Come Swing with Me! - 1961

This is probably not going to be a very popular choice, but it’s an honest one.  I think the best sounding version of Come Swing with Me is the Mobile Fidelity LP, but before you start throwing stones, let me defend that choice for a moment.  This is a brass album; even an “in your face” brass album.  It needs “bite” in the brass parts, especially the high trumpets.  The MFSL has that bite in the brass.  It’s also a vocal album, and that’s where so many other versions just fall flat, in my view.  For instance:

•Mono LPs: Sinatra sounds like he is singing in a can, tonally speaking.  I think the UK copy is better by a hair than the other three we checked, but I don’t think any of them sound especially good.  The tone is the problem.  It’s not full-range to my ears, but rather on the anemic side, not unlike the mono tone on Come Fly with Me, which I also did not care for.  (See the “Prince Albert in a Can” section, here.)

•Stereo LPs: The vocal tone is a hair dark, with no top end sparkle.  The 1980’s Capitol reissue brightens up the brass tone a bit, and adds a little bass, but the vocal tone still just sits there, sort of non-descript, plus it’s an “abridged version,” so two songs are missing, which disqualifies it, in my book.  The 1984 Alan Dell UK release gooses everything a bit -- or is it adding sparkle? -- but the vocal isn’t quite there for me.  It’s very good, though.  The MFSL?  Yes, it’s a little bright, but those brass parts proclaim their brassiness from the high places, and those vibes!  They have an incredible presence, and the vocal part sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday, not like it was recorded last century in an echoey cave, like the original pressings convey.

•CDs: Really, there’s only one choice of any quality, and it’s the Walsh remix, which is quite good, in my opinion, but a little (just a little) soupy compared to the original mix, plus it’s missing the piano fix-up on “Yes, Indeed,” a minor quibble, but one that could have been addressed, I would think. Vocal tone is not quite right, either, but in a way that is totally different from the vocal tone problems on the original pressings.  Where those LPs sound thin and hollow, the Walsh CD makes the voice sound a little two husky or bloated to my ears -- again, just a little! -- and this may be a byproduct of the vocal being mixed considerably more forward than in the LP counterparts.  It’s a quite nice CD overall, with some fairly nit-picky problems that can easily be overlooked.

•Open reel:  The sound is crisp and clean, but it lacks top-end “sparkle.”

For the “digital-only” fans, I’d recommend getting the original Larry Walsh remixed CD, but it really does not stack up to the MFSL LP, which features that wide-open top end, along with the unfettered dynamics of the original stereo mix, which really is something to behold.  Here is a clip, starting with the Walsh, then moving into the MFSL release.  Click here.

(Note: all sample clips mirror the 90-second, free clips available via iTunes, audible by clicking “VIEW” in the iTunes link, above right, then “View in iTunes.”  Please e-mail if the iTunes clips change.)

(Note: all sample clips mirror the 90-second, free clips available via iTunes, audible by clicking “VIEW” in the iTunes link, above right, then “View in iTunes.”  Please e-mail if the iTunes clips change.)