title
VARIOUS LABELS

NOTE: On occasion, other labels have gotten their hands on Sinatra product, most of it live concerts or radio transcriptions that for one reason or another, the major labels have missed.  These performances, while not always of the highest sound quality, are almost all worthwhile due to terrific performances by Frank and company.  Buddha, Blue Note, and the Sinatra family label Artanis have all been active in these releases.  Here's hoping more step up to the plate!

Frank Sinatra & Tommy Dorsey And His Orchestra: Learn To Croon
Buddha Records 74465996012
Released April 27, 1999


 
1. Ida! Sweet as Apple Cider [#] 
2. Blue Moon [#]
3. Medley: Learn to Croon/More Than You Know/How Come You Do Me Like You Do 
4. I've Got My Eyes on You [#] 
5. Medley: The Very Thought of You/Stormy Weather/Let's Fall in Love [#] 
6. East of the Sun (And West of the Moon) [#]         
7. Medley: It's a Wonder World/Believing/Shake Down the Stars [#]         
8. Deep Night [#]         
9. (At Least A) Little in Love [#]         
10. Lover Is Blue [#]         
11. Medley: Out of Nowhere/How Deep Is the Ocean/These Foolish Things [#]         
12. Medley: My Silent Love/I'll See You in My Dreams/After You've Gone [#]         
13. I Tried [#]         
14. Medley: I'm in the Mood for Love/April in Paris/Say It Isn't So [#]         
15. Marie [#]         
16. I'll Take Tallulah [#]

[#] = Previously unreleased

REVIEW: Buddha really performed a hat trick when it released the two discs that make up its "Stoptime" series with Sinatra as the featured artist.  These previously unreleased radio transcriptions are historically interesting, but not what I'd call essential listening; and really shouldn't be purchased until other, more vital Dorsey recordings are investigated first, but for fans, these previously unreleased recordings will be pure gold.  First off, I should say that for old radio shows, these discs sound fabulous!  Apparently produced as a showcase for the CEDAR audio processing system, these shows sound clean, bright, and free from almost all noise and distortion that mars the majority of shows from this era.  They have a brightness and clarity that make the RCA discs above sound muddy in comparison.  The disc starts out in full swing with "Ida!  Sweet As Apple Cider" which makes for a horrible rhyme, but a fun, jazzy song to kick things off.  In fact, the arrangements on these discs are decidedly more up-tempo than what Dorsey and Sinatra usually recorded, with "Blue Moon" transforming from a wistful song into a fun call-and-answer jump and jiver, and "East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon)" gaining energy from a sprightly arrangement.  Frank sounds great here too, in full flower as a romatic singer, singing some of the greatest pop songs of the Century, with covers of "The Very Though Of You," "Stormy Weather," "How Deep Is The Ocean," "I'm In The Mood For Love," and "April In Paris" all captured here.  The informative booklet is again notated by Will Freidwald, and this is a fine, fun disc - the liveliest and sharpest sounding I've ever heard the Dorsey-Sinatra pairing.


 

Frank Sinatra &  Tommy Dorsey And His Orchestra: It's All So New
Buddha Records 74465996002 [CD];
Released April 27, 1999


 
1. Frenesi [#] 
2. I Give You My Word [#] 
3. It's All So New to Me [#] 
4. I've Lost My Heart Again [#]  
5. Is There a Chance for Me? [#] 
6. It All Comes Back to Me Now [#]         
7. My Memoirs [#]         
8. I Saw Your Face in a Cloud [#]         
9. I've Got a Restless Spell [#]         
10. Here's to Love [#]         
11. Sunrise over Taxco [#]         
12. That's How It Goes [#]         
13. You Really Fill the Bill [#]         
14. You Might Have Belonged to Another [#]         
15. When Love Comes Again [#]         
16. There I Go [#]         
17. My First Edition [#]         
18. Oh! Look at Me Now [#]         
19. War Bond Advertisement [#]         
20. Be Careful, It's My Heart [#]

REVIEW:  The second volume of the "Stoptime" series is weaker than the first, but for an interesting reason: the songs on this volume were all written by amatuer songwriters as a publicity device to capitilize on the runaway success of another amateur songwriter's ditty: "I'll Never Smile Again," which sold over 500,000 records.  So Dorsey obviously thought that lightning might strike twice, (and also hoped to sidestep the pricey ASCAP) and invited listeners to submit their own compositions, which Dorsey had arranged and performed on his radio show "Fame and Fortune."  So while you'll not hear any of your old favorites, you will hear songs that you've never heard before, played by the terrific Dorsey Orchestra, given stellar arrangements, and sung by inimitable Frank Sinatra.  So even if the songs didn't become hits, they sound great, and the producers have programmed the CD to play just like an old-time radio show, with song introductions, between-song patter, a War Bond announcement, and amazing sound again courtesty of the CEDAR sound processing system.  So, while not the first disc I would recommend anyone rushing out a buying, it's a thoroughly enjoyable CD that is a curiousity for the rare songs and history it brings with it.


