title
THE COLUMBIA YEARS II (1943-1952)
I - II

NOTE: By the second half of Sinatra's tenure at Columbia, his was moving swiftly away from the teen-idol role that had vaulted him to national recognition, and seeking for a way to both hold on to his fan base and explore new musical pathways.  His tone grew darker, and his singing began to develop new shades of complexity that would be fully realized after he had left Columbia.  His record company however, worried that their golden boy was losing his touch, began to force him to record more and more unsuitable songs in an effort to boost sales.  This led to some artistic compromises, yet at the same time, sparked a desire in Sinatra to gain more control over the kind of music he wished to record.  By the end of this period, he sounds like the Sinatra who would become immortal at Capitol Records.  

The Columbia Years 1943-1952 The Complete Recordings, Vol. 7


1. But Beautiful - Sinatra Family
2. Fellow Needs a Girl [Alternate Take][#]
3. So Far [Alternate Take][#]
4. It All Came True
5. Can't You Just See Yourself?
6. You're My Girl
7. All of Me
8. I'll Make up for Everything
9. Strange Music [Alternate Take][#]
10. Laura [#]
11. Night and Day [#]
12. My Cousin Louella
13. We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye
14. S'posin'
15. Just for Now
16. None But the Lonely Heart
17. Night We Called It a Day [#]
18. Song Is You
19. What'll I Do?
20. Poinciana
21. (I Offer You the Moon) Señorita
22. Music Stopped

REVIEW:  Disc seven begins with lush, romantic songs all tinged with a touch of melancholy, a longing that gives them depth and warmth. Sinatra is singing with greater conviction than ever, the lyrics are beginning to gain greater meaning, as when he sings the word "never" on the song "So Far": punching it so that it sounds more despairing, or the ambiguity on "You're My Girl" which is shaped into something resigned, as if he knows he's going to lose the girl despite his declarations to the contrary. It rivals anything that Sinatra recorded before or after for its striking sentiment. Sinatra also continues to explore the world of smaller, more intimate ensembles - the dixieland brass that colors "It All Came True;" or the James Bond-like staccatto trumpet punctuations and tripping piano line of "All Of Me" which would fit nicely on one of his Capitol concept albums - it's a stunning arrangement and incredible reading from Frank. For fans who think that Sinatra's Columbia years were all sweetness and novelty numbers need to hear the songs here, for they equal the best of any of Sinatra's eras. Just listen to the ethereal "Laura" where Frank creates a sweeping, panoramic visual that sounds like it belongs on the movie screen. The artistry on these numbers only makes the lighter numbers that much more jarring; the jaunty arrangement of "My Cousin Louella" can't hide the fact that it pales next to everything that came before it - although the same players acquit themselves better on "S'posin'" which sounds like a smoky little bar room jam that occurs at about 1:00 A.M..  Overall a fine indication of just how much Frank had broken out of his original mould.


 

The Columbia Years 1943-1952 The Complete Recordings, Vol. 8


1. Mean to Me [Alternate Take][#]
2. Spring Is Here [Alternate Take][#]
3. Fools Rush In [Alternate Take][#]
4. When You Awake [Alternate Take][#]
5. It Never Entered My Mind [Alternate Take][#]
6. I've Got a Crush on You - Bobby Hackett
7. Body and Soul - Bobby Hackett
8. I'm Glad There Is You
9. I Went Down to Virginia
10. If I Only Had a Match
11. If I Steal a Kiss
12. Autumn in New York
13. Everybody Loves Somebody
14. Little Learnin' Is a Dangerous Thing, Pt.1
15. Little Learnin' Is a Dangerous Thing, Pt.2 - Pearl Bailey
16. Ever Homeward
17. But None Like You
18. Catana [#]
19. Why Was I Born?
20. It Came upon a Midnight Clear
21. O Little Town of Bethlehem
22. White Christmas
23. For Every Man There's a Woman

