Sinatra / Reprise Sound Quality & General Discussion: "Swing Along With Me" (1961)*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by MLutthans, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. Tina_UK

    Tina_UK Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    I was just thinking the same, and I LOVE " On The Road To Mandalay"
     
  2. rangerjohn

    rangerjohn Forum Resident

    Location:
    chicago, il
    Oh, gentlemen, I respectively disagree. I believe that Sinatra is singing with much more verve, gusto and enthusiasm throughout Swing Along than he is on Come Swing. The very best performances on Come Swing may match the very best on Swing Along; In my estimation,

    "Day by Day," "Almost Like Being in Love," "Five Minutes More," "American Beauty Rose," "Yes Indeed!," "On the Sunny Side of the Street" and "I've Heard That Song Before"

    maybe can compete with

    "Falling in Love with Love," "The Curse of an Aching Heart," "Don't Cry Joe," "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone," "Love Walked In," "Have You Met Miss Jones?," and "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You."

    But Sinatra seems rather disinterested on Come Swing's lesser tracks like "Sentimental Journey," "Don't Take Your Love from Me," "That Old Black Magic," "Lover," and "Paper Doll."

    By contrast, FS is still giving it all he's got on the second tier tracks from Swing Along like "I Never Knew," "Don't Be That Way," "It's a Wonderful World," and (sorry) "Moonlight on the Ganges."
     
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  3. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Hi, John. Many, many times in this forum, when matters of taste/preference have come up, I've posted one of my absolute favorite quotes, one that I actually think is true: "There's no accounting for taste," and I typically also point out that it applies to ME as well! I like spicy food; my wife hates it. She's not "right" and neither am I.

    As far as "Swing Along with Me" goes, I'll take my lead from one of my role models, Frank Costanza, and open the floor to the traditional Airing of Grievances:
    250px-frank-costanza.jpg

    These are my views; let's ponder, and then the throwing of the eggs can commence.

    1. The overall sound quality on this album is pretty stinky, be it mono or stereo. In fact, I would argue that the sound problems on this album, although different in character, are *almost* on a par with Ring-a-Ding Ding, and the idea of an "audiophile" reissue of the original mix is almost laughable.

    2. Many of the arrangements have none (and I mean that literally) of the typical "Billy May flair." Either he farmed them out to other arrangers (they were "ghost-arranged"), or he was really treading water. There are some exceptions, but by and large, this is (IMO) 3rd tier Billy May.

    Going song by song:

    •Falling in Love with Love - The first in-studio appearance (that I can think of) of Frank's "Andy and the Kingfish" voice, at 1:25. Then there's the cheesy reverb swim that Bill Putnam (or one of his staff, if not him -- I'm not sure who the engineer was here, but it sounds like Putnam) dove into on the last vocal note. Vocal pitch problems in a few places. (Did I just say that?) Compare the fire or lack thereof on this this opening track with "Day by Day" on COME SWING WITH ME, and THIS is the album that was promoted as "one of the most inhibited Sinatra things ever recorded?" "Falling in Love...." is a great song (as far as the musical composition itself goes), IMO, but not much of a barnburner of an opener.

    •The Curse of an Aching Heart: There is timpani on this one, and it goes virtually uncaptured on tape, starting at 0:53. Meanwhile, at 1:13, it's the Attack of the Killer Tambourine. In other words: way too much knob twiddling (by Putnam?), and not to particularly good effect. Not a great SONG either, in my opinion. YMMV, of course.

    •Don't Cry Joe -- One of the better tracks, in my opinion, but one that's certainly not aided by the recording. When that monstrous string "thing" happens at 1:26, this is the image that pops into my head every single time:

    (Again, sounds like Putnam doing his usual excessive knob-twiddling routine.)

    •Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone - Oddly, to me, this one always cries out to go FASTER. The arrangement is a sports car, and the old lady is going 25 around the corner.

    •Love Walked In - Is it me, or is this the OBVIOUS choice to open one of the LP sides, yet here it sits as track 4. Good track; wrong place on the album.

    •Granada - Well, I think either you love it, or hate it. I like it quite a lot, especially in its long form, once you get past the faux-Toreador opening, as the thing really swings like crazy after that point. Maybe could have benefitted from being a step or so lower in terms of pitch. (Compare the tambourine balances here with those in "The Curse of an Aching Heart." This track gets it right.)