 

Frank Sinatra With The Red Norvo Quartet: Live In Australia, 1959
Blue Note 537513 [CD];
Released April 8, 1997


 
1. Perdido [Instrumental]
2. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
3. I Could Have Danced All Night
4. Just One of Those Things
5. I Get a Kick Out of You
6. At Long Last Love
7. Willow Weep for Me
8. I've Got You Under My Skin
9. Moonlight in Vermont
10. Lady Is a Tramp
11. Sinatra Speaks
12. Angel Eyes
13. Come Fly With Me
14. All the Way
15. Dancing in the Dark
16. One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)
17. All of Me
18. On the Road to Mandalay
19. Night and Day

REVIEW:  A concert like none other in the Sinatra canon, this 1959 document shows Sinatra at the height of his vocal and improvisational talents jamming with one of the best jazz combos around, the Red Norvo Quintet.  Red Norvo was a vibrophonist, and his smooth, bouncy rhythms dominate on the opening cut "Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," but things really pick up when Frank steps out in front, loose and serene, in great voice, easily riffing his way through "I Could Have Danced All Night" playfully repeating the word "Dance, dance, dance, dance..." and bending notes, stretching phrases, and lingering on a certain word to change the entire effect of a song.  This is like hearing a master at work.  To hear him simply insert various salutations during "It Was Just One Of Those Things" is a joy, and it's clear to everyone that he's loving each song.  The way he hits the first syllable of "FABulous face" or lingers on the release of the line "I get a kick..." before finally finishing the lyric after waiting for what seems an unconsciously long time "...out of you" is surprisingly effective.  On this disc as well you'll hear the best rendition of "At Long Last Love" that Sinatra ever performed, with a light, bopping arrangement lending the song a frivolous that gradually grows into an explosion of emotion as Sinatra gradually realizes the feeling he's experiencing is true love.  The entire disc is a revelation - even for long-time fans.  The only sticking point is that the sound is overall muted - apparently the tape source isn't as pristine as fans might wish, but that isn't a huge issue, everything is still listenable, and in my opinion, this concert is the finest Sinatra ever captured on tape.


 

Sinatra '57: In Concert
Artanis Entertainment Group ARZ-101-2 [CD];
Released June 8, 1999


 
1. Introduction/You Make Me Feel So Young
2. It Happened in Monterey
3. At Long Last Love
4. I Get a Kick Out of You
5. Just One of Those Things
6. Foggy Day
7. Lady Is a Tramp
8. They Can't Take That Away From Me
9. I Won't Dance
10. Sinatra Dialogue
11. When Your Lover Has Gone
12. Violets for Your Furs
13. My Funny Valentine
14. Glad to Be Unhappy
15. One for My Baby
16. Tender Trap
17. Hey Jealous Lover
18. I've Got You Under My Skin
19. Oh! Look at Me Now

REVIEW:  One of the few recordings made of Sinatra in concert during his prime Capitol years, with the added attraction of being backed by a full orchestra led by frequent collaborator Nelson Riddle.  Previously available only on a poor-sounding bootleg, Sinatra's family has remastered the original tapes, and put it onto a gold CD, which although pricey, is worth every penny due to the awesome show Frank puts on.  Sinatra sounds somewhat less involved here than he did on the above 1959 show, but there's simply no such thing as a bad show from this period.  Sinatra swings, bounces and croons his way through hit after hit with an ease that belies the artistry involved.  In fact, this concert serves as a greatest hits document of Sinatra's Capitol years, with small incidental dialogue reminding listeners of Sinatra's life at the time, with a small aside during "I Get A Kick Out Of You" which after singing the word 'Spain' he breaks down and states "Spain!  Oh, geez..." (referring to his faltering affair with Ava Gardner, who was then in Spain filming a movie.)  It's these kind of self-knowing winks at the audience that makes the concert such a personal experience.  Sinatra sounds a little gruff here, but his interpretive powers are in full force, especially on "Just One Of Those Things," where he actually growls out a word, and explores his lower register on a decending phase, which you simply won't hear on any of the studio albums.  A great concert, unfortunately saddled with fawning liner notes by self-proclaimed Sinatra fan Kelsey Grammer, who adds no illumination to either the concert or to Sinatra himself.  Ah well.  A very worthwhile purchase.


