Sinatra 100th: Ten Best Albums – No. 09
Since way back in January, we here at TCOTS have been celebrating Frank Sinatra’s 100th Birthday and, man, it’s been a swingin’ affair so far. We started by ticking off the 100 Best Performances of The Chairman Of The Board on CD and digital download, and now we’re ready for another supersonic flight where the air is so rarified: counting down the Top Ten Best Albums of Mr. Sinatra, because, above everything else, ol’ Francis Albert was about da albums for a good part of his career [we’ll be featuring one album per week and this will take us right-up to the big day: 12 December].
While he may not have invented the Concept Album [and that is a matter of some dispute], Frank certainly defined and brought the genre to near-Perfection, turning out a series of them that still move the Heart and thrill the Soul.
While time will not permit me to post audio for all the tracks, I’ll try to provide a nice sampler of the tunes I enjoy the most.
So…put your seat belts on and get ready for a real mothery time [and indulge in a little ‘Hey-Hey’, if you feel the urge].
Captain Frank will be your pilot and Bobby Bell your navigator.
Let’s get this bird soaring…
09 — Nice ‘N’ Easy
Recorded: 01, 02, 03 March and 13 April [Nice ‘N’ Easy only] 1961
Arranger: Nelson Riddle
Best Mastering* on CD/Digital Download: Mobile Fidelity Gold CD [not so easy to find, can be expensive]; second choice: 1991 Capital CD [CDP 7 96827 2] with four bonus tracks [still available in the UK].
Mastering Engineer: Could be Rob LoVerde; 1991 CD: Larry Walsh
[favorite Performances in black]:
- “Nice ‘n’ Easy” (Alan Bergman, Marilyn Keith, Lew Spence) – 2:45
- “That Old Feeling” (Lew Brown, Sammy Fain) – 3:33
- “How Deep Is the Ocean?” (Irving Berlin) – 3:15
- “I’ve Got a Crush on You” (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) – 2:16
- “You Go to My Head” (J. Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie) – 4:28
- “Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread)” (Rube Bloom, Johnny Mercer) – 3:22
- “Nevertheless (I’m in Love with You)” (Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby) – 3:18
- “She’s Funny That Way” (Neil Moret, Richard A. Whiting) – 3:55
- “Try a Little Tenderness” (Jimmy Campbell, Reginald Connelly, Harry M. Woods) – 3:22
- “Embraceable You” (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin) – 3:24
- “Mam’selle” (Mack Gordon, Edmund Goulding) – 2:48
- “Dream” (Johnny Mercer) – 2:57 [in other words: I like ’em all]
The album title and the title track were not originally supposed to happen. Frank intended to put out an record of re-interpreted songs he had recorded prior to his comeback, when he was a heartthrob crooner in the 1940’s.
But, before the final album was signed-off on, Frank agreed to jettison the planned album title and title track, The Nearness Of You. It appears this was done to both promote what everyone thought would be a big hit, Nice ‘N’ Easy, if it was aggressively promoted and to, in turn, have the hit single promote album sales.
While the performance of Nice ‘N’ Easy is one of Sinatra’s best [#22 on my List], it is definitely out of place with the other eleven tracks, which are, as Will Friedwald described them [in Sinatra!: The Song Is You], ‘glowingly warm standard love songs’. As Mark Steyn comments:
…The title is a bit of a misnomer: Aside from the eponymous track, the set is poised midway between nice’n’easy and bleak’n’wrist-slashy, as in its predecessor, No One Cares. The eleven ballads are reflective and intimate — many of them written around the same time as “Fools Rush In” and benefiting from a Sinatra mature enough to have lived their lyrics….
More from Mr. Friedwald:
…Riddle coated the set with a soft sheen of brilliantly arranged strings and the most prominently displayed coterie of sidemen he had ever used, spotlighting a different sideman on almost every track — but not making a point of it….
And they’re some of the best: Plas Johnson, George Roberts, Harry Klee, Bill Miller, Felix Slatkin, etc.
While the title track does not take away much from the mood of the album, if you take it out and replace it with The Nearness Of You what you get is, perhaps, the greatest slow-dance / make-out set of all time. It’s a perfect compliment to a Romantic Evening of cocktails and couches with the one you love.
-How many roses are sprinkled with dew?…
-Maybe I’ll win, maybe I’ll lose…
-I got a woman…crazy ’bout me…
-You won’t regret it, women don’t forget it…
-Here’s the one that should have been the title track:
See you next Weekend as we head-off again to Bobsville…and tell us your favorite albums in the Comments, Clyde.
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 ring-a-ding world.
If you’re having trouble tracking down any of the masterings on this List, contact me at Robert[dot]Belvedere[at]gmail[dot]com and I might be able to help you.
*The links I’m providing for the best CD/Digital
masterings are not meant to be an endorsement of
the site linked to. I receive no enumeration or any
kind of considerations from them. They are linked
for informational purposes only.