Sinatra 100th: The Best Performances – 25-23
Here at TCOTS, we’re celebrating Frank Sinatra’s 100th Birthday by counting down what I think are his 100 best performances on Vinyl and CD. All of the songs on the List have been released on either one or both mediums. Interspersed with the countdown will be Honorable Mentions that didn’t make the List and a countdown of what I think are his best albums.
Francis Albert will be your pilot and Bobby Bell your navigator.
So sit back easy in your easy chair, fasten your seatbelts, and let’s take-off in the blue…
Hold-on tight, baby — we’re now entering the Top Twenty-Five.
At Long Last Love
Music & Lyrics: Cole Porter
Recorded: 11 April 1962
From the album Sinatra And Swingin’ Brass
While Frank’s original recording of this on his A Swingin Affair! album is quite good, I think this version is more, for lack of a better term: more Cole-Portery. It captures that Porter sophistication, that devil-may-care, champagne-soaked attitude that you feel when listening to the best of Mr. Porter’s best.
It seems to me that Sinatra also is enjoying recording this version. ‘Is it a cocktail, this feeling of joy?’ —why, yes…yes indeed.
That’s Life [Alternative Orchestration]
Music & Lyrics: Dean Kay, Kelly Gordon
Recorded: 18 October 1966
Unreleased until the compilation album the Ultimate Sinatra  and only available in certain countries as either a download or on CD
The vocal performance is the same as you’ll find on the classic version, but, here, the backing vocals of The Raylettes are missing and the orchestration is different — and that makes all the difference in the World.
This version, in my opinion, really makes this R&B song swing and complements Franks vocal emoting much more closely. It’s a damn shame this version is not easy to come by [once again, Frank Sinatra Enterprises screws-up, big time — thanks, pallys].
Unfortunately, I have been unable to find this version on the InnerTubes [i thought they had everything!] but this version from his TV Special, A Man & His Music II, has the alternative orchestration in a more slow-burning form.
24 — TIE: Angel Eyes [Two Versions]
Music & Lyrics: Matt Dennis, Earl K. Brent
-Recorded: 01 April 1959
-From the album Live In Australia
-Recorded: 29 May 1958
-From the album Only The Lonely
As with Moonlight In Vermont [#76] I just can’t decide between the two arrangements — the Nelson Riddle one on Only The Lonely or the one Frank and The Red Norvo Quintet used on their 1959 gig in Australia. If I had to pick a version to take on the proverbial desert island, it would be the live version with just Bill Miller and Francis Albert — how more saloony [and sad] can you get?
‘Scuse me while I listen here…
The studio version…
23 — My Funny Valentine
Music & Lyrics: Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers
Recorded: 05 November 1953
From the album Songs For Young Lovers
What can I say about this classico di tutti classico that Mark Steyn hasn’t already stated?:
If you rushed out to buy Songs For Young Lovers in 1954, you knew something different was going on from the moment the platter hit the turntable: No verse, no real intro other than a couple of chords and a gossamer brush of strings, and then Frank’s into the lyric. It’s a lovely arrangement, conducted by Nelson Riddle but from a George Siravo chart that had been sitting around in a drawer for a couple of years. Sinatra wasn’t always comfortable in waltz time: he was a 4/4 guy and he could sometimes sound a little tentative in 3/4. Yet, when Siravo’s arrangement shifts into waltz time halfway through, Sinatra doesn’t “shift” so much as waft across the text in three-quarter time. He floats, effortlessly and beautifully. That’s the “Funny Valentine” that became a February 14th tradition.
And deservedly so..
See you next Friday as we head-off again to Bobsville.
Don’t forget to also keep checking out
Pundette’s Sinatra 100 countdown,
Ms Evi’s Sinatra Celebration,
& Mark Steyn’s Sinatra Songs Of The Century.
It’s a swingin’ world.
If you’re having trouble tracking down any of the performances on this List, contact me at Robert[dot]Belvedere[at]gmail[dot]com and I might be able to help you.