A Swingin’ Affair - Recorded 1956

Recorded April 9, November 15, 20, 26, and 28, 1956

Arrangements: Nelson Riddle

Conducted by Nelson Riddle

Produced by Voyle Gilmore

Released May 6, 1957

This much-loved album presents Sinatra and Riddle in sequel mode, clearly looking to recreate the magic of Songs for Swingin’ Lovers.  Although generally viewed as a classic today, the album did go through some last-minute alterations, as Sinatra & Company opted to pull The Lady is a Tramp when Frank was signed to appear in the film Pal Joey, which included the tune in its musical score.  An unreleased single, No One Ever Tells You, was substituted, and the running order reshuffled, but not until after some sleeves had been printed.


Original printed running order:                                    Revised printed running order:

Photo: SHTV’s Jamie C.

The penultimate of Sinatra’s mono-only LP releases, this album received the typical 1960s treatment, eventually being released with an abridged number of tracks, in “wet” mono and Duophonic versions, but many issues have been full-length and in true mono, and will be compared here.  Thanks, as always, to all those who have contributed clips for comparison.

Audio Clips - “Night and Day”

To hear a brief clip, click the photos below.

Please note: All clips fall within the freely available 90-second iTunes window.  To access the 90-second published clips, click “VIEW” at the iTunes link (below left), then “View in iTunes” when prompted.

Above: 2014 MFSL CD, mastered by Rob LoVerde

Above: 1998 CD, mastered by Bob Norberg, courtesy DJ WIlbur

Above: 1998 UK CD, courtesy Bob F

Above: 1991 CD, mastered by Larry Walsh

Above: 1990 The Capitol Years compilation set, mastered by Ron Furmanek and Larry Walsh (presented as a familiar reference)

Above: circa 1960 N16 LP

Above: circa 1974 Japan LP.  Note: runs about 1/4 step slow. To hear the clip speed-corrected, click NightClipJapanLP-PiSh_01-03.wav.

Above: 1983 MFSL LP, mastered by Jack Hunt

Above: 1984 UK LP

Above: 1984 Netherlands DMM LP

To hear a brief clip, click the photos above.

Please note: All clips fall within the freely available 90-second iTunes window.  To access the 90-second published clips, click “VIEW” at the iTunes link (above), then “View in iTunes” when prompted.

Above: circa 1960 1N LP, pressed by UK Decca, issued with US-made labels and sleeve, courtesy “GroovinGarrett”

Above: UK LP, courtesy “stevelucille”

Above: D11 LP, courtesy “stevelucille”

Above: D6#3 LP, courtesy “tlmusic”

Above: D5 LP, courtesy “stevelucille”

Audio Clips - Side Two and that D16 Pressing

SH.TV’s “MMM” and “TLMusic” have both raved about how good one particular cut of this album is: D16.  Here are some clips, courtesy TLMusic, accompanied, at right, by the same segment from the 2014 MFSL CD:

.

THE LONESOME ROAD

AT LONG LAST LOVE

To hear a brief clip, click the photos above.

Please note: All clips fall within the freely available 90-second iTunes window.  To access the 90-second published clips, click “VIEW” at the iTunes link (above), then “View in iTunes” when prompted.

Conclusions

LPs: I have never owned a “D” pressing of this album, but the clips strike me as being very similar to D pressings for other mono albums of the era, i.e,. good tone, a mildly pillowy top end, and subtle compression, all adding up to a very pleasant listening experience.  If you can find a clean one, odds are it will serve your needs quite well, and frankly, I find my N pressing to be a nice listen, too.  The vintage UK pressings both strike me as being a little dull, and the 1984 Dutch LP is dead as a doornail, as is the Japanese LP, which also runs slow.  The 1983 MFSL LP is bright and has reverb added.  (Some added detail comes through, but it’s definitely “off.”) 


Back in 2010, I wrote this regarding the 1984 UK “Dell” LP:


Special mention should be made of the 1984 British pressing from the digitally-remastered “Alan Dell” series of LPs.  This LP, while perhaps just a hair on the thin sounding side, is tonally quite nice.  In fact, I find it to be very similar to the D5 pressing on the previous page, and that D5 is probably my favorite vintage pressing overall.  Furthermore, this British LP is probably the only way to get all 15 original album cuts in one place, made from the correct, “dry” source tapes, on a non-vintage pressing.   If you spot a clean copy, my advice is:  get it!  It’s a very high quality release, and since it’s nearly a quarter-century “newer” than the last batch of 9:00 rainbows, odds are pretty good that it will be in good shape, and these British pressings are cut on good quality, quiet vinyl.


Not only am I going to stick by that bit of advice, but I will add an odd little supporting detail.  In most of these LP comparisons, the 1984/85 UK LPs have very wide dynamics, and the original D and N pressings have relatively reduced dynamics.  That’s almost a “given.”  For whatever reason, the 1984 UK LP on this title has moderately reduced dynamics that are virtually identical to the original D cuts, so while the UK Dell LPs are usually quite different in overall effect than their vintage counterparts, in this particular case, there is an added bit of similarity. 


CDs: The Norberg remaster is an absolute dud, but the Walsh and UK ’98 releases are quite good.  That said......


Overall: To my ears, the 2014 MFSL CD hybrid disc is just about perfect.  The only two sonic concerns I have, and I’m almost embarrassed to say this, are that 1.) The fade of “At Long Last Love” is clipped off early; and 2.) I don’t care for how the rills (spaces between songs) are handled by means of a direct cut to “digital zero” (pure silence), rather than a tasteful, gradual fade, or even just leaving the hiss at full volume between tracks.  I find the hard cuts to be distracting, but these are nit-picks regarding an otherwise exemplary disc, so kudos to Rob LoVerde and company at MFSL for finally giving this album its sonic due after nearly 60 years of attempts that fell short.  My advice?  Buy this hybrid SACD while it’s still in print.  You won’t be disappointed!  The 2017 LP seems to be sourced from this excellent MFSL digital release (see here) and his highly recommended for LP enthusiasts.


One more thing, recycled from my 2010 review: Many people place this album among the greatest of Sinatra’s recordings.  Below, check out what Capitol did to this title when they added reverb and reduced the album from 15 to 12 tracks in the early 1960s.  With Night and Day completely absent, and the running order juggled beyond hope, this is a travesty by any measure.

Above: 2017 LP, likely sourced from the 2014 MFSL disc.  Audio courtesy SH.TV’s AxeD; photo courtesy BFerr1.