Sonic Grade: B
Another MoFi LP reviewed.
It’s pretty good. Compressed and veiled, but the tonality is correct. I give it a B. It will beat the vast majority of reissues, which tend to be thin, gritty, and woefully lacking in Tubey Magic. And the vinyl will be quiet, which is something not many of the best pressings can offer.
But who wants to listen to a B grade record when we you can buy A and A+ pressings from us?
What Hot Stampers of Sinatra At The Sands have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1966
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the Sands
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What to Listen for
There is some edge on Sinatra’s voice on every side of every copy; it’s so common it’s got to be on the tape. Those copies with less edge and grit on the vocals which are not overly smooth or dull tend to do very well in our shootouts.
Also, richness is very important. We look for a combination of rich, Tubey Magical sound that still maintains a fair amount of space, clarity, transparency and freedom from smear.
The original label pressings (always in stereo; the monos are really a joke) are richer and thicker as a rule.
The pressings with the orange two-tone labels tend to be thinner and clearer. A high percentage of them are way too modern, bright and gritty, and we throw them right in the trade-in pile.
Finding the copy with “best of both worlds” sound is the trick. Pressings on both labels have won shootouts in the past. With this album we do what we always do. We play the record without looking at the label and simply grade the quality of the sound coming out of the speakers. Any other approach is liable to fall prey to unconscious biases. As we like to say, record shootouts may not be rocket science, but they’re a science of a kind, one with strict protocols developed over the course of many years to insure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can possibly make them.
My First Time
Back in the early ’70s this was actually the album that first introduced me to honest-to-goodness “audiophile” sound.
I was at my local stereo store listening to speakers one day, and the salesman made a comment that the speakers we were listening to (the old Infinity Monitors with the Walsh tweeter) sounded “boxy”. I confessed to him that I didn’t actually know what that meant or what it would sound like if it weren’t boxy.
So he hooked up a pair of Dahlquist DQ-10s and put Sinatra at the Sands on. I was amazed at how the sound just floated in the room, free from the speakers, presenting an image that was as wide and deep as the showroom we were in. That speaker may have many flaws, but boxiness is definitely not one of them.
Come Fly With Me
I’ve Got a Crush on You
I’ve Got You Under My Skin
The Shadow of Your Smile
Street of Dreams
One for My Baby (And One More for the…
Fly Me to the Moon
One of the best tracks on the album. It can have SUPERB sound!
One O’Clock Jump
The Tea Break
You Make Me Feel So Young
All of Me
The September of My Years
Another high point and one of the best reasons to own this album. This is a much better performance than the famous studio version which was such a big hit in its day.
Luck Be a Lady
Get Me to the Church on Time
It Was a Very Good Year
Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me
Where or When
My Kind of Town
A Few Last Words
My Kind of Town (Reprise)
AMG Rave Review
In many ways, Sinatra at the Sands is the definitive portrait of Frank Sinatra in the ’60s. Recorded in April of 1966, At the Sands is the first commercially released live Frank Sinatra album, recorded at a relaxed Las Vegas club show. For these dates at the Sands, Sinatra worked with Count Basie and his orchestra, which was conducted by Quincy Jones.
Like any of his concerts, the material was fairly predictable, with his standard show numbers punctuated by some nice surprises. Throughout the show, Sinatra is in fine voice, turning in a particularly affecting version of “Angel Eyes.” He is also in fine humor, constantly joking with the audience and the band, as well as delivering an entertaining, if rambling, monologue halfway through the album. Some of the humor has dated poorly, appearing insensitive, but that sentiment cannot be applied to the music.
Basie and the orchestra are swinging and dynamic, inspiring a textured, dramatic, and thoroughly enjoyable performance from Sinatra.