Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This vintage '50s Capitol pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
- These sides are insanely good -- BIG, rich and Tubey Magical, yet clear and not the least bit thick or opaque
- Turn down the lights, gently drop the needle at the start of side one and you will soon find a living breathing Nat King Cole standing between your speakers
- "Cole as usual gives warm, confident readings of all this material, and fans welcomed the packaging of some songs previously available only on singles..."
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A wonderful copy of Nat's classic 1957 release. It's taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make the shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble.
The presence and immediacy of Nat King Cole's vocals here are '50s Capitol Recording Magic at its best. Set the volume right and Nat is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. The selection of material and the contributions of all involved (Nelson Riddle among them) are hard to fault.
The sound is big, open, rich and full, with loads of Tubey Magic. The highs are extended and silky sweet.
What the best sides of This is Nat King Cole 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 1957
- 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.
Midrange Magic to Die For
This early Capitol mono LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s no doubt missing from the modern reissues. Nat's voice sounds so right -- not necessarily natural, but correct for the vocal style of the era -- you immediately find yourself lost in the music because there's really nothing to distract you.
If you're like me, this copy sounds the way you want it to sound. Click on the Remixing tab above to read more on the subject.
We're always on the lookout for Nat King Cole records with good sound. In our experience finding them is not nearly as easy as one might think. Far too many of his recordings are drenched in bad reverb, with sound that simply can't be taken seriously -- fine for old consoles but not so good on modern audiophile equipment.
At least one we know of has his voice out of phase with the orchestra on most copies, which put a quick end to any hope of finishing the shootout we had started.
If anything the sound on his albums gets even worse in the '60s. Many of Nat's albums from that decade are over-produced, bright, thin and shrill.
We assume most audiophiles got turned on to his music from the records that Steve Hoffman remixed and remastered for DCC back in the mid-'90s, For those of you who were customers of ours back then, you know that I count myself among that group. I even went so far as to nominate the DCC of Nat's Greatest Hits as the best album DCC ever made. I know now, as I expect you do, that that's really not saying much, but at the time I thought it was a pretty bold statement.
What do the best Hot Stamper pressings of This Is Nat "King" Cole give you?
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- 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 would put them.
- 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 so common to most LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Devoting the Resources
Having long ago given up on Heavy Vinyl LPs by DCC and others of their persuasion -- a clear sign of having made Progress in Audio -- these days we are in a much better position to devote our resources to playing every Nat King Cole album on every pressing we can get our hands on, trying to figure out what are the copies -- from what era, on what label, with what stampers, cut by whom, stereo or mono, import or domestic -- that potentially have truly Hot Stamper sound, the very Raison d'être of our business.
We have to play each and every one of the records we've cleaned for our shootout anyway, whether we think it's potentially the best pressing or not. There is no other way to do it. Right Stamper, Wrong Sound is an undeniable reality in the world of records. It's not unheard of for the same stampers to win a shootout, do moderately well on another copy and then come in dead last on a third.
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 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.
Dreams Can Tell A Lie
I Just Found Out About Love
Too Young To Go Steady
Forgive My Heart
Nothing Ever Changes My Love For You
To The Ends Of The Earth
I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life
Someone You Love
Love Me As If There Were No Tomorrow
Never Let Me Go
Capitol Records took This Is Sinatra!, a compilation album, into the Top Ten in early 1957, which probably prompted the label to assemble a similar collection, This Is Nat "King" Cole, later in the year. Consisting of tracks not previously issued on a Cole LP, the disc contains seven recent Billboard singles chart entries among its 12 selections...
Cole as usual gives warm, confident readings of all this material, and fans welcomed the packaging of some songs previously available only on singles, taking the LP to number 18 in the fall of 1957.
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