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THE V-DISCS

NOTE: No other singer could touch Sinatra for the sheer amount of V-Discs he recorded and sent out to troops.  These 12", 78-RPM records were made of a type of plastic called Formvar, which was chosen for it's durability and high recording quality.  These recordings were the only ones that the musician's union allowed him to record during the years 1942-1944 during the session musicians strike, and Sinatra took full advantage, knowing that although the records wouldn't be sold - it would keep him in the public ear, and allow him to hone his craft.  The program was run through the Columbia label, and the few remaining V-Discs to be found intact today are considered rare and extremely valuable.

 

Frank Sinatra The Columbia Years 1943-1952: The V-Discs
Columbia/Legacy C2K 66135 [Longbox] 65617 [Reconfigured] [CD];
Released July 28, 1998


 
Disc: 1
1. I Only Have Eyes for You 
2. Kiss Me Again [#]
3. (There'll Be A) Hot Time in the Town of Berlin
   (When the Yanks Go Marching In)
4. Music Stopped
5. I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night [#]
6. Way You Look Tonight [#]         
7. I'll Be Around [#]         
8. You've Got a Hold on Me [#]         
9. Lovely Way to Spend an Evening [#]         
10. (I Got a Woman, Crazy for Me) She's Funny That Way         
11. Speak Low [#]         
12. Close to You [#]         
13. My Shining Hour [#]         
14. Long Ago (And Far Away) [#]         
15. Some Other Time [#]         
16. Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are [#]         
17. Put Your Dreams Away (For Another Day)         

18. And Then You Kissed Me [#]         
19. All the Things You Are         
20. All of Me [#]         
21. Nancy (With the Laughing Face)         
22. Mighty Lak' a Rose         
23. Falling in Love With Love         
24. Cradle Song [Version 1]         
25. I'll Follow My Secret Heart [#]         
26. There's No You         
27. Someone to Watch over Me         

Disc: 2
    1. Let Me Love You Tonight [#]         
2. Just Close Your Eyes [#]         
3. If You Are But a Dream [#]         
4. Strange Music [#]         
5. Cradle Song [Version 2]         
6. Dick Haymes, Dick Todd and Como [#]         
7. None But the Lonely Heart         
8. Ol' Man River         
9. Homesick, That's All         
10. Night Is Young and You're So Beautiful         
11. Aren't You Glad You're You [#]         
12. You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me [#]         
13. I'll Never Smile Again         
14. Without a Song         
15. Was the Last Time I Saw You (The Last Time) [#]         
16. Don't Forget Tonight Tomorrow [#]         
17. Oh! What It Seemed to Be         
18. Over the Rainbow         
19. Where Is My Bess?         
20. My Romance         
21. Song Is You         
22. I Fall in Love With You Every Day         
23. They Say It's Wonderful         
24. You Are Too Beautiful         
25. Come Rain or Come Shine [#]         
26. Stormy Weather 

REVIEW: Columbia/Legacy's box set of Sinatra's V-Discs is a fine retrospective look at these pivotal recordings that Frank made beginning in 1943.  And while it's missing several sides, it can surely sate the appetites of most listeners, not only for its fine selection, but also for the wonderful documentation accompanying it.  The 51-page booklet is a treasure in itself of information, photographs, and track analysis, making easy reading for those who are unfamiliar with the music, or its importance to Sinatra's legacy.  The sound, while primitive even compared to other recordings of the era, is listenable, and remarkably improved over other bootleg sources which came before.  The music itself is classic: "I Only Have Eyes For You," "The Way You Look Tonight," "A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening," "All Of Me" and "Someone To Watch Over Me," - these were the songs that the men in the battlefield listened to and thought of home.  Sinatra may have missed out on service, but these records provided immeasurable comfort and hope to thousands of troops around the world who were fighting the Nazis during World War II.  And only completists will complain about the generosity of tracks here, with over 50 spread out over two discs.  For those who want the cream of the crop, with plenty of documentation in the fat booklet, this should be the first choice between the two sets. That being said, however...


 

Frank Sinatra: The Real Complete Columbia Years V-Discs
The Jazz Factory JFCD 22855 [CD];
Released November 25, 2003


 
DISC 1:
  1. I Only Have Eyes For You
  2. Kiss Me Again
  3. Hot Time In The Town Of Berlin
  4. Music Stopped, The
  5. I Couldn't Sleep A Wink Last Night
  6. Way You Look Tonight, The
  7. I'll Be Around
  8. You've Got A Hold On Me
  9. Lovely Way To Spend An Evening, A
  10. She's Funny That Way
  11. Speak Low
  12. Close To You
  13. My Shining Hour
  14. Long Ago And Far Away
  15. Some Other Time
  16. Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are
  17. Put Your Dreams Away
  18. And Then You Kissed Me
  19. All The Things You Are
  20. All Of Me
  21. Nancy
  22. Mighty Lak' A Rose
  23. Falling In Love With Love
  24. Cradle Song
  25. I'll Follow My Secret Heart 
  
