- Miss Christy’s Must Own Masterpiece returns to the site, this time with stunning Triple Triple (A+++) Mono Hot Stamper sound
- Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many remastered records? This 1955 original Capitol turquoise pressing is overflowing with it
- One of our favorite Cool School vocalists – we just wish we could find more clean copies of her albums
- Allmusic 5 Stars: “Christy established herself as an artist who strove for the very best in song selection, arrangements, and notably intelligent interpretation. There were perhaps other vocalists with greater vocal equipment, but few could match June Christy’s artistic integrity.”
We are HUGE fans of this album at Better Records, but it’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble!
The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Get the volume just right and June will be standing between your speakers and putting on the performance of a lifetime. This is one of our three or four favorite female vocal albums (along with Clap Hands, Julie Is her Name and not many others!) and this amazingly good copy will show you why — the sound and music are As Good As It Gets.
This early mono pressing is the only way to find the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from modern records. As good as the best of those pressings may be, this record is dramatically more REAL sounding.
She’s no longer a recording — she’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. Her voice is so rich, sweet, and free of artificiality you cannot help but find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.
Both sides of this 1955 All Tube Recorded and Mastered record are just as rich and relaxed as you would expect. The balance is correct, which means the top is there as well as the bottom, with good vocal presence throughout.
Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here. You could certainly demonstrate your stereo with a record this good, even one that’s not nearly this good, because this one is off the charts.
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 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 1955
- 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 We Listen For on Something Cool
- 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.
It’s very rare that a Shootout Winning copy of a classic June Christy album from the 1955 would have vinyl this quiet, Mint Minus Minus with no groove damage, even on the inner grooves. I can’t recall the last time that happened, and the more I think about it, I don’t believe it ever has.
It Could Happen To You
This Time The Dream’s On Me
The Night We Called It A Day
I’ll Take Romance
A Stranger Called The Blues
I Should Care
Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise
June Christy’s Something Cool, originally released as a 10″ LP in 1954, single-handedly inaugurated the cool jazz vocal movement.
Christy had been a star vocalist with the Stan Kenton Orchestra in the late ’40s, enjoying major hits with “Tampico” and “Shoo Fly Pie & Apple Pan Dowdy.” Soon after she left the band, she began working with key Kenton arranger Pete Rugolo and a slew of top West Coast studio musicians (including her husband, tenor saxophonist Bob Cooper) on her first solo album for Capitol Records.
The result was Something Cool, which is both a winning showcase for Christy’s wistful style and a landmark of cool jazz modernism. From the start, Christy established herself as an artist who strove for the very best in song selection, arrangements, and notably intelligent interpretation. There were perhaps other vocalists with greater vocal equipment, but few could match June Christy’s artistic integrity.
The celebrated title track is the soliloquy of a female barfly of a certain age, reminiscing (and fantasizing) about better days to a fellow male patron who just might buy her another drink. It immediately became Christy’s signature performance, and remained so throughout her career. Other highlights include a swinging “It Could Happen to You,” “Midnight Sun,” and an ambitious arrangement of Kurt Weill’s “Lonely House.”
For those of you who have tried ’50s Capitol pressings in the past — those by Frank Sinatra perhaps? — you know that finding clean copies with audiophile sonics and decent surfaces is almost impossible. There are three major hurdles that any pressing has to get over, and they are:
Groove damage caused by old turntables with heavy arms, worn cartridges and no anti-skate device to prevent inner groove distortion. If the grooves get progressively noisier for the last inch of the record or so, that’s groove damage, something we check for on every vintage pressing we play.
Scratched and noisy vinyl. Most of the copies you run into were pressed on bad vinyl to start with, then played when they were dirty, a deadly combination. Cleaning helps but no amount of cleaning can fix bad vinyl or surfaces that have dirt ground into them. Those kinds of records get marked so don’t buy them again and dumped off at a local store.
And finally, bad mastering. Many early pressings — most copies of Something Cool just to take one example — have no high frequencies whatsoever, topping out at about 8k or so. This may not be such a problem for an old console stereo with a coax whizzer for a tweeter, but it presents quite a big problem for a modern full-range stereo like I and you own.
R.M. Cook and Brian Morton, writers of The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, appreciated the singer’s body of work: “Christy’s wholesome but particularly sensuous voice is less an improviser’s vehicle than an instrument for long, controlled lines and the shading of a fine vibrato. Her greatest moments—the heartbreaking ‘Something Cool’ itself, ‘Midnight Sun,’ ‘I Should Care’—are as close to creating definitive interpretations as any singer can come.”