Top Artists – Mel Torme

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,Β 

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!!!πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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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Mel Torme & Buddy Rich – Together Again For The First Time on Direct to Disc

This is a Century Direct-to-Disc featuring Mel Torme fronting the Buddy Rich Big Band. And it’s a pretty big band with four trumpets, three trombones, five saxes and a tuba! One of the best tracks is “Here’s That Rainy Day”, with guest soloist Phil Woods. The beginning is just Mel and Phil, a duet of sorts, with a lovely sense of melancholy.

However, both men seem tired and the session doesn’t swing much.

Or could it be that they’re playing it safe, afraid to make a mistake and then have to start the live-to-disc session over from the top?

Hard to know, but that’s the problem with direct to disc recordings — avoiding mistakes, even engineering ones, can suck the life right out of the music.

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Mel Torme Albums We’ve Reviewed

More Reviews of Century Direct to Disc Records

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Mel Torme – Songs of New York

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Mel Torme Albums We’ve Reviewed

  • This surprisingly good sounding pressing of Mel Tormé’s 1963 album boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Like many of the best Mel TormΓ© recordings from the ’50s and early-’60s, the sound here is rich, warm and smooth, with Vintage Analog Tubey Magic to die for
  • Turn it up and The Velvet Fog will be standing right between your speakers, putting his heart and soul into these American standards
  • We freely admit that the originals are potentially better sounding — the only ones we ever find on the early label are much too noisy to enjoy
  • However, the best of them make great reference copies, so we keep them around and compare them to these reasonably quiet and very good sounding reissues
  • β€œThis thematic recording, with songs all relating to New York City, has vocalist Mel TormΓ© singing in fine fashion… done with the heartfelt passion of a man who has lived in the Big Apple and has many tales to tell.”
  • A Male Vocal Classic from 1963 that should appeal to any fan of Mel Torme in his prime
  • The complete list of titles from 1963 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These Atlantic pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

This vintage stereo pressing has the kind of Midrange Magic that modern records barely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it ain’t coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with Mel, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage Analog recordings are known for —Β this sound. (more…)

Was (Not Was) – Born To Laugh At Tornadoes

This is a Very Nice Looking Original Geffen Promo LP of one of my favorite wacked out records! I’ve never heard anything like it. Every song sports a unique arrangement and almost all of them have different vocalists, including a magical performance by Mel Torme.

If you like offbeat records, this is one you might get a kick out of.

“The Was brothers provide a strange bunch of songs with irresistible dance beats, plus an array of guest singers that is, well, unusual to say the least: Mitch Ryder, Doug Fieger (of The Knack), Ozzy Osbourne, and, on the ballad “Zaz Turned Blue,” Mel TormΓ©.” — AMG (more…)

Every Label Made Bad Sounding Records – Verve Released this Mel Torme Album in 1960

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Mel Torme Albums We’ve Reviewed

Smeary and dry. As far as we can tell, based on the sound of this copy, Swingin’ on the Moon is not an album worthy of a Hot Stamper shootout. If we hear a better one down the road, we would certainly be open to the possibility.

If you want a better sounding moon-themed album, Sinatra made a very good one.

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.

You can find this one in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made. (On some records in the Hall of Shame the sound is passable but the music is bad.Β  These are also records you can safely avoid.)

Note that most of the entries are audiophile remasterings of one kind or another. The reason for this is simple: we’ve gone through the all-too-often unpleasant experience of comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stamper pressings. (more…)

Mel Torme / Swings Shubert Alley – Another Reissue that Kills the Original

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Mel Torme Albums We’ve Reviewed

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other Mel Torme album you’ve heard – and it plays about as quietly as any copy ever does
  • One of our favorite Male Vocal albums – exceptionally well recorded and really involving on a copy that sounds as good as this one does
  • Lovely richness and warmth, you may just find yourself using it as a Analog Demonstration Disc – Mel is in his prime and magnificent throughout
  • 5 stars: “Though the nominal concept for Swings Shubert Alley is Broadway standards, this last moment of pure Mel TormΓ© brilliance swings much too fast and hard for the concept to be anything but pure swing. The overall mood is unrestrained enthusiasm, and it makes for an excellent record.”

Mel Torme Swings Shubert Alley is one of our very favorite male vocal albums, and a great copy like this will show you why — the audiophile quality sound and swinging jazz vocal music are simply hard to beat.

This album finds Mel in his prime. By the ’70s he was a shadow of himself, and more modern (read: less natural) recording technology wasn’t helping. None of those later albums does much for us here at Better Records.

His Bethlehem recordings can have outstanding sonics and music to match, but try to find a clean one. It’s been years since one came our way that wasn’t noisy or groove damaged. (more…)

Mel Torme – Back in Town – Reviewed in 2011

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This is a nice looking Verve LP with relatively quiet vinyl and surprisingly good sound. Natural, smooth and sweet, I doubt there are copies out there that sound much better. The music itself is great fun. Hearing Mel sing with the female vocalists is really a treat. (more…)

Mel Torme / I Dig The Duke – I Dig The Count

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Mel Torme Albums We’ve Reviewed

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  • Torme’s 1962 release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • This is not one of Mel’s better known albums, but we found it to be prime Velvet Fog, right up there with the best of his work auditioned to date – if you haven’t heard the man in his prime, this would be a great place to start
  • Val Valentin did the engineering – as he often did over the course of his long and storied career, he knocked this one out of the park
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Recorded with the Johnny Mandel Orchestra at sessions in Los Angeles, it includes one half Duke Ellington and one half Count Basie… With all these things going for it, how can TormΓ© do wrong?”

*NOTE:Β A small mark in the middle of track 3, I Like The Sunshine, makes 12 moderate pops.

Sometimes the copy with the best sound is not the copy with the quietest vinyl. The best sounding copy is always going to win the shootout, the condition of its vinyl not withstanding. If you can tolerate the problems on this pressing you are in for some killer Mel Torme music with exceptional sound. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


The sound of this superb jazzy ensemble is big, lively, open and clear, with Tubey Magical richness you will not find anywhere but on these early Verve stereo LPs.

Why is that? Well, for starters, this vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)

Mel Torme – Live at Marty’s – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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Mel Torme Albums We’ve Reviewed

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We just finished a shootout for this album and had a blast with the ol’ Velvet Fog. Many copies of this album are transistory, gritty and dry, but this one has got enough richness and warmth to smooth out those unpleasant qualities. The immediacy and presence throughout are going to KNOCK YOU OUT. Mel is gonna be in the room with you when you play this one good and loud. (more…)

Mel Torme With The Marty Paich Dek-tette

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Mel Torme Albums We’ve Reviewed

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  • A KILLER copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second; exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • Both sides here are incredibly rich and smooth with wonderfully breathy vocals and a solid bottom end
  • “Mel TormΓ© with the Marty Paich Dek-tette is a vocal masterpiece, an extremely satisfying record achieved only by a fusion of an excellent voice, an excellent band, and excellent material.” – All Music, 5 Stars

This vintage Bethlehem pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for —Β this sound. (more…)