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Friday, May 20, 2005

Frank Sinatra Friday!

Now this is the stuff!!!!!!! Frank Sinatra's "Songs for Young Lovers" released as a 10 inch LP in 1953 on Capitol Records H488... As the cover states Sinatra was "Accompanied by NELSON RIDDLE".. there's so much to say about this LP and i will try to sum up:

1. this is sinatra's comeback album.. he'd broken through or was about to with his oscar winning role in the film "from here to eternity".. but musically ever since the late 1940s and leaving columbia records he'd been going nowhere fast..

2. nelson riddle's arrangements marked a new high in american music production.. they were so good that from then on riddle became THE marquee producer...when people speak of the frank sinatra albums that riddle arranged they usually call them the "sinatra-riddle" recordings..he gets a lot of credit...his unconventional use of instruments such as the celeste...his jazzy/swinging charts... the supremely talented soloists many of whom came from a succesfull background in the jazz world (ben webster on sax, etc.)... all this came together to breathe new life into the great standards of the age... his arrangements are far livelier than sinatra's alex stordahl 1940s arrangements on columbia..for example, check out the introductory solo on "they can't take that away from me"..

3. of course sinatra's voice had really grown in stature by the time of this recording..he'd become a better more mature singer! I like to think some of this had to do with repeatedly catching billie holiday performances..but who knows.. bilie was probably a small part of it as we know he considered her the finest singer and repeatedly recorded versions of songs she had performed.. on some of the slower material he still could sound a bit hokey reminding one of his 1940s recordings (such as "little girl blue" on this record) but on others such as "my funny valentine" or "i get a kick out of you" his voice is just reaching new heights..particularly amusing is his delivery of the couplet "some they may go for cocaine..i'm sure that if i took even one sniff it would bore me to riff..thickly too"..

4. this lp begins sinatra's fruitful association with capitol records which i believed helped establish capitol records as a player in the music business.. before capitol had the beatles in the 60s they were fortunate to count with frank who sold millions upon millions of records prior to breaking off to head his own record label "reprise"...

5. before this lp most lp's were just hodge podge reissues of 78rpm recordings without much of a concept or unifying theme.. when we buy an album we are used to the album having some sort of identity that binds it together but this was an idea that began to take root around this time...the concept: "songs for young lovers" of course!... the lp's advantages in presenting music in a certain manner began to be realized with this lp..artists and record labels got used to the idea that an artist could go in to the studio to record a unified cogent work- which could be marketed as such- rather than a few scattered sides....

unfortunately its tough slog to get these early 10 inch lps in good shape.. i've got two and they ain't mint i'll tell you!

by the way.. in the early days of the compact disc age this 8 song lp was combined with its follow up the more up tempo "swing easy" which is also brilliant... i think that cd which really is what got me into frank sinatra in the first place about 11 years ago was just stellar..jam packed chock full with 16 sinatra classics!...

still. i'm always, if you haven't noticed by now, partial to the earliest release... like to get to the source if at all possible!..

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