A Remembrance of Frank Sinatra
Francis Albert Sinatra
Born: Hoboken, New Jersey, 12 December 1915
Died: Los Angeles, California, 14 May 1998
2008 marked the 10th anniversary
of the passing of Frank Sinatra.
There are many tributes being paid this year to the memory
of this superb popular singer.
One of these is a compilation CD with a Frank Sinatra US postage stamp
"Nothing But The Best"
Frank Sinatra belongs in that small select group of song stylists,
such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald,
and most of all his mentor, Bing Crosby.
Contrary to what has been written about the swinging Rat Pack years in Las Vegas in the 1960s, it was Sinatra in the 1950s when he made his finest performances
and recordings as a singer.
There are literally hundreds of recordings made by Frank Sinatra over his long career from the 1940s onward and many of them are available
in single or multi-disc collections.
But what if you want just a few CDs of Sinatra songs?
Here are several recommended ones to consider.
First there are two compilations:
The Best of Frank Sinatra - The Capitol Years
Selections taken from The Capitol Years box set, including many of Siantra's hits from the 1950s, including the song generally considered his greatest recording,"I've Got You Under My Skin" (1956).
A marvelous collection of 20 tracks recorded between 1953 and 1960, including "I've Got The World On A String"; "My Funny Valentine"; "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning";
"Witchcraft"; and "Nice N' Easy."
The arrangements are by Nelson Riddle and Billy May.
Here are what many fans think are
two of the greatest Sinatra Capitol albums:
In The Wee Small Hours
First released in 1954, this was the first Capitol album with Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle and the first "concept album" with only ballads included.
Only the Lonely
Released four years after In The Wee Small Hours, this may be the bleakest album of lonely ballads ever released. Though it is filled with what Sinatra called "suicide songs," this is one of the greatest pop albums of the 1950s. Nelson Riddle's arrangements are beyond belief in their clarity and beauty.
This album is one of Sinatra's greatest performances on record.
As much as critics and fans remember the uptempo ring-a-ding songs, just like Elvis,
it was the ballads that best suited Sinatra. He was a supreme master.
Both albums ( In The Wee Small Hours and Only the Lonely )
are milestones in pop music history.
-- Roger Lee Hall, May 2008
Frank Sinatra in Hollywood, 1940-1964
6 CD Box Set (with hardbound book)
Producers: Didier C. Deutsch and Charles L. Granata. Co-Producers: George Feltenstein and Darcy M. Proper. Audio Restoration: Andreas K. Meyer, Sony Music Studios. Stereo Remixing & Remastering: Doug Schwartz, Mulholland Music; Andreas Meyer & Jen Wyler, Sony Music Studios. Bristol Productions Limited Partnership, under exclusive license to Reprise Records for the U.S. and WEA International Inc. for the rest of the world.
Rhino/Turner Classic Movies Music R2 78285
CD 1 (1940-1944) - 27 tracks (68:44)
CD 2 (1944-1948) - 33 tracks (74:36)
CD 3 (1948-1952) - 28 tracks (74:32)
CD 4 (1953-1955) - 27 tracks (71:29)
CD 5 (1955-1957) - 24 tracks (64:08)
CD 6 (1958-1964) - 21 tracks (66:16)
With so many recordings of Frank Sinatra already available, why release another large box set like this one? Well, you may remember some or all of the films that Sinatra sang in - and you'll find them all here in one collection, from his Big Band years with Tommy Dorsey in LAS VEGAS NIGHTS to the Rat Pack gang in ROBIN AND THE 7 HOODS. It took seven years to compile these 160 tracks, carefully selected by Sinatra experts and faithfully restored to CD, many for the first time anywhere.
In addition to the 6 CDs covering the years from 1940 to 1964, there is also a very attractive illustrated 120 hardbound book. The book contains the following sections::
- Preface by Leonard Maltin
- You're Sensation: A Personal Reflection by Michael Feinstein
- Restoring The Voice of Hollywood by Charles L. Granata
- Hollywood 's Golden Age: The Era of the Fabulous Movie Musical by Didier C. Deutsch
- Sinatra ! The Visual Voice by Will Friedwald
- Pal Joey : The Quintessential Sinatra Movie Musical by Scott Allen Nollen
- The Songs
- Alphabetical Track Index
With so much worthwhile information, the book alone makes this set worth having.
