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95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2000
I came of age musically in the 1970s, which is when I first became acquainted with Frank Sinatra. By this time, his voice had long been in decline, and he was experimenting with questionable contemporary material like "It's Not Easy Being Green" and that hideous disco version of "Night and Day." I did like him then, but he sounded tired bellowing his way through latter-day concert versions of his 1950s-era hits. Yes, he sang as if he had lived his songs, but I still wondered why his longtime fans consistently used superlatives to describe him.
Acquiring this CD and listening to The Voice upclose and personal finally awakened me to the genius that everybody has been applauding for generations. The Capitol-era Sinatra possessed a rare combination of subtlety, control, spontaneity, and swagger that are evident on these classic '50s sides. I can feel the lilt in his step on "I've Got the World on a String" and the fragility and heartbreak in "One for My Baby." His phrasing of "Come Dance with Me" and "I Get a Kick Out of You" ("It would bore me terriFFFFFFFF - ic'ly too") is delightfully playful and inspired. It is now obvious to me why so many regard Sinatra as the quintessential American pop singer.
If you're new to Sinatra and overwhelmed by the avalanche of CDs to choose from, you'll have no regrets buying this one first.
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123 of 129 people found the following review helpful
First, kudos to Bob Norberg for his great job of remastering the twenty songs collected on "Classic Sinatra." I rarely notice the quality of recordings when I listen to them, so if I actually sit up and pay attention to the crisp clarity of these classic recordings then you know they have to be pretty good. This 2000 collection is one of the albums in the running for the title of the best one-disc compilation covering Sinatra's Capitol period (1953-1960). With the music arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, these are songs that reflect the period when Sinatra cemented his reputation as one of the greatest singers of the 20th century (I have no problem with handing him the top spot, but enjoy friendly debate).
Most of these songs represent Sinatra with singing songs including Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick Out of You," "You Make Me Feel So Young," Rodgers & Hart's "The Lady is a Tramp," and "Come Fly With Me." But as great as Sinatra is at swing, his mastery is best displayed in his saloon songs. "My Funny Valentine" is recorded at a perfect tempo that takes full advantage of Sinata's unparalleled phrasing and makes this the definitive recording of the Rodgers & Hart tune. Equally great is his superb "In the Wee Small Hours," the title track from his first LP where he captured the sense of heartbreak and loneliness that we have all assumed came out of his breakup with Ava Gardner. Again, Riddle comes up with the perfect arrangement to set the stage for the devastating vocals. Add "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)" and you have the three crown jewels of Sinatra as the ultimate saloon singer.
Even though this is a collection of Sinatra tunes pulled from various albums "Classic Sinatra" still serves as a reminder that to really enjoy Sinatra you have to listen to his concept albums. This is not really a Sinatra "hits" collection, at least not by Billboard standards. Only a few of these songs charted as singles: "All the Way" (#2), "Witchcraft" (#6), "Nice 'n' Easy" (#60). That was because when Sinatra released an LP in the Fifties you were supposed to listen to the whole thing and he put out most of his greatest albums in that decade.
The other thing to be aware of is that a lot of what you hear here is not necessarily the definitive Sinatra version of these songs because Sinatra kept working at these songs over the rest of his career. There are a couple of live versions of "The Lady is a Tramp" that are even better than what you have here, and every Sinatra fan will be able to point other tracks here where they can find a version they like better. But even if you want to make an argument that these songs just establish ground level for Sinatra, his bottom floor is way higher than the ceilings of the fast majority of vocalists who ever recorded in the 20th century.
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2000
There is probably no way that anyone can take 20 songs from Sinatra's Capitol years and NOT come up with a five-star album. That said, this is one of the better Best of packages, and I would recommend it to anyone who has not already bought the Best of the Capitol Years or, better still, the original concept albums. Songs like It Happened in Monterey and Put Your Dreams Away are more imaginative and deserving selections than those on the numerous other Capitol Sinatra compilations. This set also earns high marks for original recordings, avoiding the awful studio-engineered duet trap that marred the otherwise okay Sinatra 80th 2-CD set.
If this is your only Sinatra purchase, you are missing the enjoyment of the concept albums, which were assembled carefully to create a mood and an experience -- swinging, melancholy, etc. Ironically (or maybe not!), the best songs on the concept albums were not always the opening tracks (Come Fly with Me, Come Dance with Me,...), and by limiting yourself to this set you may be missing some great tunes.
There are several less available concept albums, such as Close to You (mentioned by another reviewer below)and No One Cares, but these are not represented here -- which would have made this set much more attractive to Sinatraphiles who already own everything on Classic Sinatra. Capitol would have served us better by finding something new in the Sinatra archives (such as the great 1957 Seattle concert released last year!) rather than resequencing admittedly great songs that were already readily available. In the meantime, I would strongly recommend to serious fans to find used copies of the more obscure Capitol albums: they do exist on CD, and if you are patient you can find them reasonably priced on eBay or other auction sites. Or you can buy the big Capitol set for a few hundred dollars...
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86 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2009
First off, everyone should own the music contained on this disc. 1950's Sinatra represents truly the best of the best of American music - fantastic songwriters, arrangers, players and recording engineers, all providing the perfect complements our greatest interpreter of swing, show, and saloon tunes. Unfortunately, since about 1960, very few of Sinatra's peak performances have been commercially available in optimal sound quality in any format. At that time, Capitol reprocessed the original tapes, creating new "masters" with added echo, silly equalization, fake stereo, and other sonic abominations.

