Top Arrangers – Gordon Jenkins

Frank Sinatra – September of My Years

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  • This superb pressing boasts Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl for a vintage Blue Green original Reprise stereo pressing from the ’60s – how this one survived for so many years in such lovely playing condition is something we will never know
  • An especially Tubey Magical Male Vocal recording, but that sound can only found on the best properly cleaned pressings, like this one
  • Exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied – Frank is right in the room with you on this one
  • 5 stars: (“One of Frank Sinatra’s triumphs of the ’60s”) and Grammy Album of the Year for 1966
  • If you’re a fan of the man, widely considered the greatest vocalist of the second half of the 20th century, this title from 1965 is clearly one of his best, and one of his best sounding
  • The complete list of titles from 1965 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
  • We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. This album is on that list.

This vintage Reprise pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Frank Sinatra singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

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Gordon Jenkins Is One of Our Favorite Arrangers

GORDON JENKINS is one of the All Time Great Arrangers.

He’s the man behind the scenes for Nilsson’s Must Own classic, A Little Touch Of Schmillson in The Night, a Desert Island Disc for yours truly.

Recordings with Arrangements by Gordon Jenkins

More of Our Favorite Arrangers

His work for Nat King Cole is beyond fault.

Jenkins worked with Nat King Cole on four albums for Capitol: Love Is the Thing (1957), The Very Thought of You (1958), Every Time I Feel the Spirit (1959) and Where Did Everyone Go? (1963). 

He did three albums with Sinatra for Capitol: A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra (1957), Where Are You? (1957) and No One Cares (1959) and five more after Sinatra moved to Reprise: All Alone (1962), September of My Years (1965), Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back (1973), “Future” suite – Trilogy: Past Present Future (1980) and She Shot Me Down (1981).

Frank Sinatra – No One Cares

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  • Sinatra’s 1959 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish on this original Capitol LP
  • On a copy this good, Frank will appear as living, breathing (albeit disembodied) person right in your very own listening room – we call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Jenkins gives the songs a subtly tragic treatment, and Sinatra responds with a wrenching performance.”

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Frank Sinatra – Trilogy: Past, Present and Future

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  • An outstanding copy of Sinatra’s superb 1980 release with solid 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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Nat “King” Cole – Where Did Everyone Go?

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this early Capitol Rainbow Label stereo pressing will be very hard to beat – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • With especially rich, intimate and natural vocal reproduction, this side one was close to the best we played of Nat’s wonderful “songs of love and loss”
  • If all you know are the weirdly unnatural remixes DCC did (or the dreadful Analogue Productions pressings), this LP will be nothing less than a revelation
  • “His rich and cozy baritone carries the ache of “Am I Blue?” and the slinky “I Keep Goin’ Back to Joe’s” into an understated, almost plaintive blues. Here he perfectly demonstrates a boundless capacity as a melodic interpreter of song.”

Where Did Everyone Go? is the third and final collaboration between Gordon Jenkins and Nat King Cole, and like the first two, we think it belongs in any audiophile record collection worthy of the name. And if you have any horrid Heavy Vinyl LP of Nat King Cole’s music (the only one found passable was the one done on S&P), now is the time to play them against your new Hot Stamper pressing, recognize their manifold shortcomings, and get them out of your collection and into the hands of the Heavy Vinyl True Believers.

One of the key elements we noticed on the best of the best was the relaxed quality of Nat’s performance. He seems to sings so effortlessly (even more effortlessly than usual!) on the better sounding pressings. On other pressings that casual quality is not nearly as evident.

