NOTE: Capitol Records is not only the repository for what are considered Frank's greatest studio recordings, they also hold the title as the label that released Frank's final studio recordings in the dubious Duets packages.  These discs, although of historic interest, also show that the almighty dollar is more important than the man in some instances, and that the buying public has a continuing fascination with Frank Sinatra as an icon of the 20th Century.

Capitol 89611 [CD];
Released November 2, 1993

1. The Lady Is a Tramp  performed by Sinatra / Luther Vandross - 3:24
2. What Now, My Love?  performed by Sinatra / Aretha Franklin - 3:15
3. I've Got a Crush on You  performed by Sinatra / Barbra Streisand - 3:23
4. Summer Wind  performed by Sinatra / Julio Iglesias - 2:32
5. Come Rain or Come Shine  performed by Sinatra / Gloria Estefan - 4:04
6. Theme from New York, New York  performed by Sinatra / Tony Bennett - 3:30
7. They Can't Take That Away from Me  performed by Sinatra / Natalie Cole - 3:11
8. You Make Me Feel So Young  performed by Sinatra / Charles Aznavour - 3:05
9. Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry/In the  performed by Sinatra / Carly Simon - 3:57
10. I've Got the World on a String  performed by Sinatra / Liza Minnelli - 2:18
11. Witchcraft  performed by Sinatra / Anita Baker - 3:22
12. I've Got You Under My Skin  performed by Sinatra / Bono - 3:32
13. All the Way/One for My Baby (And One More...  performed by Sinatra / Kenny G. - 6:03

REVIEW:  The shockwave that went through the public when it heard that Frank Sinatra was going to release a new studio album in the early 1990's was tremendous.  Sinatra, then in his eighties, hadn't released an album of new material since 1984, and everyone (myself included) wondered what he would sound like.  Goosed by the immense media scrutiny accorded to the project, as well as the stars that were being paired with the Grand Master, Duets was a commercial smash, hitting number one in the charts and making Sinatra front page news all over the world.  But upon listening to the album, I can only marvel at the callousness of the end product.  Producer Phil Ramone pre-recorded the orchestra, brought in Sinatra to sing along (which he had never done, always preferring to sing live in the studio) when he was well enough to do so, and then later paired other artists to come in seperately and record their tracks over the ones that Frank had already finished.  Frank's singing varies from track to track, from a full-throatedness on some, while other tracks sound as if he's desperately ill; the artists brought in, from Barbra Streisand (who insinuates her voice into every phrase sung, whether it's her line or not) to the whining falsetto of a misplaced Bono, all sound out of their league singing along to the click track.  Nothing connects between the singers and the songs, and the orchestra has the same mindless thrust to it that never allows Frank to explore a song the way that only he can do.  Tony Bennett comes off well, with a classy give and take, and Anita Baker, Kenny G, Julio Iglesias give it their best, which is always polished; but Gloria Estefan, Luther Vandross, Carly Simon, and Aretha Franklin all sound as if they belong on a different album.  Duets is a cold, corporate product, and yet folks snapped it up like it was manna from heaven.


Duets II
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007RIYX6/themonkees-20 Capitol 28103 [CD];
Released November 15, 1994

1. For Once in My Life  performed by Sinatra / Gladys Knight / Stevie Wonder - 3:18
2. Come Fly With Me  performed by Sinatra / Luis Miguel - 3:08
3. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered  performed by Sinatra / Patti Labelle - 3:31
4. The Best Is Yet to Come  performed by Sinatra / Jon Secada - 3:12
5. Moonlight in Vermont  performed by Sinatra / Linda Ronstadt - 4:07
6. Fly Me to the Moon  performed by Sinatra / Jobim, Antonio Carlos - 3:06
7. Luck Be a Lady  performed by Sinatra / Chrissie Hynde - 5:17
8. A Foggy Day  performed by Sinatra / Willie Nelson - 2:24
9. Where or When  performed by Sinatra / Steve Lawrence / Eydie Gorme - 3:53
10. Embraceable You  performed by Sinatra / Lena Horne - 3:45
11. Mack the Knife  performed by Sinatra / Jimmy Buffett - 4:26
12. How Do You Keep the Music Playing?/My...  performed by Sinatra / Lorrie Morgan - 3:58
13. My Kind of Town  performed by Sinatra, Frank Family / Sinatra, Frank Family - 2:36
14. The House I Live In  performed by Sinatra / Neil Diamond - 4:14

