Sinatra 100th: Ten Best Albums – No. 04
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…
04 — All Alone
Recorded: 15, 16, 17 January 1962
Arranger: Gordon Jenkins
Best Mastering* on CD/Digital Download: There is only been one and it has been reissued a few times.
Mastering Engineer: Lee Herschberg.
[favorite Performances in black]:
- “All Alone” (Irving Berlin) – 2:42
- “The Girl Next Door” (Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane) – 3:18
- “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” (Roy Turk, Lou Handman) – 3:31
- “Charmaine” (Erno Rapee, Lew Pollack) – 3:17
- “What’ll I Do?” (Berlin) – 3:15
- “When I Lost You” (Berlin) – 3:43
- “Oh, How I Miss You Tonight” (Benny Davis, Joe Burke, Mark Fisher) – 3:21
- “Indiscreet” (Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen) – 3:52
- “Remember” (Berlin) – 3:23
- “Together” (B.G. DeSylva, Lew Brown, Ray Henderson, Stephen Ballantine) – 3:21
- “The Song is Ended (but the Melody Lingers On)” (Berlin) – 3:25
A gem waiting to be discovered, even by many Sinatra Fans, All Alone is one of Frank’s best ballad albums. It is one of his lowest-selling records for reasons I still don’t understand because it’s so damn beautiful — not the same kind of beauty as Where Are You [#7], which I described thusly:
It’s also a work of beauty.
From Frank’s gentle vocals to Gordon Jenkins’s masterful sonically painted backdrops, this album is infused with a loveliness, an exquisiteness, and an elegance that encompasses you like a warm blanket in a cold room.
No. All Alone is as Will Friedwald wrote:
Another appropriate title might have been Ruminations At Dusk, for all of the songs are painted in the reds and yellows of a sunset [BOB: Like those colors on the album’s cover]. You feel as though you’re rifling through faded song sheets in an old-time small-town music shop at closing time. Further, each of the nine ‘oldies’ tunes concerns itself with an absence, so that even apart from the fact of their age, each song has a built-in factor of nostalgia and longing for a happier past….
…we can’t approach [Gordon Jenkins’s] work without sensing the kind of decorum that goes with buttoned shoes — a sort of starched collar correctness. Sinatra has no such reservations, however, and on many levels the central drama of the album emerges from the tension between the singer’s impassioned pleading and the quaint parlor settings of the backgrounds. The third key element, the waltz factor [BOB: All of the songs are in Waltz time], affects the other two, making the backdrops seem more formal and the singing more fervent. This album appeals to Sinatra’s sense of rhythm and brings out the most in him, no less than any of the swing albums…. [from the book SINATRA!: The Song Is You]
All of these elements coalesce in impassioned symphony of longing and remembrance that strikes deep in the Soul of someone of middle age or beyond in years.
This is a mature Frank Sinatra — no unseasoned, head-in-the-clouds Romance here — one who has known the joyous heights of Love and the deepest depths of Love-Lost. No dramatic acts, ala Romeo and Juliet, are contemplated. Within All Alone is resignation and a slight smile in tribute of what once was and was so wonderful [it’s akin to that moving Kris Kristofferson song For The Good Times, especially Ray Price’s version].
It is rumored that this album was originally going to be titled Come Waltz With Me and Frank commissioned Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen to write a tune with that title. He recorded it, but decided to leave it off the album, which was the right choice as it doesn’t fit in mood-wise and is not one of that great writing team’s best works [some of the CD versions of this album contain the recording as a bonus track].
A smart decision by Francis Albert was to include five songs from Irving Berlin, who was a master of the Waltz and of the kind of mood that infuses All Alone. No one can do this kind of sad quite like Mr. Berlin.
–Is your heart filled with pain
Shall I come back again…
–What’ll I do with just a photograph
To tell my troubles to?…
–And I lost the angel who gave me summer — the whole winter too…
–But I’d rather be lonely, and wait for you only…
–We sang a love song that ended too soon…
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