add to wish list | library

29 of 30 recommend this,
would you recommend it?

yes | no

Reviews: Nat "King" Cole: The Very Thought of You

read discussion

Reviews: 4

Review by gonzostick June 15, 2010 (18 of 18 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I got my copy of this SACD in the mail, today. I slipped it into my Oppo BDP-83, listened to the three-channel version of this classic album, and spent the rest of the afternoon floating about 6 inches above the floor!!!

YES, this restoration of this classic album is nothing short of MIRACULOUS!!! I also listened to the stereo and monaural versions of the album.

I have a long history with this album, as my father's roommate in college, Val Valentin, later became Capitol's director of engineering in Hollywood, during the period that produced the classic Cole and Sinatra albums. This album was also my mother's favorite LP and I recall this playing in our house, for many, many years. Many copies were worn out. I also saw Nat "King" Cole live, in performance, in Puerto Rico, on his last tour, in the early 60's. I have been a fan since I was a kid.

So, when I saw that the master tapes were to be issued by Analogue Productions in all their multi-channel glory, I ordered this and the 6 other discs on schedule to be released by that firm. I have seldom had such bliss from renewing a friendship with an old LP. As happened with the Living Stereo reissue of the Brahms First Piano Concerto with Rubinstein, the tapes from this Capitol recording have yielded results that can be called nothing short of phenomenal. Yes, the RCA suffered from master tape limitations, but such is NOT the case with this disc.

There are THREE forms of the album on the disc. The SACD stereo section contains the stereo mixes and the monaural mixes of all the tracks, both from different microphone set-ups; but the three-channel master tape is the very best treat on this disc. The stereo versions, according to the notes, are from minimalist microphone set-ups.

The orchestra, rhythm section, massed strings, and harp, sits in a semi-circle behind the singer, and EVERY nuance and coloration of his velvet voice is captured and presented with a depth, intimacy, nuance, and subtlety I have NEVER experienced while listening to previous issues of this disc. The Gordon Jenkins arrangements, with all their lushness, chromatic complexities, and melodic contrapuntal invention, are reproduced, nay, ETCHED, like a luminous cloud behind the singer. Also, the DSD resolution allows subtle colors of the instrumental sound to emerge that were buried in previous incarnations of these recordings. The floor arrangement and depth changes from selection to selection, adjusting to each arrangement. Also, the mixed strings are spread wide in the stereo perspective, somewhat like the divided violins required in the old European orchestra seating. The result is nothing short of magnificent.

I am finding it difficult to reach for additional superlatives in hearing this disc. It is a major contribution to the restoration of landmark recordings of one of the greatest ballad singers and jazz musicians in the history of the world. It also, for the first time on silver disc, lets us hear EVERYTHING those wizards at Capitol got onto those tapes. I felt as if Nat Cole was standing in my living room and I was in a time warp. I cannot find enough praise for the restoration team that put this release together and put this musical treasure on an SACD in DSD!

If it is not obvious by now, I recommend this disc to anyone who wants to light a fire, pull up a glass of wine, and have a sublime artistic experience.


I cannot wait to receive the other restorations of the Nat "King" Cole catalog from Analogue Productions. I hope they sell thousands of copies of this disc. It has made me very happy.

It will make you, gentle reader, very happy, too!!!

Was this review helpful to you?  yes | no

Review by Oakland June 29, 2010 (11 of 14 found this review helpful)
Whoa. This is a tough one for me to comment on. I am in substantial sync with Gonzostick’s very informative review posted earlier this month. Amazingly our personal history mirror in an almost supernatural way, especially since I am just now reading his words for the first time! But I have come to a decidedly different conclusion about how I feel this SACD. I’ll just start from the top.

It was with nostalgic anticipation that I bought this disc. My mother has a lot of Nat King Cole albums around the house (including this one) and I was definitely exposed to him as a youngster. There was (still is) an inexpressible appreciation for Nat (around the house all you had to say was “Nat”, everybody knew who you were talking about). His legacy is still felt in the family home. My mother talks about his barrier breaking TV program like it was yesterday. (And my discussions with her the last two days about this album and entertainers of the era has spurred much reflective conservation…..and some *great* stories). So, when I got this disc with the original looking album cover it had special meaning. And when I opened the case and saw those ubiquitous Capitol Records colors that I remember (and the 78s with purple labels, too) I almost instinctively thought of the phrase my parents would say, “the house that Nat built”. I also remember Capitol Lps of Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson, Johnny Otis, and Frank Sinatra. I think Peggy Lee, too.

But within a minute or two of settling down to listen I realized this was going to be a *loooong* listen, almost overbearingly long. I just don’t like this album. It has nothing to do with sound quality or with the Nat’s performance. His voice and singing on this album is beyond reproach. It’s just that this is not the Nat I remember liking. My Dad, unlike my mother, was a 99.7% jazzman. He listened to Nat, but not *this* Nat, not the ”pop” Nat, not the Easy Listening Nat. Clearly “The Very Thought of You” was Mom’s Lp and not Dad’s. By the way, my mother completely understands my feelings about this disc.

