Songs for Swingin’ Lovers - 1956


A Genuine Classic, and a Farewell to Capitol’s Melrose Studios

Songs for Young Lovers was primarily arranged by George Siravo; Swing Easy was arranged by Nelson Riddle in the style of Red Norvo; In the Wee Small Hours was the first full-fledged album that actually reflected Nelson Riddle’s own ballad style; Songs for Swingin’ Lovers was the first Sinatra LP to showcase Nelson’s uptempo style, unfettered and magnificent.  One of the notable features, supposedly suggested by Mr. Sinatra, is the high, sustained string writing that serves to underpin the swinging, often driving, big band sound that propels much of the album.  More than fifty years on, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers continues to be an album that delights the ears and makes the toes tap: another landmark release, to be sure, and an album that contains within the middle section of I’ve Got You Under My Skin, one of the two supreme moments in Sinatra’s entire Capitol canon.  (My opinion, of course.)

This album also marked the end of the line for Captiol’s Melrose facility, which had placed Capitol artists in the best possible audio light since 1948.  Studio A, the large theatre-style studio upstairs, really shines on this recording, with sinatra positioned in the audience seating area, and the band up on the stage.  The brilliantly captured instrumental balances never feel cramped, and the open instrumental sound wraps beautifully around Sinatra voice.  It just works on all levels.

Songs for Swingin’ Lovers was released in 1956 as a 15-song album, and all was well with the world.  An alteration was made to the artwork soon after release (see top of this page), then, around 1962, new editions were released, cut to 12 songs, with additional processing, both in mono and Duophonic versions, and therein lies the source for many bungled releases over the last 50+ years, although the situation has finally taken a turn for the better, as we shall see.

Alchemy in its natural state.

Recording from the audience area.

Sinatra, presumably coffee, and presumably Harry “Sweets” Edison’s trumpet mic.

Bob Uecker’s favorite seat.

Reading down Anything Goes.

Initial release cover.
Revised cover.

Some photos courtesy  Can you guess which ones?

Recorded October 17, 1955;

January 9, 10, 12, 16, 1956

Arrangements: Nelson Riddle

Conducted by Nelson Riddle

Produced by Voyle Gilmore

Mixer: John Palladino

Original Release: March, 1956


All clips posted here mirror those freely available via iTunes.  To access the 90-second iTunes free samples, click

“View,” then “View in iTunes.”

Audio Comparisons - Vinyl

Click on photos to hear accompanying audio clips.

Above: D1 LP.

Above: D5 LP, courtesy stevelucille.

Above: D9 LP, courtesy stevelucille.

Above: French Pathe-Marconi LP, D13 from US stampers, courtesy SHTV’s “ArneW.”

Above: German “-1” pressing, courtesy “ArneW.”

Above: D10 LP

Above: 1983 MFSL LP, mastered by Jack Hunt.

Above: D34 LP

Above: D1 EP, courtesy stevelucille.

Above: 1984 UK LP. (See note at left.)

Note: The UK 1984 LP heard at right comes from a file that was shared “third hand,” and I suspect that the file may have been summed to mono.  I only bring this up as some LPs and CDs that were made from the circa 1962 “wet” tapes have a significant non-mono component, i.e., some degree of “stereo spread,” be it intentional or not, while this sample is rendered “hard mono.”

Above: 1997 UK DMM “Centenary” LP.


Click on photos to hear accompanying audio clips.


All clips posted here mirror those freely available via iTunes.  To access the 90-second iTunes free samples, click

“View,” then “View in iTunes.”

This title was not released on open reel tape in the US by Capitol, but it was releaesd on a 5-inch, 3.75 ips “Twin-Track” reel in the UK on EMITAPE.  Goshamighty, that little 5” tape box sure is cute, but sonically, it’s nothing to write home about.  Click the photo at right to listen.

Above: Early Japanese pressing, courtesy “Blackie”

Above: 1980’s Japanese pressing, courtesy “ArneW”

Note: The 1980’s Japanese pressing has 8 tracks on each side, with the bonus track being “Memories of You.”