All the popular Sinatra movie songs are included on the CDs. Here are just a few:
"Dolores" and "I'll Never Smile Again" from Sinatra's first film LAS VEGAS NIGHTS (Paramount, 1941); "I Fall In Love Too Easily" from ANCHORS AWEIGH (MGM, 1945); "From Here To Eternity" - the song wan't sung in the film of same title (Columbia, 1953); "You're Sensational" from HIGH SOCIETY (MGM, 1956); "All the Way" - the Oscar winning song from THE JOKER IS WILD (Paramount, 1957); "The Lady is a Tramp," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" and others from PAL JOEY (Columbia, 1957); "All My Tomorrows" and "High Hopes" - another Oscar winning song, from A HOLE IN THE HEAD (United Artists, 1959); "It's All Right With Me" and others from CAN-CAN (20th Century Fox, 1960); and "My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)" from ROBIN AND THE 7 HOODS (Warner Bros, 1964).
Those are the familiar movie songs by Sinatra. There are also many alternate takes or outtakes, promotional tracks, and interviews. They include: the Academy Award acceptance speeches for the movie short on tolerance - "The House I Live In (That's America To Me") and for Best Supporting Actor role in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY; a somewhat self-serving interview with Louella Parsons; promotional spot for PAL JOEY; and bonus selection on the last track of CD6: "Don't Be A Do-Badder" - a rare Vocal Tracking Session with Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. You can hear how much fun they're having with the recording session, but the goal is a successful track. Sinatra mentions his notorious impatience with multiple tasks, saying at one point that he's going home to New Jersey. It's a shame the song itself is not very good - one of the few Van Heusen-Cahn klinkers. The ending is also quite abrupt.
Sound on the CD1 is not the greatest, but considering the age and fragility of these tracks, it's a wonder they could have been saved and restored. Not all the songs are classics either. It's well known that Sinatra wasn't thrilled with his role in THE KISSING BANDIT from 1949. The five songs from that film aren't much to brag about. But that's only a very small portion of this massive collection.
Most listeners will probably best remember the Sinatra movie songs from the 1950s and '60s. One of the songs I especially remember is "You My Love" ( James Van Heusen-Mack Gordon) from YOUNG AT HEART (Warner Bros, 1954). This is a beautiful song and it's great to have it included in an alternate mix with Sinatra, who is joined by the sweet voiced Doris Day. Another welcome addition is the famous "Soliloquy" from CAROUSEL (an unreleased 1955 Capital Records session master). Some of the most popular songs of this era were written by Sinatra's songwriting team in residence: James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn. They wrote two of the three Oscar winners sung by Sinatra. Strangely the third Oscar winning song, "Call Me Irresponsible" from PAPA'S DELICATE CONDITION is not in this collection. It was sung in the film by Jackie Gleason but Sinatra's recording was the most popular one and certainly contributed to it winning an Oscar. Sammy Cahn also received an Oscar (with Jule Stne) for "Three Coins in the Fountain" in 1954. Fortunately, that song is included in the Sinatra in Hollywood collection.
I have a few minor quibbles. The box set design is very bland with its basic black used throughout. Why make it look so dreary, when Sinatra was so colorful an artist? Instead of having everything in black, it would have been better to have the box set sleeve printed in another color so it could be read when place on a bookshelf. Some of the pages in the book are printed over photos and are hard to read. This is a common practice among CD album designers. They just don't consider the reader - especially the older ones with poorer eyesight! On the plus side, the six CDs are easy to read within their case. Each one has a different photo of Frank Sinatra at the age when the recordings were made. The hardbound book and CD case slide easily inside the outside cardboard box.
FRANK SINATRA IN HOLLWOOD would make a ideal addition to your Sinatra collection, or for anyone who wants to hear some of the best singing from the past.
A movie song treasure box.
-- Roger Hall, July 2002
Click here to buy music and other posters!
A Century of American Songs (1861-1961)
Song Hits of 1956
Song Hits of 1957
Song Hits of 1958
Song Hits of 1959
Song Hits of 1960
Song Hits of 1961
Song Hits of 1962