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Frank Sinatra’s “Swing Along with Me” Reviewed

Album # 18, Swing Along With Me (sometimes known as Sinatra Swings, after Capitol Records complained about its similarity in name to Come Swing With Me,  they changed  and then changed it back with the CD release) is the penultimate release of the insanely busy 1961, the fourth out of five, and the best so far.

A couple of things make it the best, the problems with stereo production that hurt Come Swing With Me are fixed, Sinatra, at the age of 45, is in superb voice. There is no edge to him here, he doesn’t press anything, he just swings with beauty and ease and he is smashing. The brass are a touch to prevalent but that is more than made up with a tracklist that isn’t the American Standards standards, finally, for the most part, here are songs we haven’t heard a million and one time. If Tony Bennett delved this deep into the American Songbook I wouldn’t be so indifferent to his 2010 material.

How obscure is it? I only knew four songs out of twelve. The rest were if not unknown certainly not remembered and while the quality of songwriting is not first tier, the borderline racism of “Moonlight On The Ganges” with its faux-world intro and “moonlight on the ganges my little Hindu” just seems a little bizarre. The song is overplayed and sinks as near to swinging, but Sinatra sings it to a standstill. At that’s the worst moment, his take on “Granada” gave Frank a minor hit and with its Spanish intro is as far out of his comfort zone as he gets and still manages to send it out with a wallop closing:  it is  as good a cover as you could hope for.

“Granada” is one of the four we  know, the other two are Rodgers and Harts’ set opener “Falling in Love with Love,” the Gershwins’ “Love Walked In” (from, the 1938 musical “The Goldwyn Follies”) and the biggest song here, “You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You,” with a tremendous finger picked stand up bass rumbling right through it like it was trap or something.

All of those songs, all the songs here, are excellent performances by Frank: this is not Frank proving anything except that he is  the equal or superior at interpreting music of anybody just about ever. “Don’t Cry Joe” and “Don’t Talk ABout Me When I’m Gone” are fine but not outstanding songs (and the latter could be slowed down and taken as a big time ballad) Frank just swings it, he just goes right up to it and swings and hits, it’s fine, it’s fine, it does the job.

Grade: B+

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