Unbiased reviews of new vinyl releases, audiophile reissues, and more

Friday, September 10, 2010

Short Spin: Frank Sinatra -- Sinatra at The Sands Mofi 180 Gram Vinyl

Live at the Sands

Mobile Fidelity continues their Sinatra reissue campaign with the 1966 time capsule, Sinatra at the Sands. Already on his new label, Reprise, for four years, Sands marked Sinatra's first-ever live release and would remain his most popular. Two other excellent live dates, Sinatra '57 and Sinatra in Paris, were released years later, but neither would ever reach the legendary status held by Sands.

The Sessions
Sinatra at the Sands was recorded during multiple shows in early 1966, at the Copa Room at the Sands Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas. Sinatra was accompanied by Count Basie's Orchestra and the sessions were arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones. While his voice wasn't quite what it was ten years earlier, Sinatra is generally in very fine voice throughout Sands, as he performs many of his most beloved songs as well as a few new ones.  I've always been a fan of this album, as it showcases Sinatra's charm and charisma in a way that the studio releases can't quite capture.  And while Basie's orchestra can't be accused of showing too much restraint in their playing, their bombastic performance suits the occasion.

This album is truly a time capsule of the era--and while the monologue is certainly part of the time capsule appeal, I must admit that I've begun to tire of listening to its full twelve-minute duration. That slight quibble out of the way, this album is essential for any Sinatra fan.

The Packaging
Mofi presents this two-record set on 180 gram vinyl, using the original gatefold artwork. The vinyl is clean and flat, and plays with little to no noise throughout the four sides. The vinyl is housed in Mofi's own no-static rice paper poly sleeves. Mofi has established itself as the label with the most consistency in their vinyl quality--and this release is no different.

The Sound
In preparation for this review, I listened to both the original first stereo pressing U.S. Reprise,  as well as the UK stereo pressing. While the UK is a good sounding record, it sounds as if it is sourced one generation away from the original tapes. So, I confined my comparisons to the excellent sounding original U.S.
(smiling-Frank label) Reprise stereo.

Mastered from the original analog tapes by Rob Loverde, the Mofi vinyl is more dynamic, carries a richer tonal palette, and removes a layer of grain from Sinatra's voice that can be heard on the original Reprise. The Mofi's soundstage is wider than the Reprise, with sound that extends well beyond the width of the speakers, and its presentation is more detailed--as woodwinds, brass, and strings can easily be differentiated from one another in the mix.

The Mofi trades the upper-midrange hump of the the original Reprise for a richness in the lower-midrange, which results in uptempo songs, such as Come Fly With Me and Fly Me to the Moon, swinging more. The Mofi really showcases the upright bass, which had me tapping my toes as I listened.  On ballads, such as the signature, One For My Baby, Sinatra's voice is rendered with more realism on the Mofi, as the upper-midrange grain has been removed and Sinatra's chest voice comes through with a previously unheard muscularity.

This is simply the best that this material has ever sounded--and a must-have for any serious fan of Sinatra.

Highly Recommended


Music for Songwriters said...

mr blue eyes himself...how can i get a hold of that vinyl...ill give it as a gift to my old man...he loves sinatra...

Anonymous said...

awesome lp! maybe the best by the voice!

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