- This outstanding vintage Liberty stereo pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from top to bottom – exceptionally quiet vinyl for a Julie London album too (don’t get me started)
- In-the-room presence, preternaturally breathy vocals, and boatloads of wonderful Tubey Magic
- This amazing sleeper of a record belongs right up at the top of Ms. London’s oeuvre (25 albums strong) along with Julie Is Her Name – high praise indeed
- 4 stars: “Usually put into a torch song setting, this release allows London to shed that garment and become jazzy. Instead of being sultry, she becomes dazzling and sparkling. She also becomes more adept at phrasing and timing and takes a risk or two in the tradition of a jazz singer.”
The great Jimmy Rowles plays piano, handled the arrangements and fronts the big group here, taking the music in a wonderfully jazzy direction that suits Julie’s vocal style perfectly.
Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Julie London singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now more than 61 years old), 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 less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.
Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These Liberty pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambiance, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.
THIS is the sound 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 could care less.
What the best sides of this vintage Liberty pressing 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 qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We’re Listening For on Julie
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars, horns and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — legendary Liberty engineer Ted Keep in this case — would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top 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 heard them all.
We’ve searched high and low for Julie London’s records and played them by the score over the years. We plan to keep a good supply on to the site in the coming years so watch for new arrivals in the Vocal section (linked to your left).
Somebody Loves Me
Dream Of You
Bye Bye Blackbird
Free And Easy
When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobbin’ Along
You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me
Don’cha Go ‘Way Mad
(Back Home Again In) Indiana
AMG 4 Star Review
Julie London made the folks at the Liberty label rich with more than 25 albums, exclusive of compilations, cut over a period of 1955 to 1969. Usually put into a torch song setting, this release allows London to shed that garment and become jazzy.
The reason, of course, is the presence of the invaluable Jimmy Rowles, who did the charts, played piano, and led an orchestra of top-flight but unidentified musicians. Unidentified or not, that could well be Don Fagerquist’s muted trumpet on “Midnight Sun” and other cuts and either Ted Nash or Bob Cooper on tenor on “Somebody Loves Me.”
That the producer is Bobby Troup also helped to assure that this session would be a swinging affair. The arrangements let London’s vocals take on a different demeanor. Instead of being sultry, she becomes dazzling and sparkling. She also becomes more adept at phrasing and timing and takes a risk or two in the tradition of a jazz singer.
Listen to her coax the lyrics along on “(Back Home Again In) Indiana.” You’ll rarely hear her on other albums take the kind of up-the-scale flyer she uses as the coda to this tune.
One might argue London made only one other album that comes close to the jazz sensation that radiates from this record. That’s the record featuring the small group recordings she made with the duos of Barney Kessel and Ray Leatherford and Howard Roberts and Red Mitchell, respectively, compiled on Julie Is Her Name, Vols. 1 and 2.