title
THE CAPITOL YEARS I (1953-1962)
I - II - III IV


NOTE: I think it's safe to say that the Capitol years are the ones that most casual listeners are familiar with: this is when Sinatra put on the hard-drinking, hard-talking bar room singer persona that carried through into his rat-pack days and beyond.  The albums are almost universally considered the strongest, most vital that he ever recorded, when he was the most focused, driven and total perfectionist in his work.  This is the finger-snapping "Chairman Of The Board" who almost overnight went from a mushball singer has-been to the one, the only Frank Sinatra.

The Complete Capitol Singles Collection
Capitol 38089 [CD];
Released September 3, 1996
 


 
1. Lean Baby (Alfred/May) - 2:33
2. I'm Walking Behind You (Reid) - 2:57
3. I've Got the World on a String (Arlen/Koehler) - 2:11
4. My One and Only Love (Mellin/Wood) - 3:12
5. Anytime, Anywhere (Adelson/Carpenter) - 2:46
6. From Here to Eternity (Karger/Wells) - 2:59
7. I Love You (Archer/Thompson) - 2:27
8. South of the Border (Carr/Kennedy) - 2:50
9. Take a Chance (Raskin/Stanford) - 2:40
10. Young at Heart (Leigh/Richards) - 2:51
11. Don't Worry 'Bout Me (Bloom/Koehler) - 3:08
12. I Could Have Told You (Sigman/VanHeusen) - 3:18
13. Rain (Falling from the Skies) (Finlay/Mellin) - 3:24
14. Three Coins in the Fountain (Cahn/Styne) - 3:05
15. The Gal That Got Away (Arlen/Gershwin) - 3:11
16. Half as Lovely (Twice as True) (Gallop/Spence) - 3:06
17. It Worries Me (Reichner/Schulz/Sigman) - 2:53
18. When I Stop Loving You (Cates/Copeland/Greene) - 2:57
19. White Christmas (Berlin) - 2:36
20. The Christmas Waltz (Cahn/Styne) - 2:59
21. Someone to Watch over Me (Gershwin/Gershwin) - 2:57
22. You, My Love (Gordon/VanHeusen) - 2:54
23. Melody of Love (Engelmann/Glazer) - 3:02
24. I'm Gonna Live Till I Die (Curtis/Hoffman/Kent) - 1:54
25. Why Should I Cry over You? (Conn/Miller) - 2:41
26. Don't Change Your Mind About Me (Adelson/Carpenter) - 2:44
27. Two Hearts, Two Kisses (Make One Love) (Stone/Williams) - 2:23
28. From the Bottom to the Top (Wilson) - 2:22
29. If I Had Three Wishes (Baum/Spence) - 2:56
30. Learnin' the Blues (Silvers) - 3:01
31. Not as a Stranger (Kaye/VanHeusen) - 2:46
32. How Could You Do a Thing Like That to Me (Glenn/Roberts) - 2:44
33. Same Old Saturday Night (Cahn/Reardon) - 2:29
34. Fairy Tale (Livingston/Stanford) - 2:59
35. Love and Marriage (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 2:38
36. Impatient Years (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 3:16
37. (Love Is) The Tender Trap (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 2:57
38. Weep They Will (Carey/Fischer) - 3:19
39. You'll Get Yours (Stanford/VanHeusen) - 2:28
40. Flowers Mean Forgiveness (Friosch/White/Wolfson) - 3:07
41. (How Little It Matters) How Little We Know (Leigh/Springer) - 2:40
42. Five Hundred Guys (Cantor/Kosloff) - 2:50
