on February 5, 2010
This fun 1966 album should not be reviewed in comparison to other Sinatra albums from 1953 - 1967. So prolific and consistently excellent are Sinatra's recorded works from 1953 - 1967 (the average "That's Life" album, excepted), this album might rate merely 4 stars in comparison to Sinatra's other works; but, measured against all other artists, "Strangers in the Night" is an excellent album, and swings like crazy (except on the title track). Sinatra's slightly lesser efforts, such as this populist attempt to relate to some of the more modern sounds of the 1960's pop scene, are almost always better than other artists' very best efforts. The EXCELLENT REMASTERING is a noticeable improvement, and Sinatra's vocals are rich and more natural sounding than on the original version of the CD/album. The three extra tracks are OK, but the real reason to check out this remastered version is the original 10 tracks, which have never sounded better. If you at all have a soft spot for this unique Sinatra album (lotsa pop organ, driving Nelson Riddle arrangements), this remastered version will be an eye (and ear) opener to you and to all Sinatraphiles.
on March 9, 2010
First off, Sinatra collectors take note, this has a total of THREE alternate takes. Not just the bonus one. To my surprise, Call Me is slightly different from the previously released one. Call Me has obviously different phrasing and can be spotted right away. I'm surprised other reviewers have not mentioned this. The alternate of Yes Sir, That's My Baby, is identical in phrasing, but has different solos by the oranist and the guitarist in the musical bridge. The Most Beautiful Girl in The World is also an alternate take. It is virtually identical. The only difference you can hear is in the line "Social? Not a bit." He phrases it slightly different than the released version. So having three different alternate takes is enough to make Sinatra collectors buy this. The remastering is excellent. The BEST these tracks have ever received. The new liner notes are excellent as well. This is a must buy for Frank collectors, so go out there and get it!
I was focusing on the alternate takes, that I never decided to check the other remasterings on the other cuts. I know that Summer Wind sounds much better than the previous issues, except that the channels are reversed. So this got me thinking to check the other cuts. So when I played Yes Sir, That's My Baby, I decided to compare it to my original open reel tape copy and my orginal LP pressing. What I discovered is that the sound stage of the new cd has been substantially reduced. On the LP the drum roll on the beginning of the song is clearly on the right side. The CD is in the center. Same goes for the organ. Both of them were on the right channel originally and they are no blended to the center. So much so that it might as well be mono. Gone is the super spacious sound that was once here. Same for the others like My Baby Just Cares for Me. So you have to wonder why they chose to do this. This is the same complaints that other collectors were talking about on the Jobim release. Seems like reduced sound stage is the norm these days.....anyway, still a good album but don't expect wide sound stage.
on October 11, 2000
Maybe The Chairman was beyond his classic period, but he still had the chops that made him "the greatest saloon singer" of all time. I bought this album in the early 70s, and still have the side, in perfect condition. A friend of mine with a top-end stereo turned me on to the album. As we listened, the tune that grabbed me right off the bat was "All or Nothing at All," a 40s classic, updated and rearranged by Nelson Riddle. With the stereo cranked, the power of Sinatra's voice, backed by the amazing Riddle Orchestra, was unbelievable. You got the effect of the music just bursting out of the speakers! At last, I fully understood the meaning of "swing!" The album is a fine testament to the staying power of a great singer, artist and musician. Songs as his pop hit, "Strangers in the Night," the gorgeous "Summer Wind," "On a Clear Day," and "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," to me are the highlights, and get superb treatment from the mature artist that Sinatra was at the time. His rich, mellow voice and his phrasing are perfect -- and has there ever been a singer more credible with a song than Sinatra? He paints pictures in your mind. "Summer Wind," still does it to me after all these years. Finally, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra is the perfect complement to the Man and his Music. Sure, this album might not be recognized as one of the alltime classic works of Sinatra, but that's okay. It's still a gem of an album, and worth 5 stars.
