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Finally, Sinatra from the 50s through the 70s
on November 15, 2011
I'm reviewing the superb DELUXE 2-CD box edition with all the trimmings.
Until now, you had to buy from either the Capitol or the Reprise catalog. Sinatra collections were one or the other. If you wanted to introduce his music to someone, you had to get one of each or skip an era. You want "New New, York," "My Way," or "That's Life"? You're going to have to lose "Come Fly with Me," "Witchcraft," and "One for My Baby." Two different labels; two different catalogs. FINALLY, they got together so here you have Sinatra from 1953 ("I've got the World on a String") to "New York, New York."
So, we finally have a definitive Sinatra 101 compilation. 23 tracks. Icing on the cake: an entire live concert from the Capitol era. I might be wrong about this but this June 9th 1957 concert might be the only one we have of Sinatra performing live with Nelson Riddle; yes, they went on tour. To Seattle.
The first CD is as described: classic Sinatra and well chosen. "Night and Day," for instance. The obvious choice would be the Capitol swinging version. Here, the choice was the later, slower, Don Costa arrangement from the 1961 "Sinatra and Strings" album (Reprise).
The liner notes are by Frank Sinatra Jr. They're sharp, insightful, and written by a musician who knows this music. Example: "'Fly Me to the Moon': A complete misnomer! The correct title of this popular standard is 'In Other Words." But nobody refers to it by that name." That's sort of important. Sinatra Jr. has a lot to say about this music. Lots of perspective.
The packaging in the Deluxe Edition is exemplary, tasteful, retrained, and appropriate. Someone is making sure Sinatra's music is presented decently. The use of blue is a no-brainer but the use of blue foil lettering and the layout of this release is a thrill. It's like they're serving up class. The box feels and looks suave. The box lid pulls up and was a minor nightmare to pry up - a little too tight. (Right - like that's why I bought this.) CDs are in separate cardboard sleeves, like mini-LPs. There's no plastic here, at all. This is the real stuff - paper and cardboard. First class design. Bravo, somebody.
Five square photos of Sinatra that cover the years the music recorded during are a nice addition - but this is an extra; I'm not sure what to do with them.
I have to apologise for another reviewer who didn't see the point of a live concert performance by Sinatra. That reviewer actually wrote he didn't like live recordings and so opted for the 1-CD release of "The Best of the Best."
That reviewer has my sympathy because the live 1957 concert is astonishing. Sinatra is in his Capitol years prime. The sound quality is wonderful - this doesn't sound like a crappy "historic" bootleg. Sinatra is SO relaxed. He just flows through the quieter material and digs into the livelier stuff. Nelson Riddle and Sinatra's pianist, Bill Miller, are there with him. Live. This is a good as it gets - this is as good he HE gets. These aren't studio recordings. The same arrangements and musicians but now they've settled into the music. The live performance, a full hour long, is reason alone to justify this release. I wasn't about to buy the same recordings again. Even if it's in the latest digital/laser-powered/photon-enhanced format, there's no reason for ME to grab everything that says "Frank Sinatra" on the cover.
But this, this is wonderful. If you're just getting into Sinatra, sure, buy the single CD release. If you're already a resident of Sinatraville, then buy the Deluxe Edition - they made it just for YOU!