- Superb sound throughout for Lee’s 1960 release with both sides rating a solid Double Plus (A++) or very close to it
- Everything that’s good about All Tube Vocal Recordings from the ’50s and ’60s is precisely what’s good about the sound of this record
- “The rhythms are not only authentically Afro-Cuban, but surprisingly strong and rarely watered down. The rest of the arrangements, though breezy and pop-slanted, support Lee’s vocals perfectly. And though her voice isn’t quite as strong as it had been during the ’50s, Lee uses the cracks on her high notes to accentuate the songs.” – Allmusic
This vintage Capitol LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely 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.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Peggy Lee 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 59 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.
What the best sides of Latin ala Lee! 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 1960
- 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.
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’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 air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings 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’re Listening For on Latin ala Lee!
- 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, 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 would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
On the Street Where You Live
Till There Was You
I Am in Love
I Could Have Danced All Night
The Surrey With the Fringe on Top
The Party’s Over
Dance Only With Me
Wish You Were Here
I Enjoy Being a Girl
… Peggy Lee’s mastery over a range of stylistic situations rescues any potential miscues, and the rugged backing of arranger/conductor Jack Marshall is a pleasant surprise. The rhythms are not only authentically Afro-Cuban, but surprisingly strong and rarely watered down. The rest of the arrangements, though breezy and pop-slanted, support Lee’s vocals perfectly. And though her voice isn’t quite as strong as it had been during the ’50s, Lee uses the cracks on her high notes to accentuate the songs.