Top Arrangers – Billy May

Frank Sinatra – Come Dance With Me – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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Come Dance With Me

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

Get ready to swing with the Chairman of the Board on this incredible White Hot Stamper pressing of this classic album from 1959! This is one of the more fun Sinatra albums we’ve had the pleasure of playing around here, and this is a copy that delivers BIG TIME. 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.

This pressing did it all — and on both sides — with incredible energy and exceptional immediacy. 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 (more…)

Sammy Davis Jr. – The Nat King Cole Song Book

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The Nat King Cole Song Book

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  • A superb sounding original stereo copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or very close to it on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • Bigger and richer, with lovely Tubey Magic and breathy vocals, this Tri-Color Reprise pressing lets us hear Sammy at the peak of his powers performing some of Nat’s most memorable songs
  • 4 Stars: “Alongside Cole’s collaborator, Billy May, and notable jazz arranger Claus Ogerman, Davis and company turned in one of the finest and most underrated efforts.”

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Ella Fitzgerald – Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book #2

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

The first Harold Arlen Song Book to hit the site, and with sound like this it’s going to be very hard to beat. White Hot on side two, Super Hot on side one, Ella is especially rich, Tubey Magical and breathy throughout. Look at the great songs on Volume 2: Come Rain Or Come Shine, It’s Only A Paper Moon, One For My Baby, Get Happy, I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues, Over The Rainbow and more.  

The vinyl is about as quiet and scratch-free as we ever come across on these early stereo pressings. Even with us hitting multiple stores every week we have trouble finding even one clean copy of an album like this a year.

But we found this one, and it won our shootout. (more…)

Nat King Cole – Just One Of Those Things – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

ONE OF THE MOST TUBEY MAGICAL MALE VOCAL RECORDS WE’VE EVER HAD THE PLEASURE OF PLAYING! We shot this out against similar copies, earlier pressings, and a 180g reissue, and nothing was quite in a league with this. Turn up the volume, turn down the lights, and let Nat serenade you from right between your speakers — he’ll be IN THE ROOM with you! (more…)

Nat King Cole – Let’s Face The Music – Reviewed in 2013

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

Rich and tubey vocals on exceptionally quiet vinyl. Swingin’ Billy May Big Band arrangements. Nat plays the Hammond organ on no less than five tracks.

All the copies we played were stereo. We’ve had very poor luck with mono Nat King Cole records (for albums that were recorded in stereo) and tend to avoid them. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Duke Ellington – Francis A. & Edward K. – What to Listen For

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album. 

Notice that, at least for most of the material, and perhaps all of it, Sinatra does not seem to be stuck in a vocal booth. He sounds like he is actually standing on the same stage as Ellington’s band.

Whether this is a recording trick — he’s in a booth but the engineer did a great job creating a sound for the booth that matched the ambience and space of the studio — or whether he is standing front and center with the band, the illusion is convincing and adds greatly to the “reality” of the performance..

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. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Softly, As I Leave You – Our White Hot Shootout Winner


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • With an insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) side one and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side two, this early stereo pressing was the best copy we played in our most recent shootout
  • Big, rich and natural, the new material on this album was recorded in 1964, with Sinatra’s voice in very fine form
  • About as quiet as we can find them — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “The highlight of the record was the hit title song, which featured a subdued but forceful and steady backbeat. The rhythm itself was indicative of Sinatra’s effort to accept the new popular music.”

See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock

This original Reprise LP has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues. It gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in front of you. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Come Swing With Me!


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • This 1961 original Capitol stereo pressing boasts incredible Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and Double Plus (A++) on the first
  • On this early 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
  • Allmusic: “…his intense, speedy energy gives the album an edge that distinguishes the record… it [has] enough genuine gems to make it necessary.”

See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock (more…)

Frank Sinatra – My Kind of Broadway


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

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  • This killer copy has a Triple Plus (A+++) side one backed with a Double to Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side two
  • Superb Tubey Magical mid-’60s Sinatra sound which was recorded in various sessions from 1961 to 1965
  • The sound on this original Reprise is richer, fuller and, importantly, SMOOTHER than most of the other pressings we played
  • Allmusic: “When Sinatra delivers, as he does on the show-stopper “Luck Be a Lady,” the results are pretty spectacular…”

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The knock on this album is that with nine different arrangers and tracks recorded in different years, consistency is not its strong suit.

But is that really fair? Allmusic complained about the performances and arrangements but we certainly wouldn’t call any track here second rate. Most of the album strikes us as Sinatra at his best. (more…)

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

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

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).

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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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AMG Review

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. In fact, Capitol thought the album, originally titled Swing Along with Me, was so close in its sound and title that they sued Sinatra. The record label won the suit, and the singer had to change the name of his Reprise album to Sinatra Swings.

Of course, that didn’t change the actual content of the record. Even though the tone was similar, there were some differences from Come Swing with Me — the ballads have strings, there are saxophones on the record, and the material is more lighthearted on Sinatra Swings, much like the songs on Come Fly with Me.

The restored sense of humor makes Sinatra Swings preferable to Come Swing with Me, even if it doesn’t have the concentrated precision of the first two Sinatra/May sets.