 

Live at Blackpool Opera House 1953
Acrobat Music ACMCD 4025 [CD];
Released February? 2004


 
1. When You're Smiling
2. That Old Black Magic
3. You Go To My Head
4. Ol' Man River/Ol' Man Crosby
5. Sweet Lorraine
6. The Birth Of The Blues
7. Embraceable You
8. One For My Baby
9. Don't Worry 'Bout Me
10. I've Got The World On A String
11. It Never Entered My Mind
12. All Of Me
13. Night & Day

REVIEW:  I haven't been able to discover if the three discs released by the Acrobat label are bootlegs or not, but considering the sound and the concerts presented, they very well could be.  Since live concerts of Sinatra from the 50's are so rare, I snapped this item up when I found it, and although the sound and documentation aren't up to par, this is a highly enjoyable concert, with lots of chatter and a very loose, off-the-cuff performance by Frank as he zips through the short set.  The concert starts out with an on-air aside from Sinatra, talking to either the orchestra or sound technician, and then plows through the songs as if he has someplace urgent to go.  Accompanied by Billy Ternent's Orchestra, who were known for their smooth, sweet arrangements, provide adequate backing, and Sinatra's long-time pianist Bill Miller is also present, undoubtedly keeping the ball rolling.  Sinatra sounds good vocally, with lots of jazz phrasing in "You Go To My Head" and plenty of bounce in the uptempo numbers, but the songs are marred by Sinatra's frequent impromptu asides to the audience and the band - he'll often break off a song to nag a patron about the noise their making during his set, or rattle off a joke as if he's channelling Dino.  The sound is also extremely sub-par, with a thin, compressed audio, as if the entire concert had been taped off a live radio broadcast (which it probably was.)  That said, however, it's still a fun listening experience for me, hearing Frank so loose and snappish, and the booklet essay, by MOJO's Fred Dellar is informative.  Worth checking out if you're a big fan.


Live '55: Melbourne Australia
Acrobat Music ACMCD 4013 [CD];
Released November? 2004

1. Introduction by Frank D'Amor
2. I've Got The World On A String
3. I Get A Kick Out Of You
4. My Funny Valentine
5. Taking A Chance On Love
6. Three Coins In The Fountain
7. She's Funny That Way
8. Just One Of Those Things
9. A Foggy Day
10. All Of Me
11. Young At Heart
12. Nancy (With The Laughing Face)
13. They Can't Take That Away From Me
14. Ol' Man River And Anthem

REVIEW:  The hardest to find of the three Acrobat releases is on par with the other two - interesting in an archival way, but hardly essential Sinatra. This is the infamous trip where the Austrailian press sparred with Sinatra at nearly every stop. Despite his renewed popular success with the film "From Here To Eternity" - and despite his self- comparisons with Joe DiMaggio (a point hammered home in the introduction by Frank D'Amor) - the Aussie press constantly picked on him. As far as this recording goes, the sound is pretty poor; the orchestra is muted, with the piano and Frank's voice coming out the strongest, and there are too many flutters in the sound - obviously the tape this was taken from has not been restored. But Frank's performance is noteworthy, very loose and carefree on the opening "I've Got The World On A String" a stunning display of jazz virtuosity (you can even hear the snaps of his fingers!), and he continues to improvise and bounce through the classic set of songs with tremendous ease. The band is finely tuned into the performance as well, with brass, a small string section, piano, bass and drums punctuating Sinatra's phrasing with such panache that it sounds like they've been playing together for years. Frank's voice is in fine form, and this performance is worth hearing for his mastery and charm, despite the flaws in the recording.


