The Very Best of Frank Sinatra
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By 1963 (his very best year?) The Voice had mellowed to a rich baritone; the tone deepening from something like a 'violin sound' in his early Columbia years, to the 'viola' of his middle-period, Capitol years; finally 'expanding' in timbre to emerge as "a fine cello" (as his favorite arranger put it) for the first Reprise albums represented here.
Disc 2, for instance, features Sinatra's finest recording of an early signature tune, "All or Nothing at All." This version, recorded November 22, 1961, arranged/conducted by Don Costa, is more beautiful even than the (later) Nelson Riddle arrangement of May 16, 1966. Oddly enough, that Riddle-arranged take was selected in place of this Costa version for the larger, 4-CD Reprise Collection. But I believe most serious musicians would agree the aural feast concocted by Costa is lovelier.Read more ›
But this album succeeds in presenting Frank at his finest. His voice is still nearly as strong as in his 1950s peak. And he sings with great conviction, styling, power and emotion, and perhaps greater maturity than in his Capitol years. This is a man at the height of his strength.
Sinatra, as chairman of Reprise, had the creative freedom he didn't always have at Capitol. Most of these songs are arranged and the bands led by the same leaders Sinatra had made history with, including Nelson Riddle and Billy May. I believe he wanted to seal his place in history with these recordings. They feature fabulous, creative arrangements, with no expense spared on the orchestra, rather than the humdrum backups he sometimes got with Capitol. "Witchcraft" and "I've Got You Under My Skin" are both more powerful here than on the Capitol album. They are perfect. Sinatra's singing is devoid of kidding around here and has very little ad libbing. His phrasing is perfect but he is not yet using it to compensate for a failing voice. This is a man taking himself seriously as an artist and wanting these recordings to capture that.
I disagree that there are huge gaps on this album. Sinatra's 50 year career is too big to capture on any conventionally sized set, and bigger sets are unmanageable and invariably contain chaff. This one has as many, if not more, of the big hits than any other selection. It captures every phase of his career from crooning, to the 50s songs, be they swinging or sad, to movie and show tunes, to 60s hits.Read more ›
Dad has headed back home now, but I find myself listening to Frank still. Sinatra did something that nothing else has done - bridged a generation gap. I have encouraged friends to listen to his stuff too and they have the same reaction: while Dido or Madonna get old after a couple of listenings, Sinatra can stay in your CD player a run through a hundred times without sounding tired. That's just amazing.
Next time, Dad wants me to get an Al Jolson CD for us to listen to, but I think there are limits.
Even though many of the selections on this 2-disk set are remakes of the earlier Capitol recordings, there is enough new stuff to make "The Very Best" worth the extra investment.
"A Foggy Day", "The Way You Look Tonight", "The Summer Wind", "That's Life", "It Was a Very Good Year", "Wave", "Luck Be a Lady" and "New York, New York" are unique to this collection (as well as the execrable "Strangers in the Night"). And I prefer the Reprise rendition of "Night and Day", which Sinatra sings as a slow torch song. On the Capitol recording, it's done as a rerun of "I've Got You under My Skin." The more upbeat reading of "Witchcraft" also suits my tastes better than the earlier version. On the other hand, the introduction-only "Stardust" stikes me as strange.
On the whole, I prefer the Capitol recordings, even though the sound quality is somewhat lacking. And of course, there are simply more songs on the 3-disk Capitol collection.
Still, I'd strongly recommend this compendium to old Sinatra fans and those less familiar with his work. Flaws and all, it's classic Sinatra!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this for a present and it was very well received, indeed.Published 1 month ago by E. Fankhauser
I just want to say I did not get it here. If you are a Sinatra fan, this is it. You will learn to love him if you are not one yet! Buy it!Published 2 months ago by Richard Christensen
Great CD for Sinatra fans and especially if you like the song, "I Did It My Way"....Published 4 months ago by Sean Patrick
GREAT FRANK CD'S LOVE THE SONG SELECTION. GOOD SELLER. BUT OVER PRICEDPublished 4 months ago by Katy
Out of print collection of some of Frank's best work. It's amazing how these songs still sound fresh after so many years. Read morePublished 10 months ago by The H
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