All clips posted here mirror those freely available via iTunes.  To access the 90-second iTunes free samples, click

“View,” then “View in iTunes.”


Click on photos to hear accompanying audio clips.

Above: 1986 CD, mastered by Larry Walsh.  (Reused in the 1998 UK boxed set.)

Above: 1990 MFSL CD, courtesy MMM.

Above: 1998 EOTC CD, mastered by Bob Norberg, courtesy MMM.

Above: 2014 MFSL hybrid disc, mastered by Shawn R. Britton.


All clips posted here mirror those freely available via iTunes.  To access the 90-second iTunes free samples, click

“View,” then “View in iTunes.”

That’s about all she wrote!  My choice overall?  Clearly (to my ears), it’s the 2014 MFSL Hybrid disc and the 2016 LP (which appears to be cut from the MFSL source), with the original D pressings being quite nice as a very good, thoroughly enjoyable second choice that will continue to be a definite “sentimental favorite.”

--Matthew Lutthans

Last updated Feb. 18, 2016

PS for those who wish to compare the 2014 MFSL release to the 2016 LP, see here.

Head-to-Head Comparisons

Clip One: “Is that rolled off treble?”  Long-time followers of these Sinatra threads will recall debates when comparing two masterings of the same title in which one contributor may like “clip A” because its treble sounds “right” while “clip B” has treble that is “goosed” or “boosted.”  Meanwhile, listener B will come along and say that they like clip B because the treble sounds “right” while clip A’s treble sounds “rolled off.”  Same clips, different ears, different tastes.  Typically, I have been in the second camp, the one that has a problem with “soft treble” or “rolled off treble,” and who thinks that “clip B” sounds right because it’s treble is “full range.”

This sort of thing seemed to especially come up during discussion of Close to You a few years back.

Anyway, here is an absolutely “textbook example” of this sort of thing:

I very much enjoy the sound of my D34 pressing of Songs for Swingin’ Lovers.  The sound is warm and pleasant and kind of “pillowy soft” on top.  I’ve been “okay with that” since I bought that pressing, and I will continue to find it to be a pleasant listen.


The MFSL 2014 hybrid disc?  To my ears, that’s the one with that “full range treble” that I gravitate towards on many of these old Capitol recordings.  I know that there will be some who prefer that “warm glow” (or whatever) of the old LP -- and I like it too -- but I really prefer the sound of the MFSL overall.

Here is a clip that starts with the D34 and alternates back and forth with the 2014 MFSL CD.  There is a total of 6 brief segments, and you’ll have no problem spotting them if you listen for the cymbals.  Have a listen: IGYUMSAlt D34-MFSL2014.wav

Clip Two: “How about my old 1983 MFSL LP?” Here is another identically formatted clip (6 segments total), but this one starts with the MFSL LP and alternates back and forth with the 2014 MFSL CD: IGYUMS MFSLLP-MFSL2014 alt-NORM_01.wav

Clip Three: “How does the new MFSL CD compare to the great sound in the 1990 The Capitol Years 3-CD set?”  Great!  You know what this tells me?  That it’s pretty sad that Sinatra fans had to wait 24 years for a simpatico mastering of the entire album.  Sound this good was always available to be had.  It just wasn’t being done.  Here’s a six-segment clip that starts with the Capitol mastering (Furmanek-Walsh) and alternates with the 2014 MFSL mastering: IGYUMS Alt CapYrs-MFSL2014.wav

Clip Four: “How about the old 1986 Larry Walsh mastering?  Or the 1998 UK boxed set CD?” Remember:  These are the same!  If you have one, you have the other, and “both of them” are a definite step down from the new MFSL mastering.  In the following clip, you will hear the 1986 Walsh CD first, followed by the 2014 MFSL CD: IThoughtWalsh-MFSL2014.wav

Clip Five: “How about my old 1990 MFSL CD?” Let’s have a listen, starting with the 1990 disc, followed by the 2014 disc: IThoughtMFSL1993-MFSL2014.wav

Frank at the In the Wee Small Hours session that produced “I’ll Be Around.”  Photo submitted by “stevelucille.”

Above: 2016 LP