 

Live In Tokyo Japan 1962
Acrobat Music ACMCD 4014 [CD];
Released Feburary? 2004


 
1. Too Marvellous for Words       
2. Imagination       
3. Moonlight in Vermont       
4. Day in Day Out       
5. Without a Song       
6. The Moon Was Yellow, And the Night Was Young       
7. I've Got You Under My Skin       
8. I Get a Kick Out of You       
9. At Long Last Love       
10. My Funny Valentine       
11. In the Still of the Night       
12. Embraceable You       
13. Night & Day       
14. April in Paris       
15. Lady Is a Tramp       
16. Monologue       
17. All the Way       
18. Chicago       
19. I Could Have Danced All Night

REVIEW:  Acrobat's second disc of (bootlegged?) live sets from Sinatra shows a more seasoned, even looser singer running through a set of fine songs.  Launching the concert with a free, swinging take on "Too Marvellous for Words" he eases into "Imagination" with the vibe-heavy band (consisting of Bill Miller, guitarist Al Viola, and vibes player Emil Richards) very reminiscent of the Red Norvo Quartet, sounds right in sync with Sinatra.  Unfortunately, this disc is again marred by bad sound, with Frank's voice very close and up-front with some distortion picked up from the microphone he was using.  Frank also drifts off-key on some of the higher notes, showing noticable strain in his upper register.  But if you're forgiving, you can find a lot to enjoy in his performance, with Frank absolutely in control of each number, giving a tremendously breezy reading of  "Without A Song" and a surprising flute/jazz guitar appearance on "The Moon Was Yellow."  Frank seems to be enjoying himself tremendously during this set, and his remarkable talent for phrasing is in full bloom.  MOJO magazine's Fred Dellar again writes the liner notes for this release, and lends informative background information on each song as well as this particular tour, which finds Frank receiving the key to the city of Tokyo, an honor which had never been bestowed on a civilian! 



The Judy Garland Shows
On The Air 101911 [CD];
Released March 25, 1998


  
1. Introductory Theme
2. Just In Time
3. When You're Smiling
4. You Do Something To Me
5. Too Marvellous For Words
6. You Do Something To Me
7. You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby
8. You Do Something To Me
9. One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else
10. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
11. You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves you
12. You Made Me Love You
13. Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With
14. Swanee
16. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)
17. Old Soft Shoe
18. Chicago (That Toddling Town)
19. Closing Theme

REVIEW:  On The Air, the label that has put out so many old-time radio shows of Frank Sinatra's, now puts out a soundtrack from one of Judy Garland's infamous television shows, this one from February 26, 1962 and featuring Rat Pack buddies Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.  The show is of passing interest to Sinatra fans, but make no mistake, this is Judy's time to shine, and Frank & Dean are just passing by.  Judy kicks off the show by singing three songs: the hit from Broadway's Bells Are Ringing: "Just In Time", followed by "When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)", and then the theme for the Rat Pack reunion: "You Do Something To Me" which Frank joins at the end.  Judy gives Frank the spotlight for a run-through of Johnny Mercer's "Too Marvellous For Words", which he gives a very off-the-cuff reading; this is Frank who's now in charge of his own destiny, and here he's backed by a full orchestra with brass, strings, and the works.  Because this is a live venue, the sound fluctuates as Frank moves the microphone around, but the performance is still uncanny, with Frank giving a "Pow!" at the end of a long held out note at the end.  Judy and Frank are very chummy, with Judy telling Frank "You're so good, you're so good!"  Then Judy launches into a reprise of "You Do Something To Me" which serves as Dino's introduction.  Dean then sings Johnny Mercer's "You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby" and then the three of them segue into a final reprise of "You Do Something...".  Frank and Dean then team up for a brassy, brash arrangement of "The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else" Frank all authoritative, Dean swoozy and boozy - it's a fun duet, with Dean and Frank occasionally throwing off asides to the audience (Dean: "She didn't even leave a note!"  Frank: "You can't read anyway").  The rest of the disc is pure Judy, and if you enjoy her later years, when she developed a larger vibrato, and sang everything as if it was her last song, you'll love this.  The sound is passible on this release, but it's nice to have a document of this rare collaboration.


