Genre – Vocals – Male

Frank Sinatra / Duke Ellington – Francis A. & Edward K. – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

An amazing pressing of a superb recording, this White Hot Stamper really gets this music right!

Recorded one year after the remarkable Sinatra-Jobim record that we treasure here at Better Records, Sinatra takes the opportunity to work with one of the greatest bandleaders in the history of jazz, the Duke himself.

We had good luck with the stereo originals on the lovely Blue and Green Reprise labels — they can be as big, rich and warm as Sinatra’s legendary Capitol recordings when you find the right pressing, and that’s really saying something. (more…)

Frank Sinatra and Count Basie – Sinatra At The Sands – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This double album presents Sinatra and Basie at the height of their powers, in a setting especially conducive to both men’s music, the big room at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. If you missed it — and I’m sure most all of us did — here’s your chance to go back in time and be seated with the beautiful people, front row center. This two disc all tube-mastered analog set is practically the only way you’ll ever be able to hear the greatest vocalist of his generation — in his prime no less — performing with one of the swingingest big bands of the time.

There is some edge on Sinatra’s voice on every side of every copy; it’s so common it’s got to be on the tape. Those copies with less edge and grit on the vocals that are at the same time not overly smooth or dull tend to do very well in our shootouts. (more…)

Harry Nilsson – A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

AMAZING SOUND AND WONDERFUL MUSIC! We just finished our first huge shootout for this great album and this one was a BIG step up over most of the pressings we played. This is one of the better sounding orchestral-backed male vocal albums that we know of, and on a copy like this the sound can be MINDBLOWINGLY GOOD. Side one is rich, lush and warm; more importantly, the vocals are PERFECTION.

Side one earned an A+++ grade, which means this copy is going to be incredibly hard to beat no matter how many copies you have access to. The orchestra sounds excellent and the vocals are Right On The Money. There’s tons of ambience, shocking immediacy and lots of punch to the bottom end. You are not going to believe how big and lush the sound of this record is. Guaranteed to make your jaw drop or your money back! (more…)

Frank Sinatra – All Alone

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The biggest issue with Reprise-era Sinatra is always grit and grain, and we’re happy to report that this superb pressing has very little of either.

Also it’s often the case that the strings may seem a bit shrill or smeary (or both; smear itself can actually make the strings sound shrill). The more harmonically correct and rosiny the string tone the better, obviously.

We tried to get this shootout off the ground in 2012 and just did not have a big enough pile of copies to work with in order to find a truly killer pressing. This time around we had a much bigger pile to work with and much better luck. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – No One Cares

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  • With nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish, this vintage stereo pressing sounds just right
  • This orchestrated album of ballads boasts superb 1959 Sinatra All Tube Analog sound
  • This early pressing has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues we’ve played – it gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in the room with you
  • These two exceptionally good sounding sides have two very important qualities – both the breath, and the front and center immediacy, of Sinatra’s vocals, with Jenkins’ tubey rich orchestral arrangements in support
  • “Jenkins gives the songs a subtly tragic treatment, and Sinatra responds with a wrenching performance.”

He’s no longer a recording — he’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. His voice is rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality. You immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.

This copy was simply fuller, richer, clearer, more tonally correct, more transparent, bigger, livelier and more involving than practically any other we played (hence the high grades). It’s the very definition of a Hot Stamper. (more…)

Sammy Davis Jr. – Sammy’s Back On Broadway

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  • Sammy’s Back On Broadway comes to the site with shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • Rich, smooth, and shockingly Tubey Magical, the sound on this 1965 Reprise Tri-Color Steamboat pressing is Hard To Fault (HTF)
  • Some of the best sound and music we’ve ever heard from the man – this is an album that proves Sammy was more than a member of The Rat Pack
  • 4 stars: “Although the 1965 album was filled with concurrently modern selections, the mixture of enduring classics and lesser-known material further exemplifies the artist’s impeccable taste and performance style.”

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 just terrible.) (more…)

Lou Rawls – Live!

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame. 

This is one of the best live vocal recordings we know of, but only a great copy like this will bring that sound to your stereo. Lou is live, singing his heart out in a small club that exists between, behind and maybe even around your speakers. If you can reproduce the three-dimensional space of this club well you are in for a real treat.

The songs are great, the musicians are brilliant, the sound is amazing — what else could you ask for?

This album was a late addition to our 2014 update of our Rock and Pop Top 100 list. or live soul-infused vocals we know of none better. (more…)

Dean Martin – Dream With Dean – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This side one gets it JUST RIGHT. My notes read, “WOW! Master Tape Sound! So clear and unprocessed. Right amount of tubey magic. Dynamic and present like no other!” — hopefully that gives you a taste of just how much we loved the sound here. Side two is nearly as good but doesn’t have quite as much presence.  

This is my favorite Dean Martin record of all time; just Dean and a jazz guitar quartet behind him (featuring Contemporary favorites Barney Kessel and Red Mitchell!) doing standards. On the best copies, the immediacy is absolutely mind-blowing. It’s a shame that there aren’t more Frank Sinatra records that sound like this! (more…)

Frank Sinatra and Count Basie – Sinatra At The Sands – Mobile Fidelity Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: B

Another MoFi LP reviewed.

It’s pretty good. Compressed and veiled, but the tonality is correct. I give it a B. It will beat the vast majority of reissues, which tend to be thin, gritty, and woefully lacking in Tubey Magic. And the vinyl will be quiet, which is something not many of the best pressings can offer. 

But who wants to listen to a B grade record when we you can buy A and A+ pressings from us? (more…)

Mel Torme – Live at Marty’s – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

More Mel Torme

More Live at Marty’s

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

We just finished a shootout for this album and had a blast with the ol’ Velvet Fog. Many copies of this album are transistory, gritty and dry, but this one has got enough richness and warmth to smooth out those unpleasant qualities. The immediacy and presence throughout are going to KNOCK YOU OUT. Mel is gonna be in the room with you when you play this one good and loud. (more…)