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Swing Along with Me - 1961


Sinatra As His Own "Unfair" Competition

Frank Sinatra has become his own business rival. Last March, Sinatra recorded an album of songs called Come Swing With Me! for Capitol Records, who have sponsored Sinatra for eight highly profitable years. A month later, fed up with feathering other people's nests, Frank recorded a similar batch of songs with a similar title, Swing along with Me, for his own record company, Reprise Records, and rushed it out ahead of Capitol. No one was greatly concerned about the new company (many singers branch out into business), but the near duplication of titles set tempers blazing.

"In understandable anger Capitol filed suit. Last month, after a hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gordon Files called the case "a classic example of unfair competition," and issued an injunction prohibiting Sinatra's record company from selling or distributing Swing along with Me in its original form. As a result the Reprise people have gone to the costly bother of recalling Sinatra's record from California distributors, pressing new disks with a revised title, Sinatra Swings, and printing new jackets.

"Whatever his derelictions, Sinatra is still the master of his field. Unlike most of his younger rivals he refuses to pump phony emotion into a simple ballad or follow the disgusting custom of singing old favorites at a slowpoke pace until all vitality oozes out of them. Cocky or tender, Sinatra hits the bull's-eye with instinctive good taste. He pays homage to a literate Lorenz Hart lyric by never dropping a "g" in Falling in Love with Love but lets the "g's" drop where they may in the splendidly corny "You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You:

"You may be king, you may possess the world and its gold, but gold won't bring you happiness When you're growin' old."

--LIFE, August 18, 1961, as posted by SFF member “lorenzotedesco.”

Note the album cover variations?

(The best version -- never used, of course -- is the one that ran in the Playboy ad.) 

Here’s what happened, with thanks to SFF members “lorenzotedesco” and “Bob in Boston” (SH.TV’s “Bob F”) for doing the heavy lifting on sorting this stuff out:

--Billboard Music Week, July 24, 1961, as posted by SFF member “Bob in Boston.”

....and more clarification from Billboard:

(Thanks again to Bob for posting this 1961 article and ad from August 7 and 14, respectively.)

The Strange Case of Granada

THAT’S                 !

Granada was released as a single in June, 1961, “bubbling under” on the Billboard charts as of June 26, 1961, just prior to the LP release date of July 10, in mono only, with a label-listed running time of 2:50.  Take one, a complete take, remains unreleased in any format.  This original 7” single release consisted of an edited version of take 2 (also recorded as a complete take), intercut with what I’ll call “take x” -- a later, incomplete take for which we don’t know a take number.  SHTV member “Bob F” summarizes things very well (see post here), and below is a nutshell version, with a bit of info from former SFF member Bernhard added to the mix:

•Initial mono single release, June, 1961: Take 2 + Take x, 2:50

•Initial mono LP release, July, 1961: Take 2, 3:38.

•Initial stereo LP release, July, 1961: Take 2 + Take x, 2:50.

•1989 CD release: Take 2 + Take x, 2:50.

•1995 “Suitcase” release: Take 2 + Take x, 3:38.

•1999 EOTC CD release: Take 2, 3:38.

Mono LP Comparisons

Stereo LP Comparisons

Reel-to-Reel Tapes

Swing Along with Me was released twice on 7.5 IPS reel-to-reel tape, first by Reprise during their initial agreement with Ampex’s United Tape division (an agreement that appears to have ended in November of 1962), then by Reprise via the Stereotape company.  All copies I have seen bear the “Sinatra Swings” title, but I suppose it’s possible that early Ampex/United copies may have used the original title.

Click the photo at left to hear a clip from the initial Ampex/United tape release.

Click the photo at right to hear the later American/Stereotape release.

Compact Discs

Swing Along with Me was first released on CD in 1989, using the original stereo mix, including the 2:50, short version of “Granada.”  The album then appeared in the “suitcase” in 1995, using the same mastering, except for Granada, which was expanded to its full length of 3:38, the first time it had appeared at that full length with the “edited in” pieces to mirror the ending heard on the original 2:50 mono single.  In 1999, the album appeared as part of the “Entertainer of the Century” (EOTC) series, remixed this time, and containing a first-ever stereo mix of the unedited take of “Granada” that was previously heard only on the original mono LP release, as well as a longer fade on “It’s a Wonderful World.”  (Confused yet?)

All audio clips (except one 4-second clip) on this page are aligned with the already-available, free clips published on iTunes, linked above.

All audio clips on this page are aligned with the already-available, free clips published on iTunes, linked above.

Click the photos below to hear the each corresponding audio clip.

Special thanks to SH.TV’s “rangerjohn” for the 1999 clips.

•1989 CD: Love Walked In, original mix.

•1999 CD: Love Walked In, remixed.

•1989 CD: It’s a Wonderful World, original mix.

•1999 CD: It’s a Wonderful World, remixed.

On the above two clips, listen to the saxes in their higher register, starting about 0:18. 

With these first two clips (above) , maybe start by comparing vocal tone, bass, and hi-hat cymbal.

•1989 CD: The Curse of an Aching Heart, original mix.

•1999 CD: The Curse of an Aching Heart, remixed.

The 1999 remix is considerably louder than the 1989 mastering.

(Shown: Curse of an Aching Heart clip.)

All audio clips (except one 4-second clip) on this page are aligned with the already-available, free clips published on iTunes, linked above.

