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1957
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above.

The Players and Personnel

Julie London – vocals
Willie Smith – alto saxophone
Maynard Ferguson – trumpet
Barney Kessel – guitar
Shelly Manne – drums
Russ Garcia – arranger, conductor of those guys and the other 14 pieces in the band

You may have seen Russell Garcia’s name on another landmark session from the ’50s: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s recording of Porgy and Bess for Verve in 1959. Watch for copies coming to the site one of these days. We’ve discovered some exceptional original and reissue pressings (as well as some that really do a disservice to the music and the engineers who recorded it. What else is new in the world of records?).

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Basin Street Blues
I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
A Nightingale Can Sing The Blues
Get Set For The Blues
Invitation To The Blues
Bye, Bye Blues

Side Two

Meaning Of The Blues
About The Blues
Sunday Blues
The Blues Is All I Ever Had
Blues In The Night
Bouquet Of Blues

AMG 4 Star Review

Julie London wasn’t really a jazz singer, but she possessed a definite jazz feeling and many of her finest albums (such as Julie Is Her Name and Julie…At Home) feature small-group jazz backings.

About the Blues was aimed at the 1950s pop market, but it may just be her best orchestral session. Since downbeat torch songs were London’s specialty, the album features an excellent selection of nocturnal but classy blues songs that play to her subtle strengths instead of against them. Likewise, Russ Garcia’s clever arrangements bleed jazz touches and short solos over the solitary strings and big-band charts.

Like June Christy, London usually included a couple of new songs in with a selection of standards, and her husband, Bobby Troup, wrote two excellent numbers for the album. One of them, the emotionally devastating “Meaning of the Blues,” is the album’s highlight, and was turned into a jazz standard after Miles Davis recorded it the same year for Miles Ahead.