When Frank's Capitol output first got released on CD around 1987, mastering engineer Larry Walsh did a passable job considering the available technology and the the combination of "wrong" tapes he was often working with and "wrong" instructions he was given regarding when and how to add reverb to tapes that in their original, classic LP releases were "dry". A pair of compilations (the single-disc "Capitol Collectors Series" and 3CD "The Capitol Years", both also mastered by Walsh) improved things by going back to the genuine 1950's masters and NOT adding reverb.

Then in the mid-to-late-90's, Capitol handed its Sinatra CD projects over to Bob Norberg, who among Sinatraphiles is about as popular as Voldemort. Norberg readily admits that he is more interested in putting his own personal "stamp" on a project rather than presenting the listener with the most accurate representation of the original recording. After getting through the "Complete Capitol Singles Collection" without inflicting too much damage, Norberg unleashed his full arsenal of weapons of music destruction on the 1998-2002 "Entertainer Of The Century" and "Concepts" projects, from which almost all the tracks on "Classic Sinatra" are taken. All these discs sound truly bad - Frank's voice is buried in a cloud of reverb, the mono songs are presented in fake stereo, and EQ and noise reduction have been used without mercy, rolling off the treble sparkle in a silly attempt to reduce tape hiss (Here's an idea for reducing tape hiss: USE THE REAL MASTER TAPES INSTEAD OF THOSE BOTCHED 1960's REMIXES!). Sinatra and the orchestra sound like you're listening to them through a cardboard paper towel tube.

There IS some good news: Bob Voldemort - er - Norberg is no longer working at Capitol, and the sequel to this CD, "Classic Sinatra II", sounds fantastic (Larry Walsh has returned as the mastering engineer). Mono songs are in mono, no added reverb, all the sparkle intact. Frank is in the room with you, or at least he's in front of the orchestra instead of behind it!

Whether Capitol will ever fix its Sinatra CD catalog - arguably the greatest American musical asset that exists between one label and one artist - remains to be seen. At the moment the only "good" discs in print are "Classic II", the aforementioned "Capitol Years" 3CD set, and the Mobile Fidelity "Only The Lonely" and "Nice 'N Easy" discs (note: the out-of-print MoFi "Songs For Swingin' Lovers" uses a bad '60's fake-stereo tape).

