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


NOTE: Sinatra's final years at Capitol saw only the slightest dip in the quality of his output - he seemd to tire of bouncing between the two extremes of swing and moody balladry - although he was undoubtedly a master of each genre, he felt increasingly bound by the strictures of "sticking with what worked" and he also knew that Capitol was making a lot of money from him, while he was bound by the miserly clauses of his original contract. Sinatra begins to step back and relax; the ballads aren't so desperate, the swingers become harder, and the Chairman of the Board is set to take his most ambitious plunge.

No One Cares
Capitol 72435 33741 2 9 [CD]
;
Released 1959; CD Release January 8, 2002


 

1. When No One Cares (Cahn/Van Heusen/VanHeusen) - 2:42
2. A Cottage for Sale (Conley/Robison) - 3:16
3. Stormy Weather (Arlen/Koehler) - 3:20
4. Where Do You Go? (Sundgaard/Sundgaard/Wilder) - 2:34
5. (I Don't Stand A) Ghost of a Chance (With... (Crosby/Washington/Young) - 3:16
6. Here's That Rainy Day (Burke/VanHeusen) - 3:34
7. I Can't Get Started (Duke/Gershwin) - 4:01
8. Why Try to Change Me Now? (Coleman/McCarthy) - 3:41
9. Just Friends (Klenner/Lewis) - 3:40
10. I'll Never Smile Again (Lowe) - 3:46
11. None But the Lonely Heart (Tchaikovsky/Westbrook) - 3:41
12. The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else) [*] (Jones/Kahn) - 3:05
13. This Was My Love [*] (Harbert) - 3:27
14. I Could Have Told You [*] (Sigman/VanHeusen/VanHeusen) - 3:18
15. You Forgot All the Words (While I Still... [*] (Jay/Wayne) - 3:20

REVIEW:  Instead of following the sublime Only The Lonely with the expected up-tempo "swing" album, Sinatra chose to continue in the same vein, only bringing back arranger Gordon Jenkins to put the melancholy varnish on the songs. Perhaps for that reason, No One Cares has never had the acclaim that the previous album has. By releasing two similar albums in a row, Sinatra was of course inviting comparisons, and "Only The Lonely" could hardly be surpassed, so "No One Cares" is seen as something less. Not so - and while it doesn't boast the Faustian weight of the former, "No One Cares" still contains an embarrassment of riches, with a tone and style that hearkens back to "Where Are You?" which so happens was also accompanied by Jenkins two years earlier.  It's a subtlely lighter album, with Jenkins' blissful strings washing everything with an unobstrusive expressiveness that takes it's cue from Riddle's work on "Lonely." Sinatra delves into the haunting "Stormy Weather" with a fierce passion that echoes the singer's desperate grasping for a reason to go on living; and he revisits the remarkable "Why Try To Change Me Now?" - which marked his final song at Columbia, reshaping it into a plaintive lament, whereas before it was laced with a bitter irony; such was Sinatra's gift of making a song fit the moment.  The CD reissue is expanded with four bonus tracks, all of which fit nicely into the mood and style of the rest of the album.  Highly recommended.


 

Nice 'N' Easy
Capitol 33745 [CD];
Released 1960; CD Release January 8, 2002


 
1. Nice 'N' Easy (Bergman/Keith/Spence) - 2:45
2. That Old Feeling (Brown/Fain) - 3:33
3. How Deep Is the Ocean? (Berlin) - 3:15
4. I've Got a Crush on You (Gershwin/Gershwin) - 2:16
5. You Go to My Head (Coots/Gillespie) - 4:28
6. Fools Rush In (Bloom/Mercer) - 3:22
7. Nevertheless (I'm in Love with You) (Kalmar/Ruby) - 3:18
8. She's Funny That Way (Moret/Whiting) - 3:55
9. Try a Little Tenderness (Campbell/Connelly/Woods) - 3:22
10. Embraceable You (Gershwin/Gershwin) - 3:24
11. Mam'selle (Gordon/Goulding) - 2:48
12. Dream (Mercer) - 2:57
13. The Nearness of You [*] (Carmichael/Washington) - 2:43
14. Someone to Watch over Me (Gershwin/Gershwin) - 2:57
15. Day In - Day Out (Bloom/Mercer) - 3:07
16. My One and Only Love (Mellin/Wood) - 3:12

