Top Engineers – John Kraus

Julie London / Calendar Girl in Glorious 1956 Mono

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This Julie London 1956 Classic makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too. Both of these mono sides have plenty of Tubey Magic – they’re fuller, more musical and more natural than most any other copy we played. Julie’s voice sounds particularly nice on this copy – intimate, rich and warm, just as the way we like her to sound.

This is a wonderful sounding record, and almost impossible to find with surfaces this quiet.

However, the original label pressing from 1956 does have better sound, at least it does on the noisy reference copy we used in our shootout. It’s the only early pressing I have ever seen in playable condition, and it’s far too noisy to be enjoyed with audiophile equipment. Julie Is Her Name survived the bad turntables and their owners from the era because they made so many of them. This album did not sell in those kinds of numbers, and the result is that the early pressings are rare and virtually impossible to find in audiophile playing condition. (more…)

Julie London / Julie Is Her Name – Listen for Barney Kessel’s Guitar Tone

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On the first track of side one, focus on how rich the bottom end is on Barney Kessel’s guitar. The Tubey Magic on this side is off the charts. Some copies can be dry, but that is clearly not a problem on the best pressings.

Now compare the sound of that guitar — just the guitar, nothing else — you hear on a good original pressing to the sound of the same guitar on the awful Boxcar Heavy Remaster.

We think there is a very good chance you will be quite shocked.

Unsurprisingly, everything else is worse on the Boxcar record as well. It has no reason to exist. The CD is likely better.

So Natural

The naturalness of the presentation puts this album right at the top of best sounding female vocal albums of all time.

To take nothing away from her performance, which got better with every copy we played. Julie’s rendition of Cry Me a River may be definitive.

If only Ella Fitzgerald on Clap Hands got this kind of sound! As good as the best copies of that album are, this record takes the concept of intimate female vocals to an entirely new level. (more…)

Julie London – Around Midnight

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  • Julie’s impossibly rare and wonderful 1960 release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides of this original Liberty stereo pressing
  • For whatever reason, this is a record that takes us years to find even one clean stereo copy, ouch
  • Like many of her best Liberty recordings, this one puts Julie right in the room with you thanks to the brilliant engineering of John Kraus (Julie Is Her Name, Calendar Girl, Julie… At Home, etc.)
  • 4 stars: “Her ability to interpret a song was at its strongest in the late ’50s and early ’60s, as is evidenced on the shimmering Around Midnight. While some of her best recordings were in front of small jazz combos, Around Midnight proves that London was just as effective in front of larger orchestras and bands. The drowsy “Black Coffee” and lazy “Lush Life” typify the late-night feel of the album, leading right into “The Wee Small Hours of the Morning.”

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Julie London – Julie Is Her Name

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  • Julie’s debut finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • The vocal naturalness and immediacy of this early Liberty pressing will put Julie in the room with you – more than anything else, it lets her performance come to life
  • The naturalness of the presentation puts this album right at the top of best-sounding female vocal albums of all time
  • 4 stars: “Her debut is her best, a set of fairly basic interpretations of standards in which she is accompanied tastefully by guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Ray Leatherwood.”

Listen to how rich the bottom end is on Barney Kessel’s guitar. The Tubey Magic here is off the charts. Some copies can be dry, but that is clearly not a problem on this one.

To take nothing away from her performance, which got better with every copy we played. Julie’s rendition of Cry Me a River may be definitive.

If only Ella Fitzgerald on Clap Hands got this kind of sound! As good as the best copies of that album are, this record takes the concept of intimate female vocals to an entirely new level. (more…)

Peggy Lee – Mink Jazz

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  • Mink Jazz finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • The vocal naturalness and immediacy of this early pressing will put Peggy in the room with you – more than anything else, it lets her performance come to life
  • These sides are exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied
  • “Peggy was, of course, in her element on the slow, seductive songs which were her trademark . . . The musicianship throughout the album is masterful, yet always secondary to Peggy’s lovely voice.”

John Krauss engineered this album, and brilliantly. You know him from many of Julie London‘s best recordings, albums such as Julie Is Her Name, Calendar Girl, Julie… At Home and Around Midnight.

This is some awfully good company if you ask me! (more…)

Peggy Lee – Big Spender

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  • Big Spender makes its Hot Stamper Debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • In-the-room presence, preternaturally breathy vocals, and boatloads of wonderful Tubey Magic
  • Everything sounds immediate and unprocessed, the hallmarks of analog – no other copy in our shootout put a living, breathing Peggy Lee right between our speakers the way this one did
  • There are a lot of bad sounding albums in Miss Lee’s catalog, but this one from Capitol in 1966 on the early stereo label showed us that there are some real winners too

John Krauss engineered brilliantly. You know him from many of Julie London‘s best recordings, albums such as Julie Is Her Name, Calendar Girl, Julie… At Home and Around Midnight

This is some awful good company if you ask me! (more…)

Julie London / Julie Is Her Name – A Boxstar Bomb

 

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A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex / Boxstar.

One question: Where’s the Tubey Magic?

We would never have pointed you in the direction of this awful Boxstar 45 of Julie Is Her Name, cut by Bernie Grundman, supposedly on tube equipment. I regret to say that we actually sold some copies, but in my defense I can honestly and truthfully claim that we never wrote a single nice thing about the sound of the record. That has to count for something, right? (more…)

Julie London / Julie Is Her Name – What a Record!

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We award this copy’s side one our very special Four Plus A++++ grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a given recording to a level we’ve never experienced before and had no idea could even exist. We estimate that about one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade. You can’t get much more rare than that.

  • Beyond White Hot stamper sound on side one of this Turquoise Liberty Mono pressing – the sound is guaranteed to blow your mind
  • Julie is in the room with you – intimate, breathy and Tubey Magical like practically nothing you’ve ever heard
  • For late night listening this may be the best Sultry Female Vocal recording ever made
  • “…one of the purest, most subtle lounge albums of all time (not to mention one of the best vocal jazz albums ever).”

This side had breathy resolution that was hard to believe, along with size and immediacy that no other side of any copy could touch. Phenomenal. (more…)

Julie London – Julie… At Home in 1959

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

If you’re a fan of intimate female vocals – the kind without a trace of digital reverb – you should get quite a kick out of Julie… At Home. And unless I miss my guess you’ll be the first and only person on your block to own it! (That’s not a bad thing considering the average person’s taste in music.) 

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These Liberty pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience (or at least as much ambience as can be heard in Julie’s living room), dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here. (more…)