Top Engineers – Ted Keep

Julie London – Julie (in Mono)

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  • This outstanding vintage Liberty MONO pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • In-the-room presence, preternaturally breathy vocals, and boatloads of wonderful Tubey Magic
  • This amazing sleeper of a record belongs right up at the top of Ms. London’s oeuvre (25 albums strong) along with Julie Is Her Name – high praise indeed
  • 4 stars: “Usually put into a torch song setting, this release allows London to shed that garment and become jazzy. Instead of being sultry, she becomes dazzling and sparkling. She also becomes more adept at phrasing and timing and takes a risk or two in the tradition of a jazz singer.”

The great Jimmy Rowles plays piano, handled the arrangements and fronts the big group here, taking the music in a wonderfully jazzy direction that suits Julie’s vocal style perfectly.

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 Julie London singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now more than 63 years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide. (more…)

Julie London in 1960 – Make Love To Me

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  • One of the best copies from our most recent shootout with a Triple Plus (A+++) side one and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Julie is in the room with you – her voice is intimate, breathy and Tubey Magical like practically nothing you’ve ever heard 
  • Unusually clean surfaces, playing Mint Minus Minus (w/ caveats, see below), a step up from most of the copies we’ve been running into lately
  • “Her subtle sensuality and lightly swinging style made for a potent combination.” – All Music

Thanks to superb engineering and vintage All Tube mastering, this 1957 LP is wonderfully rich and sweet, with a breathy, intimate Julie London performing live in your listening room.

This original Liberty Turquoise Mono 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. (more…)

Julie London – Julie Is Her Name, Volume 2

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  • The superb follow-up to Julie’s stunning debut finally arrives on the site with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one
  • No marks are audible, and the vinyl is about as quiet as any Black Label Liberty stereo pressing we’ve ever played, which makes this a very special copy indeed
  • On a copy this good, London will appear as a living, breathing (albeit disembodied) person right in your very own listening room. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades
  • Every three to five years or so we run into a copy that plays this quietly and sounds this good – the last one was in 2018, so if you have a few years to wait, you can be sure there will be another coming down the pike
  • 4 stars: ” London’s breathy vocals aren’t that different [from her debut], but she seems more confident and she swings more, even on the ballads. . . This album was also better recorded than London’s debut and the release has a fuller, richer sound to it.”

The reliably brilliant Ted Keep was the engineer for these sessions from 1958. The stereo tape came out in 1958, along with the mono LP, but those of you who wanted a stereo record had to wait until 1959! (more…)

Martin Denny – Exotica – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This second label very quiet Liberty Stereo LP has at least Super Hot Stamper EXOTIC SOUND on both sides, with a side two that may be White Hot. It’s hard to know for sure whether side two can get any better than this — it’s pretty darn amazing, some of the most Magically Delicious sound we played in our recent shootout.  

Recorded in 1958, you can imagine there is a healthy amount of Tubey Magical richness and sweetness, although this second label copy seems to be cut a bit more cleanly and correctly than some of the first label Denny records we auditioned. The tonality is dead on the money, a quality that the most tubey recordings rarely exhibit; they can easily get overly lush and appear murky. (more…)

Martin Denny – Forbidden Island – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This original looking Liberty Black Label Stereo LP has White Hot Stamper WONDERFULLY EXOTIC SOUND. This copy is so super spacious and sweet it’s positively dripping with ambience. It’s EXACTLY the kind of sound you expect from Denny and his Island bandmates.  

We played a big pile of Martin Denny records during our shootout, not having enough clean copies of any one of them to do it the way we would with rock or jazz records, and this pressing was CLEARLY the best of the bunch.

Picture yourself on a beautiful South Pacific island. Now imagine you’re in a jazz bar on the mainland. Combine the two moods into one glorious sound and you have the music of Martin Denny! (more…)

Martin Denny – Primitiva – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This original looking and fairly quiet Liberty Black Label Stereo LP has Super Hot Stamper EXOTIC SOUND on both sides. The cover says it’s The Ultimate in Transistorized Stereophonic Hi-Fidelity Sound, but I hear an awful lot of Tubey Magical richness and sweetness — maybe not quite as much as some of the best early Denny recordings, but plenty nevertheless. The tonality is actually dead on the money, a quality that the most tubey recordings rarely exhibit; they can easily get overly lush and turn murky. (more…)

Martin Denny – The Versatile Martin Denny – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

This early stereo Liberty label pressing has BETTER than Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, earning a sonic grade of A++ to A+++. This is not just another exercise in Bachelor Pad Exotica; there is some fun, swingin’ jazz here. Martin Denny on piano has real jazz chops and sympathetic sidemen to play with. 

The music is indeed excellent but the real thrill of course is to hear the richness and sweetness of a 1957 Tubey Magical pressing such as this one. Folks, as you well know, they don’t make ’em like they used to.

Fans of TUBEY MAGIC, Golden Age Exotica or Bang, Baa-room & Harp should find much to like here.

No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There actually IS a CD of this album, and youtube videos of it too, but nothing beats Hot Stamper vinyl when it comes to Martin Denny. (more…)

Martin Denny – Exotica: Vol. 2

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Exotica: Volume II

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

This Liberty ’60s Label Stereo LP has Hot Stamper EXOTIC SOUND on both sides. The cover says it’s The Ultimate in Transistorized Stereophonic Hi-Fidelity Sound, but I hear an awful lot of Tubey Magical richness and sweetness. The tonality is actually right on the money, a quality that the heavily tubey recordings rarely exhibit: they can easily get overly lush and turn murky.

  • Side two is White Hot – the sound positively JUMPS out the speakers
  • It’s shockingly 3-Dimensional, rich and Tubey Magical – you won’t believe it
  • Side one is quite good at A+ to A++ – it gets better as it plays
  • One of our favorite Martin Denny records – wonderfully spacious Exotica sound from 1957

We played a big pile of Martin Denny records during our shootout, not having enough clean copies of any one of them to do it the way we would with rock or jazz records, and this pressing was one of the best we heard, musically and sonically. (more…)

Julie London – Julie (in Stereo)

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  • This outstanding vintage Liberty stereo pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from top to bottom – exceptionally quiet vinyl for a Julie London album too (don’t get me started)
  • In-the-room presence, preternaturally breathy vocals, and boatloads of wonderful Tubey Magic
  • This amazing sleeper of a record belongs right up at the top of Ms. London’s oeuvre (25 albums strong) along with Julie Is Her Name – high praise indeed
  • 4 stars: “Usually put into a torch song setting, this release allows London to shed that garment and become jazzy. Instead of being sultry, she becomes dazzling and sparkling. She also becomes more adept at phrasing and timing and takes a risk or two in the tradition of a jazz singer.”

The great Jimmy Rowles plays piano, handled the arrangements and fronts the big group here, taking the music in a wonderfully jazzy direction that suits Julie’s vocal style perfectly. (more…)

Martin Denny – Exotic Percussion

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

This Liberty stereo LP has A++ DEMO DISC SOUND on side one, mated to a pretty darn good side two. The sound is very three-dimensional and has a wonderfully extended top end on this copy. The music just JUMPS out of the speakers. Soundstaging and depth are both superb.

Side two is not quite as open and transparent as side one but we still rate it an A+ for sound; it’s far far better than the average copy of this record you can find, if you can find a clean one at all. Fans of TUBEY MAGIC, Golden Age Exotica or Bang, Baa-room & Harp should find much to like here.