REVIEW:  Less of the same, with an obviously weary Sinatra occasionally rising to the occasion, such as it is, with the orchestra serving as nothing more than a karioke machine, and the duetting partners showing an even dimmer wattage this go around.  From the "where are they now" classification of Luis Miguel and Jon Secada, to the "what-were-they-thinking?" talents of Chrissie Hynde and Jimmy Buffett, Duets II feels like cold leftovers of what was an unappetizing meal to begin with.  Antonio Carlos Jobim makes a welcome appearance on the slowed-down "Fly Me To The Moon," and Lena Horne sings a sympatico "Embraceable You," - but other performances sound patronizing, as on the soul-less arrangment of "For Once In My Life" with an otherwise stellar Gladys Knight, or the ridiculous, overwrought bellowing of Neil Diamond on "The House I Live In."  What's most annoying about the entire project is the need for almost every artist to address Frank by name when their singing, as if he's there in the room with them;  it's a lie, and the consumer is the victim.  I know that it's a curiousity to hear Frank singing these songs one last time, but it's a morbid curiousity, like watching a car wreck, and to have this be the end of Sinatra's studio recordings is a monumental mistake, especially for those tuned-out folks who made this and the previous recordings their first Sinatra purchases.


Sinatra 80th: Live In Concert
Capitol 31723 [CD];
Released November 14, 1995

1. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
2. What Now My Love
3. My Heart Stood Still
4. What's New
5. For Once In My Life
6. If
7. In The Still Of The Night
8. Soliloquy
9. Maybe This Time
10. Where Or When
11. You Will Be My Music
12. Strangers In The Night
13. Angel Eyes
14. New York, New York
15. My Way

REVIEW:  Released the same year as Capitol's All The Best double CD, Sinatra's 80th: Live In Concert compilation of live performance (some taken from as far back as 1974) is a fine live document of Sinatra in his later years, still punching it out - still swinging, a consumate performer. Pundits may point out that his voice is far from at it's peak, but for fans he still sounds swell, full of vigor, fun, and with a gracious appreciation for his audience that shines through on every cut. He mixes older and more recent material, with a swinging "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" leading things off, followed by a whisky-tinged vocal on "What Now My Love" (actually, his voice is pretty gruff thoughout the set, especially on "For Once In My Life," but it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the disc.)  He tackles everything from "If" to the still amazing rendering of Carousel's "Soliloquy."  This is a fine portrait of Sinatra the live performer, with his remarkable phrasing as powerful as ever, and his ear for picking songs still unmatched.  And how could anyone deny the undeniable one-two punch of "New York, New York" and "My Way" which closes out the set?  Listeners will undoubtedly notice changes in vocal quality and the sound of the orchestra from track to track due to the different venues these songs were taken from, but overall this is a fine snapshot of Frank in his later years, much better than some of his Reprise studio albums.


Classic Duets
Capitol 42771 [CD];
Released November 5, 2002

1. Together - Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Dean Martin
2. I'll Never Smile Again - Sinatra and the Hi-Lo's
3. Can't We Be Friends - Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald
4. Medley: You Make Me Feel So Young/Them There Eyes/A Foggy Day/I've Got You Under My Skin/Taking a Chance on Love/They Can't Take That Away From Me/All Of Me/Daddy/I Can't Give You Anything But Love/You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby - Sinatra and Dinah Shore
5. Nice Work If You Can Get It - Sinatra and Peggy Lee
6. Side By Side - Frank & Nancy Sinatra and Tri-Tones
7. Something's Gotta Give - Sinatra and the McGuire Sisters
8. High Hopes - Sinatra and kids
9. If I Loved You - Sinatra and Shirley Jones
10. Birth of the Blues - Sinatra and Louis Armstrong
11. Medley: Sunday, Monday Or Always/On A Slow Boat To China/Saturday Night Is The Loneliest Night of the Week/Memories Are Made of This/The Girl That I Marry/Innamorata/I've Got a Crush on You/Oh, Marie/Don't Cry, Joe - Sinatra and Dean Martin
12. Me and My Shadow - Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.
13. September Song - Sinatra and Bing Crosby
14. You're The Top - Sinatra and Ethel Merman
15. I Can't Believe You're In Love With Me - Sinatra and Louis Prima/Keely Smith
16. Harold Arlen Medley: As Long As I Live/Paper Moon/One For My Baby/Accentuate the Positive/Stormy Weather/Get Happy/Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea - Sinatra and Lena Horne
17. You Make Me Feel So Young (Old) - Frank and Nancy Sinatra
18. Witchcraft/Love Me Tender - Sinatra and Elvis Presley
19. Our Love Is Here to Stay - Sinatra and Peggy Lee
20. Moonlight in Vermont/I May Be Wrong - Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald
21. Put Your Dreams Away - Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald

