Sinatra / Capitol Sound Quality and General Discussion: "Nice 'n' Easy" - 1960*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by MLutthans, Jun 19, 2010.

  1. jtsjc1

    jtsjc1 Forum Resident

    helmetta, nj usa
    I don't like when sellers know what they're talking about they usually charge too much!:D
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  2. Bob F

    Bob F Senior Member

    Understandable, really. The packaging actually says “Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc.” Except for the ORIGINAL MASTER RECORDING banner, there is no indication that this was a MoFi product. That was a contractual demand by Capitol which reportedly caused MFSL to discontinue further Capitol Sinatra releases for several years. It seems it’s worked out to the advantage of some lucky eBay buyer.
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  3. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff Thread Starter

    Well, it took more than a week or two, but I'm starting to get some things uploaded to the website. On this page, I have some introductory comments and clips from 20 different masterings of track one, the title track, "Nice 'n' Easy." (These are all masterings that appear on the Nice 'n' Easy album. I will be adding some masterings that came from compilation releases, 45s, etc., but on a different page, as the page at hand has to do with the Nice 'n' Easy album, specifically.)

    Of these masterings, I think the easiest thing to do is to pick the one obvious DUD in the bunch: the 1988 Australian EMI mastering. Here's a clip.
    Nice 'n' Easy Axis CD.jpeg
    reissued as:
    Clearly, somebody dropped the ball, sound-wise, on that one! (...and that mastering was issued more than once. Go figure.)

    That version aside, there are many versions that are some flavor of "basically pretty good." For this particular song, I'd pick the 1983 MFSL LP, mastered by the late Stan Ricker, as my favorite "original mix" version. Here's a clip from that LP.
    "Close second," for me, goes to my early 80s Capitol green-label (G24) LP, cut by Capitol's John LeMay, clip here.
    For those, myself included, who are not gaga over the original stereo mix, there's the 1991 stereo remix by Larry Walsh. Here's a clip.

    That's four clips. Sixteen more can be sampled here, should you be inclined to dig further. Thanks to @stevelucille, @mahanusafa02, @MMM, @floweringtoilet, and @rangerjohn for submitting clips.

    Much more to follow on this album.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
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  4. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff Thread Starter

    @roda12 graciously sent along an interesting addition: A clip from his 1984 Dutch mono DMM LP. Thank you!

    As with other DMM mono titles in this series, the labeling all indicates stereo:
    IMG_0916 copy.jpg
    The only way to know if you have a mono or stereo pressing is to LISTEN to it, or to check the runout stamp, as both editions (stereo and mono) have the same catalog number. My stereo LP's runout reads 2601421-A3+D, while his mono LP reads 2601421-A1+D, which further reinforces the idea that these titles were initially released in mono, then replaced with stereo masterings in the Netherlands.

    Anyway, here's a clip from the LP:
    For comparison, here's an original N2 LP pressing, thanks to @stevelucille : (Thanks for the clips, guys!)
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  5. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff Thread Starter

    FWIW, I think that DMM mono LP ^^^^^^^^ beats the other mono releases by a considerable margin. (YMMV, of course, and I realize there is no "D" pressing represented.)
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  6. Radio

    Radio Forum Resident

    I have a pretty clean 9 o’clock rainbow. N-9 on side one. Guessing this isn’t special; pretty murky and drowned in reverb. Nice to have the cover though; it’s a classic!
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  7. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey

    I find it hard to believe, without proof from tape notes, etc., that isn't a fold-down. Not just the DMM, but the mono version itself. Any mono release of this just sounds to me like a compromised version of the original stereo mix.
  8. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff Thread Starter

    I remember that somewhere (in-thread? Deleted web page? Private Message?) back in 2010 the idea came up that this album and No One Cares have mono vocal reverb, and that there was "something up with that," i.e, I don't think it happened by accident on two consecutive albums. As I recall, my suspicion at the time was that somebody at Capitol was looking for a way to save $$$ (always a driving force) and attempting to create mono and stereo mixes simultaneously (time is money), and mono vocal reverb made the vocal levels and corresponding reverb levels correlate better, mono and stereo (with no cancelation when stereo reverb got summed to mono). Another way to save money, of course, would be to use mono reverb on the stereo mix and then fold the whole dang thing to mono. I've never investigated whether or not this may be a fold-down. (Never crossed my mind, I guess.) Could be? One Way to tEll wOUld bE to lisTEn fOr THat aNNoyiNg wAVe of vOcal LimiTEr frEAkouT thaT is on some tracks. If it's on the mono version, then there's some tie-in going on.
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  9. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff Thread Starter

    That same "drunken limiter" slop is on the original stereo and mono mixes. Just checked Prime Offender #1: She's Funny that Way.
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  10. Radio

    Radio Forum Resident

    Listening to the 1991 CD—it’s okay but not great—prefer it to the mono LP. Is there no truly outstanding version of this record?
  11. Simon A

    Simon A Arrr!

