A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
The space is HUGE and the sound so rich. The vocals have dramatically less hardness and the orchestra — especially on side two — is not brash for once.
Prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic as well, which is key to the best sounding copies. The sound needs weight, warmth and tubes or you might as well be playing a CD.
Take it from an Ella fan, you can’t go wrong with this one, assuming you can put up with some ticky vinyl. This is about as quiet as we can find them. Like Someone in Love is five times more rare than Clap Hands, and twice as likely to be noisy.
The sound is rich and full-bodied in the best tradition of a classic vintage jazz vocal album. You could easily demonstrate your stereo with a record this good, but what you would really be demonstrating is music that the listener probably hasn’t heard, and that’s the best reason to demonstrate a stereo!
What to Listen For (WTLF)
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep Frank Devol’s string arrangements from becoming shrill) 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’re glad to report this copy was doing more of what we wanted it to do than any other we played.
And we know a fair bit about Ella’s recordings at this point. As of today we’ve done commentaries for more than a dozen different Ella Fitzgerald albums, and that’s not counting the sixteen (yes, 16!) titles we put in our Hall of Shame.
We’ve searched high and low for her 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 the left).
Hardness and Brashness
Want to know what we are on about with all this talk of hardness and brashness? Easy, just play the average copy. Unless you have been exceptionally fortunate to have chanced upon a properly mastered and pressed and cared for copy, you will hear plenty of both.
It’s one of the main reasons we have such a hard time doing shootouts for Ella’s ’50s and ’60s albums. The other of course is the poor condition most copies are in. Few pressings do not have marks that play or damaged grooves. The record players of the ’50s and ’60s, not to mention their owners, were ruinous on the albums of the day.
Which is simply another reason not to expect another top copy of this album to come to the site any time soon. Give us two or three years or so and we might be able to find another batch with which to do a shootout. In that time we will surely look at fifty copies, buy ten, and end up with five that are worth playing.
Obviously we wouldn’t bother if the music and sound weren’t so good. When you are lucky enough to find a copy that sounds as good as this one, full of standards from the Great American Songbook, you cannot help but recognize that this era for Ella will never be equaled, by her or anyone else.
There’s A Lull In My Life
More Than You Know
What Will I Tell My Heart
I Never Had A Chance
Close Your Eyes
We’ll Be Together Again
Then I’ll Be Tired Of You
Like Someone In Love
I Thought About You
How Long Has This Been Going On
Ella Fitzgerald was accompanied by an orchestra arranged by Frank DeVol for this fine studio session. Most of the songs are veteran standards, Stan Getz’s warm tenor helps out on four tunes, and — although this is not an essential release — her voice was so strong and appealing during this era that all of her recordings from the mid- to late ’50s are enjoyable and easily recommended.
The First Lady of Song
Ella Fitzgerald was arguably the finest female jazz singer of all time. Blessed with a beautiful voice and a wide range, Fitzgerald could outswing anyone, was a brilliant scat singer, and had near-perfect elocution; one could always understand the words she sang. When one evaluates her career on a whole, there is simply no one else in her class.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.