Labels We Love – Capitol

Peggy Lee – In Love Again!

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More Pop and Jazz Vocals

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl for a vintage Capitol pressing as well
  • This copy is rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical – we’re dealing with an All Tube Analog recording chain from 1963 after all – with present, sweet, breathy vocals, the kind that practically no modern Heavy Vinyl record can offer
  • Stick with stereo on this album. The Mono pressings — at least the ones we’ve played — aren’t worth anybody’s time (scratch that: any audiophile’s time)
  • “… 12 quality performances from a highly identifiable singer who is not shy about taking other people’s material and re-imagining it or about coming up with her own vehicles.”

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Frank Sinatra – Nice ‘N’ Easy

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  • An outstanding pressing of Nice ‘N’ Easy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl for Capitol from this era too
  • The reproduction of Sinatra’s voice is exactly what you would expect from a Hot Stamper – he sounds rich, smooth, tonally correct and above all REAL
  • Take this one home and play it against whatever audiophile pressings you own – it’s guaranteed to SMOKE any and all versions you may have in your collection, or your money back
  • 5 stars: “… a breezy collection of mid-tempo numbers arranged by Nelson Riddle. Nice ‘N’ Easy doesn’t have a touch of brooding sorrow — it rolls along steadily, charming everyone in its path.”

Definitely one of the most fun Sinatra albums, especially when it sounds like this!

It’s tough to find great sound for this album — most copies are pretty mediocre and the MoFi is nothing special. 

The immediacy of the vocals on this copy is nothing short of stunning. You get real weight down low, serious energy, a fully extended top end, and tons of that old-time analog tubey magic.

Tubey Magic Is Key

The best copies have the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with Frank and the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, 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 maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What The Best Sides of Nice ‘N’ Easy Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • 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 1960
  • 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
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

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.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep the strings from becoming shrill) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we heard them all.

And we know a fair bit about the man’s recordings at this point. As of today, we’ve done commentaries for more than 21 different Sinatra shootouts, and that’s not counting at least another ten titles that either bombed or were sold off years ago.

What We’re Listening For on Nice ‘N’ Easy

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Nice ‘N’ Easy
That Old Feeling
How Deep Is The Ocean
I’ve Got A Crush On You
You Go To My Head
Fools Rush In

Side Two

Nevertheless
She’s Funny That Way
Try A Little Tenderness
Embraceable You
Mam’selle
Dream

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

Breaking slightly from his pattern of a swing album following the release of ballads set, Frank Sinatra followed No One Cares with Nice ‘N’ Easy, a breezy collection of mid-tempo numbers arranged by Nelson Riddle. Not only is it the lightest set that he recorded for Capitol, it is the one with the loosest theme… Nice ‘N’ Easy doesn’t have a touch of brooding sorrow — it rolls along steadily, charming everyone in its path.

Paul McCartney and Wings – Wings at the Speed of Sound

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  • An incredible pressing of Wings’ follow-up to Venus and Mars, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • This copy has a “cinematic” quality – it’s just plain bigger, with more depth to the soundfield, and stronger dynamics
  • The big hits, Let ‘Em In and Silly Love Songs, as well as minor gems, such as Beware My Love, are musical here with good body and a smoother top end
  • Allmusic: “A full-band effort, where everybody gets a chance to sing, and even contribute a song.”

The better copies such as this one had the qualities that really make the songs come to life and give you a taste of the old McCartney magic. (more…)

The Band – Music From Big Pink

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Forget all those veiled, lifeless, ambience-free, vague sounding Heavy Vinyl pressings – THIS is the sound of the album
  • This copy resolves the intricacies of the recording that make repeated plays the order of the day for us audiophiles
  • 5 stars: “…as soon as “The Weight” became a singles chart entry, the album and the group made their own impact, influencing a movement toward roots styles and country elements in rock. Over time, [the album] came to be regarded as a watershed work in the history of rock, one that introduced new tones and approaches to the constantly evolving genre.”

We guarantee you have never heard Music from Big Pink sound as good as it does on this very copy. There’s plenty of the all-important Tubey Magic and real weight to the bottom. You’ll have a VERY hard time finding one that sounds this good, if our experience is any guide.

This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a top quality Band record: immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant); natural tonal balance (most copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule); good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful); spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space); and last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sophisticated recording. (more…)

Grand Funk Railroad – We’re An American Band

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  • A superb copy with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from the first note to the last – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Both sides are full-bodied, lively and present, with a solid bottom end
  • More important, here is all the rock and roll energy that would simply be missing in action on any reissue made these days
  • It’s tough to find good Grand Funk sound on audiophile quality playing surfaces, but these sides did the trick
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Sonically, the record was sharp and detailed and the band’s playing was far tighter and more accomplished… The album’s title song, an autobiographical account of life on the road written and sung by Brewer, was released in advance of the album and became a gold-selling number one hit, Grand Funk’s first really successful single.”

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Frank Sinatra – Come Swing With Me!

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  • This outstanding Capitol stereo pressing boasts incredible Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • On this superb pressing you’ll hear Billy May’s arrangements – just brass, no strings or winds – blasting behind Sinatra like never before
  • This was Sinatra’s final swing session with Capitol and on a pressing as good as this one you can tell he and the band are having a blast
  • “…his intense, speedy energy gives the album an edge that distinguishes the record… it [has] enough genuine gems to make it necessary.”

We love doing the work that it takes to find 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 gems like this one. But hey, that’s what we do. We love it when a record with music this good can be found with sound like this.