    I really like the Reel to Reel. It's my go to version.
  12. Radio

    Radio Forum Resident

    What about on CD or LP?
  13. Bob F

    Bob F Senior Member

    Matt has not yet completed the remake of his analysis pages, but his earlier Capitol Scorecard summary of CDs may be found back in post #74
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
    Simon A likes this.
  14. Radio

    Radio Forum Resident

    Thanks for finding that. Looks like I’ve done all a poor boy can do with this title.
  15. CBackley

    CBackley Chairman of the Bored

    I have the Capital Walsh, the Capital Norberg, and the MFSL on CD, as well as a rip of the 1998 UK CD. The MFSL CD is hands down my favorite. I’m no expert on the differences between the mixes and/or masterings, but I find the sound of that one most pleasing. It’s a great headphones listen.

    I also have an original mono pressing, which I also enjoy quite a bit. But I tend to reach for the MFSL CD whenever I want to listen to this album.
  16. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    NO ONE CARES has a dedicated mix for mono, though, while this album's mono version just appears to be a compromised version of the stereo mix (without deeply analyzing it).

    In that clip from the DMM mono LP alone from the title track, Frank's voice really doesn't "sit" well in the mix. Not so much because it's up in level, but it and the rest doesn't balance well against each other, in this case to my ears from it possibly not being a true mix. Same on the clip you have up of the vintage "N" cut (listening around vast mastering differences).
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  17. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff Thread Starter

    (I'll probably integrate this into my website, but thought I'd post here, too, just because I find it interesting.)

    Over the last few weeks, a handful of us have done some 100% "blind" listening to three full-length cuts from Nice 'n' Easy. The three cuts were the title track, Nevertheless, and She's Funny That Way. Over a dozen masterings of each song were presented to each listener, all level-balanced (to avoid "louder is better" results) and we chimed in with our opinions on a very informal basis as time allowed in our busy personal lives.

    Trying to find some sort of shorthand way to quantify the results of the opinions of those who took part, I assigned 5 points for a "top choice" (or similar) and 4 points for a "2nd choice" (or similar), and tabulated results that way today. Here's what I came up with:

    1970s SM-series (J23/J30) yellow-label stereo LP 39 points
    1960s "D" (D15/D21) rainbow stereo LP 39 points
    *1991 Walsh-mastered (remix) stereo CD 34 points
    1998 UK boxed set stereo CD 33 points
    1980s SN-series (G24/G31) green-label stereo LP 29 points
    Early 70s Dutch "Frank Sinatra Story" stereo LP 24 points
    1984 UK "Dell" stereo LP 19 points
    MFSL stereo CD 18 points
    1982 MFSL stereo LP 9 points
    **1961 reel-to-reel tape 4 points
    Norberg CD 4 points
    **Late-60s ST-series New York cut stereo LP 4 points
    1984 Dutch "Dell" DMM stereo LP 0 points
    2008 MFSL stereo LP 0 points
    N-cut mono LP 0 points
    UK mono LP 0 points
    Australian stereo CD(s) 0 points

    Fine print:
    *Everybody knew (duh....) that this was a remix, but, overall, comments were quite positive, albeit in a "that's a different creature altogether" kind of way. It plays in its own sandbox, away from the other kids.
    **These two were not given a 100% fair shake due to pitch and/or upload-timing problems, so cut these scores an extra bit of slack.

    Finer print:
    A lot of comments were made along the lines of "A lot of these sound quite good," which was, I think, true. There are many pretty-good releases to be had. That said, there are differences!

    Things that really stood out for me during this process:
    1. I (personally) chose an original-release "D" pressing as being, arguably, the best of the bunch. I think that's a first! (Why do these "blind" tests? To avoid personal bias. There you go! It worked!)
    2. The UK boxed-set CD from 1998 outscored the MFSL CD in blind listening. Both use the original mix.
    3. The 2008 MFSL stereo LP didn't receive a single positive comment from anybody. (It sounds nice....but it did not stand out, apparently. No way is this, on the whole, a "0 points" release, but nobody picked it as top choice or 2nd choice.)
    4. The 1984 Dutch DMM stereo LP? Ditto. (Again, not saying it's bad, but it did not stand out as a winner to anybody vis-a-vis the other masterings presented.)
    5. The one release that is completely in the "avoid this one" category is the Australia-only CD mastering, which sounds like a Dolby tape with the Dolby off and the treble turned up on top of that. Baaaaaaaaaaad!

    One more time: LOTS of versions sound "good!" There are things that cause one version to stand out over another if you actually A/B(/C/D/E/F/G/H.....) them and try to separate the wheat from the lesser wheat from the chaff.

    No system of comparison for this stuff is perfect. Just putting the data out there. Interpret as you wish, and take it with whatever grains of salt you wish!