REVIEW:  Columbia really marks the beginning of Sinatra the interpreter.  He's investing more into each lyric than he ever has before, and is choosing songs that reflect that new emphasis.  The first several songs here all are laced with doubt - "Mean to Me," "Spring Is Here," and "Fools Rush In" all take the tack of the singer being in a hopless situation.  Whereas at the beginning of his Columbia tenure Frank was all hopeful sighs and expectation, now he's had his eyes opened by the disappointments of real life.  It's still romantic - these aren't the bottom-of-the-bottle musings that would appear later, but he sings with resignation, and sighs over what might have been.  This theme appears throughout the first half of this CD, creating a mini-concept album of it's own kind.  More guest artist pop up as well: Bobby Hackett plays a sympathetic trumpet on the sixth and seventh tracks, and Pearl Bailey lends her husky, no-nonsense voice to the back and forth patter of "A Little Learnin' Is A Dangerous Thing, Pt. 1 & 2," which also boasts some of the dirtiest trumpet playing ever heard on a Sinatra record.  Sinatra sounds sassy on the jazzy "I Went Down to Virginia," and world-weary on the next, "If I Had A Match."  He waxes romantic on "If I Steal A Kiss," and "Autumn In New York," then turns to the somber and church-like "Ever Homeward," which is another change of persona for this increasingly versatile singer.  An unreleased song, "Catana" appears here, which is a dark, moody composition sung in minor keys which probably didn't sound terribly commercial to the top brass at Columbia, but is a remarkable song.  The album also has three of Sinatra's annual Christmas recordings, which Sinatra sings with as much gravitas as he can muster.


 

The Columbia Years 1943-1952 The Complete Recordings, Vol. 9


1. Help Yourself to My Heart [#]         
2. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town         
3. If I Forget You         
4. Where Is the One?         
5. When Is Sometime?         
6. It Only Happens When I Dance With You         
7. Fella With an Umbrella         
8. Nature Boy
9. Sunflower         
10. Once in Love With Amy [#]         
11. Once in Love With Amy         
12. Why Can't You Behave?         
13. Bop! Goes My Heart - Phil Moore Four         
14. Comme Ci, Comme Ca         
15. No Orchids for My Lady         
16. While the Angelus Was Ringing (Les Trois Cloches)         
17. If You Stub Your Toe on the Moon         
18. Kisses and Tears [#]         
19. Some Enchanted Evening         
20. Bali Ha'i         
21. Right Girl for Me         
22. Night After Night         
23. Hucklebuck         
24. It Happens Every Spring

REVIEW:  Most Sinatra fans trace the downfall of Sinatra at Columbia to one man: Mitch Miller, and in particular to one song: "The Hucklebuck" which is found on disc eight of the box set.  But Sinatra easily could've turned the song down; he had enough clout and certainly the chutzpah to stand up to Miller if he'd wanted to - the simple fact is, is that Sinatra craved popular success as well as artistic merit, so he was willing to give anything a try, even if it didn't appeal to his more refined instincts as an artist.  The first of three previously unreleased songs is first, the nice, but unremarkable "Help Yourself To My Heart."  Following is the fourth seasonal single, a bouncy, upbeat "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town," which segues into an incredible quartet of songs of longing, "If I Forget You," "Where Is The One?" "When Is Sometime?" and "It Only Happens When I Dance With You" - all filled in with deliciously rich strings.  Then comes the atrocially-rhymed "Fella With An Umbrella" which makes me wonder how lyricists with this kind of talent ever conned their way into Columbia's offices.  "Nature Boy" is of the same mould as "Ever Homeward" on the previous disc, but "Sunflower" is a psudo-country swinger that shows that even Sinatra has limitations on how successfully he could interpret a song.  Two takes of the popular "Once In Love With Amy" are included, with the looser version making the cut as a single.  A blues-infused version of "Why Can't You Behave?" is next, and the surprising swing of "Bop! Goes My Heart" succeeds rather improbably as a fun jazz romp.  The dull see-saw song "Comme Ci, Comme Ca" is next, followed by two romantic weepers full of strings and slushy sentiment.  The awkward lyric of "If You Stub Your Toe on the Moon" is swept along by cool clarinets, and "Kisses and Tears" is a previously unreleased gem with fine jazz piano playing cushioning Sinatra's easy vocal.  Two songs from "South Pacific" pop up in fine cover versions.  "The Hucklebuck" is an embarrassing attempt to name a new dance craze, and it sounds like . . . well, it's just as bad as you might have heard, a goofy swing number with few redeeming qualities except for the unintentional humor of hearing Sinatra try to ape being a jive cat.  A blot on an otherwise great disc.



