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

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

  1. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Hey, those little flasks come in handy!

    As far as the sentiment of the rest of your post, of course you are correct, and although we do spend a bunch of energy taking these albums apart and being hyper-critical, in the end, it's about the music. Remember all the noise and fury about the assorted Ring-A-Ding Ding releases (300+ posts on that one)? In the end, I think it all came down to this tidbit:



    And, truthfully, I still don't know for sure which version of that album I find to be "the one."

    In the end, the sound should never overtake the music, but for a little while in these sound quality threads, the music does seem to take a back seat. It'll pass, and then we can all dance around in our underwear and just lap it all in! :)

    Matt
     
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  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    One of the reasons I started this Forum is so we could discuss which version of an album is the best sounding. To stop doing that would be the end of the SH Forums. So, please, continue!
     
  3. paulmock

    paulmock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    How did you know I was in my underwear dancing like Tom Cruise????:evil:
     
  4. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    You've got some prime moves, but don't flatter yourself too much. ;-)
     
  5. paulmock

    paulmock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    I never asked anyone to stop, Steve. Just once in awhile to let go and smell the roses of the overall product. I enjoy discussing the various versions as much as the next guy.
     
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  6. paulmock

    paulmock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    If I tried to even attempt ONE of those moves at this age, I'd be at Cedars Sinai immediately!
     
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  7. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
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  8. AJH

    AJH Forum Resident

    Location:
    PA Northern Tier
    Yesterday, I was ripping a quite number of CD’s that I didn’t have on my music server and I discovered, to my utter surprise, that I actually still had my EOTC CD of Sinatra Swings. Up until then, I thought I only had the suitcase version.

    Although Sinatra Swings is not one of my favorite Sinatra albums, I gave the EOTC version a spin, and I did find it “somewhat listenable.” Most of my problems with the recording remain, but I did find the EOTC version slightly more refined than the original CD/Suitcase (I think Lee Herschberg really tried hard to make it listenable), but as Matt pointed-out, it’s louder (certainly louder than the suitcase) and there are still problems.

    The echo on Frank’s voice is reduced to a tolerable level (and to me this in itself makes the album agreeable enough to listen to all the way through). However, I still found myself lowering the volume level from my initial setting, increasing it a little, and then lowering it again. I also agree with Matt- this is not an album where you can turn-up the volume and enjoy. Especially on my main system, the overall balance seems WAY off to me because the horns in the right channel distort and also just plain over power the recording, while this makes the left channel seem underused and also sound slightly muted. This impression is not as pronounced when I listen to the CD through my headphones.

    As you can tell, I still find plenty of problems with EOTC disc, but I can at least listen to the entire album and marginally enjoy it for what it is. Additionally, I just don't think it is one of Frank's best efforts. Honestly, prior to these sessions, I never made it through the entire album in one sitting. Verdict: Still not a Sinatra album I will listen to very often, and, in my opinion, it’s a very poor sounding recording.

    AJH
     
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  9. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA


    I'm always so glad to hear that I'm not the only one this sort of thing happens to!

    Yes, Lee Herschberg definitely tweaked this one quite a bit, I agree. In the end, I think it turns out a bit on the, how shall I put this...."sterile but warm" side. In doing so, he traded in one set of problems but picked up some others along the way. For instance, I don't hear much in the way of air or space on the EOTC disc. Rather, things sound a little like they are under a pillow, with the treble tilted down and the bass tilted up. The brass sound less blaaty, but they also sound a little less "brassy" and immediate. I'm not sure which, then, is better! Same with the saxes: The sharp, razory tone is lessened in the really bad spots -- that's good -- but some of the sparkle is also gone -- that's bad. I prefer Frank's vocal tone on the EOTC, but I prefer the unfettered dynamics on the earlier CD. I also wonder if the added compression (and I think the volume difference here is greater than on the early/later Ring-A-Ding Ding and The Concert Sinatra discs on Reprise [not the Concord editions]) was applied intentionally to try to balance out all the imbalances, not just the sax/trumpet asymmetry, but the things that stick out along the way, i.e., the tambourine that sticks out here and there, the bells that overpower the entire band on a note or two, etc. The frustrating thing, of course, is that by going back to the 3-track, Reprise should have delivered a MORE dynamic CD than the earlier edition, yet we get one that is significantly squished in terms of dynamics, be that (in this case) good or bad.