Frank Sinatra: Duets With The Dames
Castle Pulse PLSCD 633 [CD];
Released August 25, 2003


  
1. You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me -  Peggy Lee
2. Let's Take an Old Fashioned Walk - Dorothy Kirsten
3. Tea for Two - Dinah Shore
4. This Can't Be Love - Margaret Whiting
5. Girl Next Door - June Hutton
6. Let's Get Away from It All - Connie Haines
7. Some Enchanted Evening - Dorothy Kirsten
8. Gotta Be This or That - Judy Garland
9. Together - Eileen Barton
10. Make Believe - Jane Powell
11. Embraceable You - Peggy Mann
12. Lover, Come Back to Me - Lillian Raimondi
13. Take Me Out to the Ball Game - Doris Day
14. My Romance - Judy Garland
15. No Can Do - Lena Romay
16. Button up Your Overcoat - Toni Harper
17. Anniversary Song - Barbara Britton
18. Night Is Young & You're So Beautiful - June Hutton
19. I Think of You - June Hutton
20. Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are - Eileen Barton
21. You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To - June Hutton
22. There's No Business Like Show Business - Doris Day
23. Little Learnin' Is a Dangerous Thing, Pt. 1 - Pearl Bailey
24. Little Learnin' Is a Dangerous Thing, Pt.2 - Pearl Bailey

REVIEW:  This semi-legit release gathers tracks from radio, television and studio sources, many of which are not found anywhere else and puts them all together on this interesting package.  Strictly real-live duets with female stars, the songs and arrangements are mostly pretty routine, from the languid "Tea For Two" with a flutey Dinah Shore, to the almost too-sweet sentiments of "Let's Take An Old-Fashioned Walk", sung with Dorothy Kirsten. The mood occasionally gets hot, like the jazzy be-bop of "This Can't Be Love" taken from Frank's "Lite-Up Time" show with perfect partner Margaret Whiting. The times these tracks were recorded veers all over the place, from the late 50's "The Girl Next Door" to the mid-40's: "Lover Come Back To Me". The sound is also variable, since the sources vary, but overall, it's a very listenable disc, with such rarities as "No Can Do" with Lena Romay, or "The Anniversary Song" with Barbara Britton. There are a couple of duetting partners who show up more than once: Doris Day links up with Frank on "Take Me Out To the Ball Game" and "There's No Business Like Show Business" and the creamy-voiced June Hutton joins Frank on the Meet Me In St. Louis standard "The Boy Next Door" and also shows up for "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To"; Dorothy Kirsten shows up again for the Rodgers & Hammerstein standard "Some Enchanted Evening" (where Frank sounds out of his element on the earnest lyric) and Pearl Bailey has her two cracks at bat with "A Little Learnin' Is A Dang'rous Thing, Pts 1 & 2". The oldest track here, from Sinatra's stay with the Dorsey orchestra, is a live transcription of "Let's Get Away From It All" with Connie Haines, Jo Stafford and The Pied Pipers; you can hear the audience chatting and dancing during the song, while Frank only gets a short phrase during the song, and wouldn't this count more as a "trio" than a duet? Oh, well - I'm not expecting perfection on a release like this, just a few more rarities that you won't hear anywhere else. Favorite tracks include a mega-rare Sinatra/Judy Garland stomper "Gotta Be This Or That" (which has tons of in-jokes), and a silly, but engaging "No Can Do" with Lena Romay.  A fine, occasionally illuminating package for collectors, but not essential for anyone else.


In the Blue of Evening: Previously Unissued War Transcriptions 1943
Natasha Imports NI 4007 [CD];
Released 1993

1. There Will Never Be Another You 
2. Rose Ann of Charing Cross 
3. How Deep Is the Ocean? 
4. Please Think of Me 
5. Moonlight Mood 
6. Weep No More My Lady 
7. She's Funny That Way 
8. Starlight Sonata 
9. That's My Affair 
10. It Started All over Again 
11. I Don't Believe in Rumors 
12. As Time Goes By 
13. In the Blue of Evening 
14. You'll Never Know 
15. Kiss Me Again 
16. Embraceable You [#1] 
17. Daybreak 
18. There Are Such Things 
19. I Only Have Eyes for You 
20. Every Night About This Time 
21. Close to You 
22. It Can't Be Wrong 
23. Embraceable You [#2] 
24. White Christmas 
25. Goin' Home 
26. Why Try to Change Me Now? 
27. Birth of the Blues