My recommendation? Spend a couple bucks on a used copy of this, then get "Classic Sinatra II" and listen to both on your CD changer in shuffle mode so you can hear for yourself how much of a difference there is in mastering between the two.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2000
If you are a big enough fan to own all of Sinatra's 50s concept albums, then you really do not need this CD as the songs are all from those albums. However, this is a wonderful sampler for casual Sinatra fans and it includes all his greatest songs from that era (I particularly like "One More for My Baby.") If you want to get one of the actual full albums from this era of Sinatra, start with Songs for Swingin' Lovers - it's terrific!
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2000
While it's true that most of the songs on this well-done chronological collection are available on other CDs in the Sinatra catalog, this particular CD contains a genuine rarity---"Put Your Dreams Away". Considering that this song was Sinatra's closing theme for a number of years, it's great to finally have this lovely ballad available in CD format in the United States. That song alone is worth the price of admission for Sinatraphiles.
As others have pointed out, if you are new to the music of Frank Sinatra or are simply wondering what the fuss is all about, this CD is a good introduction to the man and his music, but once you've bought the CD and listened to these songs, you'd be much better served by building a collection of the Capitol CDs from which these songs were culled. Not only are there other stellar performances on the concept albums ("I Get Along Without You Very Well" on In The Wee Small Hours, "April In Paris" on Come Fly With Me, and "Angel Eyes" on Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely to name but three of dozens), by listening to the albums in their entirety you'll have the chance to hear them as Sinatra intended. For even more authenticity, try listening without the bonus tracks Capitol tagged on to the end of most CDs. Then you'll have a much better sense of the man's genius and the magic of his collaboration with his arrangers---he was one of the first artists on a major label, if not THE first, to have creative control over the content of his recordings.
By all means, buy this CD and enjoy it. The recording quality is very good overall although the volume seems to modulate a bit too much between tracks making the transitions between moods even more abrupt. Once it has whetted your appetite, however, get those other Capitol CDs but don't forget to check out the used CD bins or eBay for the gems that Capitol has thoughtlessly deleted from their Catalog (Close To You, Where Are You, and No One Cares). And grab the enjoyable Capitol Complete Singles Collection while you're at it for an audio journey through the "juke box" recordings that kept Sinatra on the minds of the record-buying and movie-going public between his album releases.
Starting with this CD will introduce to an enormous discography from a man who truly was one of the hardest working men in show business.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Bruce Springsteen once said that Frank Sinatra had "a voice filled with bad attitude, life, beauty, excitement, a nasty sense of freedom, (love making) and a sad knowledge of the ways of the world." I doubt few people could describe Frank's voice better. His voice was rich, capable of expressing the finest of nuances in meaning, vibrant and thrilling all at the same time. Despite the passage of time, Sinatra will always maintain his rightful place amongst the greats in music history.

This CD is a superb introduction to Frank's work at Capitol Records during the 1950s. It has twenty songs recorded between 1953 and 1960 which vary in style and theme; and all are beautifully presented here. There are happy songs, such as "I Get A Kick Out Of You;" and there are sad songs about the pain in life including "In The Wee Small Hours." Favorite songs of mine are "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road);" "Witchcraft;" and "Nice 'N' Easy." The remastering work by Bob Norberg is excellent. The musical arrangements of the songs are outstanding and Frank sings songs written by all the greats including the Gershwin brothers, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen and Rodgers and Hart. Frank's voice oozes male sensuality consistently and makes you eager for still more after the twenty songs presented here.

The CD comes with awesome black and white photos of Frank in the recording studio as well as an excerpt from a book by Pete Hamill entitled Why Sinatra Matters. There is a lovely tribute to Frank by Bruce Springsteen quoted here as well. The songs credits are nicely presented and if you liked what you heard here there are many other Frank CDs suggested in the liner notes so you can expand your music library with more Sinatra CDs! SMILE

Yes, the reviewer who writes that there were other, more pleasing to the ear versions of "The Lady Is A Tramp" is correct. However, here all the songs are still "keepers!"

This CD is a great addition to your music library if you are a casual fan of Frank Sinatra. For the person who is a diehard fan of classic pop vocals or Sinatra this CD is an absolute must-have. Sinatra was--and is--a gift to us all; and I for one am grateful to him for sharing his talent with the world. The art of his voice on just this CD alone easily proves that Frank will never be forgotten.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2005
If you're looking to buy your first Frank Sinatra record and are feeling overwhelmed by the 511 titles currently offered on (as of 02/24/05), then look no further. CLASSIC SINATRA is a perfect place to start.

