An Audiophilia Top Ten. Number 16 in the series. (The Top Ten Sinatras)

by Audiophilia on January 2, 2013 · 6 comments

in Audiophilia Top Tens

On New Year’s Eve, I sent a message to our own Harry Currie, the world’s foremost Sinatra scholar and an incredible singer in his own right, requesting an almost impossible task, at least for him. It’s only that I’ve known him literally my whole life (plus a little begging) that he concurred. For Harry, compiling a Ten Best list of Sinatra recordings is akin to asking him ‘who’s your favourite kid?’.

His email reply was ‘…that’s a tough one - at times he was effervescent, at times introspective, and no one has ever touched him when he was at his best in both categories. I’ll do my best. No particular order.

July 1960. Capitol.

July 1960. Capitol.

January 1958. Capitol.

January 1958. Capitol.

September 1958. Capitol.

September 1958. Capitol.

April 1955. Capitol.

April 1955. Capitol.

January 1957. Capitol.

January 1957. Capitol.

January 1954. Capitol.

January 1954. Capitol.

March 1967. Reprise.

March 1967. Reprise.

August 1954. Capitol.

August 1954. Capitol.

March 1962. Capitol.

March 1962. Capitol.

November 1962. Reprise.

November 1962. Reprise.

Swing Easy and Songs for Young Lovers were the first recordings with his developed, mature voice, and Nelson Riddle. Come Fly with Me, with Billy May - Wow! Close to You was his most introspective and adventurous, with the Hollywood String Quartet. Point of No Return, his last Capitol LP, with Axel Stordahl as arranger. Listen to When the World Was Young. I listen, and it still moves me. The Capitol years were his very best, with a few during Reprise. The British album is a personal favourite because of arranger Robert Farnon — Bob sent me the chart of The Very Thought of You which I sang with the Kitchener — Waterloo Symphony Orchestra and Victoria Symphony, and I transcribed for Windjammers. Other albums are close, but I think these are my picks.

Cheers, Harry

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

admin 01.02.13 at 10:59 am

Harry, you are the absolute best! Thanks for doing that for us. I know it was difficult! :)

There you have it, folks. THE Sinatra short list. Bet on it.

What are your favourites? Would love to know. Mine are already on Harry’s list. Basically, 55 years of indoctrination! :)

Cheers, a

Ben 01.03.13 at 6:43 am

I would have liked to see Sinatra & Basie - Live At The Sands on the list. The energy of a live performance, the Basie band just killin’ it, Frankie workin’ the room….it doesn’t get any better!!!

Ben

admin 01.03.13 at 8:44 am

Great album, Ben.

Cheers, a

Harry 01.04.13 at 1:23 am

I think my choices were based on the 10 albums I come back to regularly, playing them over and over again. My favourite live performance is Frank’s Concert for the Americas. That was a one shot video recording. Most of the other live albums were amassed after several nights of performance, then they picked the best versions of the tunes with a fair amount of editing — a word here and a phrase there. The saddest one of that group was The Main Event, the voice was deteriorating, so they had to record the concerts in several cities leading up to Madison Square Gardens, and try to make the best album they could. I was in the Gardens for The Main Event itself, (a guest of Lee Solters, Frank’s publicity agent), and a number of that night’s songs couldn’t be used in the finished album. It was sad to see this giant of the American popular song losing it over the later years. My last Sinatra live concert, about 1994, saw him with monitors surrounding the stage because he couldn’t remember the words, and getting lost twice, with Frank Junior, who was conducting, coming onto the stage to tell him where to come in. Sometimes I think he should have stayed retired when he did in 1971. I often think of A. E. Houseman’s poem “To an Athlete Dying Young” in which he states that the unfortunate early death of the runner also means that he will always be remembered at the peak of his ability. Those of you who have heard Frank’s last painful recording of Silent Night, done in 1991, will know what I mean. But he was the best, and will always remain so.

Cheers, Harry

admin 01.04.13 at 8:18 am

Right on, Harry. The last years were painful. But, I can forgive the Man most things.

The greatest.

Cheers, a

Richard Iaconelli 05.06.13 at 7:50 pm

If Sinatra had stayed retired c 1971, I would never have had the chance to see him give extraordinary concerts in the Philadelphia area in 1974, 1975, 1978 and even 1982. Many performances 1978 thru 1982 were as good as any in his long career. His psot 1971 career was a concert career, not a recording career–it must be judged differently.

P S - How can you leave out- “September of My Years” and “Songs for Swingin’ Lovers?” Essentials. And maybe I’d add “Sinatra and Strings” as well. GSfrom GB is second rate Sinatra. “Point” is uneven, as is Nice n Easy.

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