Genre – Vocals – Male

Frank Sinatra – Swing Easy! And Songs For Young Lovers

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  • This superb compilation of Sinatra’s two 1954 releases makes its Hot Stamper debut here with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one mated with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on side two, and the vinyl is about as quiet as we can find it
  • Drop the needle at the start of side one and you will soon find a living, breathing Frank Sinatra standing between your speakers
  • Exceptionally lovely All Tube sound from 1954, with a huge, rich orchestra conducted by the legendary Nelson Riddle
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Sinatra plays around with the melodies without leaving them behind, delivering each line with precision. It ranks as one of his most jazzy performances, as well as one of his most fun and carefree records.”

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Frank Sinatra – A Swingin’ Affair!

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More Nelson Riddle

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  • A Swingin’ Affair finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – and the vinyl is as quiet as any we’ve heard on a late-50s Sinatra album
  • This superb pressing will put Frank Sinatra directly between your speakers, with his voice sounding as tonally correct and natural as we heard all day
  • Nelson Riddle and his orchestra back Frank with wonderful arrangements, and a copy like this lets you appreciate everyone’s hard work
  • This record plays Mint Minus Minus – about as quiet as any early Capitol pressing you’re likely to ever hear
  • 5 stars: “[A Swingin’ Affair!] exudes a self-assured, confident aura. It is a hard, jazzy album.”

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

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  • A stunning sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • 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…)

Joe Williams – The Exciting Joe Williams

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  • The Exciting Joe Williams returns with outstanding Double Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last and reasonably quiet vinyl for RCA Black Label original
  • Clean, clear and dynamic, this copy has plenty of Living Stereo Tubey Magic and lovely space around all the musicians
  • We have a devil of a time finding good sounding Joe Williams records – discovering that this title was so well recorded was a very pleasant surprise, and this copy takes the record close to as far as we think it can go
  • “Joe Williams was the last great big-band singer, a smooth baritone who graced the rejuvenated Count Basie Orchestra during the 1950s and captivated audiences well into the ’90s.” – All Music

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Harry Belafonte – The Many Moods of Belafonte

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical Living Stereo full-bodied sound these recordings need to work their magic – qualities which are rarely evident on the modern reissues made from whatever tapes they are using
  • Several crowd-pleasers were introduced on this album for the first time: the calypso “Zombie Jamboree,” which soon replaced “Matilda” as Belafonte’s epic audience participation song; and the showtune “Try to Remember,” from the off-Broadway show The Fantasticks.

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Frank Sinatra – Moonlight Sinatra

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  • You’ll find nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last on this elusive favorite from Ol’ Blue Eyes – exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • We’ve been working on this shootout for years – this is one of the few copies to ever hit the site
  • Master engineer Lowell Frank correctly captured the sound of every instrument here: the guitars, piano, strings, drums, percussion instruments — everything has the natural timbre of the real thing
  • “Driven by a set of lush, sparkling Nelson Riddle arrangements, Moonlight Sinatra is a low-key, charming collection. An enjoyable, romantic listen.”

These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.

The presence and immediacy here are wonderful. Turn it up and Frank is between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. On the best, hard-to-find copies, the sound is big, open, rich and full. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy.

This Blue Green Label LP also has the midrange magic that’s missing from the later reissues. As good as some of them can be, this one is more real sounding. It gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in front of you.

He’s no longer a recording — he’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and the best pressings have 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…)

Frank Sinatra – Sings of Days of Wine and Roses…

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  • This original Reprise stereo pressing has PHENOMENAL Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • This is one of the best sounding Sinatra recordings we know of from any era – a true Male Vocal Demo Disc
  • It’s big, lively, clear and present, with the kind of Tubey Magical richness we flip out for here at Better Records
  • Don’t judge the album by its cover – the music is wonderful from beginning to end and so is the sound
  • “Featuring a selection of Oscar-winning standards, ranging from 1934’s ‘The Continental’ to 1962’s ‘Days of Wine and Roses,’ Academy Award Winners is professional and stylish album… Sinatra is charming and lively…while Riddle’s charts are light and entertaining.”

For our first Hot Stamper listing in 2014 we had written:

One of the best sounding Reprise-era Sinatra recordings we know of.

Having just listened to a slough of top Sinatra titles, I feel it’s my duty to inform the record buying public — at least that small fraction of the public that comes to this site — that the above statement is somewhat inaccurate. It should have read:

One of the best sounding Sinatra recordings we know of from any era.

And the reason for the change is simple enough: I simply cannot recall ever hearing a better sounding Frank Sinatra record in my life. (more…)

Nat King Cole – This Is Nat “King” Cole

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  • This vintage ’50s Capitol pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • These sides are insanely good — BIG, rich and Tubey Magical, yet clear and not the least bit thick or opaque
  • Turn down the lights, gently drop the needle at the start of side one and you will soon find a living breathing Nat King Cole standing between your speakers
  • “Cole as usual gives warm, confident readings of all this material, and fans welcomed the packaging of some songs previously available only on singles…”

A wonderful copy of Nat’s classic 1957 release. 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 presence and immediacy of Nat King Cole’s vocals here 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.

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

What the best sides of This is Nat King Cole have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
  • 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 1957
  • 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

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. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Sinatra Sings… of Love and Things

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  • Two outstanding sides each earning Double Plus (A++) grades, and playing about as quietly as any early Rainbow Label Capitol stereo pressing can
  • This Capitol LP has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues, which, to our way of thinking, are not worth buying at any price. It gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is standing right in front of you, and that’s exactly the way we like to hear him
  • Somehow the man managed to record and release six studio albums in 1962, with this compilation making a total of seven for the year. Even more remarkable, all seven of them made the Top Ten of the pop charts
  • The music is excellent, as one can see from the track listing. It’s hard to go wrong with these later Capitol Sinatra records. They’re almost always a fun listen

This album comprises the last group of singles Capitol released of Sinatra’s music. Reprise had started in 1960 and the rest of Sinatra’s music would come out on his own label. (more…)

Johnny Mathis – Heavenly

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  • A superb 360 Stereo pressing of Heavenly, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • This copy had all the Tubey Magical richness of the best coupled with the hardest thing to find on an old Columbia record: top end extension
  • Natural vocal reproduction is the sine qua non of a Johnny Mathis album – this pressing showed us just how good Columbia was back in 1959
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “The tempos are slow, the strings swell, and Mathis’ vulnerable tenor, dripping with tender emotion yet never missing a beat, soars and swoops over all. The best track, a revelation when it appeared on this album, is “Misty,” a treatment of Erroll Garner’s jazz piano classic with a newly added lyric by Johnny Burke.”

*NOTE: On side one, a mark on the edge makes 3 moderate pops at the beginning of Track 1, Heavenly.

Mobile Fidelity remastered Heavenly back in 1984 (I think), and if you own one and want to know what the album should have sounded like, this is your chance. Simply play this original LP. It will help you understand why your copy is still sitting on the shelf in mint condition to this day. When you remaster something for “audiophiles,” you run the risk of ruining what made the original album such a joy to listen to in the first place. MoFi never had a clue how to get the midrange on their records right, but Columbia was doing just fine twenty five years earlier. (more…)