Top Engineers – Lowell Frank

Frank Sinatra – September of My Years

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More Pop and Jazz Vocals

  • This superb pressing boasts Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl for a vintage Blue Green original Reprise stereo pressing from the ’60s – how this one survived for so many years in such lovely playing condition is something we will never know
  • An especially Tubey Magical Male Vocal recording, but that sound can only found on the best properly cleaned pressings, like this one
  • Exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied – Frank is right in the room with you on this one
  • 5 stars: (“One of Frank Sinatra’s triumphs of the ’60s”) and Grammy Album of the Year for 1966
  • If you’re a fan of the man, widely considered the greatest vocalist of the second half of the 20th century, this title from 1965 is clearly one of his best, and one of his best sounding
  • The complete list of titles from 1965 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
  • 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,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. This album is on that list.

This vintage Reprise pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Frank Sinatra singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

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Frank Sinatra / Sinatra At The Sands – The Ideal Audiophile Pressing

More of the Music of Frank Sinatra

More of the Music of Count Basie

As you will see below, Mobile Fidelity may have made the perfect record for you.

This, of course, depends on who you are. More precisely, it depends on whether you care about having better sound, and whether you know how to acquire pressings with better sound.

As for the MoFi you see pictured, it’s quiet, it’s tonally correct, and on the equipment most audiophiles will probably use to play it back, it does not seem to be especially veiled, opaque or compressed.

If you’re the kind of audiophile who doesn’t want to do the work required to find a top quality vintage pressing on his own, or buy one from us, this is actually a very good sounding record and a good way for you to go.

In that sense it is the ideal pressing for most audiophiles.

Ask yourself three questions:

  1. Do you want the expense and hassle of finding a nice original stereo copy?
  2. Do you want to invest in proper record cleaning equipment to restore the glorious sound of the original’s 50-plus year old vinyl?
  3. Do you want to spend the time (decades) and money (many tens of thousands of dollars) to build and tweak a top quality analog playback system?

If you don’t want to do these things, you are not alone.

In fact, you are clearly in the majority, part of that enormously tall, fat bulge right in the middle of the bell curve. As the quintessential audiophile record lover, a big part of the mass of the mass-market, Mobile Fidelity has made the perfect record for you.

It’s quiet, it’s tonally correct, and on the audiophile equipment you will most probably use to play it back with, it does not seem to be especially veiled, opaque or compressed.

It is indeed all of these things, and many more, but you will have no reason to suspect that anything is wrong with it.

More precisely, you will have no way to know that anything is wrong with it.

We know exactly what’s wrong with it, but that’s because we are very serious about records and audio, as serious as they come. Who digs deeper than we do?

Now that you have failed to note its many shortcomings, the only thing remaining is for you to go to an audiophile forum and write your review, telling everyone how much better it is than whatever crappy pressing you owned and will be trading in soon. This assumes you owned anything at all. I would be surprised if the average audiophile has a vintage copy of the album to compare with the new one, but no doubt some do. The later reissues of the album, which are common in clean condition, give ammunition to all of those who proclaim that reissues are consistently awful. That’s often not the case, but is definitely the case in this case.

If you want to hold the pressings you play to a higher sonic standard, we are here to help.

If setting a low bar is more your style, Mobile Fidelity has been making records for you for more than fifty years. As long as you keep buying them, they’ll keep making them. They’ve been setting a very low bar for as long as I can remember, and the fact that they are still around is positive proof that their customers like things just fine that way.

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Frank Sinatra / Count Basie – It Might As Well Be Swing

More Frank Sinatra

More Count Basie

  • A KILLER sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • These side are doing it all right — big, rich and Tubey Magical yet still clean, clear and present with lovely breathy vocals
  • “It Might as Well Be Swing, was a more structured, swing-oriented set than Sinatra-Basie, and in many ways the superior album… , what makes [it] more successful is the consistently high level of the performances. On their previous collaboration, both Sinatra and Basie sounded a bit worn out, but throughout this record they play with energy and vigor.” 

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Frank Sinatra – Moonlight Sinatra

More Frank Sinatra

  • You’ll find nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last on this elusive favorite from Ol’ Blue Eyes – exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • We’ve been working on this shootout for years – this is one of the few copies to ever hit the site
  • Master engineer Lowell Frank correctly captured the sound of every instrument here: the guitars, piano, strings, drums, percussion instruments — everything has the natural timbre of the real thing
  • “Driven by a set of lush, sparkling Nelson Riddle arrangements, Moonlight Sinatra is a low-key, charming collection. An enjoyable, romantic listen.”

The presence and immediacy here are wonderful. Turn it up and Frank is between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. On the best, hard-to-find copies, the sound is big, open, rich and full. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy.

