Notes on
This is Sinatra, Volume Two

This is Sinatra, Volume Two is a curious affair.  It was the second Sinatra compilation album released by Capitol, but the third completed in terms of recording dates, recorded largely after, but released before, Look to Your Heart, and unlike that album and the original This is Sinatra, both of which gathered previously released singles and EP tracks, seven of the songs on Volume Two were first-time releases that appear to have been recorded as a project to follow Come Fly with Me.  Alan Dell explained this pretty well in his liner notes to the 1985 British LP reissue:

Mr. Dell mentions that “some of the later titles were recorded in stereo but were not issued as such in the first release of this album.”  In fact seven of the sixteen songs were recorded on 3-track tape for potential stereo release.  Two of those seven stereo recordings were eventually released on some editions of This is Sinatra, Volume Two.  The other five 3-track recordings did not receive stereo mixes and releases until the 1990s on compilations that had no connection to This is Sinatra, Volume Two.  Oddly, all seven made their stereo debuts within multi-volume compilations, not on one-disc releases.  A history of first-time stereo releases, in order recorded:

I Believe: The Complete Capitol Singles 4-CD set, 1996

Everybody Loves Somebody: The Capitol Years 5-LP and 3-CD sets, 1990

It’s the Same Old Dream: The Capitol Years 5-LP and 3-CD sets, 1990

Time After Time: Sinatra 80th: All the Best 2-CD set, 1995

You’ll Always Be the One I Love: The Complete Capitol Singles 4-CD set, 1996

*If You Are But a Dream: The Works 10-LP mail-order set, 1973

*Put Your Dreams Away (for Another Day): The Great Years 3-LP set, 1962

*Stereo mixes eventually incorporated into some releases of This is Sinatra, Volume Two

“Put Your Dreams Away” has at least three stereo mixes:  The one first released in 1962, a new mix released in 1990 in The Capitol Years set, and another new mix released in 2015 in Ultimate Sinatra.  Sadly, not all stereo mixes are created equal, and the stereo mixes for the seven tracks listed above run the gamut from good to poor, and even, in one case, technically defective/deficient.  Details can be found in a chart farther down the page.

It also should be mentioned that one of the mono-only recordings, So Long, My Love, is the poorest-recorded song in the entire Sinatra/Capitol catalog, and that a handful of other songs stem from a mercifully brief time period during which Capitol greatly increased reverb levels on their direct-to-mono recordings.  In other words:  Whether you listen to the songs in mono or stereo, there are plenty of aural bumps in the road, along with some truly beautifully-recorded material.

It appears, too, that, at some point prior to release, the running order may have changed, as occurred with A Swinging’ Affair in 1956:

•2016 LP: 4.25 (10 of 16 cuts scored in the “top choice” category)

•1985 UK LP: 3.18 (1 of 16 cuts scored in the “top choice” category)

•Original Capitol LPs: 3.03 (1 of 16 cuts scored in the “top choice” category)

•1980s Japanese LP: 2.88 (2 of 16 cuts scored in the “top choice” category)

•MFP This is Frank Sinatra, 1953-1957 CD: 2.63 (1 of 16 cuts scored in the “top choice” category)

•1998 Boxed Set EMI UK CD: 2.16

Note that Mr. Dell’s text jumbles the recording order for the November 25, 1957 session.  The proper order was:

I Believe; Everybody Loves Somebody; It’s the Same Old Dream; Time After Time

What’s the Best Sounding Full-Length Release?

Omitting fake stereo (Duophonic) options, choices are relatively limited:

•Original LP release (mono)

•1984 Japanese LP (mono)

•1985 UK LP (15 tracks mono; 1 stereo)

•1994 UK “This is Frank Sinatra, 1953-1957” CD, which contains all 16 tracks in LP running order (15 tracks mono; 1 stereo)

•1998 UK CD within the 21-disc “The Capitol Years” set (mono)

•2016 LP (mono)

Multiple masterings of each track have been compared elsewhere on this website. (See links farther down the page, with audio clips from each mastering at those links.)  These comparisons include not only the assorted “This is Sinatra, Volume Two” 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 the original “This is Sinatra,” I’ve gone through and tallied the ratings for each mastering of each track as follows:

Original, but ultimately unused, running order as it appeared on early THIS IS SINATRA, VOLUME TWO sleeves.

Revised, actual running order as it appeared on later THIS IS SINATRA, VOLUME TWO sleeves.

