Top critical review
23 people found this helpful
on February 5, 2010
Deeply disappointing, let's start with that.
The package is gorgeous, true to the original right down to the inner sleeve featuring the exact same albums Capitol was pumping when it first came out. I would have liked an insert slipped in that told the story of something, anything, and/or had a list of musicians, when and where the thing was recorded, maybe something about the process of the repressing for this special "From the Capitol Vaults" vinyl reissue. I could have joyfully lived without all of that if the damn thing sounded any good. It does not. The 180-gram disc slid from the sleeve looking dark, lustrous and blemish-free, but I still carefully cleaned it with an expensive Last record-cleaning product then took a gentle couple swipes with an antistatic brush, then cleaned the stylus with the MobileFidelity stylus cleaner. This record was shaping up as an event and I wanted the listening to be right. I've got a near-vintage Thorens turntable w/ a Grado Sonata cartridge, legendary for its loving reproduction of the human voice. These play through a smartly modified Jolida 502B tube amplifier w/ high-quality KT88s and into Joseph Audio RM25si Signature speakers. I list this stuff because I didn't screw around building the system. Not super high end, but plenty enough high end. Here's what you get, and it's a disgrace, with "Come Dance With Me": inexcusable scratchy surface noise. I forgive the two fairly big pops, wherever they came from, but I cannot forgive the surface fuzz, which starts early between songs and builds to mingle with them as the record progresses through the grooves. It sounds like this particular "Come Dance with Me" was taken from a very poor digital master. There is no bloom to the sound or airy space, and Capitol was known for unbelievable recording back in the days this thing was cut, something they trumpet on the inner sleeve ("Full Dimensional Stereo" w/ one-line testimonials). Sinatra -- THE VOICE! -- constantly, dismayingly distorts, particularly in the low registers. The Billy May orchestra, a dizzying, hoppy fizz of massed horns for this session, has definition but does not leap at all out of the speakers. It is recessed. The rhythm section seems far, far away. In short, it's a mess, sounds miserably compressed, and this magnficent document, one of Sinatra's best, is sadly uninvolving, constantly calling attention to its shortcomings instead of allowing you to get lost in the glorious music. And make no mistake, the music is glorious. At this point, I have no idea what the best way to listen to "Come Dance With Me" is. I can't imagine a CD from the same master is any improvement. I would think on a modest system, turned up, this might sound ok, but on good equipment, that for years has played to the advantage of just this kind of music, it does not.