Believe me, these Capitol pressings don’t usually sound like this. From the very first notes you hear Billy May’s colorful arrangments come to life in a way you are very unlikely to have heard before. (more…)

The Band – Rock Of Ages

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  • Superb sound throughout with all four sides rating a solid Double Plus (A++) or BETTER – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • The best copies are surprisingly TRANSPARENT — just listen to all the “room” around the vocals on these four sides
  • A classic double live album with a consistently well-arranged and energetically performed set of songs
  • 4 stars” “It could be argued that it captured the spirit of the Band at the time in a way none of their other albums do.”
  • One of the few copies from our shootout that had no marks that play, a rarity for this title!

The performances are uniformly excellent, and the live five-piece horn section adds a lot to the fun and energy of the music. (The same can be said for Little Feat’s live album, Waiting for Columbus. We’ve been offering Hot Stampers on that album for years; it’s the best way to hear the band at their best, outside the studio.)

There’s real Tubey Magic on this album, along with breathy vocals, in-your-listening-room presence, and plenty of rock and roll energy.

All four sides here are bigger, richer, clearer and smoother than most of the other copies we played. The energy level is off the charts. This is The Band playing live at the peak of their powers. Hearing this killer pressing should be unlike anything you have experienced before, unless you saw them back in the day, more than forty years ago, and how many of us can honestly say we did? (Honestly being the operative word there.)

It should go without saying that this is music that belongs in any popular music collection. My favorite song here is “I Don’t Want To Hang Up My Rock And Roll Shoes.” It’s The Band at their best — LIVE. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Close To You

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  • This early mono pressing of Sinatra’s 1957 release boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it throughout
  • Rich, sweet, and completely free of phony EQ, this record will put a living, breathing Sinatra standing right there between your speakers
  • Early pressings of Sinatra recordings from 1957 do not come much cleaner than this one in our experience
  • 4 stars: “…one of Frank Sinatra’s most gentle and intimate albums… has a delicate, lovely quality…”

*NOTE: On side two, the last one-eighth inch of Track 1, With Every Breath I Take, is lightly to moderately swooshy.

Superb Sinatra sound! His voice here is perfection. (more…)

The Beach Boys – Endless Summer

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  • A superb copy with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side four, mated with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on the other three sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • 5 stars: “Endless Summer, which was assembled in consultation with Mike Love, soared to number one and charted high over two subsequent summers (spending three years on the charts, the longest of any of the group’s albums).”

Like any compilation, some tracks sound better than others, but the best sounding tracks on here easily rank with any Beach Boys vinyl we’ve ever played. And the material on here is so good and so comprehensive (check the track listing tab above) that for most of you this and Pet Sounds should be all the Beach Boys you’ll ever need.

The sound here is big, open, rich and full, with the performers front and center (as well as left and right). The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy. And this copy gives you more life and energy than others by a long shot. Very few Beach Boys records offer the kind of realistic, lifelike sound you get from these pressings.

Fresh Tapes

These original LPs also have the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s no doubt missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the 50+ year old tapes. As good as that pressing may be, we guarantee that this one is dramatically more REAL SOUNDING. It gives you the sense that all the boys (and the Wrecking Crew) are right in the room with you.

They’re no longer a representation — they’re living, breathing persons. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. Their voices are so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music.

As any record collector knows all too well, Capitol pressings are all over the map. When you find a good one, you can be pretty sure it’s the exception, not the rule. That’s been our experience, and we’ve played them by the hundreds. (more…)

The Beatles – Beatles ’65 – Listen for Reversed Polarity

More Beatles

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This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity.

This is a Capitol Records Purple Label LP with THE BEST SOUND I have ever heard for a Capitol Beatles LP (as of 7/5/06). But there’s a catch. It only sounds good if you reverse your absolute phase. If you don’t, or can’t, forget it. 

I wrote the rave review you see below without realizing that I had reversed my headshell leads for the previous record I was playing and had forgotten to change them back. So all the nice things I said about Capitol really aren’t true: they got the phase backwards, which positively ruins the sound unless you can correct for it. I did, and was astonished at how musical the album sounded.

Do you want an AMAZING example of how phase can affect the sound of a recording? Switch back and forth on Honey Don’t, especially if you are the skeptical type like me. You will become a believer on the spot, all doubt forever banished.

I wonder how many other bad Beatle albums are phase reversed? We will report our findings as time goes on so watch for them. [We of course never did this. The Beatles pressings we sell are in correct polarity and we simply do not have the time to survey every Beatles record ever made.]

This is what I initially said about the record:

This is a Minty Capitol Purple Label LP with THE BEST SOUND I have ever heard for a Capitol Beatles LP. If more of them sounded like this we wouldn’t have said all those mean and nasty things about Capitol Records for the past forty years. Yes, they still “butchered” For Sale to create this “album”, but that’s not the point. The point is this record sounds like a good Parlophone pressing — rich and sweet, with dead-on tonality. Whatever tapes Capitol may have used had plenty of that famous Beatles Analog Magic in them — you won’t hear any Beatles CDs sound like this, that I can assure you. That sound is gone and it ain’t comin’ back.

The late Capitol mastering here is Right On The Money. I don’t think they ever cut a record better. You can be sure the original Rainbow Label pressings sound as bad as you remember. I have never heard ANY original Capitol pressing that sounded like this — not even close.

The two singles mentioned below both have DREADFUL SOUND, the kind we have come to expect from Capitol. Everything else is wonderful.

“Dave Dexter, Jr. (a name which will live in infamy) “assisted” the Beatles by pulling eight tracks from Beatles for Sale, one from A Hard Day’s Night [I’ll Be Back], and both sides of the latest Beatles single (“I Feel Fine”/”She’s a Woman”) for the creation of this album.” – AMG