REVIEW:  The problem with being a Sinatra music collector is that there's just so much of him to find - Sinatra was such a prolific worker, and so much of his output, especially his radio and television work, is still unreleased, or undiscovered, that it can be a lifetime pursuit just tracking down what recordings are out there, and niggling through what overlap there may be.  Take this 1992 release on Natasha Imports, The Blue Of Evening.  It's touted as "previously unissued war transcriptions" from 1943, and contains transcriptions from three separate WWII-era radio shows: "Treasury Song Parade", with twenty excerpts; three songs taken from "The Manpower Commission Transcription", and four final songs lifted from two Treasury Department "Guest Star" programs. All of these recordings are here in good to excellent sound, with good notes, lovely singing by Sinatra (at the height of his bobby-soxer fame), and lots of classic songs contained herein.  Is anything here essential?  Nope.  Is it all wonderfully sung and played? Yep.  Is it memorable?  Not really - everything here is of a type with the rest of Sinatra's radio performances of the 1940s, and also his Columbia records output.  It's good, but it's far from his most essential work, and despite it's being "rare" performances, with songs not recorded elsewhere, there's a good reason for that - the songs that Frank sang here, that weren't ever recorded again, aren't that good.  I mean, "Rose Ann of Charing Cross" is about as forgettable as anything found on It's All So New! (reviewed above), and the classic songs here are found in better form elsewhere in Sinatra oeuvre.  I daresay it would be impossible to gather all of Sinatra's radio output in one spot; it would take several thick box sets to compile it all; so releases like this, which are increasingly hard to find, will have to do.


Frank Sinatra: My Shining Hour
Drive Archive DE2-41010 [CD];
Released 1994

1  Little White Lies  Donaldson  1:48 
2  Don't Forget Tonight, Tomorrow  Milton, Sherwin  2:58 
3  It Only Happens When I Dance With You  Berlin  2:40 
4  Hair of Gold, Eyes of Blue  Skylar  1:23 
5  Haunted Heart  Dietz, Schwartz  2:26 
6  Night and Day  Porter  2:27 
7  Tenderly  Gross, Lawrence  1:58 
8  Speak Low  Nash, Weill  2:19 
9  You're the Top  Porter  1:38 
10  My Shining Hour  Arlen, Mercer  2:31 
11  One Hundred Years from Today  Washington, Young  2:18 
12  The Right Kind of Love  Goell, Wayne  1:47 
13  I'm in the Mood for Love  Fields, McHugh  2:06 
14  Now Is the Hour  Kaihan, Scott, Stewart  2:22

REVIEW:  A slap-dash collection of radio transcriptions mostly taken from the 1940's, this collection has pretty poor sound, despite the tapes being doctored by studio wiz Bob Norberg at Capitol Studios, and Mark Ormann at MCA Music.  Still, you're going to find lots of rare stuff here, from the swinging "Little White Lies" which opens the set with a fast and loose Sinatra sounding hotter than he ever did in the studio during this same period.  Follows is the romantic slush of "Don't Forget Tonight, Tomorrow" with thick backup singers; the Irving Berlin chestnut "It Only Happens When I Dance With You"; the novelty swinger "Hair Of Gold, Eyes Of Blue" which Frank tries his hardest with, but the tape has serious flutter issues, which hampers the performance.  The melodrama of "Haunted Heart" is next, with Frank at his most earnest singing the gushy lyric; next comes an anomaly, with a harder-swinging, 1950s-era performance of Cole Porter's "Night And Day" blares out of the speakers.  The obvious change in Frank's command of lyric and brash self-confidence seems out of place with what came before, although the sound is improved for this track, and Frank's performance is a marvel.  The album veers back into romantic territory with "Tenderly" which has Sinatra performing with piano accompianment - this performance again seems to be from the Capitol years, but the next song "Speak Low" is again from his Columbia era, with swirling harp and urgent strings.  Frank's 1950's television performance of "You're The Top" with Broadway diva Ethel Merman is included in all it's over-the-top bluster; and the title track is next, a very poor recording of the Arlen/Mercer tune, which is almost unlistenable due to the quality of the source.  "One Hundred Years From Today" is a nice track, again with Frank and solo piano, joined on the second verse by a subtle saxophone, again, not with great fidelity, but listenable.  "The Right Kind Of Love" is a fine recording, with a nuanced reading by Frank showing his growth as an interpreter during the 1940s.  An interesting arrangement of "I'm In The Mood For Love" is next with piano, guitar and flutes giving the song an unusual flavor.  The final track "Now Is The Hour" is hampered by shifting tape speeds, sending the pitch hither and yon.  The booklet which is included is no help in placing these performances, instead giving a cliche-ridden essay on Frank's success.  A missable disc for all but the most ardent Sinatra collectors.  


