January 23

It’s 1965 Las Vegas, the Sands Hotel. The room is dark and smokey and the liqueur is flowing. An emcee takes the stage under a single spotlight. After a few jokes to warm up the crowd, the curtains part and Sinatra takes the stage!

Every record collection should include some Sinatra. Heck, he released almost 60 studio albums so finding one or two should not prove too challenging… so I thought. Oh, there out there all right, but these records were popular back when vinyl was king and the table you used to play it on was in a furniture console.

Some of these consoles were cutting edge hi-fi, but most were cheap, mass-produced and readily available. Some even had a special feature… the “automatic record changer”.

Record_changer_dscn1667a

Think of it as the Ipod Shuffle of its day. Basically, you stacked several vinyl records on top of an elongated turntable spindle, pushed a button and “plop” the bottom most record would fall onto the rotating platter below and the tonearm would move up and over to the cue track and voila! Music! Once the side of that record played the tonearm would move out-of-the-way and “plop” the next record in the stack would be dropped onto the spinning vinyl below and the tonearm would be deployed.

You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to know that THIS IS A HORRIBLE IDEA! As a record collector, I take great pains to keep my vinyl un-abused. The last thing I want are my records slamming against each other. To boot, changing the geometry of your tonearm on the fly like this is a sure way to make the music sound bad… but, with these cheap consoles, you probably couldn’t even tell.

Most pop records from this era were abused in this (or other even worse) way, so chances of finding clean copies of the original pressings is a tough task.

Enter the reissue. Typically, I’m not a fan, unless the artist is involved and attempting to right some technological wrongs in “re-mastering” for higher quality. The worst of the worst is Record Club reissues. Recordings licensed to Columbia House or others are, in my experience, inferior records. Often, they are thinner and lighter vinyl and cranked out with little focus on quality.

In my latest RRR Auction score I found three Columbia House reissues of the Frank Sinatra records No One Cares, Point of No Return and Greatest Hits.

In this case it seems that whoever ordered these from Columbia House rarely played them. Maybe they were used to fill out the record club order? Who knows, but they are in VG+ shape and way better than any other Sinatra LPs I have found. They’ll be perfect for my next dark, smokey, booze filled evening in the basement.

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