Nat King Cole – Nat King Cole Sings / George Shearing Plays

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  • This wonderful collaboration finally returns with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides
  • Two masters come together here to create a compilation of timeless arrangements still appreciated by both music lovers and audiophiles to this day
  • It’s tough to find top quality pressings of Nat King Cole’s recordings in audiophile playing condition – this All Tube Recording from the early ’60s is your chance to hear just how rich and real he could sound in his prime
  • 4 stars: “Cole is in prime form on such songs as ‘September Song,’ ‘Pick Yourself Up,’ and ‘Serenata.’ Shearing’s accompaniment is tasteful and lightly swinging, and the string arrangements help to accentuate the romantic moods.”

The better pressings of this unique collaboration between Nat King Cole and George Shearing put Cole’s voice right up front with lovely breath and natural texture. On the better copies such as this one, the Nat’s vocals are full-bodied, the piano has real weight, and the soundfield is open and transparent. If you want a great-sounding male vocal LP in your collection, this one will do the trick nicely.

The reissue pressings rarely sounded right to us. In addition, the mono copies were uniformly awful — small, congested and gritty. Our Hot Stamper pressings — even the lowest-graded copies we offer –are sure to give you fuller vocals, more transparency, more weight to the piano and, of course, the tubey warmth of vintage analog.

This early ’60s Capitol 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 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 59 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 Nat King Cole Sings / George Shearing Plays 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 1962
  • 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.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top 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’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Nat King Cole Sings / George Shearing Plays

  • 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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

September Song 
Pick Yourself Up 
I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good) 
Let There Be Love 
Azure-Te 
Lost April

Side Two

A Beautiful Friendship 
Fly Me to the Moon 
Serenata 
I’m Lost 
There’s a Lull in My Life 
Don’t Go

AMG 4 Star Review

Although it would have been interesting to hear Nat Cole play some piano and perhaps accompany a vocal by George Shearing instead of exclusively the other way around, this session was a big success. Cole is in prime form on such songs as “September Song,” “Pick Yourself Up,” and “Serenata.” Shearing’s accompaniment is tasteful and lightly swinging, and the string arrangements help to accentuate the romantic moods.