No One Cares - 1959

 
 

Often mentioned in the same breath as 1957’s WHERE ARE YOU, this is a horse of a darker color: Far more depressing, markedly somber, the story of a man at the end of his rope, perhaps considering an alternate use for said rope.  In my view, this album and the Nat Cole/Gordon Jenkins album WHERE DID EVERYONE GO represent the darkest chapters in “classic pop” vocal recordings.  Forget the relatively sunny FRANK SINATRA SINGS FOR ONLY THE LONELY.  NO ONE CARES is the suicide album in the Sinatra oeuvre.


Musical issues aside, in terms of technical recording styles, there are significant differences between WHERE ARE YOU and NO ONE CARES, especially where the stereo version is concerned.  More on stereo later.  For mono, while WHERE ARE YOU’s mono mix was created live in the studio, NO ONE CARES’ mono mix was created in post-production from the same 3-track session tapes and reverb chambers as were used for the stereo mix.


Mono clips from “Here’s That Rainy Day” can be heard below.  Thanks to all who shared clips!

Sinatra and Jenkins, Episode 3: The Death of Hope

Bonus Music!


The 1990 Furmanek/Walsh remix from The Capitol Years US-Capitol set has about 9 seconds of previously-unheard instrumental music.  (The unedited take also appears  in the 2004 British set, The Platinum Collection, but with mastering by Bob Norberg.)  Click the image at right to hear the end of “Here’s that Rainy Day,” first in its standard, edited version, then in unedited form from THE CAPITOL YEARS.


Stereo Recording Set-Ups:

Where Are You vs. No One Cares

recording dates

March 24-26, May 14, 1959

Producer

Dave Cavanaugh

Arranger

Gordon Jenkins

(To clarify the physical layout as diagramed above:  I cannot speak to how the players were physically positioned in the room for the NO ONE CARES set-up, but the microphone channel (left vs. right) assignments are accurate.  It’s possible (even very likely) that an omni mic was used on the drums for NO ONE CARES.)


My preference?  I think the stereo recording style for WHERE ARE YOU is much more effective than the somewhat wonky stereo (hard left, hard right) style used for NO ONE CARES, which is the second Sinatra album in a row to use 3-track tape in a way that maximizes mono mixdown flexibility with merely a nod to the stereo needs, resulting in a compromised stereo mix, with all the strings crammed onto one side and all the woodwinds on the other, which is not only unnatural, but a little boxy sounding.  For mono, it works fine, and allows the individual key components (strings vs. woodwinds/rhythm vs. vocal) to be carefully rebalanced, but for stereo, it’s a step in a wrong direction. 


To summarize:

MONO WHERE ARE YOU: A handful of mics, all mixed live -- including live addition of reverb from the famed Capitol reverb chambers.

MONO NO ONE CARES: Probably an identical array of mics, but captured “dry” (no reverb) on 3-track tape, with the final mono mix prepared from that 3-track tape in post-production, with reverb added during mixdown.


STEREO WHERE ARE YOU: Only two mics on the orchestra and a mic on Sinatra, recorded “dry” on 3-track tape (one mic per track), with the stereo mix created in post-production, with reverb added.

STEREO NO ONE CARES: The same number of mics as used on the mono version of NO ONE CARES, recorded “dry” on 3-track tape, with strings on one track, Sinatra on another track, and woodwinds and rhythm on another, with the stereo mix created in post-production, with reverb added.

Mono Audio Clips

Click the photos below to hear audio.  All audio clips fall within the 90-second free sample window found on iTunes.  Click “view” in the iTunes window at left.

Original UK LP, lacquer cut from tape copy, courtesy SHTV’s stevelucille

Original N1 LP, lacquer cut from tape copy in NY, courtesy SHTV’s Scott1234

Original D5 LP, lacquer cut in Hollywood from mono master tape, courtesy SHTV’s stevelucille

D11 LP, lacquer cut in Hollywood from mono master tape, courtesy SHTV’s DJ WIlbur

N16 LP, lacquer cut from tape copy in NY

N22 LP, lacquer cut from tape copy in NY, courtesy SHTV’s

Scott1234

1984 Holland (DMM?) LP, matrix 1852921-A1+D, cut from digital copy of USA mono master tape. Sleeve denotes DMM and stereo; label has no DMM marking; labeled mono.

Stereo Audio Clips

Click the photos below to hear audio.  All audio clips fall within the 90-second free sample window found on iTunes.  Click “view” in the iTunes window, below right.

Above: D2 Canadian SW pressing, lacquer cut from stereo master tape in Hollywood

Above: D7 SW pressing, lacquer cut from master tape in Hollywood, courtesy stevelucille

Above: N2 SW pressing, lacquer cut from tape copy in New York, courtesy stevelucille

Above: c. 1977 F25#1 SM pressing, lacquer cut on a Neumann lathe from stereo master tape in Hollywood by Wally Traugott

Above: 2013 MFSL hybrid disc, mastered from the stereo master tape by Rob LoVerde.

Above: 2012 MFSL LP, mastered from the stereo master tape by Krieg Wunderlich

Above: 2002 EOTC CD, remastered by Robert Norberg, courtesy stevelucille

Above: 1998 UK boxed set CD, likely mastered from a tape copy, courtesy SHTVs “salleno”

Above: 1991 CD, STEREO REMIX by Larry Walsh

(Thanks to Bob F.)