    (To those who participated in the blind listening: I will not "out" you, but if you want to identify yourself, you are, of course, welcome to do so.)
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
  18. Radio

    Radio Forum Resident

    Some of these received 0 points. That bad or not tested?
  19. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff Thread Starter

    Tested, but did not score a "top choice" or "2nd choice" from anybody. Maybe they scored 4th? 6th? 9th? 13th? ...but not first or second.
    5 points for a top choice; 4 for a second. Over a dozen choices on each tune.
  20. Radio

    Radio Forum Resident

    I see. All I have is an N cut mono and the 1991 CD and I wouldn’t score the N cut in my top two either.
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  21. .crystalised.

    .crystalised. Forum Resident

    ^ this surprised me the most.

    Fascinating results, Matt. Cool project! Must have taken a lot of time and effort. Serious props.
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  22. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff Thread Starter

    To demonstrate what I mean by "a lot of these sound quite good," here is a clip of possible interest:

    The clip contains segments of "Nevertheless" from my D21 rainbow pressing and my Dutch DMM stereo pressing. In the blind comparison above, the D21 was a top vote getter, but the DMM did not get any "top choice" or even any "2nd tier" votes. That said, it's really "a-okay," but not quite up to the level of the D21 cutting. I still wouldn't kick it out of bed for eating crackers, as they say.

    As you listen, the D21 clips cover the bold print below, and the DMM is heard on the standard (non-bold) print:

    ....I'll win, and maybe I'll lose, and
    Maybe I'm in for crying the blues
    But nevertheless, I'm in love with you
    Somehow I know at a glance
    the terrible chances I'm taking
    Fine at the start
    then left with a heart that is breaking
    Maybe I'll live a life of regret and
    Maybe I'll give much more than I'll get
    But nevertheless I'm in love with you
    Trumpet phrase 1
    Trumpet phrase 2 (very brief)

    (This runs 0:45-2:15 within the recording -- the same span available free of charge to sample on iTunes.)

    Want to hear a really dreadful mastering? Here's a 45 second clip from the EMI Australian CD: Box . Yikes!
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
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  23. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff Thread Starter


    I have clips from 20 masterings of Nevertheless posted here (scan down): Nice ‘n’ Easy - 1960 . Thanks to @Loud Listener, @stevelucille, @rangerjohn, @mahanusafa02, @roda12, and @MMM for sharing clips!

    This track follows the general 3-track tape layout of the March sessions, which made up 11/12ths of the album:

    •One track has saxes, brass (except solo trumpet), and rhythm section
    •Center track has Frank's vocal (and on this song appears to, perhaps, become home to the strings during the trumpet solo)
    •The remaining track contains strings, harp, and the trumpet solo

    Ever wonder why this album leans heavily off-center on some tracks? Ponder that track layout a bit: All the loud stuff on one track; all the soft, cushy stuff on the other.

    On this song, my favorite original-mix stereo versions are two LPs that I personally own:
    D21 rainbow USA LP - audio here (best of the bunch, to my ears)
    1984 UK "Dell" LP - audio here

    (If I may steal a little verbiage from MMM: "I wish I could find a side one that sounds as good as my D21 cut of side two!)

    Of the three mono choices posted, I think that roda12's 1984 Dutch DMM LP is tops - audio here. (I prefer stereo on this one, but this LP is very nicely mastered, to my ears.)

    All of the above too soupy? Here's the Walsh (?) remix, which has been used on at least three full-album releases, starting in 1988 - audio here. We can debate the pros and cons of that mix vs. the original stereo mix, but it sure is nice to lose the soup!

    Many more releases sampled on the site linked above.
    Last edited: May 4, 2018
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  24. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff Thread Starter

    I've added a page about the recording/mixing quirks for the album. Lots of blah blah blah posted on this page:
    Nice ‘n’ Easy - 1960 (Some of this is lifted from the old 2010 version of the website. I have mercifully reduced the word count by about 60%!)
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
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  25. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff Thread Starter

    Regarding the "Is the mono mix a fold-down" proposition:
    On the webpage that is linked in the previous post, I resurrected the concept of the limiter/compressor that is set on "drunken sailor" during the mixdown -- i.e., it is malfunctioning or mis-calibrated, causing Frank's vocal levels (volumes) to float up and down with no rhyme or reason on the original stereo mix. (Once your ears spot it, it will drive you to drink.) Combine this with the thought that the vocal reverb on the stereo mix is monophonic reverb to make it avoid self-canceling in mono (as opposed to stereo reverb on the vocal), then combine that with the fact that the very clean DMM mono pressing that @roda12 shared has the same "drunken sailor" characteristics that the original stereo mix versions have, and I think we definitely have either 1.) a fold-down or 2.) a stereo and mono mix being created simultaneously, in one pass, possibly to save money.

    As is the case with Come Swing with Me, it is either a fold-down or effectively a fold-down (but with rather different circumstances leading to that conclusion).
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