Side One: Mint Minus Minus (barely)
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (barely)
- This original Reprise MONO pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to the last
- The mono pressings don't win shootouts but some of them can sound very good, and this is one of those very good sounding ones, especially on side one
- This is one of the best sounding Sinatra recordings we know of from any era - a true Male Vocal Demo Disc
- Don't judge the album by its cover - the music is wonderful from beginning to end and so is the sound
- "Featuring a selection of Oscar-winning standards, ranging from 1934's 'The Continental' to 1962's 'Days of Wine and Roses,' Academy Award Winners is professional and stylish album... Sinatra is charming and lively...while Riddle's charts are light and entertaining."
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For our first Hot Stamper listing in 2014 we had written:
One of the best sounding Reprise-era Sinatra recordings we know of.
Having just listened to a slough of top Sinatra titles, I feel it's my duty to inform the record buying public -- at least that small fraction of the public that comes to this site -- that the above statement is somewhat inaccurate. It should have read:
One of the best sounding Sinatra recordings we know of from any era.
And the reason for the change is simple enough: I simply cannot recall ever hearing a better sounding Frank Sinatra record in my life.
This '60s LP 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.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 55 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.
What the Best Sides of Frank Sinatra Sings Days of Wine and Roses... 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 1964
- 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 studio space
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.
He Invented the Concept
It's not a compilation, it's a theme album, a favorite approach of Sinatra's -- he's often credited with inventing the form -- containing the best Oscar-winning standards from the last 40 years. Ad what great songs they are: Days of Wine and Roses, Moon River, Three Coins in the Fountain, Swinging on a Star, It Might As Well Be Spring, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, and many more. Really, there's not a dog in the bunch.
And never discount Nelson Riddle's arrangements - as is par for the course they're brilliant. Somehow Riddle managed to arrange five (5!) albums for Sinatra in 1964 alone. How he kept to the high standards that Sinatra set for him (and that he no doubt set for himself) is beyond me.
Big and clear, with rich, Tubey Magical breathy vocals. More space, less distortion, more relaxed, tonally correct from top to bottom -- this is the sound you want for Sinatra.
Listen to how full-bodied and rich the brass sounds on side two -- when has a Sinatra record ever had brass like that?! Ellington, yes, but Sinatra? It sets a standard that will be very hard for any other album to meet.
What We're Listening For on Frank Sinatra Sings Days of Wine and Roses...
- 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 these 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.
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 other 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.
- Days of Wine and Roses (Days Of Wine And Roses, 1962)
- Moon River (Breakfast At Tiffany's, 1961)
- The Way You Look Tonight (Swing Time, 1936)
- Three Coins in the Fountain (Three Coins In The Fountain, 1954)
- In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening (Here Comes The Groom - 1951)
- Secret Love (Calamity Jane, 1953)
- Swinging on a Star (Going My Way, 1944)
- It Might As Well Be Spring (State Fair, 1945)
- The Continental (Gay Divorcee, 1934)
- Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, 1955)
- All the Way (The Joker Is Wild, 1957)
Featuring a selection of Oscar-winning standards, ranging from 1934's "The Continental" to 1962's "Days of Wine and Roses," Academy Award Winners is a professional and stylish album...
Sinatra is charming and lively, even if he doesn't demonstrate the full range of his technique on each track, while Riddle's charts are light and entertaining.
... some of the moments are first-rate -- "The Way You Look Tonight" is one of Sinatra's classic performances, and "Three Coins in the Fountain" and "All the Way" are nearly as good...