"King" Cole Classic on S&P Vinyl Better Than the Original Pressing

This 1957 classic, an early LP concept album filled with break- up songs, has always sounded better in mono because Capitol had a bad habit back then of tacking on way too much echo to stereo mixes. Hoffman remixed from the original 3 track master tape, cutting way back on the reverb to produce a positively stunning studio document from the golden age of analog recording.

Despite the potentially maudlin subject matter, the Billy May arrangements are brash, brassy and filled with playful musical surprises. Check out the growling, pants-flapping tubas on “Once in a While.”

Cole, bolstered by May's jaunty backdrops takes even the saddest tales, such as “A Cottage For Sale,” with a swinging, bracing, masculine enthusiasm that gives hope to the saddest dumped sack.

The Capitol studio recording is harmonically rich and remarkably transparent and dynamic. Don't let the 1957 date throw you: this recording has the goods—it's spacious, three-dimensional, and immediate. If your system is up to it, you can hear the treated room's confines behind the brass. Cole's vocals are upfront, large, and thrillingly real sounding, despite some popped “P”s and other unavoidable miking problems. It's a hot cut that will tax your cartridge's tracking abilities. If Cole's vocals get a bit ragged, don't blame the record.

Hoffman's added three bonus tracks from a 1961 May-arranged session that begin with the engineer identifying the take and May counting down the time for “Day in-Day Out.” After “I'm Gonna Sit Right Down (and Write Myself a Letter)," Cole voices his concern about the take to producer Gillette.

Studio dates in those days were events where live music was performed and captured, instead of being produced in segments and assembled at the end. The electricity in the air is palpable throughout.

The differences between the 1957 and 1961 recordings are immediately apparent. Miking techniques had improved in the four years between the sessions, and the overall sound is better balanced and coherent in the newer material, but some of the raw immediacy and transparency has been sacrificed. More compression seems to have been applied to everything, and while it eliminates the rough spots, it also puts a less than transparent scrim between the performers and the listener. Still, compared to most contemporary recordings, there's life and immediacy instead of electronics.

All in all Just One of Those Things is a great re-issue, filled with classic music making from all involved. It will never date and was thus worthy of a 2004 release. It's never sounded better. Either cutting engineer Kevin Gray or Hoffman scribed into the dead wax “Nat Lives!” This disc is proof.

Highly recommended for both music and sound. And please read the review of a recently released DVD of Cole's life, elsewhere on this site.

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