Non-Album Tracks, 1957

Thank you to SHTV’s “Bob F” for his invaluable assistance in compiling this information.

Ongoing discussion at the Steve Hoffman Music Forum (LINK)       Album Index


May 23, 1957

Pre-recording session at Columbia Pictures prior to filming of Pal Joey, including the Capitol release:

I Didn’t Know What Time It Was

Top Choices, none very “hi-fi”:

•Circa 1976 Stereo/Duophonic LP, preferably just playing the right channel, which eliminates the time delay, but retains much of the positive tonal qualities (see notes under “Version 4” below).

Best “purist”/dry option:



•1989 CD - Norberged in spades (especially in the first two segments)

•1997 CD - defective


See above and below.

Arranger: Nelson Riddle

Conductor: Morris Stoloff

Original Release: PAL JOEY LP, October 14, 1957

Original LP Release: (Same)

Original CD Release: PAL JOEY CD, 1989

Releases sampled for this comparison:

•1957 mono PAL JOEY LP

•1976 Duophonic/Stereo PAL JOEY LP


•1997 Australia PAL JOEY CD

•2002 Reprise IN HOLLYWOOD CD

“I Didn’t Know What Time It Was”

Of the songs that Frank Sinatra recorded, presumably on multi-track 35mm mag film, at Columbia Pictures for the film PAL JOEY, the majority did not wind up on the corresponding soundtrack LP.  “I Didn’t Know What Tme It Was” does appear on the LP as recorded at Columbia, but only the last 1:26 or so is the same version that actually appears on the film.

•The Columbia Pictures recording of “The Lady is a Tramp” would be replaced on the soundtrack LP with the already-recorded November 26, 1956 Capitol version, originally recorded for, then held back from, A SWINGIN’ AFFAIR.  Nelson Riddle conducted.

•The Columbia Pictures recordings of “I Could Write a Book,” “Bewitched,” and “There’s a Small Hotel” would all be re-recorded in mono at Capitol three months later, on August 13, 1957, with Nelson Riddle conducting.

On this date, multi-track recording of “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” covered three distinct musical segments (not implying that they were necessarily recorded separately):

•Segment One: Vocal and piano only, rubato

•Segment Two: Vocal and light orchestra (strings, some woodwinds, rubato)

•Segment Three: Vocal and Big Band in full swing mode

For the film itself, only segment three survived, as segments one and two were replaced with, unusually, a live-on-the-set-during-actual-filming rendition featuring only Sinatra and piano.  (It was good luck, I guess, that Joey wound up working in a night club that used very expensive Altec 21b microphones for use in their PA system!)  When segment three begins, the film version is lip-sync’d by Sinatra to the recording made today.

Numerous and varied incarnations of today’s recording have been released on disc over the years, with wildly varied results.  Here is a rundown of each:

Version #1 (mono mix)

Recorded May 23, 1957

Dry Vocal Track, Dry Orchestra Track, Heavily Compressed

At some point during production of the film, Columbia Pictures created some monophonic acetate “rehearsal discs” for performers and staff to use as a reference.  These discs were prepared with no addition of reverb, but with a heavy dose of compression (possibly a by-product of the in-house disc-cutting procedures in use at the time). 

This version, dubbed from an actual acetate, not from any sort of tape master, has been commercially released only one time, on the 2002 IN HOLLYWOOD CD set on Reprise.  Here is a clip, transitioning from segment two to segment three:


•While most tracks in the IN HOLLYWOOD set are the actual film versions, only segment three (the swing portion of the recording) actually appeared in the film.

•The complete lack of reverb is most obvious on the very first POW of the brass, around the 0:18 mark in the clip above.

Version #2 (heavily altered mono film mix)

Truncated opening segment (replacing segments 1 and 2 as outlined above) recorded live on-set during filming at some later date.

Segment 3 recorded May 23, 1957.

Wet Everything, Plus Fake Stereo

The film PAL JOEY was released to theatres with only a plain-Jane, monophonic optical soundtrack -- no stereo.  During the musical performances, there are, of course, Foley and other sounds audible, but in 2012 Twilight Time Entertainment licensed rights to the title and released it on blu-ray with an isolated “stereo” film score audio track.  While this has potential for being a top-quality release, volume levels are all over the map spot-to-spot within the song, and the sound is very heavily processed, with the only stereo being fake stereo.  Here’s a clip:

Version #3 (mono LP mix)

Recorded May 23, 1957

Mixed at Capitol from Columbia-supplied 2-track tape, very possibly September 25, 1957.

