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The Very Best of Frank Sinatra

4.7 out of 5 stars 138 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 10, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

A great, comprehensive collection of Sinatra's most popular Reprise tracks, and worth having for any number of reasons, Very Best Of features tons of familiar hits--but requires a caveat for casual Sinatra fans. When Sinatra formed Reprise, he began to re-record many of the sides he'd released on Capitol, in an attempt to transfer his catalog to the new label. It was a smooth move, but his re-recorded versions seldom replaced the originals in the way he'd hoped. And many of the familiar songs here are Capitol remakes. It'd be a task to compare the track listing here with that of the Capitol Years set, but if you want to get serious about your Sinatra, that's the way to go. If you're just a music fan, this is a gem. --Gavin McNett

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Stardust
  2. A Foggy Day
  3. Let's Fall In Love
  4. The Girl Next Door
  5. Old Devil Moon
  6. The Way You Look Tonight
  7. Fly Me To the Moon (In Other Words)
  8. Nice Work If You Can Get It
  9. I Get A Kick Out Of You
  10. Come Rain Or Shine
  11. Please Be Kind
  12. Don'cha Go 'Way Mad
  13. They Can't Take That Away From Me
  14. In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
  15. I've Got You Under My Skin
  16. Let's Face The Music And Dance
  17. Come Fly With Me
  18. My Kind Of Town
  19. Luck Be A Lady
  20. The Best Is Yet To Come

Disc: 2

  1. It Was A Very Good Year
  2. All Or Nothing At All
  3. Night And Day
  4. Nancy
  5. Young At Heart
  6. Love And Marriage
  7. All The Way
  8. Witchcraft
  9. (Love Is) The Tender Trap
  10. The Second Time Around
  11. Pocketful Of Miracles
  12. Softly, As I Leave You
  13. Strangers In The Night
  14. Summer Wind
  15. That's Life
  16. Somethin' Stupid
  17. Wave
  18. My Way
  19. Theme From New York, New York
  20. Put Your Dreams Away

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 10, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Warner Bros / Wea
  • ASIN: B000002NFI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,544 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark Blackburn on December 12, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I'm convinced this 2-CD collection really is "The Very Best" way to begin your Sinatra collection: 'Disc one' is pure gold for those who love strong melodies and great standards from the American Songbook. So I'd like to focus on the lesser of the two CDs, 'Disc 2.' Because, while it contains some weaker songs (not many, and they may be more popular tunes in terms of record sales), Disc 2 drives home the point I'd like to make: Sinatra reserved his very best work for his own Reprise label, contrary to opinions expressed by some reviewers in favor of the Capitol Years -- an opinion I shared when that was my only Sinatra collection.

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.
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Format: Audio CD
"The Very Best of Frank Sinatra" on Reprise gets panned for certain things. Other reviewers here disparage the wide variety of songs, like "Pocketful of Miracles," a children's song, or the prevalence of remakes.
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.
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Format: Audio CD
Frank Sinatra? What the hell do I care about old Blue Eyes? I'm in my 30s and prefer listening to someone who didn't pre-date TV. But, well, my dad was visiting and he didn't want to listen to Travis or Seal in the car so I did the good son thing of getting him a Frank CD. I knew some of these songs, of course. They're old and classic. Dad sang along to them. I grated my teeth and kept on driving. The CD finished and dad looked disappointed, so I played it again. And again. Somewhere during the fifth play, I had my epiphany. This guy really was incredible. There is something, some quality in his voice that I don't think you can put a finger on, but it's there. Dad said, "Okay, let's change the CD" but I said that I'd let him listen one more time.
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.
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Format: Audio CD
Although both "The Very Best of Frank Sinatra" and "The Capitol Years" qualify as greatest hits compilations, Sinatra fans would be well served to own both sets.
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!
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