Top Arrangers – Nelson Riddle

Frank Sinatra – Sinatra’s Sinatra

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  • Sinatra’s wonderful 1963 release finally returns with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • Forget the reissues – the stereo original we are offering here is the only way to go if rich, tubey, dynamic, musical sound is what you are after
  • Frank rerecorded some of his biggest hits in stereo for this album – the record is just one Sinatra Classic after another
  • “Some of his biggest hits and most famous songs are included in his picks, including “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Young at Heart.””
  • Amazon 5 Stars: “Riddle’s arrangements are, as always, top-notch, and Sinatra is in fine, engaging form.”

Great bass and weight coupled with lots of space and correct tonality in the midrange add up to only one thing: Triple Plus or close to it sound on both sides!

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep the strings from becoming shrill) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we heard them all.

We know a fair bit about the man’s recordings at this point. As of today we’ve done commentaries for more than 21 different Sinatra shootouts, and that’s not even counting the ten or twenty other titles that either bombed or were sold off years ago. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Sinatra’s Swingin’ Session

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  • This Capitol stereo pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These sides are rich, Tubey Magical, balanced and natural – this is the way you want Frank Sinatra to sound
  • The tonality of Sinatra’s voice is right on the money, and the brass – so key to these big group sessions – is alive with energy and power
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Sinatra’s Swingin’ Session is a fast, driving album, the speediest and hardest swing collection Frank Sinatra ever recorded. Sinatra performed the songs twice as fast as was expected; consequently, it’s one of his jazziest swing sets, with the musicians spitting out energetic, forceful solos and providing tough, gutsy support.”

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. Nelson Riddle and his orchestra back Frank with wonderful arrangements, and a copy like this lets you appreciate everyone’s hard work. (more…)

Linda Ronstadt – Lush Life

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  • An outstanding copy of Ronstadt’s 1984 release with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These sides were doing everything right — clean, clear, full-bodied and dynamic with wonderfully breathy vocals and a solid bottom end
  • “What’s New illustrated that Linda Ronstadt was no longer interested in contemporary pop, and since it was a surprise success, there was no reason not to repeat the formula on Lush Life. Working again with Nelson Riddle, Ronstadt runs through several pop standards — ‘When I Fall in Love,’ ‘Sophisticated Lady,’ ‘Falling in Love Again,’ ‘It Never Entered My Mind’…”

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Frank Sinatra – Strangers In The Night

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  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides, this Sinatra title surprised us with its DEMO DISC sound
  • Clearly one of the better sounding Reprise-era Sinatra pressings we have ever played
  • Credit must given to the extraordinarily inventive arrangements of Nelson Riddle and the All Tube engineering of Lee Herschberg
  • “Sinatra’s singing is relaxed, confident, and surprisingly jazzy, as he plays with the melody of “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” and delivers a knockout punch with the assured, breathtaking “Summer Wind.”

We cannot recommend this pressing highly enough. If you want to know what the best sounding Sinatra records sound like, this is your chance. Folks, in my opinion it simply does not get any better than a killer White Hot Stamper of Strangers In The Night.

These originals are the only way to go for ’60s Sinatra, but finding them in good shape on quiet vinyl is no picnic and only a few of them actually sound the way we want them to. It’s a real treat to be in the presence of the Chairman Of The Board, in his prime, working his magic — but only an exceptional copy like this one has the power to put him right in the room with you.

What to Listen For

The Tubey Magic has to be heard to be believed. I cannot recall hearing a richer, smoother, tubier Frank Sinatra album in all my born days.

Weighty brass is key to the sound of more than just the horn section. Any leanness or thinness in the brass is instantly heard as Sinatra without weight and richness to his voice. This is the instantly recognizable sound of most reissues, the main reason we stopped buying them years ago. Having played so many amazing original stereo pressings for our shootouts over the years we don’t think that will change anytime soon. There simply is no substitute for a clean stereo pressing on the original label.

Full, Rich, Breathy, Present vocals are obviously critically important as well. This copy delivers some of the best we heard.

On this copy the orchestra and band are putting out plenty of low end, reaching down well into whomp land. It’s a thrill to hear to hear that sound on these swinging arrangements coming out of my speakers.

And of course the copies that are rich and tubey but also big, clear and open did the best in our shootout. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Sinatra ’65

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  • Sinatra ’65 finally returns to the site with Big, Bold, Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from first note to last
  • This original Green and Blue label Reprise pressing boasts clean, clear, full-bodied, lively and musical ANALOG sound from first note to last
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl they’re making – the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this very special vintage pressing simply cannot be beat
  • “. . . this is a big, bold and beautiful Sinatra album. Sinatra is at his zenith. [His] voice is in super top form on every selection in this album.”

Is the title a play on Capitol’s gazillion selling Beatles ’65? Only Frank really knows.

This original Green and Blue Reprise stereo pressing has the sound we look for — big, rich and tubey.

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Frank Sinatra – The Concert Sinatra

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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…)

Frank Sinatra – Swing Easy! And Songs For Young Lovers

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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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Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Swings Brightly With Nelson

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  • This killer 2-Pack offers Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl too for a stereo pressing of this vintage
  • Exceptionally lovely All Tube sound from 1961, with a huge, rich orchestra conducted by the legendary Nelson Riddle
  • Ella’s way with this material won her the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, her 7th Grammy
  • “The singer has rarely sounded better than during this period. Fitzgerald sticks mostly to familiar standards and is particularly memorable on ‘Don’t Be That Way,’ ‘What Am I Here For,’ ‘I’m Gonna Go Fishin,’ ‘ and ‘I Won’t Dance.'”

Take it from an Ella fan, you can’t go wrong with this one. This is about as quiet as we can find them – this is one of the lucky few that play this well.

The sound is rich and full-bodied in the best tradition of a classic vintage jazz vocal album. You could easily demonstrate your stereo with a record this good! 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 – Moonlight Sinatra

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  • You’ll find nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last on this elusive favorite from Ol’ Blue Eyes – exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • We’ve been working on this shootout for years – this is one of the few copies to ever hit the site
  • Master engineer Lowell Frank correctly captured the sound of every instrument here: the guitars, piano, strings, drums, percussion instruments — everything has the natural timbre of the real thing
  • “Driven by a set of lush, sparkling Nelson Riddle arrangements, Moonlight Sinatra is a low-key, charming collection. An enjoyable, romantic listen.”

These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.

The presence and immediacy here are wonderful. Turn it up and Frank is between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. On the best, hard-to-find copies, the sound is big, open, rich and full. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy.

This Blue Green Label LP also has the midrange magic that’s missing from the later reissues. As good as some of them can be, this one is more real sounding. It gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in front of you.

He’s no longer a recording — he’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and the best pressings have 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 – All The Way

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

This vintage ’60s Capitol pressing was our clear winner, with Triple Plus sound on both sides. It has the all the Tubey Magic one could ask for, allowing Sinatra’s rich baritone to work its magic on every phrase. As you can well imagine, finding clean, scratch-free ’60s Sinatra records like this one, in stereo no less, is no walk in the park.

This group of singles and B-sides was recorded from 1957 to 1960 – it contain some of Sinatra’s better known songs arranged by Nelson Riddle. (more…)