Here you can discuss other musicians and CD reissues etc

Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Review

Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:11 pm

After only having 2008's "Nothing But the Best" compilation of the signature Sinatra tunes in my collection, I've started to delve more into ol' blue eyes' catalogue. I've recently acquired "Frank Sinatra Sings Only for the Lonely" (1958), "Songs for Swingin' Lovers" (1956) and "In the Wee Small Hours" (1955).

And boy, are they good. Especially the latter, which I have been playing almost non stop over these past few days. Discovering the genius of Frank reminds me of when I first started delving into Elvis' catalogue. Once it hits you, it hits you. Even the great blues man, B.B. King declared himself a "Sinatra nut" in his auto-biography; and said that he went to bed every night listening to "In the Wee Small Hours". Anyway, I'm not the most eloquent of writers and a review from me will not be able to do this album justice, so I'd like to share this review with you I found. For those who perhaps have ever wondered what all the fuss was about with Frank, read this review, pick up this album, and float back to a by-gone era. And like the album title suggests, it's best to play this album in those wee small hours of the morning.

And just a final word I'd like to say; it's made me think about Elvis recording a concept album similar in theme to this. Oh what an opportunity missed. One can just imagine it around 1961 in Nashville. With songs like "Anything That's Part of You" and "There's Always Me". Could've been something very, very special.

Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours. Released: 1955, Label: Capitol

Image

Tracklist:
1. In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
2. Mood Indigo
3. Glad To Be Unhappy
4. I Get Along Very Well Without You
5. Deep In A Dream
6. I See Your Face Before Me
7. Can't We Be Friends?
8. When Your Lover Has Gone
9. What Is This Thing Called Love?
10. Last Night When We Were Young
11. I'll Be Around
12. Ill Wind
13. It Never Entered My Mind
14. Dancing On The Ceiling
15. I'll Never Be The Same
16. This Love Of Mine

phpBB [video]



http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/7066 ... all-Hours/

Nick Butler, STAFF

Rating: 5/5 Classic

Having been a star for over a decade, Frank Sinatra's career looked like it was over when the 1950s dawned. A bitter dispute with his record label led to his departure from their roster, which meant that not only his recording contract was null and void, but that he was left without a radio show, and could no longer appear in films or on television. Sinatra was dead. The man who looked like he might become the next Bing Crosby had been lost to time. Surely.

One man was prepared to give Sinatra another chance - Alan Livingston, the vice president of A&R at Capitol Records, and a major Sinatra fan. He offered Sinatra a 7-album deal, which the man himself gladly snapped up. One problem - Capitol had a roster filled with irrelevant, anachronistic 40s stars. What was to stop Sinatra blending in and becoming just another faded star?

Obviously, history has taught us that Sinatra was a special case in just about every way imaginable. Livingston and his Capitol cohorts, meanwhile, had a masterplan that would exploit that to maximum potential. That masterplan involved a young composer and arranger named Nelson Riddle.

Sinatra was resistant to Riddle's involvement at first, yet the reason he'd left Columbia a few years previous was their insistence on using gimmicks to sell records. It wasn't hard to know that Riddle was exactly the kind of person Sinatra needed to make the kind of music Columbia wouldn't let him.

Forward to 1955. Sinatra had already released two records with Riddle - Swing Easy and Songs For Young Lovers - and had established a pattern for his career of a dance album followed by a melancholy album, followed by a dance album, and so on. This schedule now called for Sinatra to deliver a melancholy album. Not that he'd want to do anything else - his relationship with Eva Gardner had fallen apart spectacularly.

That's why In The Wee Small Hours is often referred to as the first ever concept album. This was Sinatra dealing with how lost and alone he felt when Gardner left him. In an era where albums effectively did not exist - the 12-inch disc was not invented until shortly after the release of in The Wee Small Hours, and when it was invented, this was the album that came to define the medium - In The Wee Small Hours was a revelation. It was the first recording that sustained a mood - any mood - for its entire length. It was the first recording specifically designed to flow the way we now expect albums to. And it was the first recording intended to be listened to one sitting, rather than broken up and digested on a song-to-song level.

So this, right here, can legitimately not just be called the first concept album ever, but could even be called the first genuine album ever. Scary thought, huh? That fact makes In The Wee Small Hours a serious contender for the most influential musical work of the 20th century.

History remembers Sinatra as an arrogant, swaggering man, full of life and full of bravado. "My Way". "New York, New York". Even "Love & Marriage", later adopted as the theme for TV series Married With Children. In The Wee Small Hours destroys that notion. This is the sound of a man descending into depression, a man alone. His legendary voice is now underpinned not by masculinity, but by longing and sadness. His reading of Hoagy Carmichael's "I Get Along Without You Very Well" is heartbreaking (the emotion invested into the opening couplet is stunning); opener "In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning", written specifically for the album, even more so. The real high watermark, though, is the album's centerpoint. Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" sees him crying, wounded.

"You gave me days of sunshine
You gave me nights of cheer
You made my life an enchanted dream
til somebody else came near
Somebody else came near you
I felt the winters chill
And now I sit and wonder night and day
Why I love you still?"


So, the album's concept is a night spent longing for a lost love. Simple, yes, but devastatingly effective. After all, compare it to later concept albums. How often does a person spent a night alone and lonely, compared to how often they go blind, deaf, and dumb, and win some kind of pinball thingy?

