Ultimate Sinatra by Frank Sinatra
Back in the good old days, or rather, the 1950's and 60's, the Rat Pack (aka Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford) were kings in the world of swing, big band, and jazz music. The handsome, charming crooners that composed this group will always be fondly remembered, even by someone like myself; a lover of metal and rock n' roll, a child of the 1980's pop era. They will be remembered not only for their enormous contribution to the entertainment world, but because these were the last true pioneers of big band composition and truly original themes and lyrics that were never heard of or even thought of before those five men burst onto the scene. Of these men, my absolute favorite was and always will be Mr. Francis Albert Sinatra. The man could croon like nobody's business, and he had such a large personality that you couldn't help but be drawn to him and the picturesque world he seemed to thrive in. There have been many collections of Sinatra's work over the years, but this one literally has it all, starting from the earliest years when Sinatra was still learning how to compose, up to the years that found him the most triumphant.
Opening with the barbershop hit, 'All or Nothing At All,' the listener is transported back in time to a land before technology, where the best and most perfect instrument you could own is your voice. Followed by another barber hit, 'I'll Never Smile Again,' then transitioning into the classic 'Saturday Night (is the Loneliest Night of the Week)' fans new andoldofol' blue eyes can't suppress the smile and inevitable personal solo performance that comes about when listening to Sinatra belt out those lyrics with such gusto. 'Nancy (With the Laughing Face)' is a sweet tribute to Sinatra's eldest daughter, while favorites like 'Young at Heart' and 'I've Got the World on a String' sound so broad and sweeping, as only big band and swing albums can. Sinatra worked tirelessly with bandleaders and their members to create his visions, and what he created was outstanding. Sweet tracks like 'In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning' and 'Learnin' the Blues' show Sinatra's softer side, while songs like 'Married With Children' and 'Witchcraft' show his humorous, cynical side.
The tracks on this album are beautifully preserved and recorded so that the listener can truly disappear into Sinatra's world, and I for one am a willing participate. Favorites like ''I've Got You Under My Skin' and 'Come Fly With Me' give the listener that classy, “let's go to Vegas!” feel, while tracks like 'The Way You Look Tonight' and 'It Was a Very Good Year' are so well known and have such fantastic lyrics that it is almost to impossible to resist singing along. Sinatra's love of the city life is prevalent in 'New York, New York' and 'Chicago,' while songs like 'That's Life' and 'My Way' showcase Sinatra shrugging his shoulders at the majority and whistling his own little tune as he trots down the path in music he had cleared for himself, knowing that while life is always going to knock you down, you just have to get back up and make the most of it.
Sinatra was a perfectionist, and took every second of music into consideration when composing his hits. You can't help but admire the man for that, regardless of how outspoken, he was, regardless of the ever present scotch in his hand, the man could sing, and no one out there today save for his son can come even close to the glory that was Frank Sinatra. If I had to recommend a collection of Sinatra's best tracks, this album would definitely be it. The age of big band and swing music may have all died, but when you hear that voice, you have no recourse but to go along with it and enjoy the ride.