Strangers In The Night By Frank Sinatra

December 29, 2018

Frank Sinatra was “the” teen idol to what was called the “Bobby Soxer” crowd during the 1940’s.

Sinatra had not had a number one song in over a decade when “Strangers In The Night” hit the tops of the charts for the week of July 2, 1966.

“Strangers In The Night” was originally an instrumental written and recorded by German orchestra leader Bert Kaempfert. English lyrics were later added.

It was said that Sinatra did not like the song but nonetheless it helped him re-establish himself as a major artist.



Learning The Blues by Frank Sinatra

November 9, 2012

No one really sneaks a song into the number one spot but Old Blue Eyes came close with “Learning The Blues.” It managed to reach the top of the charts sandwiched in between two big hits, “Rock Around The Clock” and “Yellow Rose Of Texas.”

Sinatra always had a unique and intimate style and his ability to interpret a song was on display with “Learning The Blues.” It stalled at number two on BILLBOARD’S Best Sellers In Stores Chart and Most PlayedIn Jukeboxes Chart. The good news was on July 9, 1955, it began a two week run at the top of the Most Played By Disc Jockey’s Chart.

Sinatra would re-record the song for his 1963 SINATRA-BASIE album.

Lightning’s Girl 45 by Nancy Sinatra

August 20, 2012

Frank Sinatra’s little girl was a sexy superstar during the last half of the 1960s placing 21 singles on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE pOP sINGLES cHART, 1965-1969.

Many of her songs projected a tough image to go along with her sex appeal. None more so than “Lightning’s Girl,” which is a sometimes forgotten song in her catalogue of hits. It was fairly close to a rock sound for Nancy and not as melodic as many of her hits. It reached number 24 on the BILLBOARD Singles Chart.

It remains a highlight of any of her many compilation albums.

The Concert Sinatra (Remastered and Expanded) by Frank Sinatra

February 21, 2012

The Concord Music Group and the Sinatra Family have been re-releasing the Reprise Label Frank Sinatra catalogue in recent years. The latest entry is his 1963 album, The Concert Sinatra, which now returns in a pristine, remastered form.

The title is somewhat misleading as it refers to a concept rather than an actual concert album. Arranger and conductor Nelson Riddle gathered a large orchestra in the recording studio in order to create a concert sound and experience. While his flourishes on a number of the songs were a bit much, it remains one of the strongest and most pleasurable albums of Sinatra’s career.

The original album contained only eight tracks, four of which were co-written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Two more were composed by Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Most are show tunes that formed the core of many of Sinatra’s albums during the 1960s. He was above all an interpreter of songs, and this type of material was made for him.

While the record produced no hit singles, “I Have Dreamed” was probably the most popular track at the time of its release. It was from 1951’s The King And I, and Sinatra gets the phrasing just right with a swinging performance.

Sinatra had worked as a conductor for Peggy Lee during 1957 and one of the songs they recorded together was “My Heart Stood Still.” Here, he records his own version that builds slowly as the tempo and vocals increase throughout.

“Lost In The Stars” was the title song of a 1949 Broadway musical and it was a fine example of Riddle’s arranging ability that made clear why Sinatra returned to him again and again.

Two songs from the Great American Songbook form the center of the album. “Ol’ Man River” remains the album’s most sophisticated track, as he gets the phrasing and tone perfectly. Sinatra recorded “You’ll Never Walk Alone” in 1945 and then didn’t sing the song again for 18 years. He re-interprets it here as a type of lullaby with an emotional performance.

“Bewitched” was from the early 1940s musical Pal Joey, and Sinatra gave it a breezy interpretation on this album. “This Nearly Was Mine” featured his voicing recorded within the orchestration, and “Soliloquy” was a rambling eight-minute track that remained a part of his stage act until the end of his life.

Two bonus tracks appear on the release. In late 1962, Governor Pat Brown asked Sinatra to create a new song for the state of California. He approached songwriters James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn and the result was “California.” It was recorded during the session for the album but pulled from the song line-up at the last minute. It was distributed to attendees at a state function as a limited 45 rpm single with a special cover. Now, it returns to the album for which it was recorded.

