Genre – Vocals – Male

Louis Armstrong – I’ve Got The World On A String

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More Pop and Jazz Vocals

  • This superb Verve stereo pressing boasts Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from the first note to the last
  • These two sides are big and rich, yet clean, clear and present, with virtually none of the midrange edginess that plagues so many copies
  • If you were buying records in the ’90s, you might have picked up the Classic Records pressing, and if you did, we guarantee this Verve reissue (the first pictured) is dramatically superior in every way
  • “Armstrong finds the essence of each tune, bending and projecting them with his patented joie de vivre and gravel-voiced warmth every time.”

I first heard this album on the wonderful Classic Records pressing from the ’90s. I remember really enjoying the music and liking the sound of Bernie Grundman’s remaster very much. We reviewed and recommended the album (along with Under the Stars) in our old paper catalogs.

I have no idea what I would think of their version these days — well, to be honest I do have some idea of what I would think of it — but their version is at least good enough to make the case that Russell Garcia’s orchestral arrangements and Louis Armstrong’s sublime skills interpreting The Great American Songbook are a match made in heaven.

You may have seen Russell Garcia’s name on one of the landmark recordings of the ’50s: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s recording of Porgy and Bess for Verve in the previous year, 1959.

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Sinatra – Swingin’ in ’61 with the Help of Billy May

Of the five records Sinatra released in 1961 (Sinatra’s Swingin’ Session!!!; Come Swing with Me!; Ring-a-Ding-Ding!; Swing Along with Me; and I Remember Tommy), this is clearly one of our favorites. (And by the way, what’s with all the exclamation marks?)

Billy May deserves much of the credit for the “swing” that’s all over the album. His band is jumpin’, and on the best pressings — such as this one — the sound conveys the energy with virtually none of the grit and hardness you hear on so many of Sinatra’s other albums (Sinatra at the Sands comes immediately to mind, but there are far too many others).

This is 1961, and tubes and ribbon mics are in charge of the live-in-the-studio proceedings. With a vintage original pressing such as this one, you hear the kind of sound they heard.

And if you play the record at ear-splitting levels you will hear even more of that sound. Can you imagine how loud this band was playing?

We were especially impressed with the large dynamic swings of the arrangements. And the fact that the best pressings never get aggressive even during their most dynamic passages.

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

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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.

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Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong / Ella and Louis – I Was Outbid on Ebay at $320

Recently I tried to win a copy of this album on ebay, since I rarely see them locally anymore. Most of them are too noisy and groove damaged to do much with, but that’s the cost of doing business if your business is selling Hot Stamper pressings in audiophile playing condition.

A week or two ago I was outbid at $200+, beyond what I thought I should have to pay. How wrong I was. Yesterday I was outbid at $320.

There is a reason that at least some of our records are getting a lot pricier than they used to be.

And some titles, like this very album, are so rare in clean condition that we go years between shootouts.

Really, nothing is cheap anymore. The record bins in our local stores are badly picked over no matter how often we stop in. Plenty of Heavy Vinyl reissues are there to be found if that’s your thing, but it sure isn’t ours.

Ella Fitzgerald Albums with Hot Stampers

Ella Fitzgerald Albums We’ve Reviewed

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Tony Bennett – Who Can I Turn To

More Tony Bennett

More Vintage Columbia Pressings

  • This early Columbia 360 label pressing gives Tony the sound he deserves, earning outstanding grades on both of these stereo sides
  • Transparency and Tubey Magic are key to the sound of the orchestra and you will find both in abundance here
  • Made up mostly of ballads, this is an album for quiet moods – the title track is especially good in that respect, with Bennett’s voice carrying the song, the arrangement understated and well in the background
  • “..[T]he match of singer and arranger made for a consistent and effective album.”
  • If you’re a fan of Tony’s, this 1964 release belongs in your collection

Everything that’s good about Vocal Recordings from the ’50s and ’60s is precisely what’s good about the sound of this record.