The Columbia Years 1943-1952 The Complete Recordings, Vol. 10



1. Let's Take an Old Fashioned Walk - Doris Day
2. (Just One Way to Say) I Love You
3. It All Depends on You
4. Bye Bye Baby - The Pastels
5. Don't Cry Joe (Let Her Go, Let Her Go, Let Her Go)
6. Every Man Should Marry [#]
7. If I Ever Love Again
8. We're Just a Kiss Apart
9. Every Man Should Marry
10. Wedding of Lili Marlene
11. That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day)
12. Mad About You
13. (On the Island of) Stromboli
14. Old Master Painter - The Modernaires
15. Why Remind Me
16. Sorry - The Modernaires
17. Sunshine Cake - Paula Kelly
18. (We've Got A) Sure Thing - The Modernaires
19. God's Country - Ziggy Elman
20. Sheila
21. Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy
22. Kisses and Tears - The Modernaires
23. When the Sun Goes Down - The Modernaires
24. American Beauty Rose - Will Bradley

REVIEW:  This is where it all really starts going south for Sinatra at Columbia. Strapped with crumbling sales, Mitch Miller began dictating songs for Sinatra to record, and so we get chipper versions of "Let's Have An Old-Fashioned Walk" with a chirpy Doris Day, Sinatra having to emote "I love you, I love you" like a young schoolboy on "(Just One Way To Say) I Love You," be shoehorned into the role of a swinger in a dance band and sing drivel like "The Wedding of Lili Marlene," "Chattinoogie Shoe Shine Boy" and "(On The Island Of) Stromboli." Gone is the deeper feeling of the artist, and now Sinatra is recast as a swinger, but it's flat and unconvincing. There's none of the raw, fierce joy that he'll later bring to his harder-swinging albums of the mid-to-late 50's, where he REALLY swings. This is 'lite' swing, all in an attempt to bump sales. There are still good songs: "Don't Cry Joe (Let Her Go...)" is a fine portrait of a friend trying to comfort an abandoned fella, and he even manages to sound convincing on the heavy-handed sentiment of "Every Man Should Marry."  And he manages to recapture the grand romantic sound he used to have on "We're Just A Kiss Apart" and "Why Remind Me?"  But for the most part, Sinatra has lost momentarily the passion of the music, and he sounds just like every other 'crank-'em-out' pop singer of the era, not the artist he has the potential to be, making this disc one of the weakest of the box.  And even though some fans hate it, I have to admit a certain liking for the closing track, "American Beauty Rose" with it's propulsive rhythms and authoritative vocal from Sinatra carrying it along.


 

The Columbia Years 1943-1952 The Complete Recordings, Vol. 11



1. Peach Tree Street - Rosemary Clooney
2. Should I (Reveal)
3. You Do Something to Me
4. Lover
5. When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)
6. It's Only a Paper Moon
7. My Blue Heaven
8. Continental
9. Goodnight Irene
10. Dear Little Boy of Mine
11. Life Is So Peculiar - Helen Marcovivvi Carroll
12. Accidents Will Happen
13. One Finger Melody
14. Remember Me in Your Dreams
15. If Only She'd Looked My Way
16. London by Night
17. Meet Me at the Copa [#]
18. Come Back to Sorrento (Torna a Surriento)
19. April in Paris
20. I Guess I'll Have to Dream the Rest
21. Nevertheless (I'm in Love with You) - Billy Butterfield
22. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
23. Take My Love
24. I Am Loved
25. You Don't Remind Me
26. Love Means Love
27. Cherry Pies Ought to Be You