Riddle's arrangements throughout are brilliant. They don't jump off the page at all, but they're sympathetic and imaginative - the instrumental sections on "Ill Wind" being a highlight, along with the intro to "I'll Never Be The Same". In fact, oddly enough, Riddle appears to grow into the project as the album goes along - his music gets better and better towards the second half of the record, although there's something magical about the distant, distracted piano intro to "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning". Make no mistake, though - this is Sinatra's show, and Riddle understands that.

This album spurred him on to a string of equally great albums (Songs For Swinging Lovers! and Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely being of particular note, the latter feeling like a direct follow-up to this). More importantly, it sealed his place in history like nothing he did before or after. It not only restored him to the level of fame he'd enjoyed in the 40s, it also won him an entirely new audience. Sinatra was now a bigger star than he'd ever been.

In truth, In The Wee Small Hours may seem slightly dated to a new listener - the influences here stem clearly from vocal jazz and film scores, and Sinatra himself quoted Billie Holiday as a major influence on proceedings. (Curiously, and ironically, Holiday's 1958 album Lady In Satin was directly influenced by this album, and includes versions of "Glad To Be Unhappy", "I Get Along Without You Very Well", and "I'll Be Around".) There is, it must be said, not a guitar in sight, which alone may put some off. But repeated listens reveal a rich, textured, warm album that creates a world any listener can immerse themselves in, should they so wish. It's just a quality album - and quality never goes out of fashion.

Rating this album reveals a slight flaw in the Spuntik rating system - there are better albums than this, albums I enjoy more, that I would only rate 4.5. Yet, when one of the options is 'Classic', there's absolutely no other way to rate this album. It's a classic in every sense of the word.

Serious fans of music can be split into two camps - those who own this album, and those who have a big fat gap in their collections.

Within The Genre - 5/5
Outside The Genre - 4.5/5

Recommended Songs
In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
Glad To Be Unhappy
I Get Along Very Well Without You
Deep In A Dream
What Is This Thing Called Love?

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:14 pm

Ever see the movie Tin Men? The song was put to great use on the soundtrack.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:18 pm

elvisjock wrote:Ever see the movie Tin Men? The song was put to great use on the soundtrack.


Which one, the title song "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" or the one I highlighted with a video, "What Is This Thing Called Love?" ?

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:42 pm

Wee Small. It plays while Richard Dreyfus seduces Danny DeVito's wife.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:53 pm

In the Wee Small Hours is a certain masterpiece, and perhaps my all-time favourite album -- although, I could easily cite numerous Sinatra albums as contenders in that respect. And although it's quite easy to cite In the Wee Small Hours as being the first true concept album - which, it surely is - Sinatra first recorded an album-worth of material ten years prior, and with a concept in mind . . . The result: The Voice of Frank Sinatra -- the first pop album to have been released at 33⅓ rpm, when Columbia first entered into the LP market in 1948.

The Voice of Frank Sinatra is a 24 minute masterpiece of only eight songs, all of which were arranged and conducted by Axel Stordahl, whose work with Sinatra was pivotal in modernising the romantic pop sound of the 1940s, at a time when Sinatra was revolutionising popular singing. I can't recommend Sinatra's Columbia recordings highly enough, and this album is a great place to start -- especially the 2003 reissue, which was expanded to feature a further ten tracks. And here, Sinatra was never better as a vocalist -- his voice pure, true, tender and powerful in equal measure, with a range few can match. His version of George and Ira Gershwin's Someone to Watch Over Me is beautifully sung, with the utmost sincerity and delicious phrasing . . . These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You) is just as good; Sinatra's lower register being ample ample, warm and very inviting.

I could certainly discuss at length Sinatra's marvellous recordings during his years with Columbia, and of course, with Dorsey and James . . . But where you are with those Capitol albums is a great place to really start enjoying Frank Sinatra and the brilliant music he made -- IMO, there's not a finer body of work in all of popular music than Sinatra's period at Capitol. And in the years that followed, his recordings with Reprise present an embarrassment or riches, from the lavish Sinatra and Strings (1962) and extraordinary The Concert Sinatra (1963) to albums with Count Basie and Antonio Carlos Jobim, the magnificent September of My Years (1965), the underrated Moonlight Sinatra (1966), the very affective A Man Alone (1969), the splendid 'Ol Blue Eyes is Back (1973) and the superlative Trilogy: Past Present and Future (1980).

Going back to In the Wee Small Hours, however, this remarkable album contrasts the sweet romanticism of Sinatra's debut album for Capitol, Songs For Young Lovers, by painting a canvas of plaintive hues, warm shades and stark tones via a bittersweet setting that's no better embodied in the marvellous title track. Yet, every song on this album is a masterpiece of writing, arranging, production and performance -- from Duke Ellington's Mood Indigo to Cole Porter's What is This Things Called Love? and both Harold Arlen's Ill Wind and Last Night When We Were Young, such are jazz-tinged classics whose dimensions are only expanded under the brilliance of Nelson Riddle's arrangements and Sinatra's magnificent vocals . . . Riddle was as well matched to Sinatra during the '50s and '60s and Axel was during the 1940s -- and here, lush strings and jazz sensibilities site side-by-side with the lovely acoustic chords of Can't We Be Friends, the drama of When Your Lover Has Gone and the wistfulness of Rogers and Hart's It Never Entered My Mind.

