Tuesday, July 18, 2006

You Can Take the Boy Out of Hoboken...

If someone held my CD collection over the abyss and threatened to heave-ho unless I named one perfect pop recording, I'd have to go with Frank Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin" from Songs for Swinging Lovers (Capitol, of course, 1956). Years before the Batman theme was a glimmer in Nelson Riddle's baton he whipped up some of the best charts ever for these recording sessions, so much so if the album was instrumental it would still be worth buying.

Of course, the album most decidedly isn't instrumental, as it's got Sinatra at the top of his game. Anybody who thinks he's over-rated has to listen to this disc (among others, but it's a fine place to start), but you have to listen. Sinatra had that ease thing Cary Grant had in his best moments that led both to be devalued as nearly un-American (I know, I know, Grant wasn't American-born, but call him English at your own risk), for you never see them working.

On "I've Got You" Sinatra swings right along with the orchestra, letting it amp him up and ramp him down--it's a classic build song, with all the release in a horn-y burst of a bridge. Still, there are little moments when the nonchalance slips a tad, even if he can sell Cole Porter's "use your mentality, wake up to reality" reach for a rhyme better than anyone. In particular, there's the line, "I've said to myself this affair never will go so well," with a pause after the affair, but Sinatra does more than pause, he kinda swallows "affair," the "r" off to ritzy neighborhoods he can't quite negotiate his Jersey boy self through. Of course, it's only when he says something to himself that the mask slips a bit. That's singing.


Blogger DBD said...

I had always been a Tony Bennett man myself (I saw him deliver one of the most awe-inspiring vocal performances I have ever seen a few years back), and thought of Sinatra as overrated. After discovering "In the Wee Small Hours," though (thank you, Bruce Springsteen, for guiding me to it, in one of your many acts of guiding my life) my opinion turned. Since then, I've come to quite a bit of his work...and I must agree with your comments here...

11:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Wee Small Hours is great, too, but especially when you're alone and the bars are closed--much more a single guy's album, or at least one suffering from losing Ava Gardner. I had it in my head it featured "One for My Baby," but alas, that's on Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely. Listening to those Sinatra albums, it's hard to understand why people thought concept albums in the 1960s were such a big deal.

10:42 PM  

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