Albums such as this live and die by the quality of their vocal reproduction. On this record Mr. Tony Bennett himself will appear to be standing right in your listening room! The space of your stereo room will seem to expand in all directions in order to accommodate them, an illusion of course, but nevertheless a remarkably convincing one.

Like so many others you may have read about on the site, the right amount of Tubey Magic — and by that we mean a very healthy amount — makes all the difference.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Tony Bennett singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 57 years old), 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 less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

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Frank Sinatra – Some Nice Things I’ve Missed

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Some Nice Things I’ve Missed

  • The album features Sinatra singing some of the biggest hits of the day by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Neil Diamond, Jim Croce, and Bread
  • Released in 1974, this is probably the last good album the man made outside of She Shot Me Down from 1981

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Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington – Francis A. & Edward K.

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More Duke Ellington

  • Sinatra is both natural and present – he actually sounds like he is standing on the same stage as Ellington’s band
  • “Recorded on Sinatra’s birthday in 1967, this collaboration between America’s most popular singing icon and pre-eminent jazz composer still endures as one of Sinatra’s most enjoyable Reprise-era albums.” – Amazon

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.

You Are There

The presence and immediacy here are really something. Turn it up and Frank is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime.

The sound is big, open, rich and full. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy. And this copy gives you more life and energy than most by a long shot. Very few Sinatra records offer the kind of realistic, lifelike sound you get from this pressing.

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 so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you. (more…)

Dean Martin – Dream With Dean

Reviews and Commentaries for Dean Martin

One of Our Favorite Titles from 1964

  • This hard-to-find Dean Martin Classic of relaxed, intimate vocals returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • One of our all-time favorite male vocal LPs – the sound on both sides is both warm and natural, with excellent presence and transparency
  • The early stereo tri-color label pressings are almost impossible to find in audiophile condition these days, but here’s one, and it is a knockout
  • “It sounds as if they tracked the album in one afternoon, and it is not only a very pleasant listening experience, it shows what a tremendous vocalist Dean Martin truly was.”

*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes 3 light ticks, followed by 2 moderate pops in the middle of track 3, Hands Across the Table. A second mark makes 11 light ticks one-quarter inch before the end of track 4, Smile.

An outstanding copy of the classic Dream With Dean!

This is my favorite Dean Martin record of all time; just Dean and a jazz guitar quartet (including no less than Contemporary favorites Barney Kessel and Red Mitchell) behind him 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.

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Jimmy Dean – Everybody’s Favorite

More Country and Country Rock

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Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound…

and a Record We Will Probably Never Shootout Again

Here is the kind of Tubey Magical richness records routinely offered in 1963. Don Law produced Everybody’s Favorite down in Nashville so it’s the real deal all right. If you liked our killer Marty Robbins’ Hot Stampers you most likely will get a big kick out of this one too. A forgotten sound? Not at Better Records it isn’t.

If you need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings, we have just the ticket. 

Our first Hot Stamper listing for Jimmy Dean, and it’s an exceptionally good one indeed. The material is of consistently high quality, the superbly talented Jordanaires are here on backup vocals (click on the tab above), with Don Law, one of the greatest country producers of all time (again with the tab) in charge of the whole affair.

If you hear the Tubey Magical sound of the best Marty Robbins recordings, it’s not an accident. If you don’t know that sound, you are missing out!

Side One

Rich, full-bodied, tubey vocals and plenty of sweet, natural reverb in a huge space make this side a Demo Disc for this style of music.

Side Two

Very nearly as good, the Tubey Magic on this side is nearly off the charts. Jimmy is so clear and present and natural and real on the first track it may make you despair at the loss of this kind of recording quality.

1961 Was a Great Year for Records

This is one of our favorite records from 1961.

To see our currently available Hot Stamper pressings of records from 1961, click here.

To read reviews of the Top Titles from 1961 that we’ve auditioned, click here. These are records that any audiophile could take great pride in owning (assuming, of courser, that he has a good pressing of the album). There are more than 50 of them. (more…)