Yet, as sombre as In the Wee Small Hours is, Songs For Swingin' Lovers' ebulliance, verve and brisk jazz feeling is its complete antithesis, and no less a masterwork . . . And such follows in the direction pointed at by Sinatra's second album for Capitol, Swing Easy, and numerous rhythm pieces for Columbia, such as Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week, Five Minutes More and brassy jazz of Birth of the Blues. Here, the joyous and wholly infectuous You Make Me Feel So Young sets the mood, which is continued via the romantic swing of It Happened in Monterey. Cole Porter's Anything Goes, George and Ira Gershwin's Love is Here to Stay, and Richard A. Whiting and Johnny Mercer's Too Marvellous For Words, set a new standard for the adult pop song that was exceeded only by the 56-bar masterpiece that is I've Got You Under My Skin. A song Sinatra had sung as a ballad under Dorsey and with Columbia, but updated here via a jazz arrangement of gentle intensity, built through soaring strings and punching brass that intensifies through Sinatra's searing vocal and a feverish trombone solo that climbs to a torrid climax.

More haunting and bleak than any album I've ever heard, is Frank Sinatra's Only the Lonely -- and this may be the pinnacle of Sinatra and Riddle's collaborations at either Capitol or Reprise. An imaginative, bold, multi-layered and technically exceptional work of the highest standards -- Only the Lonely found Sinatra and Riddle investing a grand emotional sweep via a huge ensemble of stellar musicians, who were able to employ a range of the richest emotional resonance that absorbed facets of jazz and orchestral symphonies via shades of Chopin, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Ellington and Vaughan Williams, conducted under the baton of Felix Slatkin. And here, Saloon songs, as Sinatra liked to call them, blended with haunting pop tunes steeped in blues and elegies to lost love that's more than just melancholy -- it's bleak, and the tone never shifts; there's no light at the end of the tunnel or hints at brighter days ahead.

Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen's titular opening track sets the tone and delivers the mood via long and unconventional melodies that Sinatra eats up. Yet this is a diffiuclt, achingly slow song with nods to Chopin on the piano and a range only the most versatile of singers could cope with -- and few have, as this song has not been oft covered. Angel Eyes boasts a similarly daunting range, and is crushing in its effect . . . Gone With the Wind, What's New and Spring is Here range from the brilliant to the sublime -- each performance given time to breath, every song treated to beautiful, extended arrangements that are allowed to seep into the listener's conciousness and remain long after . . . Sinatra's sensational emulating of a train whistle in Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's Blues in the Night chills to the bone in a superlative piece of jazz-cut rhythm and blues. And no better song could have been chosen to close the album that Arlen/Mercer's seminal One for My Baby (And One More for the Road) . . . Perhaps the ultimate torch song, and a paean to self-pity and loneliness that packs an emotional wallop.

For your consideration, however . . .

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:57 pm

I discovered Sinatra about 20 years ago and have eventually acquired just about eveything the man put on tape.

Genius. Beyond question.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:16 am

Greystoke, bravo!

I have most of Sinatra's Capitol recordings and a fair heap of his Reprise cuts. Without doubt, one of the finest bodies of music ever left.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:08 am

WOW greystoke, what a post! I thought you might drop by on this topic as from other posts I've gathered you are a big Sinatra man. I've always thought Frank was one of those guys that would just be so cool to be a fan of. There's just a certain class and panache about him. I mean I've always been familiar with his signature tunes, as we all are. But now I've started to properly pay attention the nitty gritty, I'm starting to realise that I seriously dig this music. I guess I've always been an old soul at heart anyway.

I agree totally with what you say here...

greystoke wrote: More haunting and bleak than any album I've ever heard, is Frank Sinatra's Only the Lonely -- and this may be the pinnacle of Sinatra and Riddle's collaborations at either Capitol or Reprise. An imaginative, bold, multi-layered and technically exceptional work of the highest standards -- Only the Lonely found Sinatra and Riddle investing a grand emotional sweep via a huge ensemble of stellar musicians, who were able to employ a range of the richest emotional resonance that absorbed facets of jazz and orchestral symphonies via shades of Chopin, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Ellington and Vaughan Williams, conducted under the baton of Felix Slatkin. And here, Saloon songs, as Sinatra liked to call them, blended with haunting pop tunes steeped in blues and elegies to lost love that's more than just melancholy -- it's bleak, and the tone never shifts; there's no light at the end of the tunnel or hints at brighter days ahead.

Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen's titular opening track sets the tone and delivers the mood via long and unconventional melodies that Sinatra eats up. Yet this is a diffiuclt, achingly slow song with nods to Chopin on the piano and a range only the most versatile of singers could cope with -- and few have, as this song has not been oft covered. Angel Eyes boasts a similarly daunting range, and is crushing in its effect . . . Gone With the Wind, What's New and Spring is Here range from the brilliant to the sublime -- each performance given time to breath, every song treated to beautiful, extended arrangements that are allowed to seep into the listener's conciousness and remain long after . . . Sinatra's sensational emulating of a train whistle in Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's Blues in the Night chills to the bone in a superlative piece of jazz-cut rhythm and blues. And no better song could have been chosen to close the album that Arlen/Mercer's seminal One for My Baby (And One More for the Road) . . . Perhaps the ultimate torch song, and a paean to self-pity and loneliness that packs an emotional wallop.


