Nat King Cole / Love Is the Thing – Remixed and Remastered

More of the Music of Nat “King” Cole

More Hot Stamper Pressings of Pop and Jazz Vocal Albums

With a Sound I’ve Grown to Detest

I really liked the Nat King Cole albums on DCC when they came out back in the ’90s. Thought they were a revelation as a matter of fact.

Now I find them insufferable. Here are some of my reasons for not liking Hoffman’s remix.

Nat’s voice is much too forward and loud in the mix; consequently the orchestra is too soft. The balance is off. At least on my stereo, at the levels I play the record at, the balance seems off. You surely have a different system, in a different room, and may not feel the way I do.

But without a top pressing to compare, how do you know the mix is right or wrong? Like everything in audio, it’s relative.

The balance problem is bad enough, but what really sets my teeth on edge is the fact that the Nat King Cole record on DCC doesn’t sound remotely like any Nat King Cole record I have ever heard, outside of the ones Hoffman worked on of course.

Where is all the Capitol reverb? Nat’s records all have it, and although the reverb may be a bit excessive or unnatural in some ways, at least to some people, when you take it away you end up with a sound that never existed before, and, to my ears, it’s a sound that’s just wrong for the music.

The more I listened to the DCC the less I liked it.

The first full-length commentary I ever wrote in my record catalog in 1994 took Analogue Productions to task for remastering Way Out West and giving it a “new sound,” a sound I had never heard coming from any Contemporary pressing, from any era.

I didn’t like what Doug Sax did with Way Out West, Jazz Giant, Waltz for Debby and many, many others, and I don’t like what Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray did to Love Is the Thing, The Very Thought of You and Just One Of Those Things.

I have tried to listen to the Gold CD in my car, but even in the car I found the sound boring and insufferable.

Is this the kind of sound you hear on your DCC Nat King Cole records? If it is, we recommend you try a Hot Stamper. If it doesn’t kill your DCC you get your money back.

At the very least it will show you some of the things your DCC is doing differently, and, we think, wrong.

Commentary from a Recent Shootout

So the records that did well in our shootout ranged from mid-’60s Capitol Rainbow label pressings, to later pressings with green, orange, yellow or purple labels — more or less every color label they saw fit to print.

It sure would have been nice to have been able to figure out what “The Right Label Pressing” was during the course of our shootout, but it just didn’t happen.

No matter. We have to play each and every one of the records we’ve cleaned for our shootout anyway, whether we think it’s potentially the best pressing or not. There is no other way to do it. Right Stamper, Wrong Sound is an undeniable reality in the world of records. It’s not unheard of for the same stampers to win a shootout, do moderately well on another copy and then come in dead last on a third.

Interestingly, the only label that had consistently bad sound was the mono Black label original.

The presence and immediacy here of Nat King Cole’s vocals are ’50s Capitol Recording Magic at its best. Set the volume right and Nat is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. The selection of material and the contributions of all involved (Nelson Riddle among them) are hard to fault.

Here it is – only the second Hot Stamper copy of Nat’s classic 1957 release to ever hit the site, and what a pressing it is! It’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make the shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble.

The sound is big, open, rich and full, with loads of Tubey Magic. The highs are extended and silky sweet.

Midrange Magic to Die For

This early Capitol mono LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s no doubt missing from the modern reissues. Nat’s voice is sounds so right — not necessarily natural, but correct for the vocal style of the era — you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s really nothing to distract you.

If you’re like me, this copy sounds the way you want it to sound.

Our Overview

We’re always on the lookout for Nat King Cole records with good sound. In our experience finding them is not nearly as easy as one might think. Far too many of his recordings are drenched in bad reverb, with sound that simply can’t be taken seriously — fine for old consoles but not so good on modern audiophile equipment.

At least one we know of has his voice out of phase with the orchestra on most copies, which put a quick end to any hope of finishing the shootout we had started.

If anything the sound on his albums gets even worse in the ’60s. Many of Nat’s albums from that decade are over-produced, bright, thin and shrill.

We assume most audiophiles got turned on to his music from the records that Steve Hoffman remixed and remastered for DCC back in the mid-’90s, For those of you who were customers of ours back then, you know that I count myself among that group. I even went so far as to nominate the DCC of Nat’s Greatest Hits as the best album DCC ever made. I know now, as I expect you do, that that’s really not saying much, but at the time I thought it was a pretty bold statement.

Devoting the Resources

Having long ago given up on Heavy Vinyl LPs by DCC and others of their persuasion — we call it Making Progress in Audio — these days we are in a much better position to devote our resources to playing every Nat King Cole album on every pressing we can get our hands on, trying to figure out what are the copies — from what era, on what label, with what stampers, cut by whom, stereo or mono, import or domestic — that potentially have the Hot Stamper sound, the very Raison d’être of our business.

We have to play each and every one of the records we’ve cleaned for our shootout anyway, whether we think it’s potentially the best pressing or not. There is no other way to do it. Right Stamper, Wrong Sound is an undeniable reality in the world of records. It’s not unheard of for the same stampers to win a shootout, do moderately well on another copy and then come in dead last on a third.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Dreams Can Tell A Lie 
I Just Found Out About Love 
Too Young To Go Steady 
Forgive My Heart 
Annabelle 
Nothing Ever Changes My Love For You

Side Two

To The Ends Of The Earth 
I’m Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life 
Someone You Love 
Love Me As If There Were No Tomorrow 
That’s All 
Never Let Me Go

AMG Review

Capitol Records took This Is Sinatra!, a compilation album, into the Top Ten in early 1957, which probably prompted the label to assemble a similar collection, This Is Nat “King” Cole, later in the year. Consisting of tracks not previously issued on a Cole LP, the disc contains seven recent Billboard singles chart entries among its 12 selections…

Cole as usual gives warm, confident readings of all this material, and fans welcomed the packaging of some songs previously available only on singles, taking the LP to number 18 in the fall of 1957.

Remixing

I really liked the Nat King Cole albums on DCC when they came out back in the ’90s. Thought they were a revelation as a matter of fact. Now I find them insufferable. Here are some of my reasons for not liking Hoffman’s remix.

Nat’s voice is much too forward and loud in the mix; consequently the orchestra is too soft. The balance is off, at least on my stereo at the levels I play the record at the balance seems off. You have a different system, in a different room, and may not feel the way I do. But without a top pressing to compare how do you know the mix is right or wrong? Like everything in audio, it’s relative.

The balance problem is bad enough, but what really sets my teeth on edge is the fact that the Nat King Cole record on DCC doesn’t sound remotely like any Nat King Cole record I have ever heard, outside of the ones Hoffman worked on of course. Where is all the Capitol reverb? Nat’s records all have it, and although the reverb may be a bit excessive or unnatural in some ways, to some people, when you take it away you end up with a sound that never existed before, and, to my ears, it’s a sound that’s just wrong for the music. The more I listened to the DCC the less I liked it.

The first full-length commentary I ever wrote in my record catalog in 1994 took Analogue Productions to task for remastering Way Out West and giving it a “new sound,” a sound I had never heard coming from any Contemporary pressing, from any era.

I didn’t like what Doug Sax did with Way Out West, Jazz Giant, Waltz for Debby and many, many others, and I don’t like what Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray did to Love Is the Thing, The Very Thought of You and Just One Of Those Things.

I have tried to listen to the Gold CD in my car, but even in the car I found the sound boring and insufferable.

Is this the kind of sound you hear on your DCC Nat King Cole records? If it is, we recommend you try a Hot Stamper. If it doesn’t kill your DCC you get your money back.

At the very least it will show you some of the things your DCC is doing differently, and, we think, wrong.

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