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Sinatra Sings Great Songs From Great Britain [LP]

4.8 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Vinyl, March 31, 2015
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Editorial Reviews

Vinyl LP pressing. Recorded and released on Reprise in 1962, Sinatra Sings Great Songs from Great Britain was initially not sold in the United States and was finally released in the U.S. on CD in the early 1990s. Consists of songs by British composers, performed with British musicians and recorded in England while Sinatra was on tour.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. The Very Thought of You
  2. We'll Gather Lilacs in the Spring
  3. If I Had You
  4. Now Is the Hour
  5. The Gypsy
  6. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
  7. A Garden in the Rain
  8. London By Night
  9. We'll Meet Again
  10. I'll Follow My Secret Heart


Product Details

  • Vinyl (March 31, 2015)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Reprise
  • Run Time: 33.00 minutes
  • ASIN: B00O3RQI48
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,149 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark Blackburn on January 10, 2003
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Amazon alerted us (Sinatra fans) that this classic CD is once again available and at a modest price (new copies had traded elsewhere for more than 100 dollars). It's been seven years since I obtained my 'used' (1993) "Made in USA" copy -- and wrote my own review; hope it's still "helpful." [At the time, Bob Farnon, a friend of my father's was still alive; he predeceased my Dad by one year, in 2005. I wrote to him to share this review with Mr. Farnon; he responded with a beautiful note of appreciation from his 'island home.' (2010/12/23)]

---

All the world's great arrangers -- most of whom got to work with Frank Sinatra (the rest wish they had)-- are (or were) American. A notable exception: Canadian-born Robert Farnon. At last report, Bob was still alive and well, and living at "La Falaise" on the Channel Island of Guernsey (a letter with only that address can reach him). Now 85, he still makes the occasional foray into London to do what he's always done best.

Andre Previn, told the late, great lyricist Johnny Mercer that "Robert Farnon is the greatest living string arranger in the world." The great ones who admit to Farnon's influence have included Nelson Riddle, Don Costa, Quincy Jones, Marty Paich, Neil Hefti, Torrie Zito and Johnny Mandel (just to name the best who worked with Frank Sinatra), plus, (among those who didn't, but wished they had) Henry Mancini, Roger Kellaway, John ("Star Wars") Williams, Patrick Williams and Jeremy Lubbock

Great popular singers who share that opinion, include Sarah Vaughn and Tony Bennett. The list of musicians who feel the same way is too long, but start with pianists Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson and George Shearing.
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Format: Audio CD
When I bought a used copy of 'Great Songs from Great Britain', I had low expectations. Several writers had noted that Sinatra's voice was spent by the time he joined Robert Farnon in London to record the present set, and how the spare string arrangements had left the singer 'nowhere to hide.' Had Sinatra been about to record 'Come Fly with Me', the result no doubt would have been a disaster. But for these contemplative, romantic ballads, a thinner Sinatra voice works perfectly.
The dramatic acappella opening to 'The Very Thought of You' states the theme -- stately and romantic -- British, basically (!) The middle of the album, 'Gypsy', 'Roses of Picardy' and 'Nightingale', comprises some of the more heartfelt material from Sinatra's early Reprise era. The vulnerability in the usually powerful voice could not have shown up in a more fortunate group of songs.
I also question whether Sinatra was truly on his last legs. 'Garden in the Rain' displays the same remarkable breath control that enabled him to sustain long notes in a way that made his phrasing so natural. Sinatra may not have been at his vocal peak -- or anywhere near it -- but every time I listen to 'Great Songs from Great Britain' I'm left with the sense that Sinatra at 40 percent was like other singers at 80 percent.
Among the Reprise albums, I would highly recommend this one. The material is right up Sinatra's alley (tasteful, and of lasting value) and Farnon's arrangements seem more akin to Nelson Riddle's than to Gordon Jenkins' sometimes-too-heavy strings. All brilliant, but Farnon never lays the violins on too thick.
Why this album has not been remastered and re-released eludes me. Sound quality is fine for 1962, however, and interested listeners would be well served to find a used copy in the meantime.
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Format: Audio CD
This long fabled collection of tunes from "across the pond" by Francis Albert Sinatra is definitely a point of interest along the road of collecting important works by one of the world's greatest singers. Much has been written about Sinatra's vocal condition being under par during the undertakings presented here. The astute Sinatra fan will remark that he sounds thin here and there, or he cuts off notes when he normally wouldn't; but it actually works in his favor on most of these songs, which are required to be sung with a tone of wistfulness and longing. Special mention must first be made, when reviewing this album, to the exquisite backings charted by one of Britain's favorite musical brainchildren, Robert Farnon (whose work with Tony Bennett years after this album merits some of that "other" Italian crooner's absolute finest) Nelson Riddle lent a minimal helping hand with chords and note changes, but this was all Farnon and Sinatra, the one and only time these two geniuses ever got together. All the stories are true; the piano really did break down that first night, and they went with the celeste, and it came off without a hitch. Yes, Frank did want to dump ROSES OF PICARDY, dreamily sad as it seems here; (Bobby Darin would team up with Billy May and give this one a great swing later on) Happily for us, ROSES OF PICARDY has been restored here. Everything you've heard about this album is true, except if you believe the story that this originally UK-only released gem finds Sinatra straining to get through the works. Just listen to the subdued intensity in his heartbreak version of NOW IS THE HOUR. A touching performance, as is the other great anthem of so-longs-ville, WE'LL MEET AGAIN.Read more ›
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