Warmth and sweetness were also important, the distinctive and unmistakable hallmarks of vintage All Tube Analog. These qualities combined to make the music on each of these sides as thoroughly involving and enchanting as practically any album of its kind we have ever offered. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – All Alone

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  • A KILLER pressing of this Classic Sinatra release, and the first to hit the site in more than 5 years, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This is 1962, and tubes and ribbon mics are in charge of the live-in-the-studio proceedings
  • With a vintage early label pressing such as this one, you hear the kind of sound they heard
  • Richness, warmth, Tubey Magic, and clarity are important to the sound, and here you will find plenty of all four
  • “Divided between standards and relatively recent tunes, the most distinctive element of the album are the rich, neoclassical arrangements by Jenkins… a necessary listen for dedicated Sinatra fans.”

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Harry Nilsson – A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night

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Reviews and Commentaries for Harry Nilsson

  • A lusciously Tubey Magical Top 100 album with orchestral arrangements by the superbly talented Gordon Jenkins
  • One of our favorite Nilsson releases (of which there are many) – it’s The Ultimate latter-day standards album
  • If you could only have one album of standards from the Great American Songbook, wouldn’t it have to be this one?
  • “This is a must have disc pure and simple as it is the best standards album any contemporary artist has ever recorded. All the ingredients were woven together for a remarkable vision.”

After our first big shootout for this album many years ago we were so blown away by what a great copy could do that we immediately added it to our Rock & Pop Top 100 list and have never once regretted doing so. It’s the only Nilsson album to make the cut. Even more unusual, considering it was recorded in 1973, it’s actually one of the better sounding orchestra-backed male vocal albums that we know of. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – She Shot Me Down

  • Sinatra’s Reprise swan song finally arrives on the site with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • It’s as rich, warm and natural as any copy we have ever heard, with wonderful transparency and plenty of studio ambience, especially considering this is a recording from 1981, not 1961
  • “A thought-provoking set of torch songs with soaring strings, lyrics fraught with loss and regret, and heart-rending, world-weary vocals”
  • “She Shot Me Down is Frank Sinatra’s last great album, a dark, brooding record of saloon songs delivered with an understated authority… It’s a dense, moody record that works spectacularly — Sinatra’s vocals are more alive and rich in detail than on Trilogy, and the concept is more concise and well-executed.”

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Frank Sinatra – No One Cares

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  • With nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish, this vintage stereo pressing sounds just right
  • This orchestrated album of ballads boasts superb 1959 Sinatra All Tube Analog sound
  • This early pressing has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues we’ve played – it gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in the room with you
  • These two exceptionally good sounding sides have two very important qualities – both the breath, and the front and center immediacy, of Sinatra’s vocals, with Jenkins’ tubey rich orchestral arrangements in support
  • “Jenkins gives the songs a subtly tragic treatment, and Sinatra responds with a wrenching performance.”

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 rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality. You immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.

This copy was simply fuller, richer, clearer, more tonally correct, more transparent, bigger, livelier and more involving than practically any other we played (hence the high grades). It’s the very definition of a Hot Stamper. (more…)

Nat “King” Cole’s – Love Is The Thing

  • A lovely pressing of this audiophile favorite, with Double Plus (A++) sound and fairly quiet vinyl on both sides to rival the best pop vocal recordings we know of
  • Nat himself sounds especially immediate and real, and the strings are much less of a problem here than they are on most pressings
  • If all you know of this album is the weirdly unnatural remix DCC did (on Analogue Productions vinyl too) this pressing will be nothing less than a revelation
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Nat King Cole’s collaborations with Gordon Jenkins rank among the finest from either artist or arranger. 1957’s Love Is the Thing remains the epitome of the pair’s undeniable compatibility, and it topped the album charts for eight weeks.”

Love Is The Thing has always been one of the better Nat “King” Cole recordings we play. The music is sublime, and on the right copy the sound can be superb. Armed with a much larger variety of pressings to play, including some interesting “finds” among them, our recent shootout convinced us that it actually is The Best. We have never heard the man sound better than he does on the best copies of this very recording.

One of the key elements we noticed on the best of the best was the quality of relaxation in Nat’s performance. He sings so effortlessly on the good sounding pressings. On some pressings that casual quality is not nearly as noticeable. (more…)