Notes on All the Way

All the Way is Capitol’s fourth compilation of Sinatra singles, recorded May 20, 1957 - September 1, 1960, released in mono and stereo on March 13, 1961, possibly thrust upon the market at that particular time specifically to compete with the release of Sinatra’s first Reprise product, Ring-a-Ding Ding, which was also scheduled for a March release, but ultimately got pushed back to April 3 due to a cover art snafu.

From a recording standpoint, the album, much like This is Sinatra, Volume Two before it, spans multiple technological advances at Capitol studios.  Two songs were recorded “mono only” in 1957, and thus appeared in “enhanced monophonic sound” (pre-Duophonic “fake stereo”) on the stereo All the Way album; one song was recorded when Capitol was running separate mic arrays and tape formats for mono and stereo; eight were recorded after Capitol had switched to full-time recording on 3-track tape for stereo and mono use.   At least three of the tracks were released originally on 78 RPM disks in North America, at the tail-end of Capitol’s involvement with that format, and all of them appeared as 45s, although “To Love and Be Loved” was a longer, alternate take on the LP, and one track also appeared on the highly unusual (for the time) Stereo EP format.

•1988 CD (2 mono, 10 remixed stereo tracks): 3.46 (3 of 12 cuts scored in the “top choice” category)

•1983 MFSL LP (2 fake stereo, 10 original-mix stereo tracks): 3.25 (1 of 12 cuts scored in the “top choice” category)

•1976 SM-series LP (2 fake stereo, 10 original-mix stereo tracks): 3.08 (2 of 12 cuts scored in the “top choice” category)

•1984 UK LP (2 mono, 10 original-mix stereo tracks): 3.00 (2 of 12 cuts scored in the “top choice” category)

•1984 Dutch DMM MONO LP: 2.95 (2 of 12 cuts scored in the “top choice” category)

•1980 SN-Series LP (2 fake stereo, 10 original-mix stereo tracks): 2.75 (3 of 12 cuts scored in the “top choice” category)

•2016 MONO LP: 2.48

•Early “Stereo” LP (2 fake stereo, 10 original-mix stereo tracks): 2.41

•1998 UK CD (2 mono, 10 original-mix stereo tracks): 2.25

•Early Mono LP: 1.91

What’s the Best-Sounding Full-Length, Original-Running-Order Release?

Multiple masterings of each track have been compared elsewhere on this website. (See links farther down the page, with audio clips from multiple masterings at those links.)  These comparisons include not only the assorted “All the Way” album releases, but also instances where individual tracks from this compilation album have appeared on other compilations.  As I’ve done with “Look to Your Heart” and both volumes of “This is Sinatra,” I’ve gone through and tallied the ratings for each mastering of each track as follows:

Disclaimer:  This is clearly a way to calculate “rough” qualitative number for each releases as a whole.  It’s not perfect, but serves to give some idea of how one release compares to another.

Reminder:  This is a 1 to 5 scale.  If a collection of these sixteen songs had the best version of each song on it, it would score a 5.  Here is how each of the releases scored, on that 1 to 5 scale:

Ponder those numbers for a moment.  Even the top-scoring releases are only in the 3 to 3.5 range on a scale of 1 to 5, meaning that as a set, when all is said and done, the set is only slightly above average in its best masterings, and one could, both in theory and practice, assemble their own compilation from assorted, available sources, and have “top choice” tracks across the board.  (Frankly, in this day and age, that seems like a pretty good idea to me.)  No All the Way release has more than three songs that scored a “top choice” rating, meaning that even on the BEST editions, 9 out of 12 tracks can be found better somewhere elseWhy such inconsistency?  It’s actually fairly logical.  Some tracks have great mono mixes; some tracks have poorly done mono mixes.  Some tracks were mixed well for stereo in 1961; some had poor stereo mixes made in 1961; some had great CD-era remixes; some did not; some had much better stereo mixes only on other, later (non-All the Way) compilations; and some “stereo” All the Way releases also contain fake stereo tracks, which dropped their numerical score, of course.