43. Wait for Me {Johnny Concho Theme} (Riddle/Stanford) - 2:51
44. You're Sensational (Porter) - 3:54
45. Well Did You Evah? (Porter) - 3:46
46. Mind If I Make Love to You? (Porter) - 2:24
47. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Porter) - 2:07
48. You Forgot All the Words (While I Still... (Jay/Wayne) - 3:20
49. Hey! Jealous Lover (Cahn/Twomey/Walker) - 2:22
50. Your Love for Me (Parker) - 2:59
51. Can I Steal a Little Love (Tuminello) - 2:32
52. So Long, My Love (Cahn/Spence) - 2:46
53. Crazy Love (Cahn/Tuminello) - 2:52
54. Something Wonderful Happens in Summer (Bushkin/DeVries) - 3:15
55. You're Cheatin' Yourself (If You're... (Hoffman/Manning) - 2:35
56. All the Way (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 2:53
57. Chicago (Fisher) - 2:13
58. Witchcraft (Coleman/Leigh) - 2:53
59. Tell Her You Love Her (Deniso/Halliday/Parker) - 3:01
60. The Christmas Waltz (Cahn/Styne) - 3:04
61. Mistletoe and Holly (Sanicola/Sinatra/Stanford) - 2:18
62. Nothing in Common (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 2:31
63. How Are Ya' Fixed for Love? (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 2:26
64. The Same Old Song and Dance (Cahn/VanHeusen/Worth) - 2:52
65. Monique (Bernstein/Cahn) - 3:16
66. Mr. Success (Greiner/Sanicola/Sinatra) - 2:42
67. Sleep Warm (Bergman/Bergman/Spence) - 2:45
68. No One Ever Tells You (Atwood/Coates) - 3:25
69. To Love and Be Loved (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 2:56
70. Time After Time (Cahn/Styne) - 3:28
71. French Foreign Legion (Schroeder/Wood) - 2:02
72. All My Tomorrows (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 3:14
73. High Hopes (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 2:43
74. They Came to Cordura (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 3:01
75. Talk to Me (Kahan/Snyder/Vallee) - 3:02
76. River, Stay 'Way from My Door (Dixon/Woods) - 2:38
77. It's Over, It's Over, It's Over (Dennis/Stanford) - 2:40
78. This Was My Love (Harbert) - 3:27
79. Nice 'N' Easy (Bergman/Keith/Spence) - 2:45
80. You'll Always Be the One I Love (Freeman/Skylar) - 2:56
81. Ol' Mac Donald (Bergman/Keith/Spence) - 2:42
82. My Blue Heaven (Donaldson/Whiting) - 2:03
83. Sentimental Baby (Bergman/Keith/Spence) - 2:37
84. Sentimental Journey (Brown/Green/Homer) - 3:24
85. American Beauty Rose (Altman/David/Evans) - 2:20
86. The Moon Was Yellow (Ahlert/Leslie) - 3:00
87. I've Heard That Song Before (Cahn/Styne) - 2:31
88. Five Minutes More (Cahn/Styne) - 2:35
89. I'll Remember April (DePaul/Johnston/Raye) - 2:49
90. I Love Paris (Porter) - 1:50
91. Hidden Persuasion (Churchill) - 2:26
92. Ya Better Stop [#/*] (Ferre/MacIntyre) - 2:35
93. Sea Song [#/*] (Fields/Schwartz) - 2:55
94. Look to Your Heart [*] (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 3:09
95. I Believe [*] (Cahn/Styne) - 2:31
96. Love Looks So Well on You [*] (Bergman/Keith/Spence) - 2:39

