Monday, January 9, 2012


Lord knows Sinatra's been collected dozens of times over, but this hits package actually delivers as a comprehensive, and high-quality listen from start to finish.  First off, you usually don't get both the Capitol era (50's) and Reprise days (60's) together on one disc, so the compilers (Sinatra's children) had access to a lot more than usual.  Not everything though; the 30's and 40's aren't here, his days with the Dorsey band and his bobby soxer heyday as the world's first modern pop star.  This doesn't bother me, for as great as some of that material is, it's so different an era, it needs to be heard on its own.  Also, the lushness of the orchestrations renders it more of a curiosity than an enjoyable experience.  This is  the moody, adult Sinatra, the stuff of late night, and timeless so far.

This two-disc struck me as odd on first glance, since only the first disc was studio hits, and the second a live concert.  However, the show turned out to be quite good, and a great era, 1957, in Seattle.  Here we have Sinatra at his greatest period, riding the top of the charts with hit singles and smash albums, his period of concept discs on Capitol, Wee Small Hours and Songs For Swingin' Lovers.   Hearing his voice then, his total command, makes me wish I had been there in the heyday.  There's a little too much joking, even mid-song, but it was probably great fun for the audience.  The only disappointment is that the recording fades out just as he returns for the encore.

Disc one is something I could play every night.  Apart from the overblown later productions of My Way and New York, New York (huge hits after all, and certainly worthy of being included), this is a master class in song selection, arrangement, and above all, owning a song.  Nobody performed like Sinatra, as the quote goes, the best friend a song ever had.  Despite a thousand covers, no other artist comes close to matching his My Funny Valentine, melting hearts six decades later.  It Was a Very Good Year is the definition of nostalgia, before it was even a well-known word, shot through with melancholy.  My Kind Of Town simply rocks, and listen to the guts he puts into the lyrics, despite the fact it was Chicago, not New York he was praising.  I've Got You Under My Skin:  how could the toughest guy in town be such a sucker for love?  What Sinatra knew was there were none braver than fools in love, whether that was truly him or not, he gave unrequited love its biggest champion.

There are dozens more  songs by Sinatra you could own, and probably should if you are a fan at all.  However, this set is a great place to either start, or consider your ultimate Sinatra mix.

1 comment:

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