on January 4, 1999
This is an oddly satisfying album, and arose from odd circumstances. Sinatra had a hit on his hands (the title track), and was due to go into the studio with Riddle. As the hit was uptempo, Nelson went that way and came up with a fresh wrinkle -- the electric jazz organ. This may sound cheesy, as in "Sinatra sings the Beach Boys," but they pulled it off, the singer playing real loose with some of the lyrics (even forgetting the words on "You're Driving Me Crazy," a way of showing he found the material very light). The best track is "All or Nothing At All," with the organ whipping up a frenzy not even matched on the lilting version of Johnny Mercer's "Summer Wind" we all know so well.
As always, Riddle had the creative juices to take an idea just one step further. Great fun. It has the feel of the Austin Powers soundtrack about it, and I'm sure the Man of Mystery would agree with my review title.
Side note: As "Sinatra '67", this was Number One in Europe for weeks and weeks, and it knocked The Beatles "Rubber Soul" off the top of the charts, just as the single knocked them down a peg here in the States. The old singer must have gotten a kick out of that.
on April 15, 2001
By 1966, when he recorded this album, Sinatra's voice had roughened, but he was singing with a lot more kick than he had ten years earlier, and he was still the best singer in the world. Other than the title track this is all uptempo stuff, and with Nelson Riddle's arrangements featuring a swinging electronic organ, this is one of his most exciting albums. He transformed contemporary songs like "Call Me" into the Sinatra ouevre, while at the same time updating older ballads like "All or Nothing At All" into a swinging blues piece. My favorite track is the "Summer Wind" in which Sinatra uses his roughened voice to great effect. He's the only singer who could ever swing and sound like he was about to cry at the same time "The autumn wind and the winter wind/They have come and gone." He sings it as if he's trying to hold despair off by punching out the lyrics.
If there's such thing as genius in pop music, this is it. And if you're just starting to get into Sinatra and want to move beyond the compilation albums, this is the way to go.
on June 2, 2004
As a huge Frank Sinatra fan, I must say that this album ranks maong the best he's ever done. I can't seem to find my original copy of the cd, so I'm going to buy a new one next time I go to Barnes and Noble. I remeber the recording vividly, and I remeber the very first time I listened to all it all the way through - on a long car ride in Long Island about 7 years ago.
This 1966 album marked a comeback of sorts for Frank Sinatra. He hadn't had a number 1 album since 1960's "Nice And Easy", and hadn't had a big hit single for quite some time. The "Strangers In The Night" album all changed that. The album went to number one and spawned a pair of hit singles: the title track, which knocked "Paperback Writer" by The Beatles off the top of the charts, and "That's Life", which became a number 4 hit in Decmeber, 1967. And though it wasn't a hit, "The Summer Wind" became one of his most popular songs. There are more great songs here, too. He does an expertice cover of Petula Clark's "Downtown", and his reworking of his first hit, "All Or Nothing At All" (recorded when he worked with Harry James),as it is much more uptempo and his older - sounding voice gives the song more of an edge. His version of "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" ranks as one of his best vocal performances ever. The other songs are good but not worth mentioning.
This cd is a great cd for both noivice and expert Sinatra fans. I still think it's his best 1960s' album. I know it's one of my favorite albums of all time. Buy it today.
on October 31, 2015
As a long time and avid Sinatra fan and collector, Strangers in the Night, especially on vinyl is a must have album. It is Frank and Nelson Riddle at the top of each others game. Considering this first came out in 1966, the music and orchestrations holds up remarkably well today. I was still in HS at the time Strangers was climbing as a top 10 song on the Rock 'n Roll charts, competing with the Beatles Paperback Writer, which of course I adored the Beatles along with other rock groups. Each time I hear this album, it takes me back to Los Angeles in the mid sixties. To me the Sinatra of 1966 was when his performing art was front and center, and his voice here, while not the Capitol sound of the 50's, is so engaging and powerful, I just love all of the tracks. There isn't a bad track, including his quirky version of Downtown...not Petula Clark, but uniquely Frank. The use by Nelson of the organ on other standards such as Summer Wind or All or Nothing At All are really "off the charts" incredible. In many ways this album reflects his best efforts in the 60's. My only regret is that Sinatra really didn't like singing Strangers in concert and seemed to do it reluctantly so if you want to hear it as it sounded almost 50 years ago, you should add this to your collection.
