Genre – Vocals – Male

Frank Sinatra – Trilogy: Past, Present and Future

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  • An outstanding copy of Sinatra’s superb 1980 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on all SIX sides
  • The sound here is rich and full-bodied with much less grain and much more Tubey Magic than most of the other copies we played
  • Credit the brilliant engineering of Frank Laico for the excellent sound – this record doesn’t sound like 1980, and that’s a very, very good thing
  • “An audacious, ambitious way to stage a comeback, each of the album’s three records was conceived as an individual work, and each was arranged by one of Sinatra’s major collaborators. . . the best moments are triumphant, proving that the Voice was still vital in his fourth decade of recording.”

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Lou Rawls – Live!

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  • This superb 2-pack of Lou Rawls’ masterpiece offers a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Lou Rawls Live! is an amazing recording that really comes to life on this Hot Stamper pressing
  • The songs are fantastic, the musicians are brilliant, the sound is superb – Stormy Monday & Tobacco Road are highlights, but really, there’s not a bad track here
  • If you could only have one Lou Rawls album, no question it would have to be this one – everything that’s good about the man’s music is fully on display
  • 4 stars: “Lou Rawls gives a riveting performance on Live!, covering standards from Basie/Rushing’s tambourine-jumpin’ ‘Goin’ to Chicago’ to T-Bone Walker’s foot-stompin’ ‘Stormy Monday,’ and whole lot in between.”

What an album! For live soul-infused vocals, we know of none better. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – The Concert Sinatra

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  • The Concert Sinatra finally returns to the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish on this original Reprise LP
  • Sinatra’s voice on this exceptionally good pressing always sounds natural even at its loudest – there is no strain or hardness, and that makes it a very special copy indeed
  • The 73 musicians you see stretched out across the soundstage at Samuel Goldwyn Studios behind Sinatra will give you some idea of the size and scope of the sound – with 24 mics feeding 8 tracks onto 35MM recording film, this was the sonic equivalent of Gone With the Wind
  • “It’s not exactly the swinging Sinatra of myth and legend, but it does make for a stunning musical experience; the Chairman is in great voice, and he scales the explosive orchestral peaks of Riddle’s arrangements with the confidence of a mountain climber on methedrine. His versions of “Ol’ Man River” and “Soliloquy” are big improvements over his Columbia-era attempts, and “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” “My Heart Stood Still,” and “Lost in the Stars” are positively breathtaking.”

Folks, when we say that clean, good-sounding Sinatra records are hard to come by, we are not kidding. It took us five years to find enough copies of this title to do a proper shootout. In that time an awful lot of bad LPs passed through our hands: the monos (never heard a good one), the reissues (ditto), imports, and, most commonly, original stereo pressings in beat-to-death condition. People loved Sinatra and played his records until the grooves were gone.

This album ranks right up there with the best of the Reprise era musically; recorded in 1963, Sinatra was still in his prime.

For audiophiles, the amount of effort that went into the recording, effort that actually paid off, is what will impress the most about The Concert Sinatra. Fortunately for those of us who are still playing records forty-odd years on, this special project took place before the advent of the transistor, which means that all the Tubey Magic of the singer and his all-encompassing orchestra was captured on the “tape”.

Ah, but how much of that sound made it to the record itself, that’s always the rub with records isn’t it?

In this case, plenty. There may be a touch of smear (you can most easily hear it in the strings) but the sound is so RICH and Tubey Magical that you will barely be aware it. Your attention should instead be focused on the superb feel the man has for this music.

One thing to pay special attention to, especially if you have other copies of the album, is Sinatra’s voice, which sounds natural from first note to last, even at its loudest. There is no strain or hardness. That, among many other things, is what separates the best copies from the also-rans (and, of course, all the reissues, which tend to have gritty, harsh vocals which quickly get unbearably edgy in the louder parts). (more…)

Nat King Cole – Nat King Cole Sings / George Shearing Plays

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  • This wonderful collaboration finally returns with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides
  • Two masters come together here to create a compilation of timeless arrangements still appreciated by both music lovers and audiophiles to this day
  • It’s tough to find top quality pressings of Nat King Cole’s recordings in audiophile playing condition – this All Tube Recording from the early ’60s is your chance to hear just how rich and real he could sound in his prime
  • 4 stars: “Cole is in prime form on such songs as ‘September Song,’ ‘Pick Yourself Up,’ and ‘Serenata.’ Shearing’s accompaniment is tasteful and lightly swinging, and the string arrangements help to accentuate the romantic moods.”

The better pressings of this unique collaboration between Nat King Cole and George Shearing put Cole’s voice right up front with lovely breath and natural texture. On the better copies such as this one, the Nat’s vocals are full-bodied, the piano has real weight, and the soundfield is open and transparent. If you want a great-sounding male vocal LP in your collection, this one will do the trick nicely.