REVIEW:  Before Sinatra ever began to record his ground-breaking LP's - before he even began to work with Nelson Riddle, he started recording singles under the Capitol banner.  The first singles on this awesome box set are in fact with his old Columbia friend and arranger, Alex Stordahl, whom Sinatra wanted to bring along with him to Capitol, but there were contractual conflicts, and the producers at Capitol really wanted to pair him and Riddle together, so they made a deal: cut a couple of sides with Stordahl and release them - if they got any chart action, Sinatra could get his way.  But if the singles tanked, why not give Nelson Riddle a try?  Well, one listen to the fantastic arrangement on "I've Got The World On A String" and you'll see why Riddle won out.  The sound is immediately one that I associate with Sinatra, brash and confident, whereas the Stordahl tracks ["Lean Baby" and "Walking Behind You"] sound positively weary in comparison, and as history shows, they failed to make a ripple when they were released.

Sinatra's singles are almost completely different than his album sides; where his albums were now being assembled as suites of songs to fit a theme and mood, the singles were always meant to be hits - punchy, ear-catching, experimental sides where Sinatra played with his sound, and even occasionally made a huge mistake (more on that later).  But here they all are: 96 tracks, all arranged in sequential order, both the A's & B-sides, with a thick, copiously notated booklet filled with pictures - this is a box set that simply refuses to be bettered.  The singles are just as essential as the albums too, they sparkle and whir with all the inimitable wit and polish that Sinatra could bring to bear; here's where you'll find the classic "Three Coins In The Fountain," "Young At Heart," "Chicago," and "Witchcraft;" also the soundtrack singles from films that Sinatra was in: "From Here To Eternity," "Love and Marriage," "(Love Is) The Tender Trap," "Mind If I Make Love To You?" and more.  Along with these classic tracks are a few surprises, such as when Sinatra tries his hand at (gulp!) rock 'n' roll!  Yes, here's where you'll find the infamous "Two Hearts, Two Kisses (Make One Love)" and "From The Bottom To The Top" where Frankie dips his toe into R&B, and just as quickly leaves it alone. But most of the tracks are pure Sinatra, punchy and loose, and alternately smooth and seductive. Absolutely essential stuff.


Concepts
Blue Note C2-99956; Capitol 23004
Released September 26, 2000


 

  • A sixteen CD set containing 17 original albums that Frank Sinatra released during his years at Capitol (1953- 1962).
  • This set includes one instrumental-only album (Tone Poems of Color).
  • Sixteen vocal albums as they originally appeared (2 being included on one CD).
  • Bonus tracks included on every CD (except Tone Poems).
  • Cloth-bound book with session notes, essays, and photos.

REVIEW:  There are two way to collect every single one of Sinatra's Capitol Years albums (and yes, you will need every single one) - one is to take out a second mortgage on your home and purchase this 17-disc box, taking a year or two off work to soak yourself in each note; or you may slowly inch your way one by one through the albums the way I did.  I always find it's easier to take little bites when it comes to my wallet.  But if you've saved up your pennies and dimes, or are independently wealthy, then this handsome box is for you.  Although be warned - there are sonic differences between what you'll find here and what's on the remastered individual discs.  Bob Norberg apparently went back and tried to tweak the sound so that it matched the masters a little closer than what was on the 20-bit remastered single discs, some discreet noise reduction was applied, which helps the overall hiss, and brings out the soft colors of the ballads - making the more intimate and close than ever, but dampens some of the brassy sparkle on other discs.  But unless you're a true stereo-phile, most listeners will not notice, and overall the discs sound just fine, thank you.  It's the music you're going to want, from the deep, desperate loneliness of Only The Lonely to the brash, teeth-gnashing brilliance of Come Dance With Me.  Sinatra became who he always knew he could be during these years, and he astounded everyone with the originality of his art, the depth of his talent, and the purity of his vision on each disc.  I'm not going to review the box disc by disc since each album can currently be bought separately, [there are no additional bonus tracks on the box set] but just know that this is Sinatra at his best - and that means the very best indeed.  The Capitol Years begin with...



Songs For Young Lovers/Swing Easy

Capitol CDP 596089 [CD];
Released 1955; CD Release September 15, 1998


 
1.My Funny Valentine (Hart/Rodgers) - 2:31
2.The Girl Next Door (Blane/Martin) - 2:38
3.A Foggy Day (Gershwin/Gershwin) - 2:39
4.Like Someone in Love (Burke/VanHeusen) - 3:10
5.I Get a Kick Out of You (Porter) - 2:55
6.Little Girl Blue (Hart/Rodgers) - 2:54
7.They Can't Take That Away from Me (Gershwin/Gershwin) - 1:58
8.Violets for Your Furs (Adair/Dennis) - 3:05
9.Just One of Those Things (Porter) - 3:15
10.I'm Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself (Ahlert/Young) - 2:28
11.Sunday (Conn/Krueger/Miller/Styne) - 2:31
12.Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (And Dream... (Barris/Koehler/Moll) - 2:17
13.Taking a Chance on Love (Duke/Fetter/Latouche) - 2:14
14.Jeepers Creepers (Mercer/Warren) - 2:24
15.Get Happy (Arlen/Koehler) - 2:26
16.All of Me (Marks/Simons) - 2:11

