Linda Ronstadt – For Sentimental Reasons

More Linda Ronstadt

For Sentimental Reasons

xxxxx

  • A superb sounding copy of Ronstadt’s 1986 release with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from the first note to the last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Both sides are incredibly clean, clear, full-bodied, and lively with plenty of extension on both ends, we’ve never heard For Sentimental Reasons sound like this!
  • The final installment of the jazz trilogy that Ronstadt recorded with bandleader and arranger Nelson Riddle
  • “… it is in the hushed intensity of Mr. Riddle’s string arrangements for the album’s ballads that one senses a musician reaching deeply into his soul to make eloquent final statements… The arrangements’ emotional gravity reverberates in Miss Ronstadt’s singing…”

Both sides give you a much more natural sounding Linda than you have ever heard. She’s fuller, sweeter, breathier, less spitty (some tracks more than others) and just plain less artificial than any others we played.

What the best sides of For Sentimental Reasons 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 even as late as 1986
  • 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.

George Massenburg Gets It Right

We’ve criticized the engineer George Massenburg on this site in the past, but with this copy we almost want to take it all back.

What he gets right on this recording is the sound of an orchestra, augmented with various jazz musicians (Ray Brown, Bud Shank, Plas Johnson, Louie Bellson), all performing live in a huge studio. The sound stretches far to Linda’s left, far to her right, as well as back far behind her in a huge semi-circle. She is of course singing in a vocal booth, with her vocal placed front and center in the soundstage.

As an aside, George Massenburg went on to record the Trio album with Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. The analog sound he produced was shockingly rich, smooth and sweet — and this in 1987 no less!

What to Listen for on For Sentimental Reasons

That’s easy on this album: the strings. When the strings are big and rich, not shrill and thin, that’s a good thing. Rosiny texture means you have a copy with less smear and higher resolution. Harmonics up top means that the top end of your copy is extending properly.

Bottom line: If the strings are bad on this album probably everything else is too.

Having said that, this is an album of standards sung by a woman with a very recognizable voice. If Linda doesn’t sound right, what’s the point of the record? To hear Nelson Riddle’s well-recorded strings?

The best copies have Linda sounding rich and breathy. Few managed to pull off that particular trick as well as we would have liked. We took major points off for those copies that had her sounding too thin or forced in her upper range.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

When You Wish Upon a Star 
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered 
You Go to My Head 
But Not for Me 
My Funny Valentine 
I Get Along Without You Very Well

Side Two

Am I Blue 
(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons 
Straighten up and Fly Right 
Little Girl Blue 
‘Round Midnight

AMG Review

For Sentimental Reasons was the last traditional pop album Linda Ronstadt recorded with Nelson Riddle, and it’s virtually indistinguishable from its two predecessors — it has the same sweeping arrangements… That said, For Sentimental Reasons is notable since it contains a high percentage of familiar…standards like “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Am I Blue,” and “‘Round Midnight,” which might make the album more appealing to casual fans who want to hear Ronstadt sing songs they know if they’re going to hear her in this setting.

New York Times Review

Although ”For Sentimental Reasons” belongs to the same broad genre of genteel 1950’s-style pop as its two predecessors do, in many of its details it is a different sounding record.

On ”What’s New,” the singer’s first plunge into the pre-rock repertory, Miss Ronstadt’s stance was that of devoted student, taking scrupulous care to rein in her rock and country-pop mannerisms. Mr. Riddle helped the singer to fit comfortably into a 50’s mode by cushioning her voice in lush, texturally homogeneous arrangements dominated by strings and woodwinds and featuring occasional creamy instrumental solos… Miss Ronstadt also began to come out from behind the orchestrations, sounding friskier and even a bit rockish.

On their final collaboration, Miss Ronstadt takes even more liberties. Instead of scene-setting orchestral introductions for every song, Miss Ronstadt herself determines the mood and pacing of much of the music.

”Although Nelson was wonderful at covering the vocal cracks and crevices between vocal phrases, on this album a lot of the songs have long rubato sections,” Miss Ronstadt said.

…But it is in the hushed intensity of Mr. Riddle’s string arrangements for the album’s ballads that one senses a musician reaching deeply into his soul to make eloquent final statements. On ”My Funny Valentine,” Miss Ronstadt’s accompaniment is a brooding, dissonant string quartet. And on the album’s final cut, ” ‘Round Midnight,” Mr. Riddle’s descending string line evokes a sepulchral resignation. The arrangements’ emotional gravity reverberates in Miss Ronstadt’s singing, through her more dramatic vocal dynamics and in the hard sustained notes at the ends of songs. In the album’s most captivating vocal performance, ”When You Wish Upon a Star,” the singer and orchestra gently carry the song up several steps so that it seems literally to float into the stratosphere.

-Stephen Holden
The New York Times
September 14, 1986