The reissue pressings rarely sounded right to us. In addition, the mono copies were uniformly awful — small, congested and gritty. Our Hot Stamper pressings — even the lowest-graded copies we offer –are sure to give you fuller vocals, more transparency, more weight to the piano and, of course, the tubey warmth of vintage analog. (more…)

Tony Bennett – If I Ruled The World / Songs For The Jet Set

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  • Bennett’s wonderful 1965 release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • These sides are exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied – Tony is right in the room with you on this one
  • “Employing Sinatra arranger Don Costa, Tony Bennett put together a concept album similar to Sinatra’s Come Fly with Me.”

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Willie Nelson – Stardust

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  • With Triple Plus (A+++) grades on both sides of this exceptionally well-recorded album, this copy surely qualifies as an Audiophile Demo Disc, the best copy to hit the site in years!
  • From the first few moments of the title track you’ll be blown away by the in-the-room immediacy of The Man himself
  • This copy is hi-res without sacrificing the Analog warmth that makes the recording so exceptional, especially for one from 1978
  • 5 stars: “Stardust showcases Nelson’s skills as a musician and his entire aesthetic — where there is nothing separating classic American musical forms, it can all be played together — perhaps better than any other album…”

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Frank Sinatra – Come Dance With Me!

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  • Come Dance With Me! finally returns to the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish on this early Capitol stereo LP
  • This pressing did it all — and on both sides — with incredible energy and the kind of immediacy that puts Frank Sinatra front and center right in your very own listening room
  • This is one of the more fun Sinatra albums we’ve had the pleasure of playing recently, and this is a copy that delivers BIG TIME
  • 5 stars: “Working with Billy May again, Frank Sinatra recorded his hardest swing album ever with Come Dance with Me! . . . an intoxicating rush of invigorating dance songs.”

Get ready to swing with the Chairman of the Board on this superb pressing of his classic album from 1959! Billy May and his orchestra back Frank with wonderful arrangements here, and a copy like this lets you appreciate everyone’s hard work. The brass blasts on side two are to die for!

It’s tough to find good-sounding copies of almost any Sinatra album, finding amazing copies of his most classic albums like this one with reasonably quiet surfaces is a ridiculously tough task. Even for us, the guys who do nothing but search for and audition records all day every day! So we were thrilled to play a copy like this one that did just what we wanted from music like this.

On the best pressings, the brass blasts are OUT OF THIS WORLD. If you never thought you’d hear a Sinatra record sound as powerful as the man himself came across — this is the pressing that you’ve been looking for. Most copies were either smeary or edgy, but this one was wonderfully smooth with impressive clarity.

Sinatra fans, don’t miss out — we don’t find records like this too often. (more…)

Nat King Cole – Welcome To The Club

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  • Nat King Cole’s wonderful 1959 release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • The sound on this superb pressing is full-bodied and lively, with solid and present vocals, as well as excellent clarity all around
  • With Cole’s smooth vocals, superb arrangements by Dave Cavanaugh, and accompaniment by the legendary Count Basie Orchestra, this album is a sheer delight
  • 4 stars: “… one of Cole’s most powerful collections supported by a big band. In fact, it is Cole’s unmistakable ultra-cool intonations that flawlessly reign in the fiery… ensemble arrangements.”

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Sinatra / Swing Along With Me – A Top Sinatra Title (You Probably Never Heard Of)

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

  • KILLER sound throughout with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sonic grades
  • These vintage stereo sides are As Good As It Gets — rich, smooth and full-bodied with wonderfully present vocals and all of the Tubey Magic that’s missing from most copies
  • This album is very tough to come by in stereo in anything but beat condition, let alone with this kind of sound
  • “Twelve of the most uninhibited Sinatra things ever recorded!”
  • “Recorded with Billy May, Sinatra Swings was Frank Sinatra’s first straight swing album for Reprise Records. In terms of content and approach, the record is remarkably similar to his final Capitol swing effort, Come Swing with Me.”

Also known as Sinatra Swings.

Five for Five in 1961

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). You may recall that Billy May was the arranger for some of Sinatra’s best Capitol work, and certainly the three swingingest: Come Fly with Me, Come Dance with Me and Come Swing with Me.

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. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – That’s Life

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  • An outstanding copy of That’s Life, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to the last
  • Incredibly big, rich and Tubey Magical, with especially breathy, present vocals that put Frank Sinatra front and center between your speakers
  • “That’s Life continued Frank Sinatra’s streak of commercially successful albums that straddled the line between traditional and contemporary pop music. Adding more pop music techniques to his repertoire of show tunes, That’s Life made contemporary pop concessions while satisfying Sinatra’s own taste for weightier, more respected material.”

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