More than any other single-disc Sinatra collection, CLASSIC SINATRA captures the true essence of Frank Sinatra. Not a "greatest hits" collection, CLASSIC SINATRA is even better; it's a collection of definitive songs from what's generally considered the greatest period of Sinatra's career--his recordings at Capitol records during the 1950s with conductors Nelson Riddle, Billy May, and Gordon Jenkins.

While many of these these songs weren't Sinatra's biggest selling singles, selections like "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Night and Day," "One For My Baby," and "Put Your Dreams Away" were clearly Sinatra's greatest songs--the songs he's best known for, and songs he continued to perform in concert and re-record for the rest of his career. (In fact, "Put Your Dreams Away" was actually played at Sinatra's funeral by longtime sidemen Bill Miller and Al Viola on piano and guitar. How much more definitive gan you get?)

One word of caution: This collection is so good that you will immediately become hooked on Frank Sinatra and want to buy more. When this happens, go out and buy his classic "concept albums" from the Capitol era, starting with (1) SONGS FOR SWINGIN' LOVERS!, (2) IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS, (3) A SWINGIN' AFFAIR!, and (4) FRANK SINATRA SINGS FOR ONLY THE LONELY. After that, you're on your own.

Finally, if you must, feel free to explore Sinatra's Reprise Recordings from the 1960s, but try to steer clear of anything recorded after about 1965 (with the notable exception of FRANCIS ALBERT SINATRA & ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM, the great 1968 Bossa Nova album). Start with RING A-DING DING!, then check out SINATRA SWINGS!, THE CONCERT SINATRA (One of my personal favorites), and SINATRA & STRINGS.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Growing up as a young boy in my parents house I was bombarded with a variety of music in my youth. My mother would be ripped after drinking Hamm's beer with my uncle Terry all day (My dad made good money. I mean she couldn't buy better beer?).... My elementary school teachers are still probably wondering why I was so dang tired all the time. You try sleeping through Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger blasting unto the wee hours of the morning at seven years old and I bet you would try to catch some shut eye too. Needless to say Frank Sinatra was one (one of many) artists my mom would play.

I picked up this CD as a casual listener of Sinatra, and as an attempt to bring back some old memories (one of which is sleep deprivation, I am going to be a dad for the first time so it's appropriate practice right?). I love every song on this CD. I don't think you can get a better Sinatra compilation without making it a two to three CD set. Almost all the songs I really wanted are on this. Having said that Frank has SO MANY great songs he's performed, and there is absolutely NO WAY you could limit even a portion of his career to twenty songs. That's why I can only give this CD 4 stars in good faith. It's a great compilation, but it is still a compilation. As I've said this is an artist that's performed so many great songs; not even the best compilation could span a portion of his career and give it justice. Even so, I loved hearing: Young at Heart, My Funny Valentine, and Come Fly With Me.... Not a bad grouping of songs on this one.... Plus a few old memories just for the sake of it...

Bottom Line: a solid effort to put together a compilation from an artist that can't be done proper justice from a 20 song compilation. Solid 4 stars...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2000
Of course I'm rating this five stars just because it is a great buy for those of you who don't already have other Sinatra albums. In fact, almost all of these tracks are on The Best of the Capitol Years, and are many of his "greatest hits." However, some of his great concept albums of the 50s are NOT represented here, specifically all-ballad ones such as Where are You and No One Cares, both arranged by Gordon Jenkins, whose arrangements had a lusher, darker sound than Nelson Riddle's. Close to You, arranged by Riddle in an intimate chamber-music setting is also unrepresented here, and is in fact STILL unavailable to date. It's the only Capitol album of Frank's that I still lack. Other swing albums such as the exuberant Sinatra's Swingin' Session and the earlier Swingin' Easy are also not represented, and would give a more rounded picture of Frank's many swing moods.
Come Fly With Me is great stuff, but who can resist the other equally-as-good tracks from that terrific Billy May-arranged album, especially Brazil, Autumn in New York, The Isle of Capri, etc., etc.... I fear that most music-lovers will never know the many styles and moods of Sinatra's art!
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