Strangely, all the tunes seem to be “paired up” on both running orders, like this:

There is also what appears to be a pattern to the changes.  If you take pairs 1, 3, 5, and 7 from the left column, you get the side one running order on the corrected version.  Similarly, if you start on the bottom of the left column, and alternate pairs working upward (so, pairs 8, 6, 4, 2), you get the running order for side two.  Another way to look at it:  Take the first two pairs on the left, and fill the first and last spaces on the right; now take the next two pairs on the left and fill the first-open and last-open spots on the right.  Repeat this for pairs 5/6 and 7/8.  I think that what happened is that the running order on the left follows the original, 4-disc, 16-song EP set (#EAP1/2/3/4-982), and that somewhere along the way, somebody got their signals crossed.

Release History

This is Sinatra, Volume Two was originally released on March 31, 1958, as a 16-song, mono-only LP (and presumably on the same day, as a set of four 4-song 7” EP disks), but this full-length version was available only for about four years, until sometime circa 1962, when the mono version was abridged to 12 songs, co-released with a 12-song Duophonic version.  (Wait for Me, You’ll Always Be the One I Love, You Forgot All the Words, and So Long, My Love, are the four songs that got the axe around ’62.)  In 1969, the album went incognito in the US, re-purposed as the second disk in a two-LP, all-Duophonic monstrosity called Close-Up.  (Disk one was an abridged, Duophonic version of the original This is Sinatra.) For this release, two more songs were trimmed (Something Wonderful Happens in Summer and Crazy Love), dropping the song count down to ten from the original sixteen.  Around this same time, the World Record Club in the UK offered a fully different approach:  All 16 tracks in original running order, all “electronically reprocessed for stereo reproduction,” with new cover art, new liner notes, and a new title, “Frank Sinatra.”  At some point (early ‘80s?), with Close-Up mercifully and long-since out of print, This is Sinatra, Volume Two was resurrected, sadly still in ten-song form, with eight of the songs in Duophonic, but with a new twist:  The last two songs on side two were now in TRUE STEREO, even though the album is labeled as “A Capitol Duophonic Reissue.”  In 1984, EMI-Toshiba in Japan brought back the original 16-song, all-mono LP, and in 1985 EMI in England issued a digitally-mastered, 16-song LP (in the Alan Dell series) with Put Your Dreams Away in stereo.  A UK CD release followed that configuration nine years later in 1994, and then in 1998 there was a 16-song all-mono CD release in the UK-only boxed set, The Capitol Years.  As of this writing, the album is scheduled to be re-issued on LP by Universal in May, 2016, bringing the album back in-print in the USA for the first time in over 30 years. (Update:  Released on June 10, 2016;  see comments below.)

Recording Notes

This album covers not just a four year span in terms of recording dates, but a four year span that saw drastic changes at Capitol.  Some tracks were recorded mono-only, “pre-Tower” at Capitol’s old (and splendid) Melrose studios.  Some were recorded during the excellent-sounding early months at the then-new Capitol Tower.  After such glorious beginnings, one track, “So Long, My Love,” was perhaps mixed and edited by Mortimer Snerd on crack, following which, some tracks were recorded during the regrettable “let’s add more reverb” mono era (right after mixer John Palladino left the booth for good).  Some were recorded simultaneously in multi-miked mono and in 3-mic, 3-track stereo, but released mono-only at the time.  At least one 3-track recording was technically deficient (no mic on the soloist). Some 3-track recordings eventually received problematic stereo mixes, despite likely being well-recorded, while others received beautiful stereo mixes that are worthy of finding a wider audience.  Here’s a summary, in LP running order:

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 complete, 16-song versions scored, on that 1 to 5 scale:

As of June 10, 2016, the answer is surprisingly clear:  Get one of the newly released LPs while it is available.  On the whole, it’s the best this album has ever sounded.

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

May 13, 1954 - Half as Lovely (Twice as True)

October 17, 1955 - You Forgot All the Words

April 5, 1956 - How Little We Know; Wait for Me

April 9, 1956 - Hey! Jealous Lover

March 14, 1957 - So Long, My Love; Crazy Love

May 20, 1957 - Something Wonderful Happens in Summer; You’re Cheatin’ Yourself

November 25, 1957 - I Believe; Everybody Loves Somebody; It’s the Same Old Dream; Time After Time

December 11, 1957 - You’ll Always Be the One I Love; If You are But a Dream; Put Your Dreams Away (for Another Day)