Top Artists – Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra – Nice ‘N’ Easy

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  • An early stereo pressing with seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl for Capitol from this era too
  • The reproduction of Sinatra’s voice is exactly what you would expect from a Hot Stamper – he sounds rich, smooth, tonally correct and above all REAL
  • Take this one home and play it against whatever audiophile pressings you own – it’s guaranteed to SMOKE any and all versions you have in your collection, or your money back
  • 5 stars: “… a breezy collection of mid-tempo numbers arranged by Nelson Riddle. Nice ‘N’ Easy doesn’t have a touch of brooding sorrow — it rolls along steadily, charming everyone in its path.”

The immediacy of the vocals on this copy is nothing short of stunning. You get real weight down low, serious energy, a fully extended top end, and tons of that old-time analog tubey magic.

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Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim on Bad Rhino Heavy Vinyl

Sonic Grade: C-

The Rhino 180 gram LP mastered by Kevin Gray is passable, but the real thing is the real thing and just can’t be beat by some wannabe reissue.

There is a richness, a sweetness and a relaxed naturalness on the best early pressings that are virtually never found on modern remasterings.

Rhino Records has really made a mockery of the analog medium. Rhino touts their releases as being pressed on “180 gram High Performance Vinyl.” However, if they are using performance to refer to sound quality, we have found the performance of their vinyl to be quite low, lower than the average copy one might stumble upon in the used record bins.

Mastered by Kevin Gray, this record has what we would call ”modern” sound, which is to say it’s clean and tonally correct, but it’s missing the analog qualities the better originals have plenty of.

In other words, it sounds like a CD.

Who can be bothered to play a record that has so few of the qualities audiophiles are looking for on vinyl? Back in 2007 we put the question this way: Why Own a Turntable if You’re Going to Play Mediocrities Like These?

Frank Sinatra / Only The Lonely

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  • This vintage Capitol stereo pressing boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) grades throughout
  • An amazingly good sounding recording, easily one of his five best, and it would be hard to think of one that sounds better
  • We would love to find you some original stereo pressings from 1958 in audiophile playing condition, but we find about two or three over the course of five or ten years, so these early ’60s reissues are going to be the only game in town for the foreseeable future
  • Frank’s vocals sound present, breathy, and full, and not many copies can deliver that sound
  • 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
  • 5 stars: “Sinatra never forces emotion out of the lyric, he lets everything flow naturally, with grace. It’s a heartbreaking record, the ideal late-night album.”

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Frank Sinatra – The Voice (Isn’t What It Should Be) on Heavy Vinyl

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Frank Sinatra

Sonic Grade: D

An Audiophile Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records Vocal LP badly remastered for the benefit of audiophiles looking for easy answers and quick fixes.

There is a boatload of TUBEY MAGIC to be heard on the early pressings, no doubt due to the fact that they are mastered with tube equipment, but you would never know it by playing this barely passable Classic repressing.

The difference is night and day.

It’s been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as nothing special. Like a lot of the records put out by this label, it’s tonally fine but low-rez and lacking spacewarmth and above all, Tubey Magic.

I don’t think I’ve ever played an original that didn’t sound better, and that means that the best grade to give Classic’s pressing is probably a D, for below average. It sounds far too much like a CD.

Who can be bothered to play a record that has so few of the qualities we audiophiles are looking for on vinyl? Back in 2007 we put the question this way: Why Own a Turntable if You’re Going to Play Mediocrities Like These?

Records are getting awfully expensive these days, and it’s not just our Hot Stampers that seem priced for perfection.

If you are still buying these modern remastered pressings, take the advice of some of our customers and stop throwing your money away on Heavy Vinyl and Half-Speed Mastered LPs.

At the very least let us send you a Hot Stamper pressing — of any album you choose — that can show you what is wrong with your copy. of the album.

And if for some reason you disagree with us that our record sounds better than yours, we will happily give you all your money back and wish you the best.

Frank Sinatra – Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim

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  • Boasting superb Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish, this vintage stereo pressing of Sinatra and Jobim’s sublime collaboration will be very hard to beat
  • The presence and three-dimensional space of the recording have the power to transport the Chairman of the Board and his Brazilian buddy right into your listening room
  • This is a magical album from start to finish, one of a handful of a Must Own Sinatra releases, and my personal favorite of all his recordings
  • 4 1/2 stars: “After a few plays, the album begins to slowly work its way underneath a listener’s skin, and it emerges as one of his most rewarding albums of the ’60s.”
  • 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,” with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. This is a good example of a record audiophiles should make an effort to get to know better

This is, in our opinion, one of the two best sounding Sinatra album on Reprise (the other being September of My Years from 1965). The recording is so rich, sweet, and Tubey Magical you would think it was prime Capitol period Sinatra — but it’s not, obviously; it just sounds that way. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Another Kevin Gray Mediocrity

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Hot Stamper Pressings of Pop and Jazz Vocals Albums

Sonic Grade: C-

Reprise reissued this album on 180 gram vinyl in 2004.

Our advice: skip this Heavy Vinyl Mediocrity. The originals are far better and not that hard to find.

In fact, the good originals are so good that they can be found in our Vocal Demo Disc section. I’m pretty sure that this run-of-the-mill reissue is nobody’s idea of a Demo Disc.

Mastered by Kevin Gray, this record has what we would call ”modern” sound, which is to say it’s clean and tonally correct, but it’s missing the Tubey Magic the originals are full of.

In other words, it sounds like a CD.