His version of “America The Beautiful” was recorded at about the same time and while it was a spectacular rendition, the second chorus with a 24-voice choir makes it a little out of place.

The Concert Sinatra remains an essential listen for any fan of the chairman of the board or popular music. It’s nice to have the album back in circulation.

Article first published as Music Review: Frank Sinatra – The Concert Sinatra [Remastered and Expanded] on Blogcritics.

In The Blue Of Evening by Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra

September 26, 2011

Tommy Dorsey, 1905-1956, managed to keep his band commercially successful longer than many of the big band leaders of the era.

The musicians strike lasted almost two years and many of the big bands recorded tracks and salted them away to be released over time. It seems Dorsey had more than many of the other artists of the day.

“In The Blue of Evening” reached the top of the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Singles Chart, August 21, 1943. It featured a vocal by Frank Sinatra.

Dorsey would chart 286 singles during the course of his career, with 17 reaching number one during the 1930s and 1940s.

The Complete Reprise Recording Sessions by Count Basie and Frank Sinatra

September 23, 2011

The Concord Music Group, in conjunction with Frank SinatraEnterprises, has been reissuing the Frank Sinatra Reprise label catalogue. Their latest release gives you two albums for the price of one. Both of his albums with Count Basie, 1962’s Sinatra – Basie: An Historic Musical First and 1964’s It Might As Well Be Swing have been combined onto one CD release. Frank Sinatra & Count Basie: The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings was released September 13, 2011.

When Sinatra and Basie went into the recording studio together, they were already giants of the music industry. Basie’s career began during the mid-1920s, and by the mid-1930s he had assembled his first band. At the time of his death during 1984, Basie had become one of the respected and legendary band and orchestra leaders in American music history. Sinatra became a music idol as the lead singer with the Harry James Orchestra (1939-1940) and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (1940-1942). His solo career lasted from 1942 until near his death in 1998. He sold millions of singles and albums and was recognized as an American icon.

Count Basie and Frank Sinatra were a perfect match, as the band leader and the singer complimented each other in style, sound, and professionalism. Sinatra easily fit into the singing style of Basie’s band, as the majority of the material is presented in a relaxed and swinging tempo.

Both artists were masters of phrasing and tempos but from different viewpoints. Basie was accomplished and wise enough not to intrude on Sinatra’s vocals. His band filled in the gaps and provided the intros and escapes. Their material achieved a balance of power that was rare for two musical superstars.

Basie was one of a very few artists who matched Sinatra’s flexibility. Sinatra had a style that could not be imitated and many times interpreted songs by feel, rather than any formalized advance planning. Basie and his band were able to adapt as they went along.

The material was typical of most Sinatra albums as songs from the Great American Songbook shared the limelight with those from films and a few modern favorites. Songs such as “Pennies From Heaven,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter,” “Fly Me To The Moon,” “The Good Life,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” and others all succumbed to the unique Basie/Sinatra combination. Sinatra had recorded some of the songs previously but here they took on new dimensions and textures.

The sound is crisp and clear, which enhances the listening experience from previous reissues of this material. Bill Dahl wrote an essay of the history of the music, which is included in the accompanying booklet. An informative interview with Quincy Jones, who provided the arrangements for the It Might As Well Be Swing music, is also included.

Frank Sinatraand Count Basie will not pass this way again and so we are left with these two albums worth of music. Frank Sinatra & Count Basie: The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings is a fitting tribute to one of the better duet projects of the era.

Article first published as Music Review: Frank Sinatra and Count Basie – Frank Sinatra & Count Basie: The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings on Blogcritics.

There Are Such Things 78 by Tommy Dorsey

August 24, 2011

Bing Crosby and “White Christmas'” run at the top of the charts came to an end after 11 weeks. It was Tommy Dorsey, with a lot of vocal help from Frank Sinatra, that brought his reign to a close.

“There Are Such Times” reached the top of the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Singles Chart on Jan. 16, 1943. It was the number one song for five non-consecutive weeks.

Sinatra was near the end of his run as a big band singer and was about to embarq upon a solo career. “These Are Such Things” was a melodic tune with a smooth Sinatra vocal. Buddy Rich was the drummer.

This song would effectively end the teen idol portion of Sinatra’s career and he would go out in style.