The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*
- This STUNNING stereo pressing of the Harold Arlen Song Book earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades, or close to them, on both sides
- One of the best copies to hit the site in a long time, Ella is incredibly rich, Tubey Magical and breathy throughout
- Check out all the great songs here: Come Rain Or Come Shine, It's Only A Paper Moon, One For My Baby, Get Happy, I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues, Over The Rainbow, and more
- 5 stars: "Of all of her Songbooks, the Harold Arlen and Duke Ellington sets are the most jazz-oriented."
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- On side one, a bubble makes 5 light to very light thumps at the end of track 3, As Long As I Live.
- On side two, a mark makes 1 very loud crackle before the music begins on track 1, One For My Baby.
This copy excelled in our shootout, surprising us with its solid weight down low and clarity up top.
Take it from an Ella fan, you can't go wrong with this one. The sound is rich and full-bodied in the best tradition of a classic vintage jazz vocal album. You could easily demonstrate your stereo with a record this good, but what you would really be demonstrating is music that the listener probably hasn't heard, and that's the best reason to demonstrate a stereo!
The space is HUGE and the sound so rich. Prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic as well, which is key to the best sounding copies. The sound needs weight, warmth and tubes or you might as well be playing a CD.
What the best sides of Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Harold Arlen Songbook, Vol. 2 have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1961
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep the arrangements from becoming shrill) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren't veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we heard them all.
And we know a fair bit about Ella's recordings at this point. As of today we've done commentaries for sixteen different Ella Fitzgerald albums, and that's not counting the sixteen (yes, 16!) titles we put in our Hall of Shame.
We've searched high and low for her records and played them by the score over the years. We plan to keep a good supply on to the site in the coming years so watch for new arrivals in the Vocal section (linked to the left).
What We're Listening For on Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Harold Arlen Songbook, Vol. 2
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- Val Valentin in this case -- would put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic that is a key part of the appeal of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
When The Sun Comes Out
Come Rain Or Come Shine
As Long As I Live
Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe
It's Only A Paper Moon
The Man That Got Away
One For My Baby
It Was Written In The Stars
I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
Out Of This World
Over The Rainbow
Of all of her Songbooks, the Harold Arlen and Duke Ellington sets are the most jazz-oriented. With perfectly suitable arrangements by Billy May for the big band and occasional strings, she really digs into the 26 Arlen songs, giving her own sympathetic interpretations to such classics as "Blues in the Night," "Stormy Weather," "My Shining Hour," "That Old Black Magic," "Come Rain or Come Shine," "It's Only a Paper Moon," and even "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead."
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