Some have said, "It's Frank's world. We just live in it." And today at The Second Disc, we're in Frank's world. We'll soon bring you a review of Concord's Frank Sinatra - Count Basie: The Complete Studio Recordings, but first comes news of an upcoming anthology that's the first of its kind. Sinatra's Best of the Best arrives on November 1 from Capitol Records and Frank Sinatra Enterprises, and is a compilation with a difference. For the first time, Ol' Blue Eyes' recordings for both Capitol (1954-1962) and Reprise Records (1961-1981) are brought together on a single-disc release. Best of the Best will be available in numerous formats: a one-CD compilation, a double-CD set restoring to print a rare 1957 concert from Seattle, Washington, and as digital downloads.
The 23 songs featured on Best of the Best are chronologically arranged, beginning with 1953's "I've Got the World on a String" and concluding with 1980's "Theme from New York, New York." While selecting the finest performances by Sinatra is a thankless task with so many indelible songs to choose from, the compilers have opted for 13 Capitol tracks and 10 from the Reprise period. The early portion of the disc covers highlights from Sinatra's acclaimed string of Capitol concept albums. His very first album for the label, Songs for Young Lovers, is represented by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "My Funny Valentine," while its 1956 "sequel" Songs for Swingin' Lovers has yielded both Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin" and the Mack Gordon/Josef Myrow standard "You Make Me Feel So Young." The mark of arranger and conductor Nelson Riddle is apparent on the Capitol tracks as he and Sinatra redefined the rules of popular singing. The freewheeling style of Billy May enlivens 1957's album title song "Come Fly with Me" by the team of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, who also appear via "Love and Marriage" (used as the theme to television's Married with Children), "All the Way" and "My Kind of Town."
Reflecting Sinatra's diverse collaborations at Reprise, Best of the Best features arrangements by Riddle, Don Costa, Gordon Jenkins, Quincy Jones and Ernie Freeman. When Sinatra formed Reprise, he was intent on using his newfound artistic freedom to pursue numerous new directions, and the adventurous spirit led him to record with talents like Antonio Carlos Jobim, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Rod McKuen and even Four Seasons writer/producer Bob Gaudio. Sinatra's mid-1960s pop smashes "Strangers in the Night," "Summer Wind," "That's Life" and "My Way" sit comfortably alongside the vintage Rodgers and Hart, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter and Cy Coleman tunes from Capitol. Best of the Best wraps up with (what else?) John Kander and Fred Ebb's valedictory "Theme from New York, New York," one of the most beloved recordings of all time by any artist of any genre.
The deluxe edition of Best of the Best includes a June 9, 1957 live performance from Seattle previously released on the DCC/Artanis label as Sinatra '57. This long out-of-print disc was originally released in 1999 and mastered by Steve Hoffman; Nelson Riddle provided the arrangements and even conducted. Sinatra's longtime accompanist Bill Miller was at the piano. Sinatra triumphantly runs through an amazing number of standards, including some not included on Disc 1 of the new compilation: "At Long Last Love," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Just One of Those Things," "I Won't Dance," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "The Tender Trap" and Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's quintessential saloon song, "One For My Baby."
For more on Best of the Best, including the complete track listing with discography and pre-order link, just hit the jump and meet me at Jilly's place!
Frank Sinatra, Jr. provides the new liner notes for Best of the Best. The deluxe edition is housed in a lift-top box with an expanded booklet and six postcards. There's no word yet of who will be remastering the album. An international version of Best of the Best offers 24 tracks and dispenses with the American edition's chronological order; it offers a number of different tracks, among them "Something Stupid" with Nancy Sinatra, "It Had to Be You," and "Mack the Knife" from the 1984 Qwest album L.A. is My Lady. The international version is being discussed by our friends at the Sinatra Family Forums here.
Frank Sinatra once sang, "Nothing but the best is good enough for me," and you'll certainly find that evident when perusing these 23 track titles. Best of the Best is available from Capitol Records in the U.S. on November 1. You'll find track listings and pre-order links below!
Frank Sinatra, Best of the Best (Standard CD/Deluxe CD - Capitol/Frank Sinatra Enterprises, 2011)
- I've Got The World On A String (Capitol single F-2505, 1953)
- My Funny Valentine (Songs for Young Lovers, Capitol 10-inch LP 488, 1954)
- Young At Heart (Capitol single F-2703, 1954)
- In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning (In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning, Capitol LP 581, 1955)
- Love And Marriage (Capitol single F-3260, 1955)
- You Make Me Feel So Young (Songs for Swingin' Lovers, Capitol LP 653, 1956)
- I've Got You Under My Skin (Songs for Swingin' Lovers, Capitol LP 653, 1956)
- The Lady Is A Tramp (Pal Joey: Original Soundtrack, Capitol LP 912, 1957)
- Witchcraft (Capitol single F-3859, 1957)
- All The Way (Capitol single F-3793, 1957)
- Come Fly With Me (Capitol LP 920, 1957)
- Angel Eyes (Sings for Only the Lonely, Capitol LP 1053, 1958)
- Nice 'N' Easy (Capitol single 4408, 1960)
- Night And Day (Sinatra and Strings, Reprise LP R/R9-1004, 1962)
- The Way You Look Tonight (Sings Days of Wine and Roses, Moon River and Other Academy Award Winners, Reprise LP F/FS-1011, 1964)
- My Kind Of Town (Reprise single 0279, 1964)
- Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) (It Might As Well Be Swing, Reprise LP F/FS 1012, 1964)
- It Was A Very Good Year (Reprise single 0429, 1965)
- Strangers In The Night (Reprise single 0470, 1966)
- Summer Wind (Reprise single 0509, 1966)
- That's Life (Reprise single 0531, 1966)
- My Way (Reprise single 0817, 1969)
- Theme From New York, New York (Reprise single 49233, 1980)
Bonus Disc: Sinatra '57: In Concert (originally released as Artanis/DCC ARZ-101-2, 1999)
- Introduction/You Make Me Feel So Young
- It Happened in Monterey
- At Long Last Love
- I Get a Kick Out of You
- Just One of Those Things
- A Foggy Day
- The Lady is a Tramp
- They Can't Take That Away From Me
- I Won't Dance
- When Your Lover Has Gone
- Violets for Your Furs
- My Funny Valentine
- Glad to Be Unhappy
- One For My Baby
- The Tender Trap
- Hey Jealous Lover!
- I've Got You Under My Skin
- Oh! Look at Me Now
Paul M. Mock says
The foreign (non US) erdition of this CD has more songs on it.
Joe Marchese says
Hey Paul! Indeed - the "international version" is discussed (briefly!) in the second-to-last paragraph, above. Interesting track choices for that one, no?
I wonder what are the tracks missing in the International Version.
Pretty soon, if not already, there will be more "official" compilations and best of's for Sinatra than there are original albums. This does get tiresome. Since FS was so serious about the sequencing and songlist for his concept albums, this seems to disregard the artist's original intent. These compilations end up discouraging sales of Sinatra's original works for the younger generations of fans.
Joe Marchese says
Due to popular demand, we'll link to the international version, as well. Watch this space...