Making Love with Frank Sinatra
Fairy Tale & My Favorite Valentine
I am sure you will agree with me when I say Frank Sinatra’s songs are synonymous with love songs. A true Sinatra fan, I am sure, has his or her very favorite Sinatra love song.
What a better way to say “I love you” than with a Frank Sinatra song. Though, some of Sinatra songs are rather torch songs with love lost – angst.
“Look to Your Heart” is the third collection album of Frank Sinatra singles and B-sides with long-time collaborator Nelson Riddle. The album is a fine example of those favorite torch songs sung by Sinatra.
The vocal jazz and classic pop album was released through Capitol in 1959, although it was recorded between 1953 and 1955 when Sinatra’s film and television career was hitting one of its highest points. He won an Academy Award for From Here to Eternity in 1955. Interestingly a couple of long-lost songs from the 1955 live television musical version of Our Town, where Sinatra played the Stage Manager with Paul Newman, are included in the album. “I Could Have Told You,” a favorite torch song eventually became a standard. “Same Old Saturday Night’ reflects his new-found swing and wackiness with “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die” suggesting his inclination towards living a rather pleasure-seeking, hell-bent lifestyle complete with beatnik bongos.
From Here to Eternity
After listening to this album for awhile, one notices the eclectic arrangement of songs. None really fit together, but each song is a sensual pleasure in itself. One can’t help but appreciate Sinatra’s versatility as a singer with such songs as the uplifting and rhythmic "Same Old Saturday Night” to the whimsical and delicate “Fairy Tale.” The fact that the collection reached the Top Ten, there is compact disc reissued of this album, aside from The Capitol Years disc box set. All of the tracks exist in the box set The Complete Capitol Singles Collection.
With that said, I have to admit “My Favorite Valentine” song by Sinatra is very appropriate for today. A perfect way to say “I love you” -- a perfect gift for any Sinatra fan.
Strangers in the Night & Summer Wind
“Strangers in the Night” was released through Reprise Records in 1966 by Frank Sinatra, continuing his celebration of his come back to the #1 spot at the pop album charts starting in the middle of the 1960s.
It is the last album Sinatra will ever work with long-serving arranger and conductor Nelson Riddle.
Jonathan Schwartz of WNEW wrote this about Nelsen Riddle:
“Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Nelson Riddle stand, in my judgment, at the spine of American popular music. Nelson's voice, like the others, changed our thinking, pushed us forward, addressed us with startling originality. The scope of his talent dwarfs all other arrangers. His obvious pleasure in delegating authority-to the oboe, flute, bass trombone, muted trumpet, organ, bassoon, vibraphone-while still remaining in full control of his administration; his overseeing without overstating the strings; his own private melodies that whisper respectfully under the Gershwin or Kern or Rodgers on the table; his out and out passion that informs every bar of every arrangement. All these things are actively combined in the immense body of work that stands as one of the great achievements in American arts. To find that Nelson, personally, is a droll, tender, reclusive and richly intelligent fellow, adds a special kind of luster to my fondness for him, devotion to him. The book you are holding is about music. There is no more qualified an author available…Anywhere.”
Strangers in the Night
“Strangers in the Night” combines popular hits like "Downtown" and “Call Me”.
Then show tunes like “On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)” and with standards, too, like “My Baby Just Cares for Me” and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World”.
The listening pleasure is balancing big band with popular instrumentation. “Strangers in the Night” even made it to the pop single charts as #1, knocking the Beatles from the charts, and “Summer Wind” gradually evolved into a timeless classic even achieving a more permanent commercial success comparing to its forerunner. The song was heard on television commercials and played while the credits rolled for the movie The Pope of Greenwich Village.
The album received two Grammys for Sinatra, including Best Male Vocal and Best Record of the Year. The album became certified platinum with 1 million copies sold in the U.S. alone.
Riddle used horns, strings and an organ making an easy swinging rhythm while Sinatra sings in a relaxed mood, feeling confident and jazzy delivering a sensational gust of breathtaking vocals, appealing to Sinatra’s steadfast fans while attracting pop radio.
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The 1966 album was produced by Sonny Burke and release through Reprise Records with Frank Sinatra working once again with Nelson Riddle as the arranger and conductor.
Sonny Burke was mostly known for being the musical director of Reprise Records and producing many of Sinatra's albums. He graduated from Duke University in 1937 where he formed and led the jazz big band called the Duke Ambassadors.
Burke became a big band leader in New York in the 1930s and 1940s. It was during the 1940s and 1950s he started working as an arranger for bands like Charlie Spivak and Jimmy Dorsey bands.
Burke teamed up with Peggy Lee and wrote the songs to Disney's Lady and the Tramp. He even wrote songs with John Elliot for Disney's Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom, which won the 1953 Oscar for Best Short Animated Feature.
Reaching for the Moon
In Moonlight Sinatra, the prevailing theme for each song is the Moon, perfect album to make love with Frank Sinatra. The album’s title refers to “Moonlight Sonata” by Ludwig van Beethoven. Riddle drives the music with lush, effervescent arrangements, creating a romantic tone and tasteful theme with every song having the word “moon” in its title.
Although the concept is not strong enough to call the recording a concept album, the title is clever and Riddle creates a succession of charts that offer a warm and pleasant evening including a variety of moods and tones. He forms easy Latin ballads playing rhythms while Sinatra gently sings a perfect blend of stretching each lyric with light touches.
Moonlight Sinatra is considered a minor recording, yet many fans take delight in the Sinatra and Riddle collaboration. Half of the recordings are associated with Bing Crosby, whom Sinatra idolized, thus turning the album into a casual tribute.
Some unfamiliar songs were chosen by Sinatra and Riddle like “Reaching for the Moon” by Irving Berlin accompanied by string bass. Burke included “The Moon Got in My Eyes”, “Oh, You Crazy Moon” and the endless “Moonlight Becomes You”. A unique rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “Moon Love” uses Sinatra’s soft touch, yet the instrumentals are strong with refreshing strings. Moonlight Sinatra is worth owning for any Sinatra fan and is accessible through Complete Reprise Studio Recordings.
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