In a career encompassing seven decades, Frank Sinatra blazed many trails. Yet his role in the birth of the long-playing record, or LP, is oddly among his lesser-known accomplishments. Legacy Recordings and Columbia Records have just celebrated that momentous event with a 70th anniversary limited and numbered reissue of The Voice of Frank Sinatra, available exclusively on vinyl from the Vinyl Me Please webstore.
When Sinatra took the microphone at Columbia’s Vine Street Playhouse in Hollywood, California on July 30, 1945 to commence recording The Voice of Frank Sinatra, the singer was making history. On that date, he recorded the first four songs for a new, eight-song 78 RPM album set. The format wasn’t new, though these photo book-style binders (hence the term “album”) usually collected an artist’s previously released singles. Sinatra wasn’t the first to marshal the album for new, linked recordings, either; Lee Wiley had been doing “songbook” albums since 1939 when she celebrated George Gershwin on the Liberty Music Shop label. But Sinatra, foreshadowing his famous Capitol concept albums, was the first artist to hit upon the notion of a thematically and sonically linked series of songs. Only one orchestra leader would be employed – Axel Stordahl – and, collectively, all eight songs would tell a musical story. This was no hodgepodge, but a true, cohesive musical statement from an artist. And there was the revolution.
Sinatra finished recording later in the year in New York, with Stordahl leading the session there. (Mitch Miller, with whom the artist would famously clash in just a few short years, played oboe on the New York date.) The songs chosen were some of the day’s finest, many of which would remain in the vocalist’s repertoire and in the American standard songbook, among them the Gershwins’ “Someone to Watch Over Me,” Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots’ “You Go to My Head,” and Holt Marvell and Jack Strachey’s “These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You).” The singer’s tones were pure, intimate, expressive, and almost unbearably romantic, as if he was singing to the listener directly. On March 4, 1946, The Voice of Frank Sinatra arrived in stores, making it abundantly clear why the singer wasn’t just a voice. He was The Voice.
A little over two years later, the album made history again. Columbia Records had pioneered the long-playing microgroove record, improving both the sound quality of recorded music and the amount of which could appear on a disc. In late 1947, Columbia was ready to unveil its remarkable, game-changing invention. The label announced a whopping 99 titles would be released as LPs on June 28, 1948. The majority (87) were classical titles: 67 twelve-inch LPs, and 20 ten-inch ones. Finian’s Rainbow became the first long-playing Broadway cast recording, and the remaining ten releases were in the pop genre, all in the 10-inch LP format. The Voice of Frank Sinatra thus became the very first pop LP – inaugurating the way in which music is still consumed today. (Even digital releases are curated and assembled in the style of the long-playing record!)
Producer Charles L. Granata and restoration/mastering engineer Mark Wilder at Battery Studios have lovingly recreated The Voice of Frank Sinatra for a new, 10-inch replica LP available exclusively through Vinyl Me Please. This special 70th anniversary reissue includes an eight-page booklet with two fascinating and exemplary essays by Granata (“Celebrating the Voice of Frank Sinatra’) and Sony Music Archives director Tom Tierney (“The Microgroove Revolution: 70 Years of the LP”). The original artwork has been meticulously recreated, though its tip-on jacket has been approximated. Each jacket is individually numbered in this limited edition of 1,000 units. It’s been pressed on standard weight vinyl at Gz.
An album of many firsts, The Voice of Frank Sinatra remains a benchmark in the art of popular singing. This reissue is available now exclusively through Vinyl Me Please at the link below!
Frank Sinatra, The Voice of Frank Sinatra (Columbia C-112, 1946 (78s)/Columbia CL-6001, 1948 (LP) – reissued Columbia/Legacy 19075852681, 2018)
- You Go to My Head
- Someone to Watch Over Me
- These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)
- Why Shouldn’t I
- I Don’t Know Why (I Just Do)
- Try a Little Tenderness
- (I Don’t Stand) A Ghost of a Chance