on August 30, 2013
Regarding the music itself... Frank Sinatra with Nelson Riddle. Brilliant. Enough said.
The remastering solves the main problem I have always had with the sound of this album, namely that Frank's vocal track sounded a little harsh and a little too distant. There is also better low and midrange detail in the orchestra as well. This is a true remix in that that the locations of instruments in the stereo mix is quite different. Perhaps most interesting is that several tracks including "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" and "Call Me" contain what appears to be complete original vocal takes, whereas the original 1966 release had used "cut ins" of some phrases from other takes to make the complete master. Not ideal from a purist standpoint but Curious and interesting stuff for collectors. Overall I do like the presentation of this album better on this Concord remaster better than the Complete Reprise "Suitcase" that I own from the 1990s. If you are a fan of this album, it is worth getting the remaster in my opinion.
Obviously this 1966 album is remembered for its title song, which signaled Frank Sinatra's return to the top of the charts as both the single and the album hit #1 on not just the Adult Contemporary Charts but also the Pop Charts. However, from a historical perspective "Strangers in the Night" is also significant because it was the last time Sinatra worked with arranger/composer Nelson Riddle. The two began working together in 1953 and the collaborations result in Riddle becoming the top arrange in Hollywood for over a decade. For Sinatra Riddle developed not only orchestrations but the carefully planned use of some first-rate jazz musicians, whose playing complimented Sinatra's voice rather than obscured it (cf. Sinatra's early recordings with Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra). From "In the Wee Small Hours" (1954) and "Songs for Young Lovers/Swing Easy!" (1955) to "Ring a Ding Ding" (1960) and "Nice 'N' Easy" (1960), this was arguably the most important collaboration of Sinatra's long and storied musical career. As such, its end needs to be appreciated as such.
Actually the title song is nothing special to me, mainly because when it was on the radio all the time it was the first song for which I made up my own lyrics ("Strangers in the shower, exchanging glances...). So that pretty much destroyed any of the song's charm for me. Even so, I would argue that it is not the best song on the album; that honor would go to the second track, "Summer Wind," which is also the track I would cite as having a quintessential Riddle arrangement (the song hit #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart but only #25 on Pop Singles). This is the sort of song, with its bold assurance from start to finish, that proves Sinatra was "the Chairman of the Board" before the label became popular. The album combines hits off of the pop charts (e.g., "Downtown," "Call Me"), with show tunes and jazz standards (e.g., "All or Nothing At All," "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World"). The result is not as thematically consistent as Sinatra's best albums from the 1950s, and there are only ten tracks, but still an above average Sinatra effort all things considered. The effort here was clearly to extend Sinatra's appeal to the wider mainstream audience of pop radio while remaining true to his roots as a singer. Sinatra is still the king of swing, but Riddle has used strings, horns, and an organ to make him sound contemporary and hip. Listen to the final track, "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," and how it proves Sinatra to be the master of his domain.
on February 1, 2010
It's 1966, The aging "Chairman of the Board" fights to stay relevant in the midst of a changing musical climate. The British Invasion as well Acid Jazz continue to shape late 60's music. Sinatra with help from Nelson Riddle tap into this climate and yet still keep Sinatra's signature stamp on his music. Hence this album avoids getting caught in the Undertow! A definite 4 star album by Sinatra who remained relevant in 1966..This Remastered Classic contains a couple nice related bonus songs. Enjoy!