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“The Voice Of Frank Sinatra” Reviewed

If Frank Sinatra appears to be fully formed already with the release of his debut album, The Voice Of Frank Sinatra, he certainly was. By the time Voice was released, in 1946, Sinatra had been in the business for eleven years, married for six years, with a daughter, he’d been on close to 100 singles (20 under his own name), sold out the Paramount for weeks on end, had the sort of pre-albums career that would become fodder for “The Godfather”,” as he negotiated his release from Tommy Dorsey, appeared on radio, and argued with everyone to maintain control of his  own career. WWII was just over and the US would never be stronger, more decent, and more influential, even as they hit Japan with an atomic bomb.

The Voice Of Frank Sinatra was the first album ever released, though at first it was four two sided slabs of 78 (reissued in 1950 as one 33 1/3rd recorded album), that reached the first recording charts Top Five (not ten yet) and remained at the top for 7 weeks, spending a total of 18 weeks in the charts.

Sinatra’s performance on eight songs you know by heart, from Gershwin to Porter, songs he’d perform his entirely life, indeed songs I’d hear him perform on his final tour. Recorded in two sessions, one in New York, the other in Los Angeles, with Axel Stordahl’s empathic arrangement (he would work with Sinatra through the rest of the 1940s). This is unlike Frank’s work with Big Bands, when he was at service to conductors, that was dance and it existed to be danced for, a long instrumental build up, a verse and a chorus, and back to the instrumentals. Sinatra had been working with Alex since 1940, and whenever he arranged the song for Dorsey, Sinatra sounded better. He was a natural fit.

The Voice Of Sinatra is a fine album, Frank already has mastered a subtle, emotional grace: his singing had a lyrical hue, they ebbed and flowed and delivered feeling with nuance. It was the fruition of Crosby’s microphoned gift of quietness. All of the songs here are finely wrought though you might want to try the one’s you might not know, the da Bing co-composed “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You,” is ten years before In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning type song, which would lead the way to one of his greatest triumphs. “You Go To My Head,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” and “These Foolish Things,” were already benchmarks in the Great American Songbook, but Cole Porter’s “Why Shouldn’t I” is an obscurer one and well worth a listen.

As far as teen girl stars go, Bing was Elvis Presley to Frank’s the Beatles, and this was Frank’s  A Hard Day’s Night: the perfection of his great gift.


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