- This original Blue and Green Reprise Stereo pressing boasts outstanding sound on all four sides
- Truly one of the greatest live albums of all time, recorded late at night in the big room at the Sands Hotel in Vegas
- This is Basie and Sinatra in their natural habitat and in their prime, putting on the show of a lifetime
- On the right system this is about as close as you get to hearing Sinatra singing live in your listening room, with the added realism of a live Vegas show
- 4 1/2 stars: “Basie and the orchestra are swinging and dynamic, inspiring a textured, dramatic, and thoroughly enjoyable performance from Sinatra … the definitive portrait of Frank Sinatra in the ’60s.”
*NOTE: On side three, a mark makes 10 light ticks at the end of Track 3 and 10 moderate pops at the beginning of Track 4.
This double album presents Sinatra and Basie at the height of their powers, in a setting especially conducive to both men’s music, the big room at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. If you missed it — and I’m sure most all of us did — here’s your chance to go back in time and be seated with the beautiful people front row center. This two-disc all tube-mastered analog set is practically the only way you’ll ever be able to hear the greatest vocalist of his generation — in his prime no less — fronting one of the swingingest big bands of the time.
The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Turn it up and Frank is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime.
The sound is big, open, rich, and full. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy. And this copy gives you more life and energy than most, by a long shot. Very few records out there offer the kind of realistic, lifelike sound you get from this pressing.
This vintage stereo LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues. As good as some of them can be, this one is dramatically more real sounding. 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 so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music because there’s no “sound” to distract you.
What the Best Sides of Sinatra At The Sands 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 1966
- 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 to Listen for
There is some edge on Sinatra’s voice on every side of every copy; it’s so common it’s got to be on the tape. Those copies with less edge and grit on the vocals which are not overly smooth or dull tend to do very well in our shootouts.
Also, richness is very important. We look for a combination of rich, Tubey Magical sound that still maintains a fair amount of space, clarity, transparency, and freedom from smear.
The original label pressings (always in stereo; the monos are really a joke) are richer and thicker as a rule.
The pressings with the orange two-tone labels tend to be thinner and clearer. A high percentage of them are way too modern, bright, and gritty, and we throw them right in the trade-in pile.
Finding the copy with “best of both worlds” sound is the trick. Pressings on both labels have won shootouts in the past. With this album, we do what we always do. We play the record without looking at the label and simply grade the quality of the sound coming out of the speakers. Any other approach is liable to fall prey to unconscious biases. As we like to say, record shootouts may not be rocket science, but they’re a science of a kind, one with strict protocols developed over the course of many years to ensure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can possibly make them.
My First Time
Back in the early ’70s this was actually the album that first introduced me to honest-to-goodness “audiophile” sound.
I was at my local stereo store listening to speakers one day, and the salesman commented that the speakers we were listening to (the old Infinity Monitors with the Walsh tweeter) sounded “boxy”. I confessed to him that I didn’t actually know what that meant or what it would sound like if it weren’t boxy.
So he hooked up a pair of Dahlquist DQ-10s and put Sinatra at the Sands on. I was amazed at how the sound just floated in the room, free from the speakers, presenting an image that was as wide and deep as the showroom we were in. That speaker may have many flaws, but boxiness is definitely not one of them.
A Must Own Sinatra Album
This Demo Disc Quality recording should be part of any serious Vocal Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
Come Fly With Me
I’ve Got a Crush on You
I’ve Got You Under My Skin
The Shadow of Your Smile
Street of Dreams
One for My Baby (And One More for the…
Fly Me to the Moon
One of the best tracks on the album. It can have SUPERB sound!
One O’Clock Jump
The Tea Break
You Make Me Feel So Young
All of Me
The September of My Years
Another high point and one of the best reasons to own this album. This is a much better performance than the famous studio version which was such a big hit in its day.
Luck Be a Lady
Get Me to the Church on Time
It Was a Very Good Year
Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me
Where or When
My Kind of Town
A Few Last Words
My Kind of Town (Reprise)
AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review
In many ways, Sinatra at the Sands is the definitive portrait of Frank Sinatra in the ’60s. Recorded in April of 1966, At the Sands is the first commercially released live Frank Sinatra album, recorded at a relaxed Las Vegas club show. For these dates at the Sands, Sinatra worked with Count Basie and his orchestra, which was conducted by Quincy Jones.
Like any of his concerts, the material was fairly predictable, with his standard show numbers punctuated by some nice surprises. Throughout the show, Sinatra is in fine voice, turning in a particularly affecting version of “Angel Eyes.” He is also in fine humor, constantly joking with the audience and the band, as well as delivering an entertaining, if rambling, monologue halfway through the album. Some of the humor has dated poorly, appearing insensitive, but that sentiment cannot be applied to the music.
Basie and the orchestra are swinging and dynamic, inspiring a textured, dramatic, and thoroughly enjoyable performance from Sinatra.