    •I Never Knew -- To paraphrase Bill Clinton, "There's no song there." There is a bath in the reverb chamber on the last note, though! (Thank you, Bill Putnam?)

    •Don't Be That Way -- Vocal pitch problems again. (Wrong key for Frank??) Benny Goodman swung like crazy on this one. Here, it sounds to me like a bunch of studio guys going through the motions on a hackneyed arrangement.

    •Moonlight on the Ganges -- FINALLY, the missing track from COME FLY WITH ME! That Billy May sound! ...and a great vocal, too, with all those descending half-steps, all sung perfectly in tune -- not an easy song to sing. Best track on the album, IMO. This is where all the elements that were promised by this teaming actually come through. To be fair, there's a tad of that Honeymooners effect in the strings in two spots, but I can live with that, and it's far less pronounced than in "Don't Cry Joe." Humor, swing, great string writing, killer saxes, fun percussion (timpani, gong, xylophone, temple blocks, bell tree, vibraphone -- it's all there). THIS is Sinatra and May! Those other tracks? I don't know what's going on there. In terms of style, this is the real deal, whether or not the song (as a musical composition) is everybody's cup of tea.

    •It's a Wonderful World -- Need your paint peeled? Just play the sax line at 1:06 nice and loud. Also, "there's no song there." Verse, solo, same verse, out. Return to the Sea of Reverb on the fade.

    •Have You Met Miss Jones -- Good track, but is this a hard swinger?

    •You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You - 2:25 = Attack of the Giant Glockenspiel, mercifully knob-twiddled down to size at 2:39. Nothing about this track really leaps out and grabs me. Similar album closer in that sense to the end of "Ring-A-Ding Ding." No fire in the belly. The tuba at the end is a nice touch.

    In my book -- and nothing more -- I'd score that as: one truly top-tier Sinatra/May teaming (Moonlight on the Ganges), a couple more that I could happily put on a "Best of Sinatra with Billy May" compilation, and a whole bunch of middling-quality tracks and a whole bunch of bad tone and obsessive knob-twiddling.

    OK, throw the eggs at me! "There's no accounting for taste," so please accept this as how this album appeals to my particular, personal sense of taste, and nothing more. We can disagree! :)

    Matt
     
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  4. rangerjohn

    rangerjohn Forum Resident

    Location:
    chicago, il
    Did I say that I respectively disagreed with you and Bob, Matt?

    I was speaking strictly from the perspective of emotional enthusiasm and vocal power, without any regard at all for the sonics of the respective albums. There are no pitch problems on Come Swing? No snoozer arrangements there as well?

    I just find Swing Along a more exciting album. But I would never defy the wisdom of Jerry Stiller: to each his own!

    This is our biggest spat since our debate over A Swingin' Affair way back when. ;)
     
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  5. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Yes, of course! And I have nothing but respect and friendship and admiration for you, John. Didn't meant to come across in any other way, and I apologize if I did. Once in a while my total jerk tendencies creep through unintentionally!

    Oh, yes, indeed (no joke intended)....but fewer (IMO) than on this album. (The only 100% bona fide dud on that album, for me, at least, is "Don't Take Your Love from Me," and the creativity in the arrangements, even on those we know to not be Billy May's work, is at a higher level than many of the arrangements on SWING ALONG.)

    John, we'll never have a real spat. :wave: This one's just a personal preference thing, and everybody's preferences is valid, right? ....and I still think A Swingin' Affair has issues! :) I'm okay being odd-man out, and I'm okay saying that "Moonlight on the Ganges" is a great track! :hide:

    Matt
     
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  6. paulmock

    paulmock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    Sound wise, whatever...this is one helluva swinging LP and I listen to it often. My favorite copy is the Japanese mid 80's version. Whatever, whatever...:hide:
     
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  7. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    There's a run on chairs around here!!!!!!!!
    Chair sale Washington St..JPG
     
  8. paulmock

    paulmock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    Ya know...and I mean this with ALL due love and deep respect for you guys who can take apart and examine recordings like the fine science that it is. Sometimes, you gotta sit back and play an album and ENJOY it for what it is. I remember Steve chiming in more than once on arguments over CD vs LP vs stereo vs mono, etc. that you play what sounds the best to you...what you enjoy the most. Why do I have 4 LP and 3 CD (if the Suitcase is included) copies of this album? Maybe because I am looking for better sound (I think the ETOC CD is the best CD BTW...less reverb) but also maybe because I just ENJOY the hell outta this album. Am I hiding the dust under the rug on this one? Perhaps. But to quote Popeye, "I likes what I likes what I likes!" Is it the best of the "swingin' albums"? No, but it's damn good IMHO. When it's time for some "swangin" this is an LP I will often choose.
     
