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The defining voice of the 20th century, Frank Sinatra enjoyed a legendary recording career that spanned six decades, beginning with his earliest session in 1939 and culminating with his last in 1993, for his world-renowned, multi-platinum Duets and Duets II albums. Ultimate Sinatra presents key recordings spanning the Chairman of the Board's recordings for Columbia, Capitol and Reprise, together for the first time. Ultimate Sinatra's single-disc CD brims with 25 stellar recordings representing a cross-section of Sinatra's unparalleled recording career. Led by 'All Or Nothing At All' and closed with a previously unreleased alternate version of 'Just In Time,' the collection is stacked with standouts, including 'I'll Never Smile Again' (1940), 'I've Got The World On A String' (1953), 'In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning' (1955), 'I've Got You Under My Skin' (1956), 'Come Fly With Me' (1957), 'The Way You Look Tonight' (1964), 'Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)' (1964), 'Strangers In The Night' (1966), 'My Way' (1968), and 'Theme From New York, New York' (1979), among many more.
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“Ultimate Sinatra” is available in several different editions, the most extensive being the four disc collection that covers 1943-1979. This is the first time material from all three of Sinatra’s labels (Columbia, Capitol, and Reprise) are included on the same collection, and it’s also the first time many of these tracks have had any significant remastering efforts, so that alone makes this a worthy purchase.
The collection is certainly not perfect; as pointed out in at least one other review, the Capitol years are especially missing some essential performances (“Lonely Town” from “Where Are You,” “Grenada” from “Swing Along with Me,” “Prisoner of Love” from “Sinatra & Strings,” and “Soliloquy” from “The Concert Sinatra” come to mind immediately), and in some cases inferior versions of song Sinatra did better later on somehow made the cut (“Night and Day” and “The Song is You” both should’ve been represented by the Reprise takes). Also, I know it’s almost written in stone that every career spanning collection should end with “New York, New York,” but Frank still made new music right up until 1988, including one album of superior quality (“She Shot Me Down”) that deserves to be represented, as well as a wealth of orphaned tracks that are hard to find nowadays (“Searching,” “The Girls I Never Kissed,” “My Foolish Heart”). Any of these would be a worthy addition, especially since the bonus track, the 1979 rehearsal outtake “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” isn’t anything to write home about (though Frank sounds quite good vocally on it.)
The remastering is fantastic; the Columbia tracks sound better than ever, and the Capitol cuts don’t have the treble turned all the way up like on the 1998 remasters (really, though, can Sinatra’s entire catalog from that period be remastered with this much care and attention?). The packaging, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired: it’s quite flimsy, and the booklet is largely just a collection of quotes.
“Ultimate Sinatra” isn’t perfect, but you can’t fault the great music on here, and the sound is more than commendable enough to make it a worthy purchase.
Also missing from the LP version is one of Frank's best loved songs "High Hopes" from his movie "A Hole In The Head". Frank also did a version of this song especially for the John F. Kennedy 1960 Presidential campaign. It would have been nice to include this in any versions of this set due to it's historical significance. You would be better off buying the CD version.
The album artwork is beautiful. On the inside when you open it up to reveal a photo of Sinatra in studio singing with his band behind him. The sound of the record has that old school feel to it that makes you feel as though you have traveled back in time when you play it.
This is a must own for any record playing enthusiasts, old and young!