Ring-A-Ding Ding - 1961


Q: What’s brown and sounds like a bell?

A: Ring-a-Ding Dung

To be fair, that’s a slight exaggeration, but for many years, it was not far from the truth.  As of 2011 and the Larry Walsh remix released on Concord, the situation has improved substantially.  There is still a plethora of poor-sounding releases, and a smattering of better sounding ones.

Some releases that stand out as being superior, and while no released version is perfect, the one that comes out on top, and really brings the album -- finally -- into the land of non-soupy high fidelity, is the Larry Walsh CD remix on Concord, which also sounds excellent on the UMe LP, which uses that same mix.  Mr. Walsh’s version is my top choice. Maybe the voice could be a little warmer in spots, but it’s very well done overall, and is, let’s be honest, in a category by itself where this album is concerned.  If you were to divide Ring-a-Ding Ding releases into two categories, there’s “This one” and there’s “everything else.”

Other releases that deserve honorable mention are:

The 1991 Reprise CD, mastered by Lee Herschberg.  Is this a remix from the three track, or the original, quickly-withdrawn original stereo mix, finally well mastered?  My knee-jerk, romanticized thought is that it’s the original mix, but I cannot tell for sure, and, regardless, it sounds nice in a soft, pillowy, original-mix kind of way.

The original 1961 Ampex/Reprise reel-to-reel release, #RSL-1701, which is hard to find and was only briefly available.  Unlike the original stereo mix LPs of the time, it has bass and warmth.  Hearing this for the first time several years ago was a revelation, and it still sounds good many years later.

Also, I am fond of the original (quickly withdrawn) mono mix, but it will never sound “right.”  The dryness and immediacy are interesting, but the tone is kind of a lost cause, and tone is king for me, so no cigar, ultimately.  (The easily available mono mix #2, which is actually a fold-down of stereo mix #2, has vastly better and warmer tone, but goes off the rails in many other ways.)  It’s a fun listen, but the sandpaper-thin tone gets frustrating.

The album is still a hoot after all these years, so enjoy it!

Special thanks to SH.TV members Bob F, Jayson Wall, MMM, and Ronald Sarbo, for information and/or samples used on these pages.

--Matt Lutthans, 12/24/20

With Apologies to Monty Python

....which leads to another occurrence at Reprise that rarely happened over at Capitol:  The “I can hear that somebody is twiddling with knobs” phenomenon.  I can’t think of a single instance at Capitol in which somebody made an adjustment to reverb or EQ or some other effect that was glaringly obvious....and then didn’t go back and fix it!  On Reprise stuff, it happens, and they were “okay that way.”  Listen to this, from reel S9-1991, courtesy MMM: Mac Audio_recording 7.mp3  Notice how on the first half, the “reverb” is at Yankee Stadium levels, but then is reduced after that?  TOO MUCH KNOB TWIDDLING.

....and then there’s this!

(A brief “P.S.” from the 2011 version of this review.) 

Does anybody else think that long-time Yankee Stadium public address announcer Bob Sheppard may have been a significant influence on Sinatra around the time of Ring-a-Ding Ding? Have a listen, and decide for yourself: SheppardSinatraRADD.mp3.

(Photo credit: NJ.com.)