Top Arrangers – Gordon Jenkins

Frank Sinatra – September of My Years

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from top to bottom
  • An especially Tubey Magical Male Vocal recording, but that sound is only found on the best Blue Green original Reprise stereo pressings – like this one
  • These sides are 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 1967

It’s not easy to find good sounding copies of any of Sinatra’s albums, but we managed to find a few very good copies of this one, an album that earned the Grammy Album of the Year for 1967 and Five Big Stars in the venerable All Music Guide. The music is indeed hard to fault. Finding the right pressing of the recording of that music is another thing entirely. That’s where we come into the picture. (more…)

Harry Nilsson – A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night

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  • Amazing Triple Plus (A+++) sound from beginning to end, making this THE copy to own of this wonderful Harry Nilsson – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • 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

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  • 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 – September of My Years – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

Have you been wondering when some amazing sounding Hot Stamper vinyl from The Chairman Of The Board was going to hit the site? Folks, TODAY IS THAT DAY! It is beyond tough to find amazing sounding (and quiet) copies of any of Sinatra’s albums, but we managed to find some STUNNING copies of this lovely album, one that earned Five Big Stars in the venerable All Music Guide.

We have paired up an A+++ As Good As It Gets side one with another copy that contains an equally impressive Triple Plus side two to give you the ULTIMATE September Of My Years White Hot Stamper set. Both White Hot sides play a solid Mint Minus, giving you wonderful sound and quiet vinyl for this male vocal classic.

Most copies suffer from a serious lack of immediacy, and what fun is that? Hot Stamper copies put Frank right up front, with the presence needed to carry his vocals out in front of the orchestra. Even the copies that get the voice right often run into problems with the orchestra, but these A+++ sides get just about EVERYTHING right. The overall sound is rich, lush and warm with astonishing clarity and transparency.

We want to give a special shoutout here to conductor/arranger Gordon Jenkins, who also handled the same duties very capably on Nilsson’s great A Little Touch Of Schmillson In The Night, another male vocal album that can sound amazing and deserves a place in any collection. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – All Alone

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

The biggest issue with Reprise-era Sinatra is always grit and grain, and we’re happy to report that this superb pressing has very little of either.

Also it’s often the case that the strings may seem a bit shrill or smeary (or both; smear itself can actually make the strings sound shrill). The more harmonically correct and rosiny the string tone the better, obviously.

We tried to get this shootout off the ground in 2012 and just did not have a big enough pile of copies to work with in order to find a truly killer pressing. This time around we had a much bigger pile to work with and much better luck. (more…)

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

More Nat “King”

Love Is The Thing

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  • 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…)

Nat King Cole – Sings Hymns and Spirituals

More Nat “King” Cole

More Sings Hymns and Spirituals

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

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 records out there give you the kind of realistic, lifelike sound you get from this pressing, particularly on side one.

We want to give a special shoutout here to conductor/arranger Gordon Jenkins, who also handled the same duties on Nilsson’s Must Own classic A Little Touch Of Schmillson in The Night.

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). (more…)

Nat “King” Cole’s Love Is The Thing – The Breatkthrough We Were Waiting For

More Nat “King”

More Love Is The Thing

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

Love Is The Thing has long been one of the best sounding Nat “King” Cole recordings we had auditioned over the years. With a large variety of copies to play, including some interesting “finds” among them, we now know it actually is The Best. We have never heard the man sound better than he does on the hottest copies of this very album.

Of course we’re always on the lookout for Nat King Cole albums with good sound. In our experience that is not nearly as easy as one might expect. Far too many of his recordings are drenched in bad reverb and can’t be taken seriously. At least one we know of has his voice out of phase with the orchestra on most of the copies we played, putting a quick end to that shootout.  (more…)

Nilsson – A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night

 

For those of you who’ve never chanced upon it, here is the ‘live’ version of the album in five parts.

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Nilsson was way ahead of his time. Rod Stewart recently made an album of classic popular music that went to number one and revived his career. Harry Nilsson understands this music SO MUCH BETTER and sings it SO MUCH BETTER than Rod Stewart that one can only come to that conclusion. Either that or the rest of the world doesn’t appreciate Nilsson as much as I do. Probably both I guess. Too bad. This album is better than all the “also rans” albums put together. (more…)