Along with "In the Wee Small Hours", "...for Only the Lonely" stands as a great companion, almost like a sequel. And it 'dares' more if you know what I mean. "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" is absolutely amazing, so too is the album closer "Where or When" which builds up to the greatest crescendo at the end of an album I've ever heard in my natural life. "Angel Eyes" and "Ebb Tide" have been other stand-out tracks for me, with "Blues In the Night" just going round and round in my head for the past couple of days. I cannot get that song off my mind! I'm just on a massive Sinatra kick now and lovin' every minute of it.

But I'm going to take your advice on board when delving further into Frank's catalogue, thanks man.
Last edited by Good Time Charlie on Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:08 am

greystoke wrote:Image

Image


When in the middle of a heartbreak...boy do these two albums do the job....

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:50 am

My parents had em all. Love the sad Cap albums.

Elvis fans appreciate Sinatra, but the other way around?

rjm

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:45 am

I admire Sinatra nearly as much as I admire Greystoke's posts!

I can't really add much to that, other than it's always good to see people on here investigating the works of other artists. Greystoke's list of recommended albums is also well selected I think. It's nice to see Point of No Return recommended, for it's Sinatra's last capitol album and hugely under-rated. But there are some gorgeous performances contained within it and, while it is believed generally that the 12 tracks were tossed off in a series of 1 or 2 take performances, one can only wonder how well-prepared Sinatra was when he entered the studio. There are precious few alternate takes officially released from Sinatra sessions, but there are a fair few on bootleg if you can find them and it is interesting how Sinatra's approach to a song varies subtly during the recording process while, of-course, the orchestral arrangement remains the same. I would love to share some via youtube, but sadly they just get taken down as soon you put them up, so there is little point :(

I would also recommend a couple of albums that Greystoke didn't list, which is the album with Duke Ellington. Just eight tracks, although all are between 4 and 5 minutes. It may not be the best work either men did, but Sinatra is having a ball and a couple of tracks are classics and the slowed down, rather sexy version of the then-hit Sunny is also a stunner. The other album is Nice n Easy which, after the opening track is a beautiful selection of love songs, superbly arranged by Riddle. This isn't a suicide or torch album, but a set of ballads about the wonders of love in the main (and features the same arrangement of Fools Rush In which Elvis used for his home recording in 1966)

Finally, the best way to enjoy the Sinatra albums are in their original running order. The bonus tracks on many of the capitol cds only spoil what has gone before in many cases - and often the album is plenty long enough anyway, without the bonus tracks. It doesn't matter so much on a lesser album like Come Dance With Me (a lesser album! Imagine an album of that standard during Elvis's lean years!), but on something like Only The Lonely, the two extra tracks only break the spell of the wonderfully conceived album which you have just heard. Sleep Warm and even the gorgeous Where Or When have no place here. The best way to hear the Capitols is via the UK Capitol Years boxed set from around 1999 I think. The sound is superb and the albums are contained in there with their original running order - with the 21st disc being a cd of rarities.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:25 pm

poormadpeter wrote:I would also recommend a couple of albums that Greystoke didn't list, which is the album with Duke Ellington. Just eight tracks, although all are between 4 and 5 minutes. It may not be the best work either men did, but Sinatra is having a ball and a couple of tracks are classics and the slowed down, rather sexy version of the then-hit Sunny is also a stunner.


I was going to start a topic re. Francis A. and Edward K. a few days ago, and forgot all about doing so -- for this, IMO, is perhaps the most underrated album of Sinatra's career and, IMO, one of his best albums on Reprise. Billy May arranged here; a last minute replacement after long-time Ellington collaborator and arranger, Billy Strayhorn, passed away prior to recording. And although Sinatra is said to have suffered from a cold, and Ellington's band's intuitive approach was tempered through the use of charts and a lack of preparation, there's plenty of magic here. Alan Jay Lerner and Fredrick Loewe's Follow Me is the opening track, and the strong brass and Frank's easy vocal affords an immediate pull, whilst a stately-paced approach to Bobby Hebb's Sunny is loaded with charm.

In Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim's All I Need Is the Girl - from the musical Gypsy - Sinatra and Ellington swing hard -- and sensationally so. Indian Summer is a gorgeous piece of music-making, with spacious and lush textures in the orchestration and in Sinatra's rich vocal -- Johnny Hodges incredible sax solo on this track is one of the finest moments on the album. Nelson Riddle has cited this as being his favourite Sinatra recording.

Ellington's sumptuous I Like the Sunrise is his only composition featured here, and this is easy, laid back and casual jazz of the highest standard. However, Yellow Days may well the the album's stand-out track -- Alvin Carrillo's swirling melody is both fascinating and completely engaging, and throughout this, Sinatra treads was care and delicacy, imbuing a sense of longing and wistfulness through Alan Bernstein's marvellous lyrics. Ellington's orchestra is afforded an entire chorus here, and Johnny Hodges shines yet again. This is sheer brilliance!