Who can be bothered to play a record that has so few of the qualities audiophiles are looking for on vinyl? Back in 2007 we put the question this way: Why Own a Turntable if You’re Going to Play Mediocrities Like These?

Also, skip the orange label reissues. We’ve never heard a good one and we stopped buying them a long time ago.

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Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington – Francis A. & Edward K.

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  • An original Reprise stereo pressing with a STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two mated to an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Sinatra is both natural and present – he actually sounds like he is standing on the same stage as Ellington’s band
  • The highs are extended and silky sweet, the bass is tight and punchy – this copy gives you more life and energy than most by a long shot
  • “Recorded on Sinatra’s birthday in 1967, this collaboration between America’s most popular singing icon and pre-eminent jazz composer still endures as one of Sinatra’s most enjoyable Reprise-era albums.” – Amazon
  • If you’re a fan of either of these two fine gentlemen, this early pressing from 1967 surely belong in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1967 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Recorded one year after the remarkable Sinatra-Jobim record that we treasure here at Better Records, Sinatra takes the opportunity to work with one of the greatest bandleaders in the history of jazz, the Duke himself. We had good luck with the stereo originals on the lovely Blue and Green Reprise labels — they can be as big, rich and warm as Sinatra’s legendary Capitol recordings when you find the right pressing, and that’s really saying something.

You Are There

The presence and immediacy here are really something. Turn it up and Frank is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime.

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 Sinatra records offer the kind of realistic, lifelike sound you get from this pressing.

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 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…)

Sinatra At The Sands on Dahlquist DQ-10s – My Neophyte Audiophile Mind Is Blown

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Making Audio Progress

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.

This description is pretty close to what I thought I heard all those years ago

The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Turn it up and Frank is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. Very few records out there offer the kind of realistic, lifelike sound you get from this pressing.

This vintage stereo LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues. As good as some of them can be, this one is dramatically 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 this record has 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.

Or so I thought at the time.

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Letter of the Week – “I feel like a scotch right now.”

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More Pop and Jazz Vocals

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,   

Thanks guys – sitting here listening to my A+++/A+++ Sinatra that I just opened. Wow, just as advertised it’s like Uncle Frank is right here in my listening room.

I feel like a scotch right now.

Love your service, your product and your integrity.

Rocco

Rocco,

Thanks for the kind words. We love to make discoveries of just these sorts of albums, and make them available on Hot Stamper pressings that we know for a fact sound good, because we cleaned and played them ourselves.

What could be better?

Thanks for your letter.

Best, TP


Rocco wrote us this letter early on in his Hot Stamper journey, which we replied to in depth if you wish to check it out.

His other letters can be found here.

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The 20 to 1 Ratio for Finding Your Personal Favorites

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently (and one that is still on its way to him):

Hey Tom, 

So I go on YouTube to refresh my memory and listen and James Taylor, that could be good, Toto, what a feel good album, brings back memories, Wish You Were Here, already have a pretty good copy, Sinatra-Basie, what’s that?

So I go to YouTube and first track HOLY CRAP! You know it’s good when you’re throwing a sound stage off your lap-top! Basie orchestra, perfect. Frank comes in swinging and man that guy was so freaking cool, people today have no idea how unbelievably cool he was, and so like 20 seconds if that I am SOLD!!!😂😂😂

Francis A and Edward K was a fave for years. You turned me onto Mel Torme Swings Schubert Alley. Fabulous voice. What I love most of all though is the sense of live flowing swinging music of FA&EK and with Basie. Gets me even off the laptop!

You know, there’s two kinds of audiophiles, the ones who want a vast array of new music, and the ones who are happy with only a small amount of high quality music.

I am definitely in the second group. Love new music but when it comes to what I will sit and listen, very hard to please. When I do find something new though, man do I ever appreciate it. Got a good feeling about Sinatra-Basie. Thanks!

I replied:

One quick note: I would not be happy with a “small amount” of new music, but I am very happy with a “smaller amount.” Quality over quantity, right? Mediocre records don’t get played — that’s at least one of the many reasons that so many audiophile pressings still remain in pristine condition decades after their production.

I like to say that you have to buy twenty albums to find the one you will fall in love with, and without those other 19 you will never discover the one.

There is no way to predict any of this music stuff. Or sound stuff. You have to experience it, and to experience it you have to spend the time and you definitely have to spend some money.

The work we do in pursuing this hobby is supposed to be fun, and most of the time it is, but it is definitely work to buy hundreds of records and set aside the time to play them. I’ve been doing it since I was about 17; I can still remember the converted house of a record store I used to shop at in Leucadia right off the coast highway here in California.

I bought Loggins and Messina’s first album there the year it came out, 1971, because I was already a big Poco fan and Buffalo Springfield fan and Jim Messina was in both. Bought Frampton’s Wind of Change from the same store the next year. Not even sure why I bought that one. I don’t think I knew who Peter Frampton was and I certainly had no idea who Humble Pie were.

Both became favorites and have been played hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times in the intervening five decades. (We have a section for these kinds of records which can be found here.)

I needed to buy two or three thousand records to find my top one or two hundred, the records, like our writer here, that I play over and over and never tire of.

It never made any sense to me to accumulate lots of records just to own lots of records, the way this guy did.

Knowing just how much work it takes to dig deeply into the music and the sound of any album makes owning this kind of big collection a sure sign of a superficial approach to both the music and the sound.

It’s easy to buy lots of records. Getting to know them in a serious way is a great deal harder, and a great deal more rewarding if you are serious about sound.

For those of you who insist on doing things a different way, we wish you good luck.

Best, TP

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