Sinatra Capitol LPs – the Grey Label search

Original Capitol grey label first pressings of Sinatra in MONO

The Sinatra Obsession

The Fascination become an obsession. Through reading avidly on the Steve Hoffman forums ( he remasters for Capitol) where such matters are discussed in immense detail I have come to an understanding of the following…..

The best MONO pressings of Sinatra’s fifties Capitol recordings are those issued on the grey labels as above. Finding mint copies of these items is almost impossible as the ceramic cartridges of players back in the day wore the vinyl to shreds..mostly..but occasionally I come across them and see if I got lucky. Yesterday I found three Sinatras on grey and a lovely Judy Garland Lp ‘Alone’ (see below) . The Garland has obvious wear and all the Sinatras are not pristine although they are all playable. I also have later stereo versions of Come Fly With me (1962 Alan Dell stereo RP 1984 ) and Songs for Young Lovers ( Capitol Orange label 1970s RP again stereo).

Sinatra recording Only The Lonely – Note tall stand hard right is one of the two tall stereo mics the rest of mics are MONO ones close ups for the instruments. The feeds went to two separate control rooms to tape.

I did a brief comparison playing the MONO on a mono deck and stereo on stereo and sure enough all the comments true. Ignoring a good deal of wear surface noise it was obvious that the recordings indeed of the same performance but from different mic and tapes as it was the practice with these early stereo experiments to mic stereo high in the gods on booms right/left and close mic drums etc with more mics for mono mix. On Come Fly With Me the difference striking with real kick bass to the drums that simply nothere on the ‘brighter’ stereo recording.

The definitive descriptions of these events are here along with hand drawn descriptions of the microphone placements.

Also there is a book about his recording sessions here:

Three slightly worn Sinatra Greys.

So having fallen into the rabbit hole of detailed recording techniques what next….for now I have an awful lot of Sinatra to get through….then Nat King Cole….

Differences…the Mono -Stereo illustration change…

Frank looks left then….
Frank looks right…

Frank also lost a track as the Kipling family ( the writer not cakes!) objected to his setting of the Road to Mandalay on Come Fly With me so it was substituted in the UK and did not reappear (it was substituted with a track from LP above) until 1984 Dell reissue.

Author: Mr Squirrel

The Big Squirrel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.