    I will say this: I've been pretty down on this album in terms of performance, but (perhaps taking a cue from Paul and John) I've found myself coming to enjoy it slightly more as I've listened to it probably 12 times this week. There's a definitel looseness or sloppiness to it in places -- highlighted by the recording, I think, and the overall rushed feel to the entire production -- but that needn't be "all bad."

    Matt
     
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  10. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    I've posted an open question (with an accompanying 4-second audio clip) about how/when reverb was added during these sessions. Any input is appreciated. Look for "Let's Talk Candidly...." about half-way down the page, and you'll find the mp3 clip in the paragraph that immediately follows.

    http://www.11fifty.com/Site_108/1961_-_Swing_Along_with_Me.html

    Any input appreciated!
     
  11. David m bond

    David m bond Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    Love, Love, Love.

    Interesting to say the least, the weirdest one is the Stereo Reel as the reverb kind of shifts mid sentence, may be a playback error? With regards to your question I wonder if the answer is yes and no.

    In other words could they have done a mix down dry during the session or dubbed to another tape and added one song after another (all dry). But then added the reverb at a later stage and dubbed to another tape but the two original separate Dry/Reverb tapes were disposed of so all that was left was the one tape with the Reverb added. I'm afraid my knowledge of recording techniques is limited so my input will be in simplified terms.
     
  12. AJH

    AJH Forum Resident

    Location:
    PA Northern Tier
    I guess a lot of this depends on the way you feel Frank sounds best. Personally, I can’t listen to a recording that has all that reverb added. On the other hand, I’m not much of a fan of Frank being presented totally dry (The Concert Sinatra remix & RADD remix). I believe Frank sounds best when a small amount of reverb is added (for me, the maximum amount would be the way Frank is presented on the I Remember Tommy EOTC CD or the Moonlight Sinatra CD). I remember Nancy commenting (on the Sinatra Family Forum), when The Concert Sinatra remix came out, that her father liked a small amount of reverb. I totally would agree with Frank’s assessment.

    I don’t understand why someone would place any reverb on the three track tape? Personally, I would think you would record it dry, and add whatever reverb you wanted later? The thing that always fascinated me was who thought that the recordings sounded better with all that reverb added?

    Then there’s the curious case of the compilation CD “My Kind of Broadway” (Reprise 1015-2). All of the songs on this CD contain excessive reverb (I can’t remember if the LP sounded the same). If you listen to the version of “Have You Met Miss Jones” they placed on this CD, the reverb is absolutely ridiculous (much more than on the original CD, or EOTC CD of Sinatra Swings). I would guess this version possibly came from a tape they used for one of the stereo LP’s? I wouldn’t begin to speculate where the tapes for the other songs came from. For me, this type of reverb just ruins the music.

    Again, I wonder who made these decisions?

    AJH
     
  13. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Paging Mr. Hoffman or anybody else who can shed some light on the use of reverb with this album..... (see two posts back). David and I need the straight skinny. :)

    Also, I've literally listened to that 1015 CD one time, and that was last night after AJH e-mailed me about it, and it sounds to me like it's reverb placed on top of the stereo mix, not just on top of the vocal, so that a different -- and bad -- kettle of fish. As to why it was done? Who knows. Somebody thought it sounded "right" for release that way, and sadly, that person was in a position to make it happen.
     
  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Please state the question in simplest form!
     