Live at the Meadowlands
Concord Records 31331 [CD];
Released May 5, 2009
meadowlands
 
1. Overture
2. Without A Song
3. Where Or When
4. For Once In My Life
5. Nice N' Easy
6. My Heart Stood Still
7. Change Partners
8. It Was A Very Good Year
9. You Make Me Feel So Young
10. The Gal That Got Away
11. New York, New York
12. Monologue
13. Come Rain Or Come Shine
14. Bewitched
15. Moonlight In Vermont
16. L.A. Is My Lady
17. I've Got You Under My Skin
18. Someone To Watch Over Me
19. One More For My Baby (And One More For The Road)
20. Mack The Knife
21. NY Bows

REVIEW: When I was a younger man in the mid-1990s, I recall very clearly mocking Frank Sinatra's singing style to an acquaintance, who was appalled that I could treat Frank "the icon" so lightly.  This was before I actually listened to Sinatra's catalog - my parody was based solely on Frank's then-recent appearances - the only Frank that I had ever known, when he was seventy and eighty years old, making guest appearances on various television shows.  His voice had deteriorated, his music seemed hopelessly old-fashioned and out of touch, and I couldn't understand what the appeal was.  (Obviously, I've learned better since then.)  But listening now to Live at the Meadowlands, the latest "rare" concert to be released by the Sinatra family on Concord Records, I was taken right back to that night that I shocked my friend with my irreverent interpretation.  This is the seventy-year old Frank, in a concert recorded the same year as The Main Event, and by this time in Frank's career, he was coasting on the accomplishments of his long, varied life.  His voice, which had been slowly deepening and gaining character throughout his fifties and sixties, had now begun to deteriorate, and it shows at moments during the concert.  Not that this is a horrible show - Frank was the consummate showman, and injects passion, humor, and at times, even a savage bite into these songs.  "Mack The Knife" is hot and brutal, while "Moonlight In Vermont" is bathed in warmth.  And for all the hoarseness and lost elasticity in Frank's voice, there are equal moments of beauty, and pureness.  For fans, to have yet another "lost" document of Frank's tremendous output is a blessing, but this isn't going to be the first concert you listen to, and it's certainly not the one that you should give friends who've never listened to Frank before.  It's a good concert, albeit one with no surprises.  Instead, it's all slick and packaged with Quincy Jones' band tracking the charts with metronome precision.  There are moments of greatness, but with equal moments when I squirm in my seat and wonder if Frank is going to be able to hit the next note.  Here's hoping that there are more concerts in the wings that better represent Frank's appeal.


Frank Sinatra: The Greatest Concerts
Entertain Me Ltd. 74697 [5-CD Box Set]
Released November 10, 2008


The Greatest Concerts Products contents:

Contains five rare, live concerts by Frank Sinatra, spanning the years 1955-1981, including shows from Australia, Japan, The White House, and Lake Tahoe.  Rare bonus tracks from "Our Town" and other concerts included.

For complete track listing, click here.

REVIEW:  This box set has been bouncing around for awhile, but only recently made its debut here in the States.  The Greatest Concerts put out by Entertain Me Ltd. is a skimpy, quasi-legitimate collection of five concerts: Melbourne 1955, Tokyo 1962, Washington, D.C. 1973 (for Richard Nixon),  Westchester Premier Theatre, 1976, and Caesars, Lake Tahoe, Nevada 1981.  The Melbourne and Tokyo concerts have seen previous release on the similarly obscure Acrobat label, but the other three concerts are receiving their CD debut here.  Unfortunately, as with most releases of this sort, there's a lot to be desired, both from sound and the presentation.  The packaging is unforgivably shoddy, from the non-existent notes, to the legion of mislabeled track listings (both on the outer sleeve, which duplicates the Tokyo  AND the Caesars tracklistings twice) to the inner sleeves, (which shows identical tracklistings for both the Westchester and Caesars shows).  There are also some bonus tracks scattered about, with excepts from the rare television adaption of Our Town and two live tracks taken from October, 1987.  The sound, taken mostly from FM Radio Broadcasts, is necessarily compressed and tinny, with none of the warmth or depth that you'll find on professionally recorded discs, and there's occasional crackling and hiss, but collectors won't mind much.  Previously unheard banter, including funny riffs on "Teaching (Marlon) Brando to Sing" and a "Brief Singing Lesson" show Frank at his loosest, while hearing the difference between his loose, jazzy '62 and '55 sets, and the reverential '73 set for President Richard Nixon is a testament to Frank's chameleon-like ability to reshape himself, while the faintly desperate 1976 concert shows Frank trying to stay relevant with a set list riddled with banal pop songs, before settling into the comfortable "Chairman of the Board" role of 1981's concert.  I'd recommend this box set for collector's only - those who haven't been able to find these concerts elsewhere.  