REVIEW:  In my humble opinon, the duets that Frank did with Rosemary Clooney are the best match- up he ever had.  They even sound alike, with the same smoky burr beginning to soften both of their voices.  And the patter between them on "Peachtree Street" is natural and loose.  Pure class all the way, and Frank sounds like he's having a great time with Rosemary.  This disc shows that the Mitch Miller influence still in full force, with "Should I (Reveal)" a flimsy song with a gulping chorus, echoed in the bulfrog-like saxophone found in "You Do Something To Me."  The songs in general seem to be more frenetic, as if by simply speeding them up will make Frank appeal to the younger set.  But these songs all belonged to an acclaimed platter called "Sing and Dance With Frank Sinatra" which prefigured his swing albums with Capitol, and recalled his early dance music with Dorsey.  But Sinatra hasn't quite got the hang of swing yet - he slips behind the tempo constantly on "It's Only A Paper Moon," and the arrangements have none of the pop or sparkle that Nelson Riddle will bring to them in a few short years.  So while it's nothing to blush over, the dance tracks sound to me to be twice-removed relatives of better swings to come.  And it sounds a little strange for Frank, after suffering so miserably through "The Hucklebuck" to give the dance craze another try with the less-embarrassing, but still ineffectual "The Continental."  Far more embarrassing is the treacly take on "Goodnight Irene," a turn-of-the-century ditty that ill-suits Sinatra's talents, or the syrupy goo that comes in "Dear Little Boy Of Mine."  You can hear some of Sinatra's inimitable swagger in "Life Is So Peculiar," but it tries to be too hip for its own good. The odd construction of "One Finger Melody" makes it a curiosity, but the songs are beginning to reveal a pattern: no longer are these the songs that Sinatra could sing with passion, there is good singing here, but only mediocre songcraft - and Frank still was the best judge of the songs he should sing. The pieces he was recording were just the common pop slush of the day, and even Sinatra's talents couldn't make them anything more than pleasant.


 

The Columbia Years 1943-1952 The Complete Recordings, Vol. 12



1. Faithful
2. You're Still the One - Stan Freeman
3. There's Something Missing
4. Hello, Young Lovers
5. We Kiss in a Shadow
6. I Whistle a Happy Tune
7. I'm a Fool to Want You
8. Love Me
9. Mama Will Bark
10. It's a Long Way (From Your House to My House)
11. Castle Rock
12. Farewell, Farewell to Love
13. Deep Night - Harry James & His Orchestra
14. Good Man Is Hard to Find [#]
15. I Could Write a Book
16. I Hear a Rhapsody
17. Walking in the Sunshine
18. My Girl
19. Feet of Clay
20. Don't Ever Be Afraid to Go Home
21. Luna Rossa (Blushing Moon) - Norman Luboff Choir
22. Birth of the Blues
23. Azure-Te (Paris Blues)
24. Tennessee Newsboy (The Newsboy Blues)
25. Bim Bam Baby
26. Why Try to Change Me Now?

REVIEW:  By the end of his reign at Columbia, Sinatra was sounding almost like he would at his immortal Capitol years. You can hear it in the weight he gives to the ballads, to the immaculate phrasing of every song he's given; and it's clear that Columbia has no idea what to do with him anymore. He's considered a has-been, and served up drivel like the abominable "Mama Will Bark" to record, which was the final insult Sinatra had to endure at the hands of Mitch Miller. But on this last disc, you can hear that everything is in place for Frank's jump to Capitol and the acclaimed concept albums that would make him an icon of American music. His voice is now deeper, richer, and he's learned how to squeeze every drop of emotion from a song: listen to him transform "You're The One" into a paean to high drama, or the way he tackles three Rodgers & Hammerstein songs from "The King And I" with an intuitive understanding of the lyric. And there's a welcome reunion of his first boss, Harry James on the echo-filled "Deep Night" which sounds as dark and blue as anything that would come after.  In fact, for fans of the Capitol years, this last disc can be considered the "lost" album from that era, since so many of the cuts here are mirror reflections of his early work with Capitol. From "I Could Write A Book" to "The Birth Of The Blues," from the scat singing found on "Don't Ever Be Afraid To Go Home" to the deep irony of "Why Try To Change Me Now? Sinatra knew his abilities, and sounds ready here to metamorphose into his most successful personal yet.


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