  15. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    "What reverb was on the session tapes?"
    From the linked page, about half-way down:

    <<Was it actually printed to the session tapes, so it couldn’t be removed? Was some added during the session, and more added during post-production and/or cutting? Listen to the reverb on the word “Love” and the word “right,” right here: LoveClips.mp3 You will hear eight four-second clips in which the reverb is somewhat exposed. Thanks to the guys at SH.TV for providing clips for comparison: Arkoffs, Bferr1, rangerjohn, tlmusic. The clips heard are mono, mono, stereo, stereo, stereo reel, MFSL stereo, first CD, second CD.
    “Who cares?” Well, back when we looked in detail at the mono and stereo pressings of Ring-A-Ding Ding, we found that there were mono pressings with the infamous “slap-back” or “Elvis-style” reverb on them, but there were also mono pressings with a 100% dry vocal, so clearly some or all of the session tapes had to be recorded dry. (Right?) As you can hear in the clip posted in the previous paragraph, the mono LPs for Swing Along with Me clearly have some slap-back in the mix. Was that added during the session, meaning that the mono session tapes are permanently “infected” with slap-back reverb? Or was it added after the fact during a later mono mixdown? How about the 3-track tapes? (My thought? There is a slight amount of reverb on the vocal track of the 3-track machine, and in some places, for effect, the reverb is slathered on live during the session, indelibly, such as at the end of “Love Walked In” and “I Never Knew.” That heavy shift in reverb is left fully intact on the remixed CD, so it must be on the 3-track, right??) >>
     
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  16. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    .

    RING A DING DING the album, was recorded DRY. Any verb or slap was added in rerecording (reduction mixing). The mono songs were recorded live wet. Any variation in the monos were because of remixing to mono using various echos, etc.

    The I REMEMBER TOMMY rejected tracks recorded at Radio Recorders were also recorded dry.

    EVERYTHING ELSE SINATRA RECORDED AT UNITED/WESTERN was recorded wet until the 8 track era began. Everything. Double reverb, once at the session, again at the stereo remix.

    Does this help?
     
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  17. AJH

    AJH Forum Resident

    Location:
    PA Northern Tier
    Curiouser and curiouser!

    Thanks Steve!

    AJH
     
  18. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Glad to help. How does this help, exactly?
     
  19. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    It just clarifies the approach to the recording, and clarifies what can/can't be done in terms of "fixing it" nowadays in a remix situation. Thanks very much!

    Matt
     
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  20. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    OK. glad to be of help. United just had a grainy recording system, never much liked the sound in there. That being said, I loved the music that was created in there (Ray Charles, Sammy Davis, Coltrane, Frank, etc.) I just don't get why people seemed to love it in there so much..
     
  21. paulmock

    paulmock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    Bob ( or anyone),

    I've always loved the cover photo of this album. Mr. S looks especially "natty" and his manicure is beyond reproach. Have you ever seen any other pics from this "swingin' door" photo shoot?

    P.S. I am listening (NOT dancing or singing) to the MoFi LP of this right now. It has reduced reverb, more pronounced "P" popping and Joe Comfort's wild-ass bass playing really shines thru on this copy!
     
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  22. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Ol' Joe plays a lot of syncopated stuff on this album, and because the bass is pretty prominent on some versions, it's not only fun to hear, but really easy to hear! I think he especially tears it up on "I Never Knew." BTW, Joe Comfort was totally self-taught, and (holding a music degree myself -- French Horn back in the day) I'm always shocked to hear about these guys who have absolutely top-notch skills who started from scratch and made it to the top. (I mean, look at Paul McCartney or Erroll Garner, for instance. He plays like THAT and he taught himself???!) Joe Comfort definitely delivered the goods on a consistent basis!
     
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  23. Hamhead

    Hamhead Sinatra promo specialist

    Not to steer the thread, but since your on the subject of "Swing Along With Me" there's a actual Reprise 78 on Ebay of Granada. Is this cool or what?
    [​IMG]
     
  24. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Yep! Very cool! See post #2. My guess is that this is the last Sinatra 78, but that's just a guess. Anybody know?

    Matt
     
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  25. MLutthans

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

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Here: http://www.11fifty.com/Site_108/1961_-_Swing_Along_with_Me.html

    I've clarified the discussion about how reverb was applied (including a snazzy photo of one of the reverb chambers at United/Western), and also added three mono LP clips. Please feel free to join the conversation! :)



    Yeah, those nails.....Clark Gable would have seen them and known he hadn't been working the fields of Tara, that's for sure.

    Matt
     
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