REVIEW:  Despite it's packaging and title, Classic Duets isn't a companion to the Duets CD's of the early 90's; instead it's an interesting, if flawed CD that takes recorded performances from Frank Sinatra's television variety show from the 1960's which used the well-worn device of having guest artists on each week, which Frank would then join in the obligatory duet.  Since these songs were recorded out of necessity rather than a more sympathetic recording arrangement, there's only a few numbers on which any sparks really fly, such as the oft-mentioned Sinatra/Peggy Lee pairing on "Our Love Is Here To Stay," or the fine repartee which Frank shares with Dinah Shore on a medley of songs (they've had a remarkable vocal chemistry ever since their tenure at Columbia.) Other duets here will make collector's drool at the possibilities, such as Frank's once-in-a-lifetime pairing with Ella Fitzgerald on three tracks, or the wrong-headedness of bringing on Elvis Presley for a cross-pollination of rock and swing with Sinatra and Elvis singing each other's hit songs.  Other tracks sound like they should work brilliantly on paper, such as Sinatra with Lena Horne, or the Rat Pack together on stage, but the intrusive side-jokes and audience laughter and applause are everpresent. Due to the television format, or some other problem, most of the duets here sound flat and perfunctory - just going through the paces to fill up the time.  Even the over-the-top bombast of Ethel Merman, recreating their radio-days performance of "You're The Top" doesn't make for essential listening.  The other major sticking point of this set is the sound quality, which, being transferred from less-than high-fidelity tape sources, leaves a lot to be desired. So while an interesting disc, it's not a top choice.

Frank Sinatra: Live From Las Vegas
Capitol 72435-60145-2-7 [CD];
Released April 26, 2005

1. Intro & Announcement/A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening (instrumental)
2. I've Got The World On A String
3. What Now My Love
4. I Get A Kick Out Of You
5. My Heart Stood Still
6. Luck Be A Lady
7. I've Got A Crush On You
8. Mack The Knife
9. Monologue
10. The Girls I've Never Kissed
11. For Once In My Life
12. Someone To Watch Over Me
13. Maybe This Time
14. I've Got You Under My Skin
15. One To A Customer
16. I Have Dreamed
17. My Way
18. New York, New York
19. Bows/You Are There (instrumental)

  Released with a slew of others celebrating Sin City's Centennial Celebration, Live From Las Vegas finds Frank in full King of the Strip mode, with a thick, brass-heavy orchestra backing him on these December, 1986 shows which this CD is drawn from. Frank comes out to a huge fanfare and launches into his signature song "I've Got The World On A String" before sliding into "What Now My Love" - this is Frank in fine form, even considering that he's in his seventies. He's full of vigor and panache, the master showman; and still having a great amount of fun with this performance. He laughs delightedly after the line "mere alchohol doesn't thrill me at all" and quips, "What a lie!" during "I Get A Kick Out Of You." Lush strings join him for "My Heart Stood Still," and he expertly navigates the lyrical changes in the song, still acting each line. He's electric on "Luck Be A Lady" with attitude to spare, and sings the Gershwin's "I've Got A Crush On You" with delicate feeling. Frank Foster's arrangment of "Mack The Knife" is next, with Frank growling out the opening line and sings a wonderfully jazzy performance. The producers have also included a two-minute monologue, taken from a Christmas-time show, ribbing the bartenders about the quality of their drinks and upon discovering a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary, says that they ought to take the husband out and get him 'bombed.' Then Frank introduces 'a new song': "The Girls I Never Kissed" by Lieber & Stoller, a wintery song about an old wolf longing for pretty girls. Things get kicked up several notches with the blast of "For Once In My Life," and then brings the lights down for a plaintive "Someone To Watch Over Me." Frank sounds a little tired during "Maybe This Time", then waxes eloquent on Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin" (with Nelson Riddle's classic arrangement.) Another new song, which Frank is afraid he'll 'louse up' is "Only One To A Customer," a swaggering saloon song, which feels tailor made for Frank, and which he clearly loves. He then surprises me by covering Rodgers & Hammerstein's "I Have Dreamed" which features an elegant arrangement, and wonderful phrasing from Sinatra. He finishes the show with his two barn-busting encores, "My Way" and "New York, New York." This is a great CD, with Frank showing why he could still pack 'em in during his later years.

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