REVIEW:  This album marked a sea change for Sinatra, and for his tenure at Capitol Records. By this time he had set out to create his own label, Reprise, so he could have total control over what he recorded (and also to gain a greater percentage of the profits), but he was still tied to his contract at Capitol, so what to do? Some artists might childishly begin to churn out cheap product in order to simply "fill the bill" and burn out the rest of their time, but not Sinatra. His final albums for Capitol, while technically just contractual obligations, are as fine and nearly essential as any of his early ones.  Nice 'n' Easy steps away from the heavy sentiments of his finest concept albums, and it doesn't swing as hard as earlier albums either - it just nicely bounces along in style from one track to the next, creating what arguably is the most pleasant listen in his entire catalog.  This is the return of Sinatra the crooner of Columbia fame, but now with the burnished warmth of his voice supplanting the sweet pureness of early days.  From the gentle opening track specially written for this album, to the sweetly romantic "I've Got A Crush On You," to the blue moping of "That Old Feeling" to the powerfully affecting trio of "She's Funny That Way," "Try A Little Tenderness" and "Embraceable You," Frank sounds like he's enjoying himself tremendously - this album sounds like a cathartic sigh of relief, and to the listener it feels as good as swinging in a hammock on a warm spring afternoon.


 

Come Swing With Me!
Capitol CDP 33739 [CD];
Released 1961; CD Release January 8, 2002


 
1. Day by Day (Cahn/Stordahl/Weston) - 2:39
2. Sentimental Journey (Brown/Green/Homer) - 3:26
3. Almost Like Being in Love (Lerner/Loewe) - 2:02
4. Five Minutes More (Cahn/Styne) - 2:36
5. American Beauty Rose (Altman/David/Evans) - 2:22
6. Yes, Indeed! (Oliver) - 2:35
7. On the Sunny Side of the Street (Fields/McHugh) - 2:42
8. Don't Take Your Love from Me (Nemo) - 1:59
9. That Old Black Magic (Arlen/Mercer) - 4:05
10. Lover (Hart/Rodgers) - 1:53
11. Paper Doll (Black) - 2:08
12. I've Heard That Song Before (Cahn/Styne) - 2:33
13. I Love You [*] (Archer/Thompson) - 2:28
14. Why Should I Cry over You? [*] (Conn/Miller) - 2:42
15. How Could You Do a Thing Like That to Me [*] (Glenn/Roberts) - 2:44
16. River, Stay 'Way from My Door [*] (Dixon/Woods) - 2:38
17. I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues [*] (Arlen/Koehler) - 2:59

REVIEW:  Come Swing With Me! - Sinatra's return to hard swing music after three albums of balladry and light swing is a raucous affair, with Sinatra and Billy May revisiting songs that he had recorded previously, and making those songs sound just as fresh and vital as ever.  The first album to truly take advantage of the full stereo effect, the sound bounces all over the place, with remarkable fidelity and to overall great effect.  Sinatra's choice of tracks may be a little questionable here, with "Yes, Indeed," and "American Beauty Rose" not the front-running contenders for the Songwriter's Hall Of Fame, but Sinatra is such a master of his art that he makes them sound stronger than they are.  The rest of the album has lots of high points, with Rodgers & Hart's "Lover," Arlen & Mercer's "That Old Black Magic," and Lerner & Loewe's "Almost Like Being In Love" among my favorite tracks.  And the bonus tracks included are nothing to sneeze at either: with the interestingly angular "How Could You Do That To Me" proving that Sinatra has a true affinity for jazz stylings, and "River, Stay 'Way From My Door" giving Frank the opportunity to show off his formidable vocal chops on the high notes.  By this time, Sinatra had already begun recording and releasing albums on his own Reprise label, but the energy and perfection that he shows on this and the following discs reveal that he never let his audience down, and this album stands proudly with the rest of his Capitol recordings.


