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Box Set, 3 CD
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For several weeks during the spring of 1962, London's music scene buzzed with the rumor that Frank Sinatra was to record a new album there. Indeed, in June that year, the iconic star traveled to the U.K. to record Sinatra Sings Great Songs From Great Britain. Recorded over three consecutive nights at London's CTS Studios, Great Songs From Great Britain would be the only album Sinatra would ever record outside of the United States.
On November 25, Universal Music Enterprises & Frank Sinatra Enterprises will release Sinatra: LONDON, a deluxe 3-CD/DVD and digital audio collection presenting the remastered original studio album with a treasure trove of other London highlights from Sinatra's career. The expansive set's more than 50 previously unreleased recordings include session material from the album, a 1962 BBC 'Light Programme' radio special with introductions to each song by Sinatra himself, a 1953 live session for BBC Radio's 'The Show Band Show,' and a Royal Albert Hall concert from 1984. The collection's DVD features a previously unreleased filmed 1962 concert from Royal Festival Hall, plus a 1970 concert appearance from the same venue with a never before released performance of the classic song 'A Foggy Day.'
The sleek book-style set includes a 60-page booklet with a new essay by producer, filmmaker, songwriter, music publisher and author, Ken Barnes, who attended the Great Songs From Great Britain sessions, the album's original liner notes, newly-written track notes, details about Sinatra's many visits to the U.K., and several photos of Sinatra in London: onstage, in the studio, and about town. The new collection also includes two exclusive art print reproductions of original London concert posters, and a unique studio panorama from the 1962 recording sessions for Great Songs From Great Britain.
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Language : English
- Product Dimensions : 11.14 x 5.91 x 1.14 inches; 1.75 Pounds
- Manufacturer : Reprise
- Original Release Date : 2014
- Date First Available : September 29, 2014
- Label : Reprise
- ASIN : B00O0MBMCY
- Country of Origin : USA
- Number of discs : 4
- Best Sellers Rank: #69,352 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- Customer Reviews:
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Well, let's be positive - it's considerably better than the New York set that came out a few years ago. The first disc contains the Great Songs from Great Britain album that doesn't find Sinatra in "great" voice. However, it's an interesting album and well worth hearing and owning. Despite his vocal problems, Sinatra manages to adapt his phrasing to compensate and the arrangements are gorgeous. The problem for me here is that most Sinatra fans buying this set will already own this album, and the sound seems to be much the same as the previous issue (which was very good indeed). Yes, Sinatra's introductions for a radio show version of it are nice to have, but this is almost a wasted disc for the Sinatra fan who has all the lifetime albums already. The second disc is better, containing session material for the same album. This is fascinating stuff, and one can only wonder why more alternate takes from Sinatra sessions haven't appeared since his death.
The third disc is given over to a 1984 concert at the Royal Albert Hall. I agree with the previous reviewer that the sound is a little flat - the audience sound as if they are in the next room occasionally - but Sinatra is in fine form for a sixty-eight year old man, and the repertoire is varied and contains a couple of live rarities, most notably the lovely Here's to the Band, which arguably receives a better performance here than in the studio. Its a shame Sinatra chose to promote L A Is My Lady with the title track, as it's the most forgettable on that album, and here it sticks out like a sore thumb with its disco-ish arrangement. There's a lovely Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry, but Sinatra's voice sounds a little rough around the edges on These Foolish Things. All in all, though, a good concert to have even if the mix isn't the most dynamic.
So, onto the DVD. The 1962 concert is a joy - as many fans will already know from the grey market release on CD from about twenty years ago. Sinatra and his jazz combo bolt their way through thirty numbers in ninety minutes, and Sinatra is in stunning form. The first half of the concert sees him utter not a word between songs, but the second half sees him loosening up and giving introductions and joking with the audience more. This is a tour de force, though. However, this is a fifty-two year old concert - I believe the earliest full concert we have of Sinatra on video - and there are occasional dropouts in sound and vision. The producers could only work with the surviving tapes, and they have done a good job and made the right decision not to edit out songs that are affected in some way by tape wear. In the end, it doesn't really affect enjoyment in any way.
But, and this is a big "but", the 1970 concert looks and sounds AWFUL. It is included here in its complete form for the first time, although all but one song has been on DVD before - and in much better quality. Quite what went wrong here is anyone's guess. The sound is thin and tinny, and the picture is soft and jerky. In the end it doesn't matter that much as Sinatra fans will have all but one song from this show elsewhere in their collection, but this is not the standard one should expect from a major issue for a major artist.
All in all, though, this is a fine release, even if it doesn't completely blow you away. I'd have preferred an extra concert to the original Great Songs album, but there is also a valid argument that it belongs here. The packaging and artwork is classy, and the booklet informative - although the notes almost completely concentrate on the Great Songs album. Some info about the concerts would have been nice. But if this is the way Sinatra's 100th birthday year is being launched it looks like we can all expect some goodies over the next twelve months.
Fortunately I have the 1970 concert in reasonably good quality. (How did they mess this up so badly???).
So one star must be deducted just for its presence. Hope the CD's are better.