Frank Sinatra – That’s Life

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This original Reprise LP has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues. It gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in front of you. 

He’s no longer a recording — he’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. His voice is rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality. You immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.

Reprise pressings — like every label’s pressings — are all over the map. When you find a good one, you can be pretty sure it’s the exception, not the rule.

We know a fair bit about the man’s recordings at this point. As of today we’ve done commentaries for 30 different Sinatra shootouts, and that’s not even counting the other titles that either bombed or were sold off years ago.

An Orchestra Needs This Kind of Space

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with plenty of room for all of the players. These copies are not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings are just plain more involving. When you hear a copy that does all that — a copy like this one — it’s an entirely different listening experience.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

That’s Life
I Will Wait For You
Somewhere My Love
Sand And Sea
What Now My Love

Side Two

Winchester Cathedral
Give Her Love
Tell Her (You Love Her Each Day)
The Impossible Dream
You’re Gonna Hear From Me

AMG Review

Following the across-the-board success of Strangers in the Night, That’s Life continued Frank Sinatra’s streak of commercially successful albums that straddled the line between traditional and contemporary pop music. Adding more pop music techniques to his repertoire of show tunes, That’s Life made contemporary pop concessions while satisfying Sinatra’s own taste for weightier, more respected material.

Learning the Record

For our shootout for That’s Life we had at our disposal a number of early pressings we thought should have the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman’d it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for sides two, three and four.

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the other pressings do not do as well, using a few carefully chosen passages of music, it quickly becomes obvious how well a given copy can reproduce those passages. You’ll hear what’s better and worse — right and wrong would be another way of putting it — about the sound.

This approach is simplicity itself. First you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle — or fail — to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.

It may be a lot of work but it sure ain’t rocket science, and we never pretended it was. Just the opposite: from day one we’ve explained step by step precisely how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection.

Do It Again

As your stereo and room improve, as you take advantage of new cleaning technologies, as you find new and interesting pressings to evaluate, you may even be inclined to do the shootout all over again, to find the hidden gem, the killer copy that blows away what you thought was the best.

You can’t find it by looking at it. You have to clean it and play it, and always against other pressings of the same album. There is no other way to go about it if you want to be successful in your hunt for the Ultimate Pressing.

For the more popular records on the site such as the Beatles titles we have easily done more than twenty, maybe even as many as thirty to forty shootouts.

And very likely learned something new from every one

Mono Vs. Stereo

Stick with stereo on this album. The Mono pressings — at least the ones we’ve played — aren’t worth anybody’s time (scratch that: any audiophile’s time).

Here are some other records that we don’t think sound very good in MONO.

Here are some we think can sound amazing in MONO.