REVIEW:  Sinatra got it right on the very first couple of albums.  Intrigued by the new LP design, which allowed for longer playing times and greater fidelity, Sinatra set out to create an album devoted to a theme - a whole concert as it were, with the persona of an older, wiser man commenting on young love.  He chose standards that he knew and was intimately familiar with, and took the bold move of switching from his long-time friend and arranger Alex Stordahl to try out a new fella: Nelson Riddle.  Riddle brought a whole new commentary with his arrangements that was completely elastic and sympathetic to Sinatra's sensibilities.  They immediately clicked, and Songs For Young Lovers sounded young and fresh, with Riddle, who for Young Lovers was stuck conducting George Sorvino's arrangements, still managed to infuse them with his sympathetic personality, and allowed Frank to play with each lyric, such as when he repeats the word "shining, shining, shining" in "A Foggy Day," and how he winds down "I Get A Kick Out Of You" with an improvised "ooh-ing" that departs from the melody.  This is a much looser Sinatra than any previous incarnation.  This sounds nothing like the Sinatra who just recently had to prostrate himself on "Mama Will Bark" for Columbia.  He even makes a goofy song like "Jeepers Creepers" jump and crackle with a sustained sense of fun; it has a knowing wink in the vocal that says "come play with me."  Sinatra really learns to swing here, and it points the way towards harder, brassier things to come, and more tender, also.  The two 10" LP's were combined onto one CD, and it makes for a compelling listen, with the soft musings of Songs For Young Lovers giving way to brigher declatory statements of Swing Easy.  The two aspects of the rich vein that Sinatra would continue to mine through his entire stay at Capitol.


In The Wee Small Hours
Capitol CDP 596826 [CD]
;
Released March 5, 1954; CD Release May 26, 1998


 
1. In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning (Hilliard/Mann) - 3:00
2. Mood Indigo (Bigard/Ellington/Mills) - 3:30
3. Glad to Be Unhappy (Hart/Rodgers) - 2:35
4. I Get Along Without You Very Well (Carmichael) - 3:42
5. Deep in a Dream (DeLange/VanHeusen) - 2:49
6. I See Your Face Before Me (Dietz/Schwartz) - 3:24
7. Can't We Be Friends? (James/Swift) - 2:48
8. When Your Lover Has Gone (Swan) - 3:10
9. What Is This Thing Called Love? (Porter) - 2:35
10. Last Night When We Were Young (Arlen/Harburg) - 3:17
11. I'll Be Around (Wilder) - 2:59
12. Ill Wind (Arlen/Koehler) - 3:46
13. It Never Entered My Mind (Hart/Rodgers) - 2:42
14. Dancing on the Ceiling (Hart/Rodgers) - 2:57
15. I'll Never Be the Same (Kahn/Malneck/Signorelli) - 3:05
16. This Love of Mine (Sanicola/Sinatra) - 3:33

REVIEW:  Sinatra continues with the remarkable mood-setting In The Wee Small Hours, which, as the title implies, is meant to convey the musings of a man who is kept awake during the night with only his regrets to keep him warm.  This was Sinatra's first 12" LP in America, recorded in three sessions, and it sustains its gloriously blue mood throughout, with my favorite tracks being the irony-laden "Glad To Be Unhappy," the self-delusional "I Get Along Without You Very Well," the tumbling waterfall-like arrangements of "I See Your Face Before Me;" the bleakness of "When Your Lover Has Gone," and Rodgers and Hart's "It Never Entered My Mind."  But the whole album is a lush, perfectly-realized piece of art.  Nelson Riddle's arrangements are consistantly surprising and dramatic - perfectly echoing the sentiments of the lyrics and allowing Sinatra to breathe within the construct of the song structure so that he can bend and shape the lyrics as he feels.  Recorded near Sinatra's 40th birthday, he sounds a little worn, and tired - but not in a bad way, it's all about how the songs should be sung: he sings with perfect control and vitality, but Sinatra acts the songs with the world-weariness they call for.    Pick this album up when you're feeling like you want to be alone for a while.  Then, to shake yourself out of it, put it away and pick up the next platter:


 

