Frank Sinatra: Four Classic Albums Plus

Double CD includes the magical Songs For Young Lovers set, even if LP purists may balk at the insertion of singles in the hallowed programme

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Reissuing vinyl albums in CD format is both a blessing and a curse – especially in the case of Mr. Sinatra. It’s one thing to keep alive the legacy of a brilliant entertainer and potentially introduce him to younger listeners but, alas, those responsible are unable to resist throwing in the odd single, thus destroying the mood created by the album. If these “bonus” tracks are located after the album the listener savour the album as he heard it on vinyl, but in this case the singles have been interspersed with the album tracks. Even if you’re a recent convert to Sinatra and unfamiliar with the vinyl album if you have anything on the sides of your head you’ll know after four bars that It Worries Me is a single whilst My Funny Valentine is an album track, this despite both titles sharing the same arranger and many of the same personnel – West Coast session musicians. [Maybe the shared personnel is the reason they’re interspersed – Ed.]

In some ways the original Songs For Young Lovers – eight titles on a 10” vinyl album, released in 1954 – is my favourite Sinatra album. I heard it first piecemeal via AFN where Sergeant Don Cosgrove and Private Nick Clooney alternated in spoon-feeding listeners nightly nectar siphoned through the pipes of Sinatra, Eckstine, Cole, Fitzgerald, Vaughan etc. Having acquired the album, I basked in its blend of ballads and bouncers and, in retrospect, came to think of it as Sinatra-lite, with I Get A Kick Out of You a semitone less intense than I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Little Girl Blue a touch less pastel than Mood Indigo.

The charts, all eight credited to Nelson Riddle when in fact seven of them were the work of George Siravo, are definitely out of the right bottle whilst the pared-down personnel create a perfect “chamber” feel, hardly surprising as the likes of Skeets Herfurt and Alvin Stoller are supplemented by an uncredited Hollywood string quartet (most people think that the quartet appeared only on the Close To You album, on which they got equal billing with Nelson Riddle, but Sinatra was great friends with Felix and Eleanor Slatkin and prevailed on them to play on the album). If we can get past the intrusions – Someone To Watch Over Me, My One And Only Love, It Worries Me, I Can Read Between The Lines – this is a magical album almost worth the other three put together.

Although it was the first Sinatra album released by Capitol, it is, in fact, the second album here with first spot going to another original 10” entry, Swing Easy, which suffers the same fate as Young Lovers, having four singles merged with the original eight tracks. The third album is Songs For Swingin’ Lovers, never out of print since its initial release in 1956 and rated by many as Sinatra’s greatest “swing” album ever. Riddle’s chart on Cole Porter’s I’ve Got You Under My Skin became instantly – and rightly – a Sinatra “signature” song though all 15 titles are gems (16 tracks were recorded, but inexplicably, Memories Of You was omitted from the original release. I would have thought that this was a perfect chance to reinstate it but it remains a missed opportunity).

The fourth album, Come Dance With Me, arranged and conducted by Billy May, was reviewed by me in April 2022, whilst the “plus” takes the form of an EP, Young At Heart, another four singles, the title song plus I’ve Got The World On A String, From Here To Eternity and South Of The Border.

In the interests of accuracy, I should say that only the first two albums have the “bonus” tracks intruding on the album tracks and these eight represent the entire “bonus” content. In sum: outstanding material from a supreme artist.

Discography
CD1: [Swing Easy] Jeepers Creepers; Taking A Chance On Love; Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams; Lean Baby; I Love You; I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter; Get Happy; All Of Me; How Could You Do A Thing Like That To Me; Why Should I Cry Over You; Sunday; Just One Of Those Things; [Songs For Young Lovers] The Girl Next Door; They Can’t Take That Away From Me; Violets For Your Furs; Someone To Watch Over Me; My One And Only Love; Little Girl Blue; Like Someone In Love; A Foggy Day; It Worries Me; I Can Read Between The Lines; I Get A Kick Out Of You; My Funny Valentine; Young At Heart; I’ve Got The Word On A String; From Here To Eternity; South Of The Border (74.37)
CD2: [Songs For Swingin’ Lovers] You Make Me Feel So Young; It Happened In Monterey; You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me; You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me; Too Marvellous For Words; Old Devil Moon; Pennies From Heaven; Love Is Here To Stay; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; I Thought About You; We’ll Be Together Again; We’ll Be Together Again; Makin’ Whoopee; Swingin’ Down The Lane; Anything Goes; How About You; [Come Dance With Me] Come Dance With Me; Something’s Gotta Give; Just In Time; Dancing In The Dark; Too Close For Comfort; I Could Have Danced All Night; Saturday Night; Day In – Day Out; Cheek To Cheek; Baubles, Bangles And Beads; The Song Is You; The Last Dance (76.03)

Sinatra (v) with Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra and Billy May and His Orchestra. Hollywood, 1953-58.
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