Poor Butterfly is the penultimate track on the album, and the arrangement here - from the first to the last notes - is terrific. Sinatra oozes gentle confidence, delivering an on-the-money vocal that build slowly and grasps tightly. Burton Lane's Come Back to Me brings the album to a sensational end -- both Sinatra and the orchestra are on scintillating form here, with Frank barely pausing for breath over some brilliantly written verses which, along with a brass-driven arrangement that tears along at a mile-a-minute pace, stretches his range a lungs. Fantastic . . .

Image

If I can recommend one more terrific collection - without elaborating too much this time lol - it would be the exceptional box set, Frank Sinatra: A Voice in Time, 1939 - 1952.

This remarkable set details Sinatra's exceptional recordings with Harry James, Tommy Dorsey and as a solo artist with Columbia -- it's a four disc set, beautifully housed along with a superb hardback book. The sound is splendid and there are some alternate takes and air-checks here that are previously unreleased; however, as a retrospective of those very rich and voluminous years in Sinatra's career, this is the best collection I've come across. And is one of the best box-sets I've had the pleasure of owning . . .

Image

Image

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:57 pm

I have to say the Columbia period is my least favourite of Sinatra's. But there is also a PD release of the complete Columbia masters (minus one track I think for some reason), which is called The Complete Collection. It's out of print now, but I paid about £10 for the twelve discs about four years ago. And at around £35 on amazon second hand it's still something of a bargain. No liner notes or booklets to speak of, but the sound quality is pretty damned good. And with the "official" columbia set currently fetching around £200, this is the best way forward for anyone wanting the complete works. The picture on amazon is a little misleading, for the outside box actually holds four smaller slipcases, each with 3 discs and when put together the slipcases make up a picture of sinatra's face.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Collection-1943-1952-Frank-Sinatra/dp/B0006M4SVY/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1315421546&sr=1-2

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Thu Sep 08, 2011 1:42 pm

Oh, I'm such a fan and admirer of Sinatra's recordings with Columbia -- I have the Columbia Years box-set, which is easily among my favourite releases EVER. 12 CDs, housed in a maple wood box, almost like a CD rack -- complete with a cloth-bound hardback book and a plastic screen with an image of Sinatra. It's an incredible collection.

I had recently noticed the one you linked to, and it seems like a fine set in its own right -- this said, A Voice In Time is rarely fare away from my CD player. It's a truly marvellous collection, too -- and so very, very well presented and compiled.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:53 am

Nice review Greystoke.

In The Wee Small Hours is about neck and neck with Only the Lonely as my favorite Sinatra although it's followed very closely by Songs for Swingin' Lovers for me "You Make Me Feel So Young" is the best thing he ever did, so full of the affirmation of life. I must say though that I enjoy the first Jobim set as much as any of them, although I know in my heart it's not as good as that '50s series, a little more monotonous I guess and fewer standout moments, but still I find the high points exhilarating including the brilliant reclamation of "Girl From Ipanema." I would think his most underrated LP would be Watertown because it never gets discussed and it is actually quite moving. As I am a huge Four Seasons fan and this is a Bob Gaudio production, this probably has an extra soft spot for me. Continuing on the underrated path, I would also like to add the absolutely splendid version he did of "Goody Goody" on the Live And Swinging collection released a few years back and recorded in 1962. He completely reinvents the song with his phrasing, pausing on the title words, basically speaking them, and capturing a lot of the snarl that a lot of other singers miss.

I think in the Capitol days he was a better singer, but in the Columbia days his voice was much more beautiful, even if i never felt it in sheer sonic beauty it matched Crosby or Martin or Cole or some of my other favorite singers in the pop tradition. My favorites from then are "Someone to Watch Over Me" and his mesmerizing "Time After Time."

I have a big soft spot for a lot of his late '60s work because of the way he directly confronted aging. This is something that was largely confined to the blues and country margins at that time if you heard it at all.

I don't mind the bonus tracks on the classic albums as long as they are on the end. There's no necessity to listen to those two last tracks in the same sitting as the classic album (although I admit I'm a song person first, as opposed to albums) and it helps avoid the collector's nightmare of trying to track down songs that never appeared on albums, yet often miss greatest hits or are one greatest hits and not another.

I think a key to Sinatra's later greatness was the fact that he was significantly humbled in the early 1950s. Losing his deal and being on the outskirts of the culture kind of set him on fire inside driving him to take complete control of his career and set to his liking. When he got that second chance at the ring he was determined not to let it go and to do it on his own terms. If you watch his early films there's none of that cock of the walk glory you would see in the later movies and the great man's TV appearances.

Peggy Lee's Black Coffee also has a good claim to being the first concept album. Like rock n' roll it may have been an idea whose time had just come.

Good time Charlie- I kind of discovered Sinatra in the same manner as well. For years I only had a Capitol era greatest hits, then I bought this very album under discussion here and within a year I had about 30 CDs.

It's appropos of nothing I suppose but I don't think I would have ever warmed to Sinatra had it not been for Bobby Darin. I remember I bought a greatest hits of Darin's career in the mid-1990s to get "Dream Lover" which I had on 45 but wanted on CD and the song Elvis remade "I'll Be There" which a local oldies station played all the time. I went mad for that CD and eventually found myself getting into Bobby's mainstream pop. The songs, and melody and orchestration on those was what built my taste gradually for old school pop. And just as I used Darin to find a way into Sinatra and Martin, I used Sinatra as guide into Clooney, Bennett, Crosby, Dick Haymes etc.