'Live' At The Orpheum Vancouver June 8th 1957
Acrobat Music ACMCD4351 [CD];
Released September 22, 2010


1. You Make Me Feel So Young       3:26
2. It Happened In Monterey     2:33
3. At Long Last Love     2:37
4. I Get A Kick Out Of You     3:08
5. Just One Of Those Things     3:21
6. A Foggy Day     2:5
7. The Lady Is A Tramp     3:26
8. The Lady Is A Tramp     3:12
9. They Can't Take That Away From Me     1:52
10. I Won't Dance     3:30
11. Chat     5:41
12. When Your Lover Has Gone     3:05
13. Violets For Your Furs     3:55
14. My Funny Valentine     2:51
15. Glad To Be Unhappy     3:14
16. One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)     6:08

REVIEW:  Acrobat Music, a purveyor of live concerts from various stages of Sinatra's career, has released this 1957 Vancouver Concert, with Frank in a particularly loose mood, both vocally and performance-wise, giving an almost off-the-cuff reading of most of his popular hits.  He slides, bends, and transforms each song with a laissez-faire attitude, which is so natural and easy, it's a little alarming.  At times you'd think that Frank was going to lose a song entirely, but he manages to reel each note in, long after the listener would think it's past the point of recovery.  Frank's voice sounds a little strained here, rough in patches, but it's hardly a safe performance - what I thought was a mis-print on the label is in fact accurate: Frank is so thrilled by the reaction that "The Lady Is A Tramp" receives, that he immediately calls for an encore of the entire song.  Unfortunately for the listener, the sound quality is among the poorest of the Acrobat catalog, with the orchestra (under the baton of Nelson Riddle) nearly buried in the mix, and noticable differences in sonic noise from song to song, and even within certain songs, the tone changes; there are also noticable clicks, hums and fade-outs throughout the concert.  On a positive note, this release is the first on the Acrobat label to feature an essay by Paul Watts, assisted by "Sinatra expert, archivist and collector" Fred Wadsworth, which is a valuable addition to the set.  A fascinating performance, undercut severely by poor sound, this release will be valued by collectors, but not many others.


Live at The Sporting Club - Monte Carlo, 14 June 1958
Sarabandas Starlite CDS 51072 [CD];
JRR Records JRR 158-2 [CD];
European Archive Of Recorded Sound [MP3];

Release Date 1992, Reissued November 21, 2011

Introduction by Noel Coward
1. Come Fly With Me

2. I Get A Kick Out Of You
3. I've Got You Under My Skin
4. Where Or When
5. Moonlight In Vermont
6. On The Road To Mandalay
7. When Your Lover Has Gone
8. April In Paris
9. All The Way
10. Monique
11. Bewitched
12. The Lady Is A Tramp
13. You Make Me Feel So Young

REVIEW:  This concert has been floating around in various formats for a long time, yet despite it's historic importance and good recorded sound, official release has yet to see the light of day. Recorded as part of a charity benefit for the United Nations Fund for Refugee Children, this was a starry evening, with an introduction (in French) given by Noel Coward, and attendees including Price Rainier and Princess Grace (Kelly); W. Somerset Maugham; Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and more.  And behind the podium was a young Quincy Jones, who has since described this concert as a highlight of his early career.  The concert itself is stunning - showing off Sinatra in his prime, relaxed and at his ease as he bends notes and plays around with tempos with his inestimable grace and style.  Alternately tender and brash, he gives superlative readings of every song here, with special mention being given to a rare live take of "Monique" (apparently since the audience had just viewed the film Kings Go Forth from which "Monique" took it's Elmer Bernstein-scored musical cue).  Despite being a short concert (only about forty minutes), it's a real tour-de-force for Frank, showing off his full range, from the pathos of ""When Your Lover Has Gone" to the gripping edge-of-your-seat toughness in "The Lady Is A Tramp", to the high melodrama of "All The Way" - Frank takes the audience on a roller coaster ride of panoramic emotions.  Marred only by rare crackles and skips in the sound, this disc remains absolutely essential.


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