Frank Sinatra – September of My Years

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from top to bottom
  • An especially Tubey Magical Male Vocal recording, but that sound is only found on the best Blue Green original Reprise stereo pressings – like this one
  • These sides are exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied – Frank is right in the room with you on this one
  • 5 stars: (“One of Frank Sinatra’s triumphs of the ’60s”) and Grammy Album of the Year for 1967

It’s not easy to find good sounding copies of any of Sinatra’s albums, but we managed to find a few very good copies of this one, an album that earned the Grammy Album of the Year for 1967 and Five Big Stars in the venerable All Music Guide. The music is indeed hard to fault. Finding the right pressing of the recording of that music is another thing entirely. That’s where we come into the picture.

This ’60s LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot 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 Frank Sinatra 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 53 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 September Of My Years 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 1965
  • 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.

Finding The Best Copies

Most copies suffer from a serious lack of immediacy, and what fun is that? Hot Stamper copies put Frank right up front, with the presence needed to carry his vocals out in front of the orchestra. Even the copies that get the voice right often run into problems with the strings of the orchestra, but the Hot Stamper sides do a much better job of dealing with the various issues presented by the recording.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep the strings 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.

And we know a fair bit about the man’s recordings at this point. As of today, we’ve done commentaries for more than 21 different Sinatra shootouts, and that’s not counting at least another ten titles that either bombed or were sold off years ago.

We’ve searched high and low for his records and played them by the score over the years. We plan to keep a good supply on the site in the coming years so watch for new arrivals in the Vocal section (linked to the left).

What We’re Listening For on September Of My Years

  • 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.

Gordon Jenkins

We want to give a special shoutout here to conductor/arranger Gordon Jenkins, who also handled the same duties very capably on Nilsson’s great A Little Touch Of Schmillson In The Night, another male vocal album that can sound amazing and deserves a place in any collection.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The September of My Years
How Old Am I?
Don’t Wait Too Long
It Gets Lonely Early
This Is All I Ask
Last Night When We Were Young
The Man in the Looking Glass

Side Two

It Was a Very Good Year
When the Wind Was Green
Hello, Young Lovers
I See It Now
Once Upon a Time
September Song

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

September of My Years is one of Frank Sinatra’s triumphs of the ’60s, an album that consolidated his strengths while moving him into new territory, primarily in terms of tone. More than the double-disc set A Man and His Music — which was released a year after this album — September of My Years captures how Sinatra was at the time of his 50th birthday.

Gordon Jenkins’ rich, stately, and melancholy arrangements give the album an appropriate reflective atmosphere. Most of the songs are new or relatively recent numbers; every cut fits into a loose theme of aging, reflection, and regret.

Sinatra, however, doesn’t seem stuck in his ways — though the songs are rooted in traditional pop, they touch on folk and contemporary pop. As such, the album offered a perfect summary, as well as suggesting future routes for the singer.