Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sinatra's Way

“You can be the most artistically perfect performer in the world, but an audience is like a broad–if you're indifferent, Endsville.”
-Frank Sinatra

There is no denying that Frank Sinatra deserves a spot in the elite ranks of America's musicians, if not THE top spot. The question is, as time goes by, who is going to hold on to him? Thankfully, Concord Records is trying to keep his legacy alive for new generations of listeners to hopefully latch on to with the release of two albums which came out earlier this week.

The first is a re-issue of his classic album My Way, forty years after its initial release. Built around the title track which could pass for Sinatra's theme song for life, the album includes standards as well as covers as only Frank could pull off, including a slowed down strings version of the Beatles' Yesterday and a swinging version of Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson. With the re-issue comes two additional bonus tracks: a rehearsal recording of For Once In My Life and a live version of the album's title track recorded in 1987. This is definitive Frank from the middle of his long career

The second is a live album recorded in East Rutherford, NJ on March 14, 1986, and titled Live At The Meadowlands. I'm not going to lie to you here, Ol' Blue Eyes was certainly in the September of his years at this point, and it shows. Gone is the swagger and attitude, and they're replaced with a knowledge that he had more years behind him than in front of him. Instead of the witty banter between songs that you'll hear listening to his live shows from the 60's and 70's, it feels like Frank is saying good bye here. His voice lacks the vitality and range it once held and seems to be working hard to belt out what it does. But despite all that, it's still Sinatra, and even on his bad days, he knew how to sing like the legend he was. On top of that, coming from the 80's, this show is able to draw on material from all parts of his long and storied career, and boy does he have plenty of material to choose from. While I wouldn't suggest this as the first live Sinatra disc to spin, if you've got enough from the other decades, Live At The Meadowlands will round out your collection nicely.

So now for the goods. I'll start with a track from My Way that probably won't be all that familiar, a swinging cover of a Ray Charles song, Hallelujah, I Love Her So. The second, from the live album, slows things down and is just plain old textbook Sinatra: one of his saloon songs where he makes you feel like a buddy on the bar stool next to him, One For My Baby (And One More For The Road), one of my personal favorites.

Visit his official website and these releases' label Concord Music.

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