It’s not noted as such, but the 1988 CD is the only release sampled that has zero tracks whose mastering scored an “avoid” rating, although it also has eight tracks that scored “average” and 1 that was “sub-par.”  Regardless, it’s probably the best choice overall.

Release History

Of the five original Capitol/Sinatra singles compilation albums released 1956-1962, this is the only one that always maintained its full-length tracklist, never being abridged by Capitol. 

The mono LP was generally available from 1961 to about 1968, and was reissued by EMI in Holland in 1984 and again by UMe/Capitol in 2016, a move that surprised some fans, myself included.  The mono LP version has never had an official digital release.

The stereo LP was also generally available from about 1961-1968, then returned to print in the USA from 1976 through roughly the time that CDs entered the picture, including an “audiophile” reissue in the 16-LP boxed set from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 1983.  On each of these editions (and on others around the world), “All the Way” and “Witchcraft” typically appeared in “enhanced monophonic sound.”  The 1984 UK and Dutch stereo LPs, for the first time, included those two songs in true mono, with the remaining ten songs in stereo, a pattern that was repeated for the 1988 debut of the album on CD, although that 1988 CD contained the ten stereo songs not in their original stereo mixes, but in newly-created stereo remixes, with generally good results.  Ten years later, in 1998, EMI in the UK included the complete album within their 21-CD The Capitol Years boxed set, with the two mono tracks in (heavily compressed) mono, and the ten stereo tracks in their original stereo mixes.

Upper Left: In Australia, the album appeared in two unusual variants: sometimes reissued with alternate artwork, sometimes retitled Sinatra Sings Music for Pleasure, using the same title and cover art as an earlier compilation that bore no resemblance to the All the Way album, in terms of content.

Near Left: EMI’s World Record Club released a version in 1966 (available in mono and stereo) that contained all twelve tracks, but with a jumbled running order.  The “mono” version of this album did not use the actual mono mixes, but was a fold-down to mono from the stereo tapes.

For information regarding cover art variations, click here.

Why I also like the 1984 “Dell” stereo LPs, and why an argument can be made for them being the top version, despite the numbers: 

First off, it’s a good sounding mastering, generally speaking.  Secondly, remember, be it by accident or some other reason, virtually all* stereo editions of the All the Way album have the stereo image reversed, with the strings on the right side.  The only* way to hear the All the Way album with the stereo image corrected is on the 1984 UK and Dutch stereo LPs.

(*Our friend “stevelucille” owns an early N4 stereo cut that has the channels re-reversed on side one.  We do not know if there is a corresponding side two that is cut the same way, but regardless, the 1984 LPs are better sounding cuts.  They also have the two mono cuts in true mono, unlike the N4 cut.)

Fake stereo tracks aside, to my ears, the 1976 SM-series LP sounds very nice, too, as does the 1983 MFSL LP.  For mono, I think the 1984 Dutch DMM LP is in a league of its own.  By the numbers, though, the 1988 CD is the best-sounding release this compilation album has had, and I don’t really have a an especially compelling argument to the contrary.

Looking for the “top choices” for individual tracks?   See these links, which include audio clips:

May 20, 1957 - Witchcraft (mono-only session)

August 13, 1957 - All the Way (mono-only session)

September 11, 1958 - Sleep Warm (separate mono and stereo recording setups)

October 16, 1958 - Theme from Some Came Running (“To Love and Be Loved” - long version)

December 29, 1958 - All My Tomorrows; French Foreign Legion

May 8, 1959 - High Hopes

May 14, 1959 - This Was My Love; Talk to Me

April 13, 1960 - River, Stay ‘Way from My Door; It’s Over, It’s Over, It’s Over

September 1, 1960 - Ol’ Mac Donald

One more thing....

The album, at least in its monophonic form, seems to have been a difficult birth, with multiple revisions noted on the mono master tape box, as posted on Instagram by @makhlouff • Jan 24, 2017 at 11:43pm UTC, shared for posterity on the Steve Hoffman Music Forum soon thereafter by Jordan Taylor, and reposted one more time below: