Helen Merrill - Helen Merrill

 (Mono Version)


Analogue Productions



Product No.:
AAPJ 127
UPC: 753088012716
In Stock

180 Gram Vinyl Record

Note: 33 1/3 RPM

180 Gram LP  
(Not Eligible for Additional Discount)


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Also available on:
Hybrid Mono SACD

A jewel of a jazz performance — Helen Merrill's 1955 debut delivers!

Produced and arranged by Quincy Jones!

Includes noted trumpeter Clifford Brown

Remastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio from the original master tape

Plating and 180-gram pressing by Quality Record Pressings

Tip-on gatefold jacket by Stoughton Printing

A rare record, original copies selling for more than $1,000!

"Clifford Brown, probably the most acclaimed jazz instrumentalist in 1954, acts (here) as the perfect foil. ... He supplies the hot to Merrill's cool. His technical prowess is on display and he plays quick runs of notes with remarkable delicacy. ... the packaging is a tip-on jacket from Stoughton Printing. Unlike the original, it is a gatefold with session photos on the inside. An insert includes a bit of history about Robert Fine as well as detailed sessions notes. The pressing is a 180-gram slab of vinyl from Quality Record Pressings — enough said. This is a great reissue that, for all intents and purposes, is the only choice for serious listening. The original is priced out of reach for all but the wealthy." —  Recording = 4.5/5; Music = 5/5 — Dennis D. Davis, The Audio Beat, May 27, 2020. Read the entire review here.

"I confess my ignorance of jazz singer Helen Merrill — or so it was until a couple of weeks ago, when Chad Kassem of Acoustic Sounds sent me a test pressing of his forthcoming reissue of her eponymous 1955 debut LP (EmArcy MG 36006/Analogue Productions AAPJ 127). To say I was impressed is an understatement. The album was recorded in December of 1954 by the legendary Bob Fine, at Fine Sound Inc., 711 5th Avenue in New York. Merrill, then only 24, was backed by a combo that included Clifford Brown on trumpet, Oscar Pettiford on bass, and pianist Jimmy Jones, with arrangements by Quincy Jones — himself a mere 21 years old at the time. The mono sound is on the (pleasantly) dry side and very forward, with taut-sounding drums and bass and an intimate vocal sound that at times comes close to being overly sibilant but never quite carries out the threat. Merrill's intonation isn't always spot-on (as in the intro to 'Yesterdays'), but there's something about her voice — an odd combination of breathy innocence and husky-toned experience that pulls me in time after time. (In 'Don't Explain,' she intones the word quiet in a manner that could launch any number of ships.) And Clifford Brown's trumpet is, as one might expect, perfect. Prices for the original mono LP reach into four-figure territory, so news of an affordable reissue is very good news indeed. Torch on." — Art Dudley, Stereophile, March 2020

Helen Merrill attributed her childhood musical influence to her mother's singing. Truth is, she didn't wait long herself to make a mark as a teenage jazz ingénue, following-up with the notable self-titled LP you have in your hands, newly remastered, and reissued by Analogue Productions.

Helen Merrill arrives, remastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio, and plated and pressed to 180-gram vinyl by the dedicated crew at Quality Record Pressings, supervised by plating expert and general manager Gary Salstrom. No less than an old-style, tip-on Stoughton Printing gatefold jacket would suffice for such a phenomenal-sounding reissue. Rare photographs inside the gatefold originally appeared as sleeve art for the 7-inch singles recorded and released in conjunction with the original 1955 album release.

Helen Merrill was born in New York City on July 21, 1930. Her professional career began at the age of 15 when, after singing at theatres and winning amateur contests, she landed a job as vocalist with Reggie Charles' Band. Merrill made her recording debut in 1952 when she sang "A Cigarette For Company" with the Earl Hines Band; the song was released on the D'Oro label, created specifically to record Hines' band with Merrill. The session was also notable for including vocalist Etta Jones, who was in Hines' band at the time. Merrill was later signed by Mercury Records to their EmArcy label. Helen Merrill is her debut studio album, backed by among others, trumpeter Clifford Brown and bassist/cellist Oscar Pettiford. The legendary Quincy Jones produced and arranged the album when he was just 21-years-old!

The success of Helen Merrill prompted Mercury to sign her for an additional four-album contract. AllMusic reviewer Scott Yanow gave Helen Merrill 4 1/2 stars. "The music is essentially straight-ahead bop, yet the seven standards ... are uplifted by the presence of Merrill (in top form) and Brown." Her success associated Merrill with the first generation of bebop jazz musicians.

Merrill's career continued with recordings and concerts throughout six decades, until the early 2000s. Her emotional, sensual vocal performances, particularly this engaging debut, stand as testament to her immense talent.

This is a high-quality reissue of a rare and valuable record. Original copies have sold for more than $1,000!

Side 1
1. Don't Explain
2. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
3. What's New
4. Falling In Love With Love

Side 2
1. Yesterdays
2. Born To Be Blue
3. 'S Wonderful

Customer Reviews (5.00 Stars) 15 person(s) rated this product.


posted on 01/29/2024
5 Stars
Reviewer: Audio Alien
Helen's best! She really shines on this album along with the other great performers. Another audiophile treasure put out by AP! I never tire of this record it was one of my first purchases from Analogue Productions.

Impossibly Good

posted on 10/27/2022
5 Stars
Reviewer: Another dude named "Matt"
This was the first Acoustic Sounds record I ever purchased, and it was purely off the back of enthusiasm from the community. It 100% did not disappoint. In fact, I just didn't realize records sounded this good. Buy it as soon as possible.

Simply great

posted on 04/04/2021
5 Stars
Reviewer: Kevin Burke
You guys at Acoustic Sounds are simply the best.this album is great,my first experience with ms.Merrill, thank you,please keep up the Quality.

Fantastic sound

posted on 03/09/2021
5 Stars
The only thing to possibly complain about is that the record is too short. Really hard to believe this record was made in the 1950s. If you are into modern singers like Melody Gardot, do yourself a favor and check this disk out.

Pure Lust !!!!!

posted on 03/06/2021
5 Stars
Reviewer: Ed Valentin
Excellent from AP.....I had a Japanese copy of this same record years algo and not like it...now this copy blows that copy away....a must hear and have in your collection.....and of course Clifford Brown on board...bring us some more gems !!!!!

Amazing Fidelity!

posted on 01/28/2021
5 Stars
Reviewer: R.T.
So so good!! Her voice is so sexy and sultry combined with the incredible musicianship! Wow! Easily in my top 3 best sounding records. If your a fan of this genre, dont hesitate! Buy this before its gone!

Sultry Heaven

posted on 09/19/2020
5 Stars
Reviewer: Hemant Ishwaran
Wow! When I close my eyes I almost imagine myself in a smokey dark lit jazz club with Helen's sultry voice dancing in the air. Sound stage is big on this album and as others have commented her voice just seems to jump out of the speakers. I bought this album on a whim because I wanted to see what Mono sounds like and I'm glad I did because I see it's already back- ordered. Get a copy if you are lucky!!!!

Great album!

posted on 09/14/2020
5 Stars
Reviewer: Brent Reyle
Another good one from AP. Total silent quiet vinyl pressing. Helen Merrill in her early days. For me the real treat on this one was Clifford Brown on trumpet. After hearing this one I’m pre ordering more of the upcoming Emarcy catalog. It’s worth it....buy it!!

Best remaster

posted on 06/16/2020
5 Stars
Reviewer: Tom
Kevin Gray has cut by far the best version of this album. It's like she's in the room with us. If the original engineers had the disc-mastering technology of today available, and if Emarcy could press like Analogue Productions, this is the result they'd want.

A true gem in the AP catalogue

posted on 05/19/2020
5 Stars
Reviewer: Eric L
It’s almost incomprehensible that this was recorded in 1955. Very few engineers could match this level of excellence even today. Merrill’s voice is crystal clear,upfront, but very mellow. The accompaniment is wonderful. Truly one of the best female vocal albums AP has produced.

positively amazing reissue!

posted on 04/24/2020
5 Stars
Reviewer: I'm famous, Danny Kaye
You know the drill: mint original, supposedly better. First, good luck finding an original, never mind a mint one. Oh and if you do, it'll cost you ~$500 minimum. Even so, when I heard an original mint side by side, this reissue spanks it by a mile. Quiet, lush and with phenomenal timber and tonality, this record will be a new demo record at HiFi shows whenever those come back, if ever. Another A+++ reissue by Chad and team. Fantastic music!!!

A smoky, seductive glimpse into 1954!

posted on 04/24/2020
5 Stars
Reviewer: Mike K.
Vocal jazz lovers rejoice! Helen manages to “seduce” the microphone with her close miked vocals while the very tight band with Clifford Brown on trumpet will make most jazz lovers swoon. Slight limitations of the recording are evident such as the presence of tape hiss heard at the end of each song and the (almost) sibilant vocals (at times), but Helen’s interpretation and how she vocally “caresses” the microphone more than make up for the slight shortcomings in the recording, but hey, it was recorded in 1954! Any lover of jazz and jazz vocals will be entranced by this album. Pour a bourbon, turn down the lights and be prepared to be enveloped by this very special treat! I can see why this was a much desired album for years. And what a terrific interpretation of “What’s New”! No, it’s not Frank...or Linda, but a superb interpretation that stands alone on it’s own merits. Stellar packaging and pressing by the team at Analogue Productions is also top notch. A must have for any jazz collection!

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