From roughly 1953 to 1956, some of the best pop recording in the world was achieved by the engineering staff at Capitol’s Melrose Avenue studios at KHJ radio (also known as “Don Lee,” as KHJ was once part of the Don Lee network, a sort of off-shoot of The Mutual Broadcasting System radio network on the west coast).  Don’t let the lack of the word “stereo” concern you:  In these years, that high-fidelity badge on a Capitol sleeve actually was a reflection of what the listener could expect when they put the disk on their phonograph, and for a few brief years, Capitol set the standard for clarity, warmth, and full-range tonal balance in the recording industry.  These early Sinatra recordings sound as fresh and alive as anything Mr. Sinatra recorded throughout his long career, and are a testament to the quality work that was being done in the halcyon days of KHJ studios.  In short, both musically and technically, these early forays into Sinatra Capitolism are landmark recordings.

During the first conversion (10” stand-alone to 12” release combined with 1954’s Swing Easy 10” contents), sound was not altered, but in 1962, when the combined 12” Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers was split into two separate 12” LPs, each with four non-LP tracks used to pad the 10” contents to 12” length, Capitol added reverb;  not good.  Sadly, these versions have been re-released many times over the years, so it’s very easy to wind up with sonically sub-par versions of these songs.


Some sample clips from MY FUNNY VALENTINE:

Recorded November 5 & 6, 1953

Produced by Voyle Gilmore

Arrangements: George Siravo and Nelson Riddle

Conducted by Nelson Riddle

Original Release: January, 1954

Click Billboard articles to be taken to on-line archive.

From my original 2009 survey of this LP:

Four years later, I still wholeheartedly stand behind my enthusiasm of these “old” Capitol recordings, which sounded good then and which sound good today, as long as a properly-mastered version is at hand.  With Songs for Young Lovers, we find Sinatra, Nelson Riddle, and producer Voyle Gilmore mining their first landmark Capitol LP, but this is not Sinatra’s first LP.  Several appeared during his Columbia Records tenure, but arguably without the flare, and definitely without the technical quality, found here.

In January of 1954, Capitol released Songs for Young Lovers in the then-popular 10-inch LP format, and all was good with the world.  Later, after the demise of the 10-inch format, Capitol decided to adapt the album to the now-standard 12-inch LP.  This was done in two ways.  Initially, this LP was mated with it’s 1954 10” stablemate, Swing Easy, to form the creatively titled 12”  Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers.  This happened in 1955.  Roughly 7 years later, the bean counters (who always can be depended upon to make the right decision) at Capitol decided that two 12-inch LPs were better than one, so they reverted Songs for Young Lovers to its original going-solo title and added a quartet of Sinatra recordings (three singles, one yet-unreleased track) to pad the disc out to acceptable 12-inch running time.  They also completely altered the running order of those original tracks, making the new 12-inch release virtually unrecognizable as being derived from its 10-inch original form.  (To learn “what’s up with that running order,” click here.)

1955 “Coupled” LP - Correct tapes used

1962 “expanded” LP - reverb added

Note, also, the different typesetting

vis-a-vis the original 10” LP

All clips on this page correlate with the 90-second, freely available iTunes samples.  Click “VIEW” below, then “View in iTunes” to hear those iTunes samples.

10” D1 promo, courtesy “stevelucille”

7” D3 EP, courtesy “stevelucille”

10” D12, courtesy “stevelucille”

10” D8, courtesy “arkoffs”

The same D1 clip, but with AES phono equalization

12” D3 Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers LP, courtesty “stevelucille”

12” D9 Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers LP, courtesty “stevelucille”

12” D14 Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers LP, courtesty “arkoffs”

12” 1984 UK 12-song reissue

12” 1983 MFSL Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers, mastered by Stan Ricker, courtesy “Loud Listener”

Dynamic Range


Below: Waveforms for My Funny Valentine from the D1 10” and the MFSL pressing

All clips on this page correlate with the 90-second, freely available iTunes samples.  Click “VIEW” below, then “View in iTunes” to hear those iTunes samples.

1987 Songs for Young Lovers/Swing Easy CD, mastered by Larry Walsh.

Circa 1995 budget-line UK MFP Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers CD, courtesy “bgiliberti.” (Notes erroneously credit mastering to Larry Walsh.)

1998 12-song UK CD, courtesy “ClausH.”

1998 Songs for Young Lovers/Swing Easy CD, mastered by Bob Norberg, courtesy “MMM.”

1970s Japan Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers LP, courtesy “ArneW”

1980s Japan Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers LP, courtesy “stevelucille”

Dynamic Range, Pt. 2


The only editions that use proper, dry tapes and are not noticeably (audibly) compressed are:


•1983 MFSL LP   •1984 UK LP*  •1995 UK MFP CD**   •1998 UK CD*  2015 UMe RSD LP***

*Incorrect running order, but with 4 bonus tracks

**Mild Stereo Widening(?) - not “true mono”

***Five tracks have very slightly premature fadeouts

The two items in gray are sourced from the same digital transfer, mastered differently

The only version tested that has 1.) Full, unfettered dynamic range; 2.) True mono sound; 3.) Excellent tone; 4.) No premature fadeouts; and 5.) Correct running order is the 1983 Mobile Fidelity LP.Objective facts aside, to my ears, this version also sounds best.  Subjectivity aside, the 1983 disk is also very difficult to acquire, having been issued some 32 years ago. (Geez, I am OLD!)  The best CD?  It’s practically a tie between the readily and cheaply available 1995 MFP CD and the 1998 UK boxed set CD.  These stem from the same transfer, and the purist in me mandates that I choose the 1998 as being “better,” since it’s true mono, but it’s also in the wrong running order, although with a CD, that’s not the end of the world.  If you want a good sounding version of this album, get the MFP disc.  You won’t be disappointed!  Also, the 2015 HD download is acceptable, but there is some volume manipulation that can be distracting to those who are familiar with the album.  (New listeners probably will not find it to be a problem, but that still does not make it correct.)  These problems were, thankfully, not repeated on the 2015 LP.


By the way, there is a very slight, hidden “bonus” on the MFSL LP.  It is the only version I know of that includes a second or so of studio “ambient sound” prior to the start of track 1, “My Funny Valentine.”  You can clearly hear somebody shuffling on the podium or otherwise moving in the studio just prior to the downbeat.  Listen here: MyFunnyValentine-MFSLStart.wav


Below: Selected clips of “I Get a Kick Out of You”

All clips on this page correlate with the 90-second, freely available iTunes samples.  Click “VIEW” below, then “View in iTunes” to hear those iTunes samples.

12” D9 Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers LP, courtesty “stevelucille”

1980s Japan Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers LP, courtesy “stevelucille”

12” 1983 MFSL Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers.

Circa 1995 budget-line UK MFP Swing Easy/Songs for Young Lovers CD, courtesy “bgiliberti.” (Notes erroneously credit mastering to Larry Walsh.)

1998 12-song UK CD, courtesy “rangerjohn.”

1987 Songs for Young Lovers/Swing Easy CD, mastered by Larry Walsh.

Songs for Young Lovers - 1954

2015 Songs for Young Lovers HD download (converted to 16/44.1).

2015 Songs for Young Lovers HD download (converted to 16/44.1).

2015 Songs for Young Lovers 10” LP

2015 Songs for Young Lovers 10” LP