- With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this early Capitol Rainbow Label stereo pressing will be very hard to beat – fairly quiet vinyl too
- With especially rich, intimate and natural vocal reproduction, this side one was close to the best we played of Nat’s wonderful “songs of love and loss”
- If all you know are the weirdly unnatural remixes DCC did (or the dreadful Analogue Productions pressings), this LP will be nothing less than a revelation
- “His rich and cozy baritone carries the ache of “Am I Blue?” and the slinky “I Keep Goin’ Back to Joe’s” into an understated, almost plaintive blues. Here he perfectly demonstrates a boundless capacity as a melodic interpreter of song.”
- The early mono pressing we played was crude, gritty and dark, a finding we considered unsurprising since so manyof the mono pressings from this era are just awful, so we say Skip the Mono.
- (For records that we think sound best in mono, click here.)
Where Did Everyone Go? is the third and final collaboration between Gordon Jenkins and Nat King Cole, and like the first two, we think it belongs in any audiophile record collection worthy of the name. And if you have any horrid Heavy Vinyl LP of Nat King Cole’s music (the only one found passable was the one done on S&P), now is the time to play them against your new Hot Stamper pressing, recognize their manifold shortcomings, and get them out of your collection and into the hands of the Heavy Vinyl True Believers.
One of the key elements we noticed on the best of the best was the relaxed quality of Nat’s performance. He seems to sings so effortlessly (even more effortlessly than usual!) on the better sounding pressings. On other pressings that casual quality is not nearly as evident.
Warmth and sweetness were also important, the distinctive and unmistakable hallmarks of vintage All Tube Analog. These qualities combined to make the music on each of these sides as thoroughly involving and enchanting as practically any album of its kind we have ever offered.
Tubey Magic Is Key
This vintage Capitol stereo LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely 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 in the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Nat King Cole 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 62+ 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 Where Did Everyone Go? have to offer is not hard to hear:
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
- 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 1963
- 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
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.
Naturally we’re always on the lookout for Nat King Cole records with good sound. In our experience finding them is not nearly as easy as one might think it would be. Far too many of his recordings are drenched in bad reverb, with sound that simply can’t be taken seriously — fine for old consoles but not so good on modern audiophile equipment.
At least one we know of has his voice out of phase with the orchestra on most copies, which put a quick end to any hope of finishing the shootout we had started.
If anything the sound on his albums gets even worse in the ’60s. Many of Nat’s albums from that decade are over-produced, bright, thin and shrill.
We assume most audiophiles got turned on to his music from the records that Steve Hoffman remixed and remastered for DCC back in the mid-’90s, For those of you who were customers of ours back then, you know that I count myself among that group. I even went so far as to nominate the DCC of Nat’s Greatest Hits as the best album DCC ever made. (I know now, as I expect you do, that that’s really not saying much, but at the time I thought it was a pretty bold statement.)
What We’re Listening For on Love Is The Thing
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- 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 common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Devoting the Resources
Naturally, having long ago given up on Heavy Vinyl LPs by DCC and others of their remastering persuasion, these days we are in a much better position to devote our resources to playing every Nat King Cole album on every pressing we can get our hands on, trying to figure out what are the copies — from what era, on what label, with what stampers, cut by whom, stereo or mono, import or domestic — that potentially have the Hot Stamper sound, the very Raison d’être of our business.
It’s All In The Game
When I Fall In Love
When Sunny Gets Blue
Love Is The Thing
Stay As Sweet As You Are
I Thought About Marie
Where Can I Go Without You
This is the third and final collection to feature the team of Nat King Cole and Gordon Jenkins (arranger). Their earlier collaborations yielded the uniformly superior chart-topper Love Is the Thing (1957) and follow-up The Very Thought of You (1958).
As the moniker suggests, there is a perceptible poignancy and longing weaved throughout Jenkins’ arrangements. The opener “Where Did Everyone Go?” possesses a solitude accentuated by responsive instrumentation that supports, yet never intrudes. Cole’s practically conversational delivery of pop standards — such as Irving Berlin’s “Say It Isn’t So” or Johnny Mercer’s “When the World Was Young” — become musical soliloquies with the score as a sonic subtext. His rich and cozy baritone carries the ache of “Am I Blue?” and the slinky “I Keep Goin’ Back to Joe’s” into an understated, almost plaintive blues. Here he perfectly demonstrates a boundless capacity as a melodic interpreter of song.
“No, I Don’t Want Her” finds Cole’s voice gilded with an intimacy that virtually takes the listener into the singer’s confidence. As he had done on his previous outings with Cole, Jenkins supplies one selection. Suitably “That’s All There Is, There Isn’t Any More” is the last track on the album and certainly provides a lovely contrast to Judy Garland’s arguably more familiar reading.