Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely - 1958

Full-length, Unabridged Stereo Releases

 

A quick review:  FRANK SINATRA SINGS FOR ONLY THE LONELY was recorded in mono and 3-track as a 12-song album and released in September of 1958 as a 12-song mono LP, with side one running just over 28 minutes and side two clocking in at over 26:30.  Two months later, in November of 1958, ONLY THE LONELY, despite being Sinatra’s third completed LP project to be recorded in stereo, became Sinatra’s very first stereo LP release (WHERE ARE YOU did not receive stereo LP release until February, 1959, and COME FLY WITH ME finally arrived in stereo at the end of November, 1961), but due to technical limitations with cutting such long side lengths in stereo, one song was trimmed from each side: “It’s a Lonesome Old Town” was removed from side one; “Spring is Here” was removed from side two, reducing side lengths to about 24 and 21 minutes, which were still quite lengthy by stereo LP standards of the day.


Time marches on.  For about nine years, the album remained available as both a 12-song mono release and a 10-song, abridged stereo release.  Around 1968, the mono version was phased out in the US, with other countries following suit, leaving the 10-song stereo version as the only version in print, and in many countries, including the US, that 10-song version remained the stereo-release standard until 1987.  Starting in 1968, there was, however, a small, international smattering of unabridged, 12-song releases, made possible, at least in part, by improved LP cutting hardware and the advent of computerized lathe control, which allowed for groove spacing to be much more efficient than the long-routine “constant pitch” settings in use before Neumann and, later, Zuma, allowed for grooves to be “nestled” tightly and efficiently without sonic degradation or technical mishap.


Here is an approximate timeline of 12-song stereo releases:


1968, Australia: Apparently without fanfare, EMI in Australia reissued ONLY THE LONELY as a budget LP in the “Encore Series,” available in both mono and stereo editions, the stereo LP, #SENC-9394, being a precedent-setting 12-song stereo release:

Each clip on this page falls within the 90-second free sample clip freely available on iTunes.  Click VIEW in the box above to hear the 90-second iTunes clip.

AUDIO CLIPS - Unabridged LPs


Click photos to hear audio

Above: 1972 Australian #S/5004 LP, courtesy “AxeD”

Above: 1973 Japanese #ECP-80796 LP

Above: 1973 Dutch #5C 052-81179 “The Frank  Sinatra Story, Volume 8” LP (first-run pressings of this release had the lime-green Capitol label, so this is a slightly later pressing)

Based on the incredibly small number of pressings that turn up online, my guess is that a very small number of these excellent Australian LPs were ever actually distributed.


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1973, Japan: Toshiba-EMI in Japan released the album as part of their “Best Recording Series” of reissues, #ECP-80796.  As with the 1972 Australian release, these are extremely hard to find today.  (Below: Front cover art, with and without OBI strip.)

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1983, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (lacquers cut in USA, disks pressed in Japan): As part of the mammoth SINATRA 16-LP boxed set, MFSL gave the album the 12-song stereo “audiophile treatment” with original cover art (below), and a list of musicians for each session, catalog #MFSL 1-137.  This edition did not receive stand-alone release, so, while copies can be found, the financial setback will be substantial.  (They do very rarely turn up as “broken set” individual copies on Ebay, but very rarely = virtually never.)

The Japanese LP, uniquely (to my knowledge), has a heavyweight, textured cover that strikes me as being of premium quality.  A lyric sheet and informational insert are also included, and the LP is packaged in a deluxe, rice-paper-style inner sleeve, making this, arguably, the best-packaged version of this album ever released.


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1973, Holland: The LP was released within a 10-LP boxed set called “The Voice,” Catalog #FS 10, and as a stand-alone LP, catalog #5C052.81179, as well, with new rear-cover liner notes. Reportedly, the stand-alone release was imported into the UK eventually, maybe starting around 1977 or so.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that these imported LPs were not an uncommon sight at the time, but in my experience, the LP, while a bit easier to find than the Japanese or Australian LPs, remains challenging to find today, but to a slightly lesser degree.  Below are photos of the original red-cover box, the later black-cover box, and the individual LP cover:

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1973, UK: EMI in England went a different route in 1973, releasing all 12 songs in stereo on an LP titled “One for My Baby,” with new cover art, new liner notes, and, regrettably, a new running order.  This LP is commonly/readily available in used markets online, and is pictured below:

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1984, UK: EMI released a 12-song stereo edition as part of their digitally-remastered LP series, with the “Never Sounded Better” hype sticker on the front cover, and new liner notes by radio personality Alan Dell (in addition to, not in place of, the original notes), catalog #ED 26 0139 1.  Oddly, “It’s a Lonesome Old Town” appeared in mono (despite having a UK stereo release eleven years prior on “One for My Baby”), and “Spring Is Here” had the stereo channels reversed.  The album was also compiled in the 20-LP UK-only set, “The Capitol Years.”  The LP is easy to find online.

