Nice n Easy - 1960

Page One - Intro    Page Two - Recording/Mixing Quirks   Page Three - Conclusions

 
 

Conclusions:


Let’s start with the softballs:  Avoid the Norberg CD and the Australian CDs -- especially the latter.  From there, I’d probably add that the mono releases, ironically (considering the 3-track tape layout), really don’t bring much to the table.  They are okay and pleasant enough, but nothing special to my ears.


So, how about good-sounding stereo versions?  I think that if the original stereo mix had been hidden away in a vault and then “found” many years later, we’d hear it and say, “Boy, that’s a soupy, weird mix,” but of course, that did not happen, and we are all very used to that original mix, which is far-and-away the wettest stereo mix in the Sinatra/Capitol catalog.  Almost out of habit, like Pavlov’s dog, we hear that stereo mix and just accept it, because we’ve been trained to do so, but.....it’s a weird mix!  That’s not to say that either of the later remixes is spot-on, either.  The 1999 Norberg remix is overly processed.  The 1988/1991 remix (11 of the 12 album tracks are identical on both CDs; the title track was mixed anew in 1991) is far more natural sounding, but the tone is a little on the cold/thin side.  It strikes me as being quite good, though, and it avoids some of the problems inherent in the original stereo mix, as outlined on page two.  (Again, if we had never heard that 1960 mix....)


To my ears, there are MANY “basically quite good” masterings of the original stereo mix floating around out there.  With the goal of finding “the best” versions, my personal recommendations are:


  1. 1.A clean, original USA “D” pressing -- at least some of them.  I almost always like original USA pressings, but I rarely find them to be “the best,” but in blind listening, that’s the one that struck me as having the best overall tone and presentation.  I liked it!  I call ‘em like I hear ‘em.  This is my favorite.

  2. 2.I was also very fond of my 1970s USA yellow-label stereo LP, 1980s USA green-label stereo LP, and 1984 UK “Dell” stereo LP, not necessarily in that order.

  3. 3.For original-mix CDs, I prefer the 2008 MFSL CD over the 1998 UK boxed set disc.


If you have any of those editions listed above, you’ve got, in my view, a very good version of the album’s original mix.  Congrats!


4. If the original mix is just too soupy for you -- and I think a very good case can be made that it’s too soupy -- pick up the 1991, 16-track CD release, mastered by Larry Walsh.  It’s very nice on its own very good, very different terms, and some may even argue that it is superior.  Heck, I may even argue that.

Jury Verdict

Above, I’ve listed my recommendations, based on 100% blind listening, but there was also a group of us who did 100% blind, level-balanced listening to several different versions of three tracks from the album.  My own favorites were not always the “group” favorites, and their views are certainly as valid as my own.  Once my own scores were filtered out, these were the top original-mix picks from the group, in order:


  1. 1.Yellow-label 1970s USA stereo LP

  2. 2.Original “D” USA pressing and the 1998 UK boxed-set CD

  3. 3.1980s USA green-label stereo LP and 1970s Dutch “The Frank Sinatra Story” (series) stereo LP.


Even in blind listening, we all could tell that one release was a remix, but the 1991 Larry Walsh-mastered CD had many positive comments.


As I’ve posted elsewhere, I am intrigued by the lack of love for some of the audiophile editions.  The 1983 MFSL LP received minimal mention, and the 2008 MFSL LP was completely off the radar, and was not mentioned as a “top choice” by anybody.  To clarify:  IT’S FINE!  There are many good versions out there, including that one.  It simply did not get chosen -- by anybody -- as a “top choice,” and the 1983 MFSL LP got mentioned one time by one person on the jury -- me. 


To review - click on photos below to hear clips from SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY:

Original “D” US LP:

My picks: 1st place

Other jurors: 2nd place

1970s SM LP:

My picks: 2nd place

Other jurors: 1st place

1980s SN LP:

My picks: 2nd place

Other jurors: 3rd place

1998 UK Dell CD:

My picks: ---

Other jurors: 2nd place

1984 UK Dell LP:

My picks: 2nd place

Other jurors: ---

2008 MFSL CD:

My picks: Preferred original-mix CD

....and special mention, essentially in its own category, to the 1991 stereo remix on CD.  It’s not perfect, but it loses the soupy reverb, and garnered a large amount of positive commentary from many of the “jurors,” including myself.

If you have any of the above versions, you are likely in very good shape where Nice ‘n’ Easy is concerned.  Enjoy!

--Matt Lutthans

May 5, 2018

A big public “thank you” to all who participated!