The 1955 classic that spent 18 weeks at #2 on the charts!
The first of many artistic milestones in the long and illustrious collaboration of Frank Sinatra and arranger Nelson Riddle that began at Capitol Records, In the Wee Small Hours
is a first in other notable ways, as well: it was the pair's first 12-inch LP; their first album devoted entirely to ballads; the first "concept album," a program of songs designed to be heard in a particular sequence that sustains a mood and suggests a story; the introduction of Sinatra's definitive "saloon singer" persona; and the first flowering of Sinatra's mature artistic sensibility. Oh, and it's a masterpiece, too. The cover portrait suggests the mood of late-night desolation almost as effectively as the music, with Sinatra in the corner, smoking a solitary cigarette on deserted street illuminated only by the a foggy, blue-green glow of lamplight. Loneliness, thy name is Frank! They say that memories of Ava Gardner caused him to break down after finishing this aching version of "When Your Lover Has Gone." Riddle's clarinet theme for "What Is this Thing Called Love?" is as haunting as Cole Porter's melody itself. And if there's a more devastating evocation of solitude than "It Never Entered My Mind"... well it must be on Only the Lonely
. With songs like "I'll Be Around" and "Dancing on the Ceiling" to suggest at least the hope
of hope, Wee Small Hours
may flirt with despair, but never succumbs to it. It's the kind of comforting company that misery likes best. --Jim Emerson