Above: 1984 Holland Stereo DMM LP, matrix 2601411-A1+D, cut on Neumann lathe from digital copy of USA master tape, courtesy SHTV’s mahanusafa02

Above: 1984 UK LP, lacquer cut in London from digital copy of USA stereo master tape (Thanks to Scott1234)

Above: c. 1980(?) Holland LP, lacquer cut from tape copy

Above: c. 1982(?) H27#1 LP, lacquer cut from stereo master tape in Hollywood on Scully Lathe by Jay Maynard

Above: 1983 MFSL LP, half-speed mastered from stereo master tape by Jack Hunt

At left: Click the photo to hear a clip from the title track, sourced from this 3.75 IPS tape, circa 1965.  The tape is not in great shape, but indicates that the results could be quite satisfying on a mint copy.  Thanks to SHTV’s ArneW for the audio and photo.

Ramblings, Conclusions, and Recommendations

I say this somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but at times I do wonder if, when it comes to “No One Cares,” no one cares, which is a shame, because it’s a great concept for an album -- a lovelorn guy at the end of his rope and then some -- and it’s executed nearly to perfection.  That last bit may be the problem:  It doesn’t “hurt” in the glorious, cathartic ways that IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS, WHERE ARE YOU and even ONLY THE LONELY hurt, ways that almost (to some degree) “hurt so good,” but it “hurts” in a way that is just too painful.  It’s one thing to pick at the scabs of lost love.  It’s something wholly different to sit on the bus, rip off your bandage, and make the guy next to you look at your wounds up close.  Many of us would rather not be that guy in the next seat!  Figuratively speaking, that’s kind of the position the listener is in on this album.


Oddly, while the album conveys a personal message that many of us can relate to, it does not strike me as being especially intimate.  As I’ve posted elsewhere, Only the Lonely strikes me as being, by and large, the intimate version of the message, like Frank is singing to himself in a totally empty theatre, quietly, without bluster or grand gesture, talking his way though his own feelings in his own mind for his own benefit to accompany his own booze. No One Cares is Only the Lonely performed as grand, tragic opera, with hugely dramatic, almost melodramatic musical trappings. It even ends with Tchaikovsky, who certainly wrote opera music (although None but the Lonely Heart was not from an opera, but from a collection of songs). If Only the Lonely is Sinatra crying alone at the bar, No One Cares is Sinatra in formal dress on stage, dramatically telling the same story with broader, more theatrical strokes.”


Sound Quality

The better mono releases are okay, I suppose, but I lean pretty heavily toward stereo on this title, despite the awkward, hard left-hard right recording style.  For whatever reason -- possibly having to do with the overall free-of-sharp-edges instrumentation and texture of the orchestration -- there seems to be a large amount of good masterings available for this particular album.  In my opinion, the “dud” amongst the stereo releases is the circa 1982 blue-label release, which is too dull, dark, and heavy.  The vintage N and D pressings strike me as being unspectacular, but very listenable. 


When I assembled a small cadre of “blind listeners” to compare nine different stereo masterings of three full-length tracks, without knowing in advance what was what, relatively little came from the exercise, but it was not totally without results.  One listener commented that there just wasn’t much difference between them.  One preferred what turned out to be the 2013 MFSL Hybrid (SACD/CD) disc.  One listener leaned toward three favorites: MFSL hybrid disc, the 1983 MFSL LP (from the 16-LP box), and the 1984 UK “Dell” LP.  Personally, I chose, in blind listening, the MFSL CD, the UK “Dell” LP, the 1983 MFSL LP, and, to my own surprise, the c. 1980 purple label LP from Holland, as the best-sounding releases, and did so consistently on all three songs we compared.  (The preference I showed in blind listening for that purple-label Holland pressing demonstrates why I like blind listening: Less influence from bias or prejudice.) 


I was surprised that the 2012 MFSL LP did not stand out as a top-tier choice, especially since the SACD/CD scored so well.  I also was a bit surprised that the yellow-label LP, cut by the respected Wally Traugott, did not score better, and that the DMM “Dell” stereo LP from Holland, not part of the blind listening comparisons, sounded rather dull compared to the UK non-DMM counterpart.


On CD, the Norberg disc is a disaster.  Stay away.  The 1998 UK boxed set CD is not bad at all, but is a little thin and bright when compared to the MFSL CD, which is just spot-on.  The 1991 CD, the only remix from the 3-track tapes, needs to be in its own category, as it is a very different listening experience than any of the other stereo releases.  The remix is quite well done, but it leans a bit toward the analytical, overly-clear side, rather than the “nicely blended picture” that one gets from the MFSL CD, which uses the original stereo mix.  Don’t sell the Walsh disc short, though.  It is very good, and is recommended as an “alternate experience” where this album is concerned.  It’s very well done -- but very different!


Bottom line? My personal thought is:  The 1983 MFSL LP, the 1984 UK LP, and the 2013 MFSL hybrid disc are the best-sounding releases.  If you’ve got one, you probably don’t need the others, as all are, to my ears, absolutely excellent.  The c. 1980 purple label pressing from Holland is a surprisingly close second, and there are many other choices that certainly are quite nice on their own terms.  As far as musical and emotional content are concerned, listen at your own risk!


Thanks for listening!


Matthew Lutthans

April 5, 2017


PS - one more thing: 


Following these May, 1959, sessions, it would be ten months before another Sinatra LP session. Billboard magazine reported the following on August 17, 1959:

Bonus track:

“The One I Love”

For info on the twelfth track recorded for the album, please see this page.  There has literally been one proper release of this track, with the correct edits and full-width, un-futzed stereo sound, and it’s this one, from 1973.

Conductors

Gordon Jenkins, Nelson Riddle

Release date

--Cash Box, August 29 ,1959.  Thanks to Bob F.

To my knowledge, the next-to-last sentence is the earliest publicly-issued hint about what would eventually become Reprise Records.