Billie Holiday – All Or Nothing At All

More Billie Holiday

More Titles that Sound Best in Mono

  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound on all four sides – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • This 2 LP set features most of the tracks from the original release plus another handful of recordings from the same period (1955-1956)
  • It’s one of the better sounding Billie Holiday records we’ve heard, any guaranteed to beat any Heavy Vinyl reissue you’ve wasted your money on
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… features some of Billie Holiday’s top Verve performances from the mid-’50s… she runs the emotional gamut from summery optimism to pathos-rich musings. Befitting her perennial after-hours mood, the majority of songs here feature Holiday in a low-down mood of the highest order.”

Naturally, the highest quality vocal reproduction has to be the main focus on a Hot Stamper pressing for any Billie Holiday record we would offer. Her voice should be rich and tubey, yet clear, breathy and present.

In addition to being tonally correct and natural, the pressings we offer must also be highly resolving. With the right room and the right equipment, properly setup and adjusted of course, you will hear everything that these vintage recordings have to offer, including the three-dimensional space of the studios in which the various sessions were recorded, under the auspices of Norman Granz.

The Sound of the Original

The original Trumpet Player Verve mono we had on hand to play suffered from an EQ problem we frequently run into during our shootouts for vintage vocal albums. Actually, to be clear, there were two main problems in the case of All or Nothing At All: a boosted midrange and occasional quite serious sibilance issues.

Ella Fitzgerald’s albums can suffer from these same two problems. It’s a trick to find the copies that are tonally correct in the midrange and do not have the kind of cutter head distortions that result in excessive sibilance.

What the Best Sides of All Or Nothing At All Have 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 1959
  • 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.

Old and New Work Well Together

This reissue is spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the ’70s. We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 40 years ago, not the dubious modern mastering of today.

The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on these four superb sides.

We were impressed with the fact that these pressings excel in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it — odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us — was just how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be — on the right pressing.

What We’re Listening For on All Or Nothing At All

  • 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 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.

Mono Vs. Fake Stereo

The mono remastering — on the right pressings, obviously — can be superb. We found out to our chagrin that this particular double album had been cut by a number of different mastering houses, with wildly varying results. In a way we were lucky; had we heard the bad ones early on we would never have been motivated to buy more of them and get the shootout going.

The Sessions

  • Tracks A1 to A6: Recorded in Los Angeles, August 23-25, 1955
  • Tracks B1 to C2: Recorded in New York, June 6-7, 1956
  • Tracks C3 to D1: Recorded in Los Angeles, August 14, 1956
  • Tracks D2 to D5: Recorded in Los Angeles, August 18, 1956

The Players

  • Bass – Joe Mondragon
  • Bass – John Simmons
  • Clarinet – Tony Scott
  • Drums – Alvin Stoller
  • Drums – Larry Bunker
  • Drums – Lenny McBrowne
  • Guitar – Barney Kessel
  • Guitar – Kenny Burrell
  • Piano – Jimmy Rowles
  • Piano – Wynton Kelly
  • Saxophone – Ben Webster
  • Saxophone – Benny Carter
  • Saxophone – Paul Quinichette
  • Trumpet – Charlie Shavers
  • Trumpet – Harry Edison


Side One

A Fine Romance
Isn’t This A Lovely Day
Everything I Have Is Yours
What’s New
I Get A Kick Out Of You
I Hadn’t Anyone Till You

Side Two

Trav’lin’ Light
I Must Have That Man
Some Other Spring
Strange Fruit
No Good Man
Lady Sings The Blues

Side Three

God Bless The Child
Good Morning Heartache
Cheek To Cheek (From the original album)
Ill Wind (From the original album)
Speak Low (From the original album)

Side Four

Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me (From the original album)
Sophisticated Lady (From the original album)
All Or Nothing At All (From the original album)
April In Paris (From the original album)
We’ll Be Together Again (From the original album)

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

… features some of Billie Holiday’s top Verve performances from the mid-’50s… she runs the emotional gamut from summery optimism to pathos-rich musings. Befitting her perennial after-hours mood while at the label, the majority of songs here feature Holiday in a low-down mood of the highest order.

The supporting cast isn’t bad either, what with the likes of Harry Eddison, Barney Kessel, Ben Webster, and Jimmy Rowles tagging along. A gem.

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