That's the sad thing about the way Lennon's Elvis comment has been misinterpreted. There was actually quite a bit of good stuff before Elvis not only in classic pop, but in blues, country, gospel and jazz.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:27 pm

likethebike wrote:Nice review Greystoke.

In The Wee Small Hours is about neck and neck with Only the Lonely as my favorite Sinatra although it's followed very closely by Songs for Swingin' Lovers for me "You Make Me Feel So Young" is the best thing he ever did, so full of the affirmation of life. I must say though that I enjoy the first Jobim set as much as any of them, although I know in my heart it's not as good as that '50s series, a little more monotonous I guess and fewer standout moments, but still I find the high points exhilarating including the brilliant reclamation of "Girl From Ipanema." I would think his most underrated LP would be Watertown because it never gets discussed and it is actually quite moving. As I am a huge Four Seasons fan and this is a Bob Gaudio production, this probably has an extra soft spot for me. Continuing on the underrated path, I would also like to add the absolutely splendid version he did of "Goody Goody" on the Live And Swinging collection released a few years back and recorded in 1962. He completely reinvents the song with his phrasing, pausing on the title words, basically speaking them, and capturing a lot of the snarl that a lot of other singers miss.

I think in the Capitol days he was a better singer, but in the Columbia days his voice was much more beautiful, even if i never felt it in sheer sonic beauty it matched Crosby or Martin or Cole or some of my other favorite singers in the pop tradition. My favorites from then are "Someone to Watch Over Me" and his mesmerizing "Time After Time."

I have a big soft spot for a lot of his late '60s work because of the way he directly confronted aging. This is something that was largely confined to the blues and country margins at that time if you heard it at all.

I don't mind the bonus tracks on the classic albums as long as they are on the end. There's no necessity to listen to those two last tracks in the same sitting as the classic album (although I admit I'm a song person first, as opposed to albums) and it helps avoid the collector's nightmare of trying to track down songs that never appeared on albums, yet often miss greatest hits or are one greatest hits and not another.

I think a key to Sinatra's later greatness was the fact that he was significantly humbled in the early 1950s. Losing his deal and being on the outskirts of the culture kind of set him on fire inside driving him to take complete control of his career and set to his liking. When he got that second chance at the ring he was determined not to let it go and to do it on his own terms. If you watch his early films there's none of that cock of the walk glory you would see in the later movies and the great man's TV appearances.

Peggy Lee's Black Coffee also has a good claim to being the first concept album. Like rock n' roll it may have been an idea whose time had just come.

Good time Charlie- I kind of discovered Sinatra in the same manner as well. For years I only had a Capitol era greatest hits, then I bought this very album under discussion here and within a year I had about 30 CDs.

It's appropos of nothing I suppose but I don't think I would have ever warmed to Sinatra had it not been for Bobby Darin. I remember I bought a greatest hits of Darin's career in the mid-1990s to get "Dream Lover" which I had on 45 but wanted on CD and the song Elvis remade "I'll Be There" which a local oldies station played all the time. I went mad for that CD and eventually found myself getting into Bobby's mainstream pop. The songs, and melody and orchestration on those was what built my taste gradually for old school pop. And just as I used Darin to find a way into Sinatra and Martin, I used Sinatra as guide into Clooney, Bennett, Crosby, Dick Haymes etc.

That's the sad thing about the way Lennon's Elvis comment has been misinterpreted. There was actually quite a bit of good stuff before Elvis not only in classic pop, but in blues, country, gospel and jazz.


Haymes's small body of work for Capitol in the 50s is really very beautiful.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Sat Sep 10, 2011 4:43 pm

likethebike wrote:Nice review Greystoke.

In The Wee Small Hours is about neck and neck with Only the Lonely as my favorite Sinatra although it's followed very closely by Songs for Swingin' Lovers for me "You Make Me Feel So Young" is the best thing he ever did, so full of the affirmation of life. I must say though that I enjoy the first Jobim set as much as any of them, although I know in my heart it's not as good as that '50s series, a little more monotonous I guess and fewer standout moments, but still I find the high points exhilarating including the brilliant reclamation of "Girl From Ipanema." I would think his most underrated LP would be Watertown because it never gets discussed and it is actually quite moving. As I am a huge Four Seasons fan and this is a Bob Gaudio production, this probably has an extra soft spot for me. Continuing on the underrated path, I would also like to add the absolutely splendid version he did of "Goody Goody" on the Live And Swinging collection released a few years back and recorded in 1962. He completely reinvents the song with his phrasing, pausing on the title words, basically speaking them, and capturing a lot of the snarl that a lot of other singers miss.

I think in the Capitol days he was a better singer, but in the Columbia days his voice was much more beautiful, even if i never felt it in sheer sonic beauty it matched Crosby or Martin or Cole or some of my other favorite singers in the pop tradition. My favorites from then are "Someone to Watch Over Me" and his mesmerizing "Time After Time."

I have a big soft spot for a lot of his late '60s work because of the way he directly confronted aging. This is something that was largely confined to the blues and country margins at that time if you heard it at all.

I don't mind the bonus tracks on the classic albums as long as they are on the end. There's no necessity to listen to those two last tracks in the same sitting as the classic album (although I admit I'm a song person first, as opposed to albums) and it helps avoid the collector's nightmare of trying to track down songs that never appeared on albums, yet often miss greatest hits or are one greatest hits and not another.

