Sammy Davis Jr. – Sings The Big Ones For Young Lovers

More Sammy Davis, Jr.

Sammy Davis, Jr. Albums We’ve Reviewed

  • You will find amazing sound on both sides of this original Reprise stereo pressing
  • “Sammy Davis, who is widely acclaimed to be the greatest all-around-entertainment talent of our times, here swings thru an album filled with the greatest songs he’s ever tackled in his entire recording career. The result ? It has to be the greatest album Sammy’s ever recorded.”
  • 4 stars: “…[a] dozen-song outing, supported by some irresistible backdrops courtesy of arrangers Jimmie Haskell and Perry Botkin Jr… Sings the Big Ones for Young Lovers primarily consists of well-known covers…”
  • If you’re a fan of Sammy’s, this 1964 release belongs in your collection.

There are an awful lot of bad-sounding Sammy Davis, Jr. records out there. We must have played at least a half-dozen hard, honky, sour-sounding copies before we ran into this forgotten gem. (Dean Martin’s albums are the same way; maybe one out of ten sound good and the rest are beyond terrible.)

What separates the best copies from the also-rans is more than just rich, sweet, full-bodied sound. The better copies make Sammy’s voice more palpable — he’s simply more of a solid, three-dimensional, real presence between the speakers. You can hear the nuances of his delivery much, MUCH more clearly on a copy that sounds as good as this does.

What the Best Sides of Sammy Davis Sings The Big Ones For Young Lovers 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 1964
  • 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.

This vintage Reprise LP from 1964 has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with Sammy and the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, 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 maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What We’re Listening For on Sings The Big Ones For Young Lovers

  • 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.

Vinyl Condition

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 recordings.

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.


Side One

Kansas City 
Don’t Shut Me Out 
Deep Purple 
Walk Right In 
I Left My Heart In San Francisco 

Side Two

Days Of Wine And Roses 
Blue Velvet 
Not For Me 
I Wanna Be Around 
It’s All In The Game 
Fools Rush In

AMG 4 Star Review

Sammy Davis, Jr. followed up 1964’s The Shelter of Your Arms — his highest charting long-player to date — with this dozen-song outing, supported by some irresistible backdrops courtesy of arrangers Jimmie Haskell and Perry Botkin Jr. Rather than another collection of show tunes and standards from the American popular music canon, Sings the Big Ones for Young Lovers primarily consists of well-known covers, including a handful of early rock & roll selections such as Leiber & Stoller’s “Kansas City” and the frisky and loose remake of “Walk Right In,” which Davis belts and scats into an uptempo swinger.

Decidedly less bombastic yet instinctually grooving is the undulating bossa nova rhythm on “Days of Wine and Roses,” while Davis’ mellow and easygoing take of “Deep Purple” finds the vocalist weaving around a woozy string arrangement and a steadily driving backbeat. Of equal note are the ballads that the artist so ably reinvents and, in doing so, intimately personalizes. “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” is given a brass-intensive upgrade, matching Davis’ hearty intonations.

By contrast, “Deep Purple” bears a noticeable Baroque feel thanks to its quaintly effective harpsichord accompaniment. Although “I Wanna Be Around” commences with a sole acoustic guitar, it isn’t long before the full ensemble kicks the affair up a notch, turning in a profound and powerful moment. On the softer side, Davis updates “It’s All in the Game,” replacing the incessant doo wop score heard on Tommy Edwards’ 1958 version with the charm and allure of an affective ballad, creating a coziness and maturity conspicuously absent from the more familiar reading.

Skip the Mono

This album is fairly common in mono but we found the sound of the mono pressing we played seriously wanting. It was dramatically harder and less natural than even the worst of the stereo LPs we played. We’ll never buy another, although if one came my way in a collection I might drop the needle on it to see if every pressing is as bad as the one we had. In the world of records you just never know.

Here are some records that we’ve found have the potential to sound amazing in MONO.

Here are some other records that we don’t think sound very good in MONO.