Top Arrangers

Seals & Crofts – Summer Breeze

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More Folk Rock

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  • This superb pressing of Summer Breeze (the first to hit the site in years!) boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout, and vinyl that plays as quiet as we can find it
  • With tons of Tubey Magical richness in the midrange – the kind that was still abundant on analog tape in 1972 – this is a wonderful sounding album of folk pop
  • It has taken us years to find the right stampers for this album, and now here they are on the Green Label original in all their glory
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Summer Breeze offered an unusually ambitious array of music within a soft rock context — most artists tried to avoid weighty subjects in such surroundings… the most highly regarded of all of Seals & Crofts’ albums.” (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Trilogy: Past, Present and Future

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More Billy May

More Gordon Jenkins

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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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Frank Sinatra – The Concert Sinatra

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More Pop and Jazz Vocal Albums

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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…)

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

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More Pop and Jazz Vocal Albums

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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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Wes Montgomery – California Dreaming

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  • This excellent Wes Montgomery title returns to the site for the first time in two years with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one and outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on side two
  • Both sides here are OUT OF THIS WORLD, incredibly big, bold, clear, rich and dynamic – this is DEMO DISC Quality Big Production Guitar-led Jazz
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space that the superbly well-recorded group occupies
  • Forget the critics, this is one of Wes’s Best Albums of All Time I tell you!

This White Hot Stamper has the REAL Wes Montgomery/ Creed Taylor/ Rudy Van Gelder MAGIC in its grooves. You will not believe how big, rich and full-bodied this pressing is. Since this is one of Wes’s best albums, hearing this incredible White Hot copy was a THRILL for us and we’re sure it will be as big a thrill for you too.

As Good As It Gets Sound

So natural, transparent and clear. Listen to all the space around the guitar. (On the Cisco you might hear 20% of that space. That’s Heavy Vinyl for you. What a load of crap.)

Beware any and all imitations (even the one I used to like somewhat, the Cisco version). They barely BEGIN to convey the qualities of the real master tape the way this pressing does. This White Hot Stamper exhibits huge amounts of ambience and spaciousness, with far more energy and the kind of “see into the studio” quality that only the real thing ever seems to have. (more…)

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…)

Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery – The Dynamic Duo

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More Wes Montgomery

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  • KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to it on both sides, this is a wonderful vintage stereo pressing of a classic jazz collaboration from 1966
  • Big, rich and lively, thanks to Oliver Nelson’s arrangements (and RVG’s engineering), this big group of top players is having a blast and we think you will too
  • 5 stars: “The romping, aggressive big band charts [represent] Oliver Nelson at his best… The results are incendiary — a near-ideal meeting of yin and yang… They are an amazing pair, complementing each other, driving each other, using their bop and blues taproots to fuse together a sound.”

The sound of this Verve stereo pressing is tonally correct and natural. The timbre of each and every instrument is right and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it. So high-resolution too. If you love ’60s jazz you cannot go wrong here. (more…)

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…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Ella and Basie!

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  • With a shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and a Double Plus (A++) side one, this early stereo pressing is a knockout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Ella is rich, Tubey Magical and breathy – this is the way she should sound, and that makes this copy a true Demo Disc
  • To get the vocals AND the brass to sound right on the same copy is the trick, and these two sides pulled it off
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “…this 1963 LP was the first time (other than a couple songs) that Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie recorded together. The match-up was so logical that it would be repeated many times over the next 20 years.”

Take it from an Ella fan, you can’t go wrong with this one. The sound is rich and full-bodied, in the proud tradition of a classic vintage jazz vocal album with big band backup. You could easily demonstrate your stereo with a record this good, but what you would really be demonstrating is music that the listener probably isn’t familiar with, and that’s the best reason to put on an old record.

The space is HUGE and the sound so rich. Prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic as well, which is key to the best sounding copies. The sound needs weight, warmth and tubes or you might as well be playing a CD. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Swing Easy! And Songs For Young Lovers

More Frank Sinatra

More Nelson Riddle

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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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