Vocal Track with light reverb, Orchestra Track with heavy reverb, mildly compressed with odd EQ

Aural evidence indicates that Columbia provided Capitol with a 2-track tape from which Capitol could create mono mixes for its then-forthcoming mono-only soundtrack LP.  One track on the tape contained a mixdown of the full orchestra, and one track contained isolated vocals.  What Capitol chose to actually DO with this two-track source tape is, in hindsight, certainly questionable, as Sinatra’s vocal is oddly EQd with a subtle amount of reverb added, while the orchestra track, meanwhile, received heavy reverb, especially during segment three.  It’s possible that these steps were taken in a (largely) failed attempt to make the recorded-at-Columbia-Pictures tracks match up with the recorded-at-Capitol tracks.  Either way, the results are middling at best, and I think that’s being a little charitable. 

Here’s a clip from a 1957 yellow-label promotional LP, courtesy eHarmonica:

An additional sample, from a D6#2 LP, courtesy mahanusafa02:

(Mahanusafa also provided a clip from a very similar sounding D8 LP, not posted.  Thank you!)

Version #4 (“stereo” LP mix)

Recorded May 23, 1957

Mixed at Capitol from Columbia 2-track tape, circa 1961

•Almost-dry vocal track

•Tastefully light reverb on the instrumental track

•Mild compression on early cuts (#DW-912)

•Uncompressed on later versions (#SM-912)

In 1961, Capitol opted to release this popular mono-only soundtrack LP (#W-912) in a hybrid “Duophonic” (fake stereo) version that, according to the rear cover, had several tracks “In stereo,” as shown below.

Which songs are NOT listed in stereo?  The ones that Frank recorded or re-recorded at Capitol, and the ones recorded at Columbia that feature only orchestra, since the orchestra was on only one track of that tape supplied to Capitol by Columbia Pictures (or that were on a full-track mono source tape).

Since Capitol had a 2-track tape at their disposal, with instruments and vocals on separate tracks, getting a legitimate, good-sounding stereo mix was kind of a pipe dream.  As Beatles fans can tell you, when you have a 2-track tape and (by today’s standards) pretty primitive processing options, you can either get this sort of mix: or you can do what Capitol did, and place the vocal track dead-center, largely unfutzed (very light reverb), while taking the instrumental track and making JUST that track “Duophonic,” panned hard left and hard right, with a slight time delay (a few milliseconds) between sides, a little reverb, and EQs on each of the left and right instrumental versions, like this:

Based on the assorted releases made from the Columbia tapes, my guess is that the tonality/EQ on those tapes was far from optimum, and Capitol did what they could to get the tone more to their liking.

Here’s a clip from SM-912, the mid-70s reissue of the 1961 Duophonic/”stereo” LP:

Here’s the same clip, right channel only, which largely gets rid of the time delay:

For much more info as to how this track seems to have been prepared at Capitol, please see here (post #313).

Oddball Variation #1

Recorded May 23, 1957

For the 1989 CD release of PAL JOEY, mastered by Bob Norberg, this track was sourced from the stereo/Duophonic mix (version 4), but with further fake-stereo processing, causing some odd swishy-sounding stuff to occur in segment one (piano and vocal only), probably the result of comb-filtering after combining left and right time-delayed channels.  It’s an odd listening experience, and here’s a clip:  One very positive feature of this mastering:  Mr. Norberg appears to have made a serious and somewhat successful attempt at correcting the poor EQ problems that have dogged this release over the years.  Kudos for that.

Oddball Variation #2

Recorded May 23, 1957

The 1997 Australian CD appears to be defective on this track.  If you listen to the clip below (courtesy SHTV’s progrockfan), you will notice that there’s some bizarre cancellation going on throughout the cut, EXCEPT for during the loud brass burst at about 0:17, which suddenly -- and only very briefly -- develops full-range tone.  Clip:

<---- 1956 Sessions  1957 Singles:  March 14                            May 20      May 23                               Aug 13.                                   Nov. 25     Dec. 11  ----> 1958 Sessions