Genre – Vocals – Male

Frank Sinatra – Only The Lonely – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

xxxxx

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

It is TOUGH to find a good sounding Only The Lonely, but this pressing really delivers. Frank’s vocals sound present, breathy, and full — just the way they need to.

According to John Rockwell’s book, Sinatra: An American Classic, when asked at a party in the mid-1970s if he had a favorite album among his recordings, without hesitation, Sinatra chose Only the Lonely.

Sinatra was nominated for five Grammys at the inaugural Grammy Awards in 1959. Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely and Sinatra’s other album released in 1958, Come Fly with Me, were nominated for the Album of the Year, and Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely won the Grammy Award for Best Album Cover.

Wikipedia (more…)

Nat King Cole Sings / George Shearing Plays

More Nat King Cole

More Nat King Cole Sings / George Shearing Plays

xxxxx

  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on both sides of this wonderful collaboration from 1962 
  • 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 sound for Nat King Cole – here’s your chance to hear just how good he sounded on this All Tube Recording from the early ’60s
  • “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. (more…)

Dean Martin – Sleep Warm

xxxxx

  • Martin’s superb 1959 release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Richer, warmer, more natural, more relaxed, this is what vintage analog is all about, that smooth, tonally correct sound that never calls attention to itself and never gives you the sense that someone tried to “fix” it
  • One of the man’s few recordings for Capitol with audiophile potential (and rare in unmarked condition) – it features arrangements by the great Pete King and an orchestra conducted by none other than Frank Sinatra
  • 4 stars: “Martin brought more attention to the sessions than usual, and the sympathetic string arrangements supported his romantic vocals, making this one of his best album releases.”

(more…)

Frank Sinatra – Come Swing With Me! – Our Shootout Winner from 2005

xxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Hall of Fame.

I discovered that some of these later Capitol reissues can really sound good about ten years ago. They’re cheap when you find them because collectors don’t want them and audiophiles as a whole think that cheap reissues always sound bad. But here at Better Records we don’t really deal too much with record collectors per se. We deal with that tiny minority of audiophiles who want real music that actually sounds good. (The majority of audiophiles want Patricia Barber records and they can have her.)

So we love finding great Sinatra albums from his prime recording days that actually sound the way we want them to — lively and fun.

This means slogging through lots of bad pressings in order to find the gems like this one. Buy hey, somebody’s got to do it. I guess it might as well be me since nobody else wants the job. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – The Voice

xxxxx

  • With superb Double Plus (A++) sound, this killer 6 Eye mono LP is full of the analog warmth and sweetness missing from the Classic reissue and probably anything else pressed in the last twenty five years – relatively quiet vinyl too
  • Featuring most of his best Columbia material, here is the Tubey Magical Midrange missing from the Classic reissue – theirs was not a bad record per se, but without the presence, breathiness and intimacy of the younger Sinatra’s vocals reproduced faithfully, boredom will likely set in before the first side comes to an end
  • 4 stars: “…the focus is on the ballads, and the dozen represented here constitute a bumper crop of classics, all resplendent in the singer’s richest, most overpowering intonation and most delicately nuanced work.”

In our experience, these Mono early Columbia pressings (either on the 6 Eye label or earlier solid red) are the only ones with any hope of having the Midrange Magic that is fundamental to the sound of Frank’s early Columbia LPs, a midrange that is clearly missing from the Classic Records heavy vinyl pressing. The Classic is clean and clear and tonally correct — like a CD. Without the warmth and sweetness of analog and, in this case, tube mastering, the sound just isn’t “the real Frank.” (more…)

Frank Sinatra – The Voice – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

xxxxx

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

This is a Six Eye Mono Original Columbia pressing. These originals have the midrange magic that is missing from the Classic Records heavy vinyl pressing.

In our experience these Six Eye Mono Original Columbia pressings are the only ones with any hope of having the Midrange Magic that is fundamental to the sound of Frank’s early Columbia LPs — and is clearly missing from the Classic Records heavy vinyl pressing. The Classic is clean and clear and tonally correct like a CD. Without the warmth and sweetness of analog and, in this case, tube mastering, the sound just isn’t “the real Frank”. (more…)

Ray Charles and Betty Carter – DCC Heavy Vinyl Reviewed & Recommended

xxx

Sonic Grade: B+

Folks, I have to hand it to Steve Hoffman — this is the BEST SOUNDING DCC LP we have played in years.

We’ve been harshin’ on DCC for years now. Whenever we do a shootout for The Eagles or The Doors or Bonnie Raitt or Queen or you name it, the DCC pressing almost always gets a serious drubbing from our listening panel. Not so here. This one took TOP HONORS against the other copies we played and was head and shoulders better sounding in practically every way. [The right vintage pressings beat the DCC in more recent shootouts, but we can still recommend the DCC as a very good sounding pressing.]

Do all the copies of the DCC sound this good? I would bet money right now they don’t. Folks, I’m guessing this is a Hot Stamper. It was pressed just right and all the Hoffman magic is in these grooves. But that’s just a guess, and I could easily be wrong. If you have a few copies at home, shoot them out! What, you don’t have a bunch of these? Me neither, so no shootout will probably ever be done. This album is just too rare and pricey these days.

Bottom line: We know a good record when we hear one, and this is a very good record indeed! Bravo to Steve for a job well done. 

Tony Bennett – At Carnegie Hall

xxxxx

  • This superb LIVE double album debuts with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side three, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on the others
  • Our exceptional 360 stereo pressing here will bring this definitive Tony Bennett concert performance right into your very own listening room
  • Plenty of analog richness, space, smoothness and Tubey Magic, all absolutely essential if you want the ’60s to sound like the ’60s
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Recorded one week before the release of the I Left My Heart in San Francisco album that would catapult Tony Bennett’s career into the stratosphere, this album effectively sums up his accomplishments so far… it gives a broad sense of Bennett’s work, and it does so in the format with which he’s most comfortable — live in concert.”

(more…)

Frank Sinatra – Sinatra and Swingin’ Brass – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

xxxxx

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

This nearly White Hot side two showed us just how good sounding this original Tri-Color Reprise original pressing could sound. Don’t get me wrong; they have their share of problems, but the better copies are as musical and enjoyable as many of the best Capitol releases from Sinatra’s prime period. (Most of which sound dreadful by the way, due to Capitol’s awful mastering. Just play an early Beatles album to hear what I’m talking about.)

This very side two was the most tonally correct and musically enjoyable of any second side we played. We call it A++ to A+++. (If we could find ten more clean originals we could probably come up with a Triple Plus side two, but considering how many years it took us to find the copies we had on hand to do our shootout, that is probably not in the cards.)

Check out the great material on the album, with lively, fun (even goofy) arrangements by Neil Hefti: Goody Goody; They Can’t Take That Away from Me; I’m Beginning to See the Light; I Get a Kick Out of You; Tangerine; Serenade in Blue. This is the kind of material Sinatra can really sink his teeth into! (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Songs for Swingin’ Lovers – Our Shootout Winner from 2006

xxxxx

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

This is a Minty Capitol Black Label original LP with No Bar Code. They don’t come any better than this! It is amazingly quiet for an old Capitol, with excellent sound throughout.

Many of the Sinatra Capitol Black Label releases do not sound good. They’re full of harmonic distortion, much like The Beatles’ records from that era. This copy is the exception. It’s full of life and clearly made from a good tape.

Sinatra pressings like this one benefit from better mastering, with those occasionally shrill upper mids under control while keeping the rich, warm sound of Sinatra’s voice intact. (Many reissues are flat and compressed, not to mention thin, grainy, and irritating.)  (more…)