  9. DLant

    DLant The Dap-Gort Staff

    Location:
    Albany, NY

    With the noise that is on the radio in today's world, any Sinatra is GREAT Sinatra, even if it had been recorded via a tin can with the string pulled taught!
     
  10. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    But.....but.....but.....Oh, dang it, Paul, you're right. It's certainly possible to chew this stuff to bits and miss the big picture. Guilty as charged.

    GuiltyAsCharged.jpg


    Matt
     
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  11. rangerjohn

    rangerjohn Forum Resident

    Location:
    chicago, il

    That goes two-ways, Matt!! And there was nothing jerky about your post--I certainly didn't mean to imply as much.

    I indicated in my post what i thought were the more or less stale tracks on Come Swing. I just don't find the emotional depth on any of the tracks on that album that I do on the very best tracks on Swing Along.

    It wasn't just promoting record sales for his own company, I think, that accounts for the fact that FS never performed any of the Come Swing tracks live around this time, while he did regularly several of those on Swing Along. I think that he knew he was getting more out of the latter.

    I've thought a lot about our discussion of Swingin' Affair over the years and I've come to this conclusion: the album can grow tedious as a whole because of the similar musical arch of and predictable key-changes in most of the songs on the album; but experienced individually each vocal performance/arrangement are masterful. It provides excellent material for a Riddle-Sinatra or Capitol-Sinatra mix!
     
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  12. paulmock

    paulmock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    Why do I have 4 LP and 3 CD (if the Suitcase is included) copies of this album?

    I stand corrected. I have FIVE LP copies of this album. This past summer I obtained a minty fresh white label promotional mono copy which I love. Thanks to this thread it is about to go on the turntable as The Cocktail Hour happily (and finally) commences!
     
  13. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    That's what's so funny about people and their connection to music, as some of those that you listed are some of my favorites! No biggie; different strokes, eh?

    Funny that you should bring up A SWINGIN' AFFAIR in this discussion about COME SWING WITH ME vis a vis SWING ALONG WITH ME. Check out this old post of mine from two years ago:


    Note where I've placed COME SWING WITH ME. Guess I'll stop swinging at windmills????

    And......



    darth-vader-face.jpeg
    Welcome to the dark side. :cool:



    Geez, I could sure use a cocktail hour or three tonight. Maybe THAT's the missing component for me!!
     
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  14. OldCoder

    OldCoder Well-Known Member

    Location:
    St. Paul, MN, USA
    The ice noises would blend right in on a couple of the Rat Pack live albums....
     
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  15. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    :laugh: Yeah, one of my favorite memories of seeing Sinatra live a couple of times was his complete mastery of the mic in one hand, drink PLUS ciggie in the other hand technique.
     
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  16. rangerjohn

    rangerjohn Forum Resident

    Location:
    chicago, il
    Oh, but Matt, its more than the fact that "there are wonderful moments" on A Swingin Affair--its that every single track, in itself, is a wonderful moment. But we agree that ASA is better than any swinging album at Reprise.

    In any case, if in fact I've come around to your dark side, maybe one day you'll come around to mine; maybe someday you'll concede that the following performances on Swing Along surpass in spirit and technique (but not necessarily sonics) almost everything on Come Swing:

    "Falling in Love with Love," "The Curse of an Aching Heart," "Don't Cry Joe," "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone," "Love Walked In," "Have You Met Miss Jones?," and "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You."

    Stranger things have happened.....
     
  17. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    True, and it could happen. Seriously. There's Sinatra stuff that I love now that I never cared for 5 or 10 years back. I'll try to listen with an open mind, I promise.

