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Frank Sinatra’s “Dedicated To You” Reviewed

Change is gonna come! Frank Sinatra’s fifth album, 1950’s Dedicated To You, is his last with Alex Stordahl, the penultimate Columbia Records release, the penultimate release as four 78 rpm records, and, the penultimate release before a four year break from recording.

I was listening to some live tracks from 1958  and it is surprising at the jump that occurred between Dedicated To You, where he seems a little diffident on stuff like Cole Porter’s “I Love You,” and his 1958 Monte Carlo performances eight years later on “Come Fly With Me,” where he is as cool as a very dry martini. What we know as Sinatra, the ring-a-ding-ding, didn’t exist in 1950, it certainly did in 1958. in the late 40s, his voice was pristine but his attitude showed emotional forbearance that would reach its apex with the Nelson Riddle orchestrated  mid-50s albums and eventually evolve into the songs for swingin’ lovers of the late 50s. When I saw him in 1996, he was in his 70s  it was what remained, the cool.

It was a nightmare piecing Dedicated To You Together, no vinyl I could find, no CDs or streaming, only Youtube where there would be a handful of versions of Fred Ahlert’s “The Moon Is Yellow,” say, and I had to listen to them all before I could pick out which one was the correct version. What the 1950 versions have in common is a perfection of tone but not a perfection of character. Nobody would claim that the 1950 Frank could be anyone, it could only be Sinatra, yet even so: there is something not willing to make the song roll over and beg.

The problem is especially clear on a shockingly weak “Where And When”. Nobody doubts that it is a strange and difficult song, but it should be easy for Sinatra,yet he gets lost in the contours of the son, in its undertow. This Rodgers And Hart song is one he would perform many times, memorably on the Live At The Sands album, but here he is chasing it and it catches him at the end. A real disappointment. And on through the eight songs, and it has nothing to do with the session because “Where And When” dates from 1945, though it might have something to do with Sinatra having run a little short of recorded material. He also hadn’t hit the charts in a big way since before the Christmas album … maybe there was a reason for that.

Anyway, this wouldn’t do. A change was necessary and would happene befor the year was out.

Grade: C+

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