First, the good; actually very good. Nat’s voice is captured in a way that can only be described as superlative. I may borrow my mother’s Lp for comparison but I can’t imagine that his voice is reproduced any more meaningfully. The mastering, too, is first rate. Background noise is held to more than acceptable levels. And the recording/mastering completely avoids the “hard left”, “hard right”, or “ping pong” affect that some producers found to be “cool” back in the day. There is even discernible sound stage depth.

But that’s it for me. The biggest problem was the strings. The strings were way too syrupy and intrusive for my tastes, not the recording, the arrangement. The reproduction of the strings does have a predisposition toward the high frequencies and the few loud passages sound unpleasant to me. I would have bet good money that it was Mitch Miller or Lawrence Welk conducting. I would have lost that bet. The conductor was Gordon Jenkins. I looked him up on the net and found that not only is he a music hall of famer but he is credited with, among a long list of accomplishments, giving Ethel Merman a career boost. So, what do I know? My mother knew his name instantly.

In track 8, “Paradise” Jenkins gets “jiggy with it” choreographing a series of fancy violin staccato maneuvers. I could only roll my eyes. But reality check! I then realized that my three son’s roll their eyes at each other about *me* in reaction to the music I primarily listen to (classical and jazz). So, my comment here should be taken with a grain of salt. Needless to say I would rather Nat was backed by his trio or with piano.

But this is not about violins. This is about Nat. And I just don’t like him here. The music is dated (for me). Unlike the classic “Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong” SACD, “The Very Thought of You” (the album, not the title song which is probably the strongest tune), I didn’t find this Nat “timeless”.

I was a trooper and did listen to the entire disc. I even listen to a bit of the mono and two channel content (I listened primarily in 3 channel). They are all equally well done. For a moment it appeared that the two-channel was more robust or detailed, but it was merely mastered at a significantly higher level. I hoped that the mono would “tame” the violins. It didn’t.

Look, I mean no disrespect with my seemingly deprecating tone here; I’m just trying to keep it kind of light and interesting. If sales of this SACD are as successful as I hope they are legions of others will certainly love this disc. I understand that. If you see some of my other 40 reviews you will find that I rarely bother to comment about stuff I don’t like. “The Very Thought of You” is a notable exception because I consider this release important on a number of levels. I do think it is important to support Analog Productions with their special effort to bring music legacies and diversity to SACD. I will continue to support that effort. But choose carefully. It’s kinda like when I bought a slew of expensive Japanese imported Miles Davis SACDs, before I realized there was an era, the Electric Miles, that I was not particularly fond of. If you are expecting a "jazz" Nat Cole then you may be disappointed in “The Very Thought of You”, that is very much pop or Easy Listening.

What a quandary! The recording/mastering/sound is first tier. I don’t have the temerity to fault Nat’s “performance”.’s bottom line ratings provide for takes only on sound and performance, not for how the reviewer feels about the “music”. And I understand that. But in spite being thoroughly familiar with every tune on this album, this is simply nothing I want to revisit. So how is one to give a “rating” or recommendation in this unique (for me) situation? I can’t. So, in part out of respect for the special legacy accorded this disc, I have chosen not to provide a rating, either positive or negative. Instead, I recommend that one preview some of the tracks online before making a decision.

I will keep this SACD around for when my mother come’s over (the only disc of any format that I have ever just gotten rid of was Gergiev’s Scheherazade SACD). But I consider this purchase nothing short of a $40+ (including shipping) mistake.

Robert C. Lang

Was this review helpful to you?  yes | no

Review by analogue November 15, 2011 (3 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I might be the only one around here who disagrees with the ratings of these Nat King Cole sacd's.
While I would consider this sacd to be a sort of restoration and an important musical release the sound quality is not as stunning as the reviews say it is.

This album was originally released in 1956/57 and unfortunately the original tapes are not in pristine condition. There seems to be a tad of delamination here and there and a few slight drop outs. This I can live with but there is also a tad of stuffiness with the sound quality. This is how the tapes sound I guess so we are stuck with it.

Its not that this disc sounds awful or even bad. On the contrary the sound is rather excellent. But to give you an idea of what Im talking about........the living stereo sacds from the same time period sound much better. Much fresher and more life-like than this particular classic title. Coles voice has good presence but the sound does not bloom in any way at all. It tends to reach a ceiling and stops right there. Also I find the voice raspy and pitchy at times. The instrumental section is good but then tends to be flat and the seperation is not as good as I would have imagined.

The mssic is engaging but I dont find myself absorbed entirely.

Recommended as a great release of classic material.

Was this review helpful to you?  yes | no

Review by progboy December 24, 2014 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
It is December 2014 and we are only hours away from Christmas and I thought a great SACD to play would be "The Very Thought of You" on glorious SACD. Wow.....that is all I can say......this SACD sounds simply perfect to my ears...

Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray did a wonderful job on all the Cole albums incluing this one!

The orchestration by Gordon Jenkins is lush and clear and serves as a wonderful backdrop to Nat King Coles' velvetty voice.

The best thing on this SACD is the wide clarity and depth you get when listening...almost like he is singing in your living room...

An essential SACD

Was this review helpful to you?  yes | no