- With excellent Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides, this Sinatra title surprised us with its DEMO DISC sound
- Clearly one of the better sounding Reprise-era Sinatra pressings we have ever played
- Credit must given to the extraordinarily inventive arrangements of Nelson Riddle and the All Tube engineering of Lee Herschberg
- “Sinatra’s singing is relaxed, confident, and surprisingly jazzy, as he plays with the melody of “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” and delivers a knockout punch with the assured, breathtaking “Summer Wind.”
We cannot recommend this pressing highly enough. If you want to know what the best sounding Sinatra records sound like, this is your chance. Folks, in my opinion it simply does not get any better than a killer White Hot Stamper of Strangers In The Night.
These originals are the only way to go for ’60s Sinatra, but finding them in good shape on quiet vinyl is no picnic and only a few of them actually sound the way we want them to. It’s a real treat to be in the presence of the Chairman Of The Board, in his prime, working his magic — but only an exceptional copy like this one has the power to put him right in the room with you.
What to Listen For
The Tubey Magic has to be heard to be believed. I cannot recall hearing a richer, smoother, tubier Frank Sinatra album in all my born days.
Weighty brass is key to the sound of more than just the horn section. Any leanness or thinness in the brass is instantly heard as Sinatra without weight and richness to his voice. This is the instantly recognizable sound of most reissues, the main reason we stopped buying them years ago. Having played so many amazing original stereo pressings for our shootouts over the years we don’t think that will change anytime soon. There simply is no substitute for a clean stereo pressing on the original label.
Full, Rich, Breathy, Present vocals are obviously critically important as well. This copy delivers some of the best we heard.
On this copy the orchestra and band are putting out plenty of low end, reaching down well into whomp land. It’s a thrill to hear to hear that sound on these swinging arrangements coming out of my speakers.
And of course the copies that are rich and tubey but also big, clear and open did the best in our shootout.
What the Best Sides of Strangers in the Night 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.
The famous title track is from a different session and does not sound as good as the rest of the album, so skip right to Summer Wind — now that’s Sinatra at his nice and easy best, with sound to match.
What We’re Listening For on Strangers In The Night
- 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.
- Frank Sinatra – vocals
- Nelson Riddle – arranger, conductor
- Glen Campbell – guitar
- Leon Russell – piano
- Arranger: Ernie Freeman (Track 1)
- The Nelson Riddle Orchestra
Lee Herschberg, Engineer Extraordinaire
One of the top guys at Warners and Reprise, Lee engineered this album as well as a great many others for Sinatra. You’ll find Herschberg’s name in the credits of many of the best albums by Ry Cooder, The Doobie Brothers and Gordon Lightfoot, titles we know to have excellent sound on the best copies — not to mention an album most audiophiles know all too well, Rickie Lee Jones’ debut. His pop and rock engineering credits run for pages.
The most amazing jazz piano trio recording we know of is on the list of his credits as well: The Three (Shelly Manne, Ray Brown and Joe Sample), as well as most of the other Direct to Disc recordings released on Eastwind.
The album that gets my vote for Herschberg’s Pop Engineering Masterpiece would have to be Michael McDonald’s If That’s What It Takes. On the best copies the sound is out of this world.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
Strangers in the Night
All or Nothing at All
You’re Driving Me Crazy!
On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)
My Baby Just Cares for Me
Yes Sir, That’s My Baby
The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
Strangers in the Night marked Frank Sinatra’s return to the top of the pop charts in the mid-’60s, and it consolidated the comeback he started in 1965. Although he later claimed he disliked the title track, the album was an inventive, rich effort from Sinatra, one that established him as a still-viable star to a wide, mainstream audience without losing the core of his sound.
Combining pop hits (“Downtown,” “On a Clear Day [You Can See Forever],” “Call Me”) with show tunes and standards, the album creates a delicate but comfortable balance between big band and pop instrumentation. Using strings, horns, and an organ, Nelson Riddle constructed an easy, deceptively swinging sound that appealed to both Sinatra’s dedicated fans and pop radio.
And Sinatra’s singing is relaxed, confident, and surprisingly jazzy, as he plays with the melody of “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” and delivers a knockout punch with the assured, breathtaking “Summer Wind.” Although he would not record another album with Riddle again, Sinatra would expand the approach of Strangers in the Night for the rest of the decade.