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1984, Holland: A DMM mastering of the UK release, duplicating the liner notes and audio quirks found on the UK release, but with markedly different mastering, catalog #1A 038 26 01391.  While much rarer than the 1984 UK version, this album can be found with a modicum of diligence. 

1987, Worldwide CD debut: Capitol’s talented mastering engineer, Larry Walsh, remixed the album from the 3-track session tapes for initial CD release, finally standardizing a 12-song stereo release format worldwide, essentially retiring the original stereo mixes, even for releases of individual songs within compilation packages.  Since Mr. Walsh’s remix, not a single song from the album has seen an official release using the original stereo mix.  Even the 1998 UK CD boxed set, THE CAPITOL YEARS, which used original stereo mixes for all other stereo albums, used the Walsh remix for ONLY THE LONELY.

Above: 1973 UK “One for My Baby” LP, mastered by Richard Langham

Above: 1983 MFSL LP, mastered by Jack Hunt

Above: 1984 UK LP

Above: 1984 Dutch DMM LP

Above: 2013 unauthorized DOL EU DMM LP, mastered from the 1987 remixed stereo CD, courtesy bozburn

AUDIO CLIPS - Unabridged Stereo CDs


Click photos to hear audio

Most Sinatra/Capitol albums have had three distinct, official CD masterings, but ONLY THE LONELY has only had two.  Larry Walsh remixed the album from the original 3-track tapes for the initial 1987 CD release, then the 1998 UK boxed set used that same mix/mastering, minus the bonus tracks, in the 21-CD set.  Also in 1998, a new version, mixed and mastered by Capitol’s Robert Norberg, was released in many countries (but, notably, not in England).  Click the photos below to hear audio from the title track:

Each clip on this page falls within the 90-second free sample clip freely available on iTunes.  Click VIEW in the box above to hear the 90-second iTunes clip.

Above: 1987 CD, remixed by Larry Walsh (reused in 1998 UK “The Capitol Years” boxed set)

Above: 1998 CD, remixed by Robert Norberg, courtesy “rangerjohn”

An extra “thank you” to AxeD, Bob F, Jae, and Henley from the Steve Hoffman Music Forums for their assistance gathering the information on this page.

There have also been numerous unauthorized, EU/EC-based CD releases.  Out of curiosity, “Bob F” bought a couple of these releases, and was kind enough to share audio clips and info, specifically:

Above, far right: a clip from the 2014 CD, which is identical to the 2013 CD, which is a dynamically squished version of the 1987 official CD.


I cannot speak to things like packaging, liner notes, etc., but in audio terms alone, this is strictly carpetbagger stuff, as both discs are simply the 1987 Walsh CD mix, with the dynamics squished to death.


Frank Sinatra Masterworks: The 1954–61 Albums
Cat. # 704 / Barcode: 8 436539 311300
"24 Bit Digitally Remastered" / ℗ & © 2013 Masterworks Series / Made in the EU.
9-CD set with 20-page booklet: Original liner notes, plus new notes by Martha Allen (2013).

and

Frank Sinatra: The Capitol Years 1953–62
Cat. # BT12001 / Barcode: 8 05520 72001 4
"This digitally remastered collection ℗ & © BIG12 2014" / MCPS. Made in the EC.
12-CD set with 24-page booklet: Liner notes by Peter Hill (September 2014).

AUDIO CLIPS - “It’s A Lonesome Old  Town”


Click photos to hear audio

There have been so few stereo releases of this fantastic track, so, what the heck, here are ALL of them!  Below are all six stereo LP masterings, plus both CD remixes.

Each clip on this page falls within the 90-second free sample clip freely available on iTunes.  Click VIEW in the box above to hear the 90-second iTunes clip.

LP AND CD AUDIO CLIPS FROM “A Lonesome Old Town” CAN BE HEARD FARTHER DOWN THE PAGE.

Above: 1972 Australian #S/5004 LP

Above: 1973 Japanese #ECP-80796 LP

Above: 1973 Dutch #5C 052-81179 “The Frank  Sinatra Story, Volume 8” LP (first-run pressings of this release had the lime-green Capitol label, so this is a slightly later pressing)

Above: 1973 UK “One for My Baby” LP, mastered by Richard Langham

Above: 1983 MFSL LP, mastered by Jack Hunt

Above: 1987 CD, remixed by Larry Walsh (reused in 1998 UK “The Capitol Years” boxed set)

Above: 1998 CD, remixed by Robert Norberg, courtesy “rangerjohn”

It should be noted that this album marked the first-ever stereo release of “It’s a Lonesome Old Town.”  (“Spring Is Here” received a true-stereo release on the Duophonic version of FRANK SINATRA SINGS RODGERS AND HART in 1963 and within the boxed set, THE SINATRA TOUCH, in 1968.)


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1972, Australia: EMI in Australia released, through their mail-order-based World Record Club, a second, 12-song stereo version of ONLY THE LONELY, catalog #S/5004, complete with new cover art:

Above: 1968 Australian #SENC-9394 LP

Above: 1968 Australian #SENC-9394 LP