Friday, May 18, 2018

Frank Sinatra – Standing Room Only

This three CD set of previously unreleased Sinatra live performances is an incredible achievement. These are the complete concerts that Sinatra performed, released for the first time in their entirety, and covering three decades of his amazing career. This is Sinatra in person; witty, charming, and always in command. His vocal range and high talent is readily on display. He was and remains among the greatest vocal stylists in music history, and that talent is on display here. Because these are the actual concert recordings, you hear Sinatra unfiltered, and sometimes politically incorrect by today’s standard’s. Get over it. Sinatra’s “patter” as they call it is mostly magnanimous toward others, and genuinely affectionate. CD # 1 is from the Sands in Las Vegas and recorded on January 28, 1966. This concert features Count Basie and the orchestra conducted by Quincy Jones. That fact alone makes the release of this concert a historical landmark. There are 16 tracks. CD # 2 is from The Spectrum Arena in Philadelphia on October 7, 1974 and features the great Bill Miller conducting the Woody Herman Orchestra. There are 17 tracks. CD # 3 is from the Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas on October 24, 1987 and again with Bill Miller conducting. There are an amazing 24 tracks. The sound quality is excellent and the package includes a booklet with text and photographs. There are many standards here that will please long-time fans, but rarities and stand out selections as well. The 1974 recordings of “Ol Man River,” and “Send in the Clowns” are especially fine. The 1987 recordings feature an aging Sinatra with a slight raspy edge to his voice, which adds a poignancy to the songs (he had recently recovered from acute laryngitis). His performance in 1987 of “What Now My love” and “Moonlight in Vermont” are wonderful. Sinatra knew music, and he knew what worked best for him, and he could meld a lyric to a melody better than anyone else. The occasional lapse or stalled que are handled with such finesse they are barely noticeable. Live performances, particularly by someone like Sinatra with extraordinary talent, are endearing not only for the popular music but because that music is offered as an unfiltered, raw rendition that is at once immediate and personal. Sinatra delivers. Frank Sinatra – Standing Room Only is a collection of music I will never grow tired of listening to.

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