Millions of words have been written about Frank Sinatra. He made his first appearance with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in January of 1940 and for the next half century plus he remained one of the superstars of American music.
I must admit that during my teenage years I thought of him mainly as the father of Nancy Sinatra, but as time passed and I aged a bit I came to appreciate his talent and ability to interpret songs. Many of his vinyl releases now adorn my record collection.
Strangers In The Night was released in 1966 during a very productive period of his career. It and the single of the same name would both top The American pop charts in the middle of the Beatles era. Yesterday …and Today would replace the album at number one and “Paperback Writer” the single.
This classic pop album has now returned as a Deluxe Edition complete with bonus tracks. It has been digitally remastered so the sound is crystal clear. Liner notes give a complete history of the albums development and the original notes by Stan Cornyn are also included.
The title song was a hurried affair. Jack Jones and Bobby Darin were preparing their own versions so producer Jimmy Bowen recorded it in a day and had it in the hands of radio stations the next. It would become one of the definitive performances of his career and a rare pop/easy listening hit during the mid-sixties.
Sinatra quickly went back into the studio to record an album to support the hit single. The song selection was not aimed at the teenage rock audience of the day. Instead Sinatra stayed true to his roots and chose songs which fit his style. It proved to be a wise decision as the album became one of the most commercially successful of his career and would win Grammy Awards for Record Of The Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
The album is filled with standards which fit his musical comfort zone and his genius of interpretation. “My Baby Cares For Me” (1928), “You’re Driving Me Crazy” (1930), “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” (1925), and “The Most Beautiful Girl In The Word” (1935) were all given the Sinatra treatment and remain an excellent listen today.
Other than the title song my favorite track is “Summer Wind” which was a German tune with English lyrics by Johnny Mercer. It would top the Easy Liestening charts in The United States. The only real miss is his rendition of “Downtown.” Petula Clark’s hit version just cannot be beat.
The bonus tracks include live versions of “Strangers In The Night” and “All Or Nothing” which were recorded in Japan on April 18, 1985 and were previously unreleased. An alternate version of “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” from 1966 completes the album.
Strangers In The Night found Sinatra at the top of his form back in 1966. It’s return 44 years later should delight both his old and new fans.