I think a key to Sinatra's later greatness was the fact that he was significantly humbled in the early 1950s. Losing his deal and being on the outskirts of the culture kind of set him on fire inside driving him to take complete control of his career and set to his liking. When he got that second chance at the ring he was determined not to let it go and to do it on his own terms. If you watch his early films there's none of that cock of the walk glory you would see in the later movies and the great man's TV appearances.

Peggy Lee's Black Coffee also has a good claim to being the first concept album. Like rock n' roll it may have been an idea whose time had just come.

Good time Charlie- I kind of discovered Sinatra in the same manner as well. For years I only had a Capitol era greatest hits, then I bought this very album under discussion here and within a year I had about 30 CDs.

It's appropos of nothing I suppose but I don't think I would have ever warmed to Sinatra had it not been for Bobby Darin. I remember I bought a greatest hits of Darin's career in the mid-1990s to get "Dream Lover" which I had on 45 but wanted on CD and the song Elvis remade "I'll Be There" which a local oldies station played all the time. I went mad for that CD and eventually found myself getting into Bobby's mainstream pop. The songs, and melody and orchestration on those was what built my taste gradually for old school pop. And just as I used Darin to find a way into Sinatra and Martin, I used Sinatra as guide into Clooney, Bennett, Crosby, Dick Haymes etc.

That's the sad thing about the way Lennon's Elvis comment has been misinterpreted. There was actually quite a bit of good stuff before Elvis not only in classic pop, but in blues, country, gospel and jazz.


I'm also very fond of Sinatra's work with Jobim, LTB . . . Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim contains not only some of Frank's best work, IMO, but also displays some of his softest singing -- which was very much required to conjour the appropriate mood. The choice of songs was terrific, with Jobim's guitar-work sublime and Claus Ogerman's arrangements just beautiful. A nice companion-piece is Sammy Davis, Jr's. quite charming Sammy Davis, Jr. Sings/Laurindo Almeida Plays, which was released the year prior, in 1966.

Watertown, I agree is very underrated -- or certainly underknown, as this was a quite well-received album in respect to what the critics thought. That it went nowhere commercially is a crying shame, not merely because it deserved success, but also because a TV special was in the planning and was scrapped after the album's non-performance sales-wise. This is one album, however, that I suggest to anyone looking to purchase, not to buy with the bonus track "Lady Day." Not that Lady Day isn't a fine song - although, I prefer Frank's second recording - but the overall effect of this album is lost if not brought to a close with The Train. Thankfully, the recent reissue has removed Lady Day -- and boasts wonderfully remastered sound, into the bargain.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:20 am

I really love "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" from that album. I do agree about Sinatra's singing. It's like he's on a tightrope and he's kind of balancing himself trying not disrupt the gentle sway of the music. It really has an ethereal quality.

I was very disappointed that the second time out, they only managed half an LP.

It's a shame the Watertown TV show didn't work out. Its failure commercially is kind of stunning as its chart position was worse than any non-compilation album in Frank's lifetime. Maybe Frank's usual audience thought it was too weird. Or maybe Frank had simply not adjusted to the new commercial rules yet. This was his third new release in a year with a compilation mixed in for a fourth. 1969/1970 kind of marked the period where artists started to do one instead of three plus albums per year.

I'll have to check out that Sammy album.

Poormadpeter- Haymes is kind of example of the need for reasonable PD laws. While you can find him on an occasional multi-artist comp, you really have to search to find anything else at retail, even in collector's stores, and when you do it's usually a PD comp. I wish there was a little more respect for some of the crooners in the market today. Haymes deserves a listen in my opinion as he had a gorgeous instrument.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Sun Sep 11, 2011 12:28 pm

likethebike wrote:I really love "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" from that album. I do agree about Sinatra's singing. It's like he's on a tightrope and he's kind of balancing himself trying not disrupt the gentle sway of the music. It really has an ethereal quality.

I was very disappointed that the second time out, they only managed half an LP.

It's a shame the Watertown TV show didn't work out. Its failure commercially is kind of stunning as its chart position was worse than any non-compilation album in Frank's lifetime. Maybe Frank's usual audience thought it was too weird. Or maybe Frank had simply not adjusted to the new commercial rules yet. This was his third new release in a year with a compilation mixed in for a fourth. 1969/1970 kind of marked the period where artists started to do one instead of three plus albums per year.

I'll have to check out that Sammy album.

Poormadpeter- Haymes is kind of example of the need for reasonable PD laws. While you can find him on an occasional multi-artist comp, you really have to search to find anything else at retail, even in collector's stores, and when you do it's usually a PD comp. I wish there was a little more respect for some of the crooners in the market today. Haymes deserves a listen in my opinion as he had a gorgeous instrument.


I'm not certain if you're aware, LTB, but a second Sinatra/Jobim album was recorded in full, pressed and had been shipped to some distributers in the 8-track format, when Sinatra stopped the release from going ahead and had the stock recalled. He didn't like the cover - a shot of Frank standing behind a Greyhound bus - and felt that three of the ten songs both weren't up to par, and fractured the mood of the album --Bonita, Desafinado and The Song of the Sabia.

Sinatra-Jobim, as the album was called, would have been released proper after A Man Alone, which is, ultimately, where Watertown slotted in.

