Henry Mancini – A Warm Shade of Ivory – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

With THE BEST side one we have ever played, backed with a side two that’s very nearly as good, this is a very special copy indeed! This copy was getting everything right on side one. Wide and deep stage, smooth but textured strings, background vocalists who take breaths, room around the piano, clear attack, it’s all here. 

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs. More about that later.

As for the sound of this copy, warm is right. This is some of the smoothest, most natural sound we’ve heard on a Mancini record. Listen to the cello on side 1, track 4, to hear the kind of tubey magic we rave about on old records. Those of you with good tube equipment (and/or the right transistor equipment, truth be told) know how rich and sonorous bowed string instruments can sound — this is a perfect example of it. Those with with more transistory sound in their systems will not be able to fully appreciate the lovely sonority, but if you take this record to a place that has top quality equipment, whether it be a friend’s house or a stereo store, you will undoubtedly hear what I mean. It’s a sound you can’t forget, and it’s all but disappeared from modern recordings and modern (read: heavy vinyl) pressings.

Classic Records, now thankfully defunct, has been producing records for fifteen years that are almost completely devoid of the tubey magic we’re talking about. Records like this show you precisely what the Classic pressings are getting wrong — if your stereo can reproduce the difference.

Hard to Find?

Not really; they made loads of these back in the day. But so many just don’t sound good. As we so often say about famous TAS List records like this, playing the average copy would make you think that Harry must have been smoking something when he nominated this or Hatari to be a Super Disc.

And we have to defend him when a copy like this comes along that really IS a Super Disc. (Well, sort of. It’s a VERY GOOD sounding record. Super Disc I’m not so sure about.)

Side One

White Hot Stamper sound as described above. Finally, a copy that lives up to the hype.

Side Two

Either A++ or A++ 1/2; it’s hard to say exactly but you get the picture. It’s a bit opaque compared to side one, and has a bit of smear on the percussive aspect of the piano, but was still much more musical and enjoyable than any other copy we played on side two. There’s no edge to the sound and plenty of Tubey Magic.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning
Cycles
Moment to Moment
A Day in the Life of a Fool
Watch What Happens
By the Time I Get to Phoenix

Side Two

Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet
The Windmills of Your Mind
When I Look in Your Eyes
Meditation
Dream a Little Dream of Me

AMG  Review

The album itself reached the Top Five and was certified gold. A Warm Shade of Ivory is a lovely, contemplative collection that combines Mancini’s skills in new and unequivocally successful ways.