This Blue Green Label LP also has the midrange magic that’s missing from the later reissues. As good as some of them can be, this one is 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 the best pressings have 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…)

Frank Sinatra and Count Basie – Sinatra At The Sands

More Frank Sinatra

More Count Basie

  • This original Blue and Green Reprise Stereo pressing boasts outstanding sound on all four sides
  • Truly one of the greatest live albums of all time, recorded late at night in the big room at the Sands Hotel in Vegas
  • This is Basie and Sinatra in their natural habitat and in their prime, putting on the show of a lifetime
  • On the right system this is about as close as you get to hearing Sinatra singing live in your listening room, with the added realism of a live Vegas show
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Basie and the orchestra are swinging and dynamic, inspiring a textured, dramatic, and thoroughly enjoyable performance from Sinatra … the definitive portrait of Frank Sinatra in the ’60s.”

*NOTE: On side three, a mark makes 10 light ticks at the end of Track 3 and 10 moderate pops at the beginning of Track 4.

This double album presents Sinatra and Basie at the height of their powers, in a setting especially conducive to both men’s music, the big room at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. If you missed it — and I’m sure most all of us did — here’s your chance to go back in time and be seated with the beautiful people front row center. This two-disc all tube-mastered analog set is practically the only way you’ll ever be able to hear the greatest vocalist of his generation — in his prime no less — fronting one of the swingingest big bands of the time.

The presence and immediacy here are staggering. 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 records out there offer the kind of realistic, lifelike sound you get from this pressing. (more…)

Petula Clark – These Are My Songs

  • This excellent Green Label WB original pressing offers a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The big hit is Don’t Sleep in the Subway and it sounds Tubey Magically awesome here
  • For this era of recording, 1967, and for such a big production, the sound here is glorious
  • Huge space with lots of lovely analog reverb swirling around Pet’s vocals – nice!

Not many original copies survived in clean enough condition to be played on today’s modern audiophile equipment, but we’re glad to report that this one did.

The best copies are huge, rich and Tubey Magical. They were definitely not going for AM Radio sound on These Are My Songs the way they did on some of her albums, and thank god for that. We’ve probably auditioned close to a dozen of Miss Clark’s releases from back in the day and this one seems to us the best sounding of the bunch.

It’s rare for the loud vocal parts not to strain a bit from compressor or limiter distortion, but the really good pressings hold up through the sections where the chorus and the orchestra are their biggest and loudest. (more…)

Frank Sinatra / Moonlight Sinatra – Lowell Frank Is The Man

Credit engineer Lowell Frank for correctly capturing the sound of every instrument here: the guitars, piano, strings, drums, percussion instruments — everything has the natural timbre of the real thing.

One of the best sounding Frank Sinatra records is his as well: September Of My Years, from 1965, also on Reprise and only good on the original label and only good in stereo, like this title. There must be plenty of Tubey Magic on the tapes. It’s key to the best pressings. Without it, you might as well be playing a CD.

And let’s not forget the amazing (when you find a good one) Sinatra At The Sands, a record that blew my mind the first time I heard it back in the early ’70s.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Moonlight Becomes You
Moon Song
Moonlight Serenade
Reaching For The Moon
I Wished On The Moon

Side Two

Oh, You Crazy Moon
The Moon Got In My Eyes
Moonlight Mood
Moon Love
The Moon Was Yellow (And The Night Was Young)

AMG  Review

Driven by a set of lush, sparkling Nelson Riddle arrangements, Moonlight Sinatra is a low-key, charming collection. Although the basic concept is somewhat nebulous — all of the songs have the word “moon” in the title — Riddle wrote a series of charts that suggest a warm, lovely evening with a variety of tones and moods, from light Latin rhythms to sweet ballads… An enjoyable, romantic listen.

Frank Sinatra and Count Basie / Sinatra At The Sands – Mobile Fidelity Reviewed

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? (more…)

Frank Sinatra / September of My Years – Another Rhino Mediocrity

More of the Music of Frank Sinatra

More Pop and Jazz Vocals

Sonic Grade: C-

The originals are better and not that hard to find. 

Skip the orange label reissues. We’ve never heard a good one.

Rhino Records has really made a mockery of the analog medium. Rhino bills their releases as 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.

The CD versions of most of the LP titles they released early on are far better sounding than the lifeless, flat, pinched, so-called audiophile pressings they did starting around 2000.


FURTHER READING

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Unquestionably the Best Sammy Davis Jr. Album We’ve Ever Played

davissammy_1501_298Sammy Davis, Jr. Albums We’ve Reviewed

A Pop & Jazz Vocal Album that Belongs in Any Audiophile Record Collection

One of the most emotionally rich and sublimely enjoyable collections of romantic ballads ever recorded.

Our Hot Stamper pressings are guaranteed to demolish the DCC CD (should you have one laying around, an admittedly unlikely proposition to be sure).

The sound is rich, warm and natural beyond expectation — assuming you’ve suffered through other of Sammy’s recordings from the ’60s, as we have, finding little of merit in the sound. On most of them, at some point in the first track the phony vocal EQ and heavy reverb dashed whatever hopes we might have had for the sound. Soon enough the record would be consigned to the trade-in pile, perhaps to find a home where bad sound is not a deal-breaker (which means pretty much everywhere). For us audiophiles, at least most of the time, it has to be.
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