BONUS MUSIC ALERT: On the EOTC CD, as remixed by Lee Herschberg, the fade on “It’s a Wonderful World” runs several seconds longer than on the original mixes.  GREEN = mono mix; BLUE = original stereo mix; RED = EOTC extended version:

It’s a swingin’ world when I’m swingin’ with you.  It’s a swingin’ world, oh bay oh bay, lovin’ wonderful you.”

Let’s Talk About Reverb, 1961-Style

How was reverb applied by engineer Bones Howe (under studio head Bill Putnam) at United Recorders in 1961?  Was it actually printed to the session tapes, so it couldn’t be removed?  Was some added during the session, and more added during post-production and/or cutting?  Listen to the reverb on the word “Love” and the word “right,” right here: LoveClips.mp3  You will hear eight four-second clips in which the reverb is somewhat exposed.  Thanks to the guys at SH.TV for providing clips for comparison: Arkoffs, Bferr1, rangerjohn, tlmusic.  The clips heard are mono, mono, stereo, stereo, stereo reel, MFSL stereo, first CD, second CD.

Back when we looked in detail at the mono and stereo pressings of Ring-A-Ding Ding, we found that there were mono pressings with the infamous “slap-back” or “Elvis-style” reverb on them, but there were also mono pressings with a 100% dry vocal, so clearly some or all of the session tapes had to be recorded dry for that album.   (Right?) As you can hear in the clip posted in the previous paragraph, the mono LPs for Swing Along with Me clearly have some slap-back prominently featured in the mix.  Was that added during the session, meaning that the mono session tapes are permanently “infected” with slap-back reverb?  Or was it added after the fact during a later mono mixdown?  How about the 3-track tapes?  (My thought?  There is a slight amount of reverb on the vocal track of the 3-track machine, and in some places, for effect, the reverb is slathered on live during the session, indelibly, such as at the end of “Love Walked In” and “I Never Knew.”  That heavy shift in reverb is left fully intact on the remixed CD, so it must be on the 3-track, right??)  Please discuss here, as I’m very curious. 

UPDATE: Steve Hoffman replied here, as follows:

1990s-era flash photo of one of the original Putnam-designed reverb chambers at United/Western.

A great reply.  Thank you!

R-1002 A5 LP, courtesy SHTV’s “TLMusic.”

Early Japanese LP, #JET-7056, courtesy SHTV’s “stevelucille.”

R-1002 A6 LP, courtesy “eharmonica.”

Special thanks to Arkoffs, BFerr1, MMM, rangerjohn, stevelucille, and TLMusic for their assistance with this section.  Note that, as was the case with Ring-a-Ding Ding, the mono releases run slightly fast.

Click here to see stevelucille’s photos of the his Japanese pressing.

Click photo above to hear an early A4 pressing of R9-1002, courtesy SH.TV member TLMusic.

Click photo above to hear an early A6 pressing of R9-1002, courtesy SH.TV member TLMusic.

Click photo above to hear my transfer of the 2011 MFSL reissue LP, mastered by Rob LoVerde.

•1999 CD: It’s a Wonderful World, remix.

Let’s Go Head-to-Head

Note: All clips on this page align with the freely-available samples available on iTunes at left.

•Let’s start with the song we’ve been using in the previous samples, “Love Walked In.”  Here is a clip that runs in this order:  1.) Original A4 pressing; 2.) MFSL; 3.) A4 again; 4.) MFSL again.  (Thanks to SHTV’s TLMusic for the A4 clips.)  Click LoveWalkedIn a4-MFSL-a4-MFSL.mp3.

•Next, “Falling in Love with Love.”  1.) 1989 CD; 2.) 1999 CD, courtesy SHTV’s RangerJohn.  Click FallingInLove 1989-1999.mp3.

•”The Curse of an Aching Heart.”  1.) 1999 CD (remix); 2.) MFSL LP; 3.) A6 mono pressing, courtesy “eharmonica.”  Click Heart EOTC-MFSL-Mono.mp3.

All audio clips on this page are aligned with the already-available, free clips published on iTunes, linked above. (Push “VIEW” for 90-second links for certain tracks.

•The trumpet/sax passage from “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone,” in this order: 1.) MFSL LP; 2.) 1989 CD; 3.) 1999 CD; 4.) A6 Mono LP.  Click PleaseDontSax MFSL-1989CD-EOTC-MonoA6.mp3.

•Who could forget “The Gleason?”  Click on the illustration at right to hear samples in this order: 1.) Mono A6; 2.) 1999 EOTC remixed CD; 3.) 1989 CD; 4.) 2011 MFSL LP.

•”I Never Knew” - a chance to hear some piano at the end of the iTunes segment.  Here’s what you will hear: 1.) Brassy/saxy section from the Ampex reel; 2.) same section from the 1989 CD; 3.) same section from the MFSL LP; 4.) a brief pause; 5.) piano from the Ampex reel; 6.) piano from the 1989 CD; 7.) piano from the MFSL LP.  Click INeverKnewAmpex-1989CD-MFSL.wav, this time in WAV format.

•”Please Don’t Be That Way” - 1.) The 2011 MFSL LP, transitioning at “you’ll have me” to 2.) the 1989 CD, transitioning at “tomorrow” to 3.) the Ampex reel.  Click PleaseDontMFSL-1989CD-AmpexNorm.wav.

Please continue to page two.  Click here.

At left: Sinatra and company working on “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone,” May 18th, 1961. 

Click photo above to hear my transfer of a c. 1981(?) Capitol Winchester, IL, pressing.

Canada F-1002 1C LP, pressed by Compo from USA (Columbia Records) parts