Songs For Swingin' Lovers!
Capitol CDP 596226 [CD];
Released October 17, 1955


 
1.You Make Me Feel So Young (Gordon/Myrow) - 2:57
2.It Happened in Monterey (Rose/Wayne) - 2:36
3.You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me (Dubin/Warren) - 2:19
4.You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me (Fain/Kahal/Norman) - 2:48
5.Too Marvelous for Words (Mercer/Whiting) - 2:29
6.Old Devil Moon (Harburg/Lane) - 3:56
7.Pennies from Heaven (Burke/Johnston) - 2:44
8.Love Is Here to Stay (Gershwin/Gershwin) - 2:42
9.I've Got You Under My Skin (Porter) - 3:43
10.I Thought About You (Mercer/VanHeusen) - 2:30
11.We'll Be Together Again (Fischer/Laine) - 4:26
12.Makin' Whoopee (Donaldson/Kahn) - 3:06
13.Swingin' Down the Lane (Jones/Kahn) - 2:54
14.Anything Goes (Porter) - 2:43
15.How About You? (Freed/Lane) - 2:45

REVIEW: Songs for Swingin' Lovers! is a fantastic album, with songs so well known, with readings so fresh and playful that even though covers of these songs number in the hundreds, it's Frank's interpretations of them that are considered the standards.  Beginning with the slow swing of "You Make Me Feel So Young" where Sinatra's really bounces, and Riddle's alternately cool and hot arrangement of "It Happened In Monterey" really propels it along while Sinatra slips in and out of the rhythm without ever missing a beat, and he sounds effervescent and charming on "You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me" while the arrangement utilizes flutes, muted trumpets and marimba to create a cool, light atmosphere.  The lazy sway of saxaphones dictates the style of "You've Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me," which continues on the boppin' "Too Marvelous For Words" where Sinatra bends the notes to create a more intimate phrase before swinging it into overdrive during the repeated ending.  Listen how he punches "HOT to handle" on "Old Devil Moon" and you'll see how he transforms a song by his interpretive gifts.  Or listen to the deft touch that Riddle's arrangements bring to "Pennies From Heaven" which, although utilizing a 30-piece orchestra, never sounds overdone or overpowering - just light and free and completely serving the singer.  Sinatra has completely reinvented himself here - with Stordahl he could sing sweetly, but he could never swing; now with Riddle he has the whole package, and it fits Sinatra as well as a tailor-made suit.


Come Fly With Me
Capitol CDP 96087 [CD]
;
Released 1957; CD Release September 8, 1998


 

1. Come Fly With Me (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 3:19
2. Around the World (Adamson/Young) - 3:20
3. Isle of Capri (Grosz/Kennedy) - 2:29
4. Moonlight in Vermont (Blackburn/Suessdorf) - 3:32
5. Autumn in New York (Duke) - 4:37
6. On the Road to Mandalay (Kipling/Speaks) - 3:28
7. Let's Get Away from It All (Adair/Dennis) - 2:11
8. April in Paris (Duke/Harburg) - 2:50
9. London by Night (Coates) - 3:30
10. Brazil (Barroso/Russell) - 2:55
11. Blue Hawaii (Rainger/Robin) - 2:44
12. It's Nice to Go Trav'ling (Cahn/VanHeusen) - 3:52
13. Chicago [*] (Fisher) - 2:14
14. South of the Border [*] (Carr/Kennedy) - 2:50
15. I Love Paris [*] (Porter) - 1:49

[*] = bonus tracks

REVIEW:  Sinatra left Riddle for a session or two to enlist Billy May to orchestrate one of Sinatra's best albums of the Capitol years, the irrepressible Come Fly With Me.  Themed as a whirlwind tour of hot spots for couples, this jet-set LP is fueled with a sense of fun that makes the listener want to do their own world tour. From the jaunty swing of the title track, to the deep blue of "London By Night;" from the kinetic buzz of "Isle Of Capri" to the exotic rhythms of "Brazil;"  from the the carefree sentiment of "Let's Get Away From It All" to the sweet simpleness of "Moonlight In Vermont," Sinatra and May set an intinerary for success that never becomes stale or overwrought.  Billy May's style is brassier than Riddle's, and carries less finesse, but May knows how to write smooth, punchy charts, and he never overpowers Sinatra, who seems eager to match Billy burst for burst and croon for croon.  So powerful was Sinatra's influence by now that this album hit number one in 1958, and it has remained as potent an album now, nearly fifty years after its initial release, as it was at the advent of rock 'n' roll.  Come Fly With Me could easily be recommended as the first purchase for those newly discovering Sinatra.


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