 

Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!! (And More)
Capitol 94753 [CD]
;
Released 1961; CD Release May 26, 1998


 
1. When You're Smiling (The Whole World... (Fisher/Goodwin/Shay) - 2:00
2. Blue Moon (Hart/Rodgers) - 2:51
3. S'posin' (Denniker/Razaf) - 1:48
4. It All Depends on You (Brown/DeSylva/Henderson) - 2:02
5. It's Only a Paper Moon (Arlen/Harburg/Rose) - 2:19
6. My Blue Heaven (Donaldson/Whiting) - 2:03
7. Should I? (Brown/Freed) - 1:30
8. September in the Rain (Dubin/Warren) - 2:58
9. Always (Berlin) - 2:17
10. I Can't Believe That You're in Love With... (Gaskill/McHugh) - 2:25
11. I Concentrate on You (Porter) - 2:23
12. You Do Something to Me (Porter) - 1:33
13. Sentimental Baby (Bergman/Keith/Spence) - 2:36
14. Hidden Persuasion (Churchill) - 2:25
15. Ol' Mac Donald (Bergman/Keith/Spence) - 2:41

REVIEW:  There has long been a rumor associated with the recording of Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!! - supposedly, when Frank came to the sessions, he was impatient to have the session over and done with - this being just another 'contractual album' for Capitol - and so he demanded that all of the tempos be increased, and Riddle obliged.  Whether this is true or not, this is an exciting, energizing album, with only one break from the breakneck pace on the lovely "September In The Rain."   This is also one of the briefest albums in Sinatra's repetoire, clocking in at just over 30 minutes, but that's not a bad thing, since this album is charged from beginning to end with powerful singing, great songs (eight of them Sinatra had sung previously with George Siravo on the Columbia album "Sing And Dance With Frank Sinatra") and enough vocal power to exhaust a marathon runner.  In fact, that's just what "Swingin' Session" feels like: a hundred-yard dash.  Maybe Sinatra was rushing things a bit, but it feels like a burst of energy, rather than a rushed excuse to get things over with.  The arrangements are some of the hardest swinging charts Riddle ever devised, and the orchestra seems bent on keeping up with the remarkable carefree swagger that Sinatra brought to the scene.  Naw, it won't have you pondering the mysteries of the universe after you've listened to it, but you will feel like getting out and having a run.


 

Point Of No Return
Capitol 33740 [CD];
Released 1961; CD Release January 8, 2002


 
1. When the World Was Young (Mercer/Philippe-Gerard/Vannier) - 3:48
2. I'll Remember April (DePaul/Johnston/Raye) - 2:50
3. September Song (Anderson/Weill) - 4:21
4. A Million Dreams Ago (Howard/Jurgens/Quadling) - 2:41
5. I'll See You Again (Coward) - 2:44
6. There Will Never Be Another You (Gordon/Warren) - 3:09
7. Somewhere Along the Way (Adams/Gallop) - 3:01
8. It's a Blue World (Forrest/Wright) - 2:49
9. These Foolish Things (Link/Marvell/Strachey) - 3:59
10. As Time Goes By (Hupfield) - 3:17
11. I'll Be Seeing You (Fain/Kahal) - 2:47
12. Memories of You (Blake/Razaf) - 3:53
13. Day In - Day Out (Bloom/Mercer) - 3:19
14. Don't Make a Beggar of Me (Sherman) - 3:05
15. Lean Baby (Alfred/May) - 2:35
16. I'm Walking Behind You (Reid) - 2:57

REVIEW:  Sinatra said goodbye to Capitol Records not with a whimper, but with a sigh.  For his final project, Alex Stordahl, his friend from his days back with Tommy Dorsey and all through his Columbia years was brought in to arrange and conduct Point Of No Return. Although the session was assemble in haste, resulting in some of the charts being penned by Heinie Beau, it's a lovely, touching album, easily on par with "In The Wee Small Hours" and "Close To You" in its wrenching, poignant essays of loss and regret.  If the title was meant to be a parting slap at Capitol, it also serves as the theme for the songs here, all of which hearken back to the memories of lost love.  Stordahl's strings never sounded richer, or more sweetly melancholy, and Sinatra sings with surprising fragility for what was, for all purposes, an album that was made for strictly business reasons.  Some of the songs seem to point to one of Sinatra's landmark albums of the future: "September Of My Years" - for here he muses on "When The World Was Young," "As Time Goes By," "A Million Dreams Ago," all of which speak of time passing.  There is also a decidedly autumn-like chill to the procedings, with "I'll Remember April" and "September Song" all pointing to a time when the singer was younger, and more naive - themes that Sinatra would mine more deeply in a few more years.  The CD reissue adds two bonus tracks from when Stordahl was tried out at the beginning of Sinatra's Capitol contract, the jarring "Lean Baby," and it's flip side "I'm Walking Behind You" - which unfortunately don't blend with what has come before on an otherwise serene and somber farewell.


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