Top Arrangers – Nelson Riddle

Frank Sinatra – Only The Lonely – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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

It is TOUGH to find a good sounding Only The Lonely, but this pressing really delivers. Frank’s vocals sound present, breathy, and full — just the way they need to.

According to John Rockwell’s book, Sinatra: An American Classic, when asked at a party in the mid-1970s if he had a favorite album among his recordings, without hesitation, Sinatra chose Only the Lonely.

Sinatra was nominated for five Grammys at the inaugural Grammy Awards in 1959. Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely and Sinatra’s other album released in 1958, Come Fly with Me, were nominated for the Album of the Year, and Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely won the Grammy Award for Best Album Cover.

Wikipedia (more…)

How Exactly Is This an Audiophile Record?

 

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Linda Ronstadt – What’s New

Not having played this record in more than a decade, it’s interesting to hear this Mobile Fidelity pressing with much better equipment than was previous available to me. The first thing I noticed was the amazing transparency of the recording, no doubt the reason audiophiles have always liked it.

Next on the list, and a bit of a surprise, is the correct tonality — this record is tonally right on the money, something Mobile Fidelity rarely achieves. This MoFi was mastered by Jack Hunt, not Stan Ricker, which may explain why the top end is more correct than usual.

Third and last is George Massenburg’s approach to this recording, which, to be charitable, is not to my liking. Let’s just say he prefers a certain artificiality to his sound that does little for me.

Of course, not all audiophiles will agree with me about this. Some audiophiles actually like this kind of sound. They like the sound of Graceland. They like the sound of The Well. They like the sound of Patricia Barber’s albums. They like a lot of recordings I don’t like.

When I speak highly of a recording or pressing, my prejudices and preferences are spelled out for all to see. There should be little doubt that the sound of this album is not to my taste, but for those of you who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you will probably like.

Ella Fitzgerald – Get Happy!

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  • Ella’s 1959 release for Verve (in stereo!) makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides
  • The sound is big, rich, lively and dynamic, with Ella’s astounding vocal range rendered as only an All Tube Analog chain can
  • These sides reproduce both the breath, as well as the front and center immediacy, of The First Lady of Song’s vocals, with tubey rich orchestral arrangements in support
  • “As usual, Ella uplifts all of the material and her best moments come on ‘Somebody Loves Me,’ a heartfelt ‘Moonlight Becomes You,’ a scat-filled ‘Blue Skies’ and (somewhat surprisingly) ‘St. Louis Blues.’… the formerly obscure ‘Get Happy’ finds Ella Fitzgerald at the peak of her powers.”

*NOTE: On side two, a small mark makes 1 loud then 1 moderate pop in the middle of track 2, Blue Skies.

The space here 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…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Swings Gently with Nelson

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  • An excellent sounding stereo copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Here are the natural, present, wonderfully breathy vocals that can only be heard on these vintage vinyl pressings
  • “In 1961 Ella Fitzgerald recorded two albums with Nelson Riddle’s Orchestra. Her voice was in peak form and, even if the backup band was somewhat anonymous, Fitzgerald uplifted the 15 songs on this set… Although the accent is on ballads, several of the songs are taken at medium tempos and she swings throughout. Highlights include “Georgia on My Mind,” “The Very Thought of You,” “It’s a Pity to Say Goodnight,” “Darn That Dream,” “Body and Soul” and a cooking “All of Me.””

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Frank Sinatra – Songs for Swingin’ Lovers – Our Shootout Winner from 2006

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

This is a Minty Capitol Black Label original LP with No Bar Code. They don’t come any better than this! It is amazingly quiet for an old Capitol, with excellent sound throughout.

Many of the Sinatra Capitol Black Label releases do not sound good. They’re full of harmonic distortion, much like The Beatles’ records from that era. This copy is the exception. It’s full of life and clearly made from a good tape.

Sinatra pressings like this one benefit from better mastering, with those occasionally shrill upper mids under control while keeping the rich, warm sound of Sinatra’s voice intact. (Many reissues are flat and compressed, not to mention thin, grainy, and irritating.)  (more…)

Nat “King” Cole – To Whom It May Concern

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  • Nat “King” Cole’s wonderful 1959 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • The presence and immediacy of Nat’s vocals here are ’50s Capitol Recording Magic at its best – you won’t believe how good this early stereo pressing sounds
  • With the biggest, clearest, richest, most present and most natural vocal reproduction, this copy took Nat’s performance to another level, which is exactly what earned this copy its Three Pluses
  • “For this album, Cole had the idea of putting together a set of newly written songs in the classic style, with typically sympathetic arrangements by Nelson Riddle…”

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Frank Sinatra – Strangers In The Night – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

Folks, for The Best Sound on a Frank Sinatra record it simply does not get any better than Strangers In The Night. 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.

1966 was a very good year indeed for Frank Sinatra — he recorded Live at the Sands with Count Basie that year as well. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Like Someone In Love

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

The space is HUGE and the sound so rich. The vocals have dramatically less hardness and the orchestra — especially on side two — is not brash for once.  

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.

Take it from an Ella fan, you can’t go wrong with this one, assuming you can put up with some ticky vinyl. This is about as quiet as we can find them. Like Someone in Love is five times more rare than Clap Hands, and twice as likely to be noisy. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Sings The George Gershwin Song Book

More Ella Fitzgerald

More Sings The George Gershwin Song Book

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

White Hot sound on side two of this original copy – shockingly good. Ella sounds rich, Tubey Magical and breathy — this is a real Demo Disc. Side one is very good as well, nicely warm and rich by track two. Nelson Riddle’s arrangements are especially interesting and artful throughout. 

It is our opinion that the mono takes all the fun out of the Nelson Riddle’s deliberately wide, spacious orchestral presentation surrounding Ella. Which is too bad: the mono pressings are five times as common as the stereo ones. (more…)

Rosemary Clooney – Rosie Solves The Swingin’ Riddle!

More Rosemary Clooney

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  • An outstanding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first
  • These sides are rich, sweet and Tubey Magical with wonderfully breathy vocals and lots of space around all of the players
  • “The pair made the most of their first collaboration, devising a program of 12 standards that combined Riddle’s pugnacious yet intricate arrangements with Clooney’s warm, grand vocals to create a swing record with feeling… Vocalist fits together with orchestra like hand in glove…” – All Music

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