  DISC 2:
  1. Someone To Watch Over Me
  2. There's No You
  3. Let Me Love You Tonight
  4. Just Close Your Eyes
  5. If You Are But A Dream
  6. Saturday Night
  7. I Begged Her
  8. What Makes The Sunset?
  9. Charm Of You, The
  10. When Your Lover Has Gone
  11. None But The Lonely Heart
  12. Ol' Man River
  13. Over The Rainbow
  14. You'll Never Walk Alone
  15. Stars In Your Eyes
  16. My Shawl
  17. Someone To Watch Over Me
  18. You Go To My Head
  19. These Foolish Things
  20. I Don't Know Why
  21. Homesick
  22. That's All
  23. Night Is Young And You're So Beautiful, The
  24. Aren't You Glad You're You
  25. You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me

   DISC 3:
  1. I'll Never Smile Again
  2. Without A Song
  3. Oh! What It Seemed To Be
  4. Old School Teacher
  5. White Christmas
  6. My Romance
  7. Song Is You, The
  8. Should I (Reveal)
  9. Where Is My Bess?
  10. Soliloquy
  11. I Fall In Love With You Ev'ry Day
  12. They Say It's Wonderful
  13. You Are Too Beautiful
  14. Come Rain Or Come Shine
  15. One For My Baby
  16. Stormy Weather
  17. Sunflower
  18. If You Are But A Dream
  19. Strange Music
  20. Cradle Song
  21. Dick Haymes, Dick Todd And Como
  22. Don't Forget Tonight Tomorrow
  23. Was The Last Time I Saw You

REVIEW: If you're a completist, then you'll have to ditch the other box in favor of this one, which packs in twenty more songs than the above title, at the expense of Columbia/Legacy's fine booklet.  The booklet that accompanies this three-disc set is a fairly worthless affair, with much extemporaneous facts of Sinatra's life, several block quotes thrown in that have nothing to do with the V-Discs themselves, and little in the way of pictures or session notes.  BUT this does have what may be the most thorough canvassing of the V-Discs to date, although, to be fair, four of the songs are not true V-Disc recordings, but transcription discs pressed for the Armed Forces Radio Service.  Still, a nice addition.  The sound is comparable to the Columbia discs above, and the packaging, in a crystal-clear case is pretty classy-looking too - so it just depends on how much of a good thing you want - completeness, or documentation.  Or, if you're a nut like me, why compromise?  I have both!  Several of the tracks here you can find in alternate versions on the Columbia Years box set, but the historical context and sheer beauty of this music make it essential listening for Sinatra fans.  (Decisions, decisions!)


V-Discs: A Musical Contribution By America's Best for Our Armed Forces Overseas
Collector's Choice Music [4CD];
Released 1996

Collectors Choice   Product Description:

  • 4 CD Box set
  • Contains 85 tracks

REVIEW:  Don't be fooled by the large number of discs and tracks which Collector's Choice Music has piled this out-of-print box set with - Frank only recorded a certain number of unique V-Discs during World War II, but several of the discs that were shipped out were recordings that he'd done for the Columbia label, and which can be found on The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings.  So, while technically, this is a more complete release than either of the two above V-Disc box sets, this one significantly pads out its running time with Columbia material which can be found on other sets (this use of Columbia material is the reason this set has been pulled from circulation, while others in the V-Disc series remain in print).  For example, much of Frank's Christmas material, which has been released by Columbia on various CDs, fills out much of disc four.  Not only that, but the notes (notes? what notes?) and sound simply aren't on par with either the Columbia or Real Jazz box sets.


V-Disc: Rare War Time Recordings Volume 1
Halmark Recordings UK 70416 [CD];
Released March 21, 2003

hallmark
1. I Only Have Eyes For You (with spoken into)       3:57
2. Kiss Me Again     2:41
3. (There's Gonna Be A) Hot Time In The Town Of Berlin     2:27
4. The Music Stopped     2:58
5. I Couldn't Sleep A Wink Last Night     2:59
6. The Way You Look Tonight     2:40
7. I'll Be Around     1:39
8. You've Got A Hold On Me     2:32
9. A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening     3:09
10. She's Funny That Way     2:13
11. Speak Low     2:20
12. Close To You     3:12
13. My Shining Hour     2:25
14. Long Ago And Far Away     2:4
15. Some Other Time     2:36
16. Come Out, Wherever You Are     2:01
17. Put Your Dreams Away For Another Day     1:29
18. And Then You Kissed Me     3:04
19. All The Things You Are     2:51
20. All Of Me     1:40

REVIEW:
 This disc, put out by Hallmark UK, is a reissue of a previous release on the ABM label.  Despite the label being numbered "Volume 1" there wasn't a Volume 2, and so this single disc works as a "highlights" V-Disc, but nothing more.  With only about a third of the available tracks present, this CD will probably only appeal to those who have a passing interest in these tracks, or don't want to spend more for a more comprehensive set, but even at that, the Columbia set above can be found used for a reasonable price, and with better notes and sound than this - so, this disc really can't be recommended in any case.

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