    In the meantime, a question: Did early copies of GRANADA have a screwup on the publishing credit?

    SinatraSoutherDetailRedux.jpg

    This (above) is how the first-pressing 45s were credited, and there are some blue-label promos with this, as well.

    GranadaPromoSinatraPeerDetail.jpg

    Then, there appears to be copies (like above -- this one's a promo) with "Peer International Corporation BMI" pasted over the Southern credit.

    GranadaWB Credit.jpg

    Later copies appear to have corrected the credit?
     
  18. Bob F

    Bob F Forum Resident

    Publishers change sometimes, Matt. Without some difficult research, I can't say that's what happened in this case, but it was not necessarily a "screwup."
     
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  19. Bob F

    Bob F Forum Resident

    Added: In this case, there may be a simpler explanation. Southern Music Publishing Co. was the original name of Peer International Corp. Peer Sr. died in 1960, and there may have been a corporate name change, along with a change of affiliation from ASCAP to BMI. Today, the company is known as peermusic, and they still hold the rights to "Granada." (See BMI database.)
     
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  20. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Thanks, Bob. Seems logical to me!

    I probably should ask my stock question and prepare for the stock answer:

    Are there any photos from the sessions for this album?
     
  21. David m bond

    David m bond Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    I find both Come Swing and Swing Along so so. You could take the best songs from each to create one decent album. The stereo Come Swing annoys the hell out of me with all the extreme Left, Right stuff going on, especially if you listen with headphones as I do most of the time.

    With all my grumblings over releasing Come Fly With Me in mono I think Come Swing could actually benefit to get rid of the ping pong listening.

    I think Granada and You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You always stand out to me as something I would include one or the other if I were to do a compilation but I struggle to care for much of the other songs. That Old Black Magic and Almost Like Being In Love from Come Swing are the best from that one I think.

    Perhaps its the songs themselves rather than the actual recording or arrangements I just don't think most of these are top tier songs in the first place. I guess it's difficult to try new songs and not to repeat yourself after almost 1o years at Capitol at the time, but both albums seem to lack any real gems that are crucial to the history of Frank Sinatra in music.
     
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  22. Bob F

    Bob F Forum Resident

    Comparisons of "Come Swing" and "Swing Along" tend to evoke disparate opinions, as we've seen above in this thread. (Which is why I've remained hiding under my chair.)
    :hide:

    I thought some published reviews of the day might be of interest. First, we have an article from the premiere edition of Hugh Hefner's short-lived magazine Show Business Illustrated, September 5, 1961:
    In complete contrast, here are two other contemporary reviews of "Sinatra Swings" (LP and reel-to-reel tape) from Stereo Review, neither very complimentary:
    Note: I don't necessarily agree with any of these, but the acclaim for "Swing Along"/"Sinatra Swings" was certainly not universal. (I understand that Billy May considered this to be his best work with FS, though.)

    P.S. How 'bout those prices!? :)
     
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  23. paulmock

    paulmock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    One thing that CANNOT be said about Mr. S's singing on "Swing Along..." is that he does not sound happy and (if you will) joyous. I think one of the biggest draws for me to this LP is the very fact that he is singing with gusto and zeal. He sounds happy.

    BTW, Bob...these old reviews and articles you add to these threads add so much "realism" to them. It takes us back to what they were thought of then...not like reading some kid's take on Allmusic.com some 50 years later!:wtf:
     
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  24. Ronald Sarbo

    Ronald Sarbo Forum Resident

    Location:
    NY, NY, USA
    "Come Swing With Me" has songs from the "Big Band Swing Era". "Swing Along With Me/Sinatra Swings" contains for the most part songs from before the "Big Band Era". "Come Swing With Me" also contains more Columbia re-makes as is the case with most of his late Capitol albums. He was saving the "new" songs for Reprise.

    Sinatra wanted his Reprise albums to sound different from his Capitol albums. He felt his Capitol albums had become too repetitive in style and sound.
     
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  25. Ronald Sarbo

    Ronald Sarbo Forum Resident

    Location:
    NY, NY, USA
    With respect to "Granada" Sinatra's version owes a lot to the other Frankie's version. In fact on "Swing Along With Me" Sinatra seems to be using the clipped phrasing that was Frankie Laine's trademark.
     

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