Top Arrangers – Billy May

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

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  • A STUNNING original Reprise pressing with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated to an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • 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…)

Frank Sinatra – Trilogy: Past, Present and Future

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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 – 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…)

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…)

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…)

Frank Sinatra – My Kind of Broadway

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  • This outstanding pressing of Sinatra’s 1965 release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Superb Tubey Magical mid-’60s Sinatra sound which was recorded in various sessions from 1961 to 1965
  • The sound on this original Reprise LP is richer, fuller and smoother than most of the other pressings we played
  • “When Sinatra delivers, as he does on the show-stopper “Luck Be a Lady,” the results are pretty spectacular…”

With the Count Basie Orchestra backing him on some tracks (Ev’rybody Has The Right To Be Wrong on side one and Nice Work If You Can Get It and They Can’t Take That Away From Me on side two just to mention a few we especially liked) the swinging Sinatra is heard in his prime and he sounds just great to us.

Without a Song has a killer big band arrangement and a stellar performance from Ol’ Blues Eyes himself. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Softly, As I Leave You

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  • With two insanely good sides, each with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it, this early stereo pressing was one of the best copies we played in our shootout
  • Big, rich and natural, the newer material for this album was recorded in 1964, with Sinatra’s voice in very fine form
  • This is one of the few Sinatra records where the second label pressings can still sound quite good – that is rare in our experience
  • “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.”

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Ella Fitzgerald – Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book #2

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  • This STUNNING stereo pressing of the Harold Arlen Song Book earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades, or close to them, on both sides
  • One of the best copies to hit the site in a long time, Ella is incredibly rich, Tubey Magical and breathy throughout
  • Check out all the great songs here: 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
  • 5 stars: “Of all of her Songbooks, the Harold Arlen and Duke Ellington sets are the most jazz-oriented.”

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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…)

Every Label Made Bad Sounding Records – Capitol Made This One in 1958

 

Drowning in reverb and squawky as hell, a major misfire from Billy and the brass (ahem) at Capitol.

For 33 years we’ve been helping music loving audiophiles the world over avoid bad sounding records.

To see the records with bad sound or bad music we’ve reviewed, click here.

It’s yet another public service from Better Records, the home of the best sounding records ever pressed. Our records sound better than any others you’ve ever heard or you get your money back.