- This original Capitol rainbow label LP has excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Having played a good dozen or more vintage Bobby Darin albums, we can tell you that finding sound as good as this is a lot harder than we thought it would be
- Like the recordings of Nat King Cole, many Darin records are ruined by the heavy-handed use of reverb, but every once in a while you find one like this with the glorious sound of ’60s All Tube Analog in its grooves
- “Darin focused on standards done with jazzy arrangements on this 1964 album… “The Days of Wine and Roses,” “Call Me Irresponsible,” “Once in a Lifetime,” “Sunday in New York,” and of course “Hello, Dolly!” and “Goodbye, Charlie” are all on board.”
This vintage Capitol stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.
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.).
Hot Stamper sound is rarely about the details of a given recording. In the case of this album, more than anything else a Hot Stamper must succeed at recreating a solid, palpable, real Bobby Darin singing live in your listening room. The better copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.
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 less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played over the years can serve as a guide.
What amazing sides such as these 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 1964
- 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 studio space
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 to Listen For (WTLF)
Copies with rich lower mids 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.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural ambience and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to pressings from every era and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
What We Listen For on From Hello Dolly To Goodbye Charlie
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- 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, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.
The process is simple enough. First you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
Call Me Irresponsible
The Days Of Wine And Roses
The End Of Never
Once In A Lifetime (Only Once)
Sunday In New York
Where Love Has Gone
Look At Me
Darin focused on standards done with jazzy arrangements on this 1964 album, though he did in fact co-write a couple of the songs, “The End of Never” and “Look at Me.” Otherwise, writers like Sammy Cahn, Henry Mancini, Anthony Newley, and Andre Previn figure strongly in the songwriting credits. “The Days of Wine and Roses,” “Call Me Irresponsible,” “Once in a Lifetime,” “Sunday in New York,” and of course “Hello, Dolly!” and “Goodbye, Charlie” are all on board.
The highlight, if only because it doesn’t sound like more of the same, is the dramatic, somber ballad “The End of Never,” with its unexpected melodic arches and Darin’s committed singing.