Image

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:25 am

What a lovely thread about my favorite album. I could be wrong, but wans't In the Wee Small Hours originally released on 78 rpm? There were several 78's gathered together in a gatefold book and that was the "album." Later long-playing 33 1/3 enabled all 16 songs to be pressed in one LP. I started my Sinatra collection the right way, with the British box-set, and listened to the albums in chronological order of release. I thought I'd be most receptive to the swing albums, but those ballad albums got hold of me, and changed the way I listen to music forever. I recognized the first album, Songs For Swinging Lovers, like an old friend I hadn't seen in years. It felt familiar. I'd heard these songs, but never paid much attention to them, and now I could get to know them. The album won me over in the first minute. Then came Swing Easy; another revelation. I had discovered the perfect vocalist, a singer who could sing at a conversational level with a depth of feeling to match his mathematical phrasing. But the next album, In the Wee Small Hours, prompted an emotional upheaval. The music may have been recorded 45 years earlier, but the feelings Sinatra was expressing were contemporary and universal; they don't get old. Every male has these experiences, these thoughts, this way of expressing himself about his relationships with women, and every male knows these songs in his bones. The mood of that album was the mood of my life at the time. And so it went, listening to one album after the other in the British box.

Listening to the Capitol albums started me thinking about my late father. He was not one to listen to records, but when I was growing up he always had radio stations on that play Sinatra. He would turn the sound up whenever Sinatra came on. When a Sinatra film was playing, he'd tell me I could come along if I wanted. I'll never forget seeing The Detective (1968) when it was new and I was too little to understand what was going on, but I realize now that the film draws on the "saloon songs" for its dramaturgy and imagery. Once I felt as if my father was in the room with me, listening to In the Wee Small Hours.

I've listened to other editions of In the Wee Small Hours and to other editions of his Capitol records, but none have the clarity and presence of the British box-set. I've been hoping for a half-speed master or a SACD like Nice 'N Easy, but so far, no dice.

Image

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:38 pm

You're right, Richard. In the Wee Small Hours was originally released as a double 10" record set/album, and subsequently reissued as an LP.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:13 am

Richard--W wrote:What a lovely thread about my favorite album. I could be wrong, but wans't In the Wee Small Hours originally released on 78 rpm? There were several 78's gathered together in a gatefold book and that was the "album." Later long-playing 33 1/3 enabled all 16 songs to be pressed in one LP. I started my Sinatra collection the right way, with the British box-set, and listened to the albums in chronological order of release. I thought I'd be most receptive to the swing albums, but those ballad albums got hold of me, and changed the way I listen to music forever. I recognized the first album, Songs For Swinging Lovers, like an old friend I hadn't seen in years. It felt familiar. I'd heard these songs, but never paid much attention to them, and now I could get to know them. The album won me over in the first minute. Then came Swing Easy; another revelation. I had discovered the perfect vocalist, a singer who could sing at a conversational level with a depth of feeling to match his mathematical phrasing. But the next album, In the Wee Small Hours, prompted an emotional upheaval. The music may have been recorded 45 years earlier, but the feelings Sinatra was expressing were contemporary and universal; they don't get old. Every male has these experiences, these thoughts, this way of expressing himself about his relationships with women, and every male knows these songs in his bones. The mood of that album was the mood of my life at the time. And so it went, listening to one album after the other in the British box.

Listening to the Capitol albums started me thinking about my late father. He was not one to listen to records, but when I was growing up he always had radio stations on that play Sinatra. He would turn the sound up whenever Sinatra came on. When a Sinatra film was playing, he'd tell me I could come along if I wanted. I'll never forget seeing The Detective (1968) when it was new and I was too little to understand what was going on, but I realize now that the film draws on the "saloon songs" for its dramaturgy and imagery. Once I felt as if my father was in the room with me, listening to In the Wee Small Hours.

I've listened to other editions of In the Wee Small Hours and to other editions of his Capitol records, but none have the clarity and presence of the British box-set. I've been hoping for a half-speed master or a SACD like Nice 'N Easy, but so far, no dice.

Image


The British Capitol boxed set does indeed have lovely sound quality - and no bonus tracks after each album, which is a good thing when it comes to Sinatra. The sound on the 90s Reprise set has been superseded by the Universal reissues of the individual albums a few years back - but sadly there is still a batch of songs only available on the box.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:20 am

I've been out of the loop for so long I didn't realize Universal had released the original Reprise albums. I'll have to get those, and add 'em to the shelf next to the suitcase # 13621. I particularly want to hear a decent-sounding September of My Years.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Sun Jan 05, 2014 4:37 pm

Yes, that's the Capitol box I have. I've enjoyed the Universal releases - the Suitcase was deeply flawed in not keep albums in their original running order - chronological order just doesn't work for Sinatra in the way it does for Elvis. Who wants to listen to A Man Alone or Watertown out of order?! The Universals are mostly straightforward reissues of the original albums but with remastered sound. A couple are "deluxe" editions with bonus tracks, but nothing most of us haven't heard before.

Re: Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955) Album Revi

Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:37 pm

smt149

I must admit I was never too much into Sinatra as my sister used to torture me with him when I just started discovering Elvis Presley. Slowly but surely I start to appreciate his body of work but boy, this is hard stuff. Especially those three desperate albums. They're killing me. :wink: