Frank Sinatra Enterprises and UMe have released a second volume of their digital-only Reprise Rarities series, bringing together another 13 sides from Frank Sinatra‘s time at the label he founded, all of which are new to download and streaming.
This baker’s dozen from the Chairman of the Board spans 1960-1995 and is arguably even more eclectic than the first collection. Reprise Rarities Vol. 2 includes single B-sides (“Tina,” “Blue Lace,” “Star!,” “It’s Sunday”) as well as the sublime 1976 A-side “I Love My Wife” (the title ballad of Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart’s Broadway musical), the completed tracks from Sinatra and arranger-conductor Nelson Riddle’s unfinished album Here’s to the Ladies (“Nancy,” “Emily,” “Linda,” “Sweet Lorraine,” “Barbara”), and a handful of outtakes that didn’t see release until the 1990s (“Since Marie Has Left Paree,” the first recording of Bob Gaudio and Jake Holmes’ poignant Watertown-adjacent “Lady Day” as arranged by Charlie Calello, and Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s “The Girls I[‘ve] Never Kissed”).
While there’s nothing here that’s new, longtime Sinatra fans and new ones alike might well enjoy having these songs available at the press of a button. Reprise Rarities Vol. 2: Very Good Years…Indeed! is streaming now.
One of Frank Sinatra’s favorite vocalists was his friend Peggy Lee. Sinatra stood by Lee through thick and thin; when he passed away in 1998, her comment to the media was simple and touching: “I’m glad there was you.” For much of her trailblazing career, Peggy was connected to Frank’s onetime home of Capitol Records. But in between two stints (1944-1952 and 1957-1972) at Capitol, Lee recorded for Decca Records. Now, one of her most enduring albums for the label, Black Coffee, has been revisited by Acoustic Sounds, Verve, and UMe in its audiophile jazz vinyl series.
Black Coffee was the chanteuse’s very first full-length album, arriving in the 10-inch format in 1953. She fronted a small group (Jimmy Rowles on piano, Max Wayne on double bass, Ed Shaughnessy on drums, and Cootie Chesterfield, a.k.a. Pete Candoli, on trumpet) for a set of standards rendered with startling intimacy. Rodgers and Hart’s “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” Cole Porter’s “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and the title song by Sonny Burke and Paul Francis Webster were among the selections imbued by Lee with late-night languor and longing. Three years later, as the 12-inch LP was taking hold, Decca and original producer Milt Gabler brought Lee back into the studio to supplement the eight songs originally on Black Coffee.
With a new group including Bill Pitman on guitar, Lou Levy on piano, Buddy Clark on bass, Larry Bunker on vibes and percussion, and Stella Castellucci on harp, Lee cut another six tracks on April 3, 1956. Four of those songs (including the Gershwins and DuBose Heyward’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” Rodgers and Hart’s “There’s a Small Hotel,” and Sidney Clare and Jay Gorney’s “You’re My Thrill,” a favorite of Joni Mitchell’s) premiered on the 12-inch edition of Black Coffee while the remaining two were left unissued until the 1960s. Acoustic Sounds, Verve, and UMe have reissued the 12-inch version as originally released in August 1956. The new reissue has been remastered from the analog masters by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and pressed on heavyweight 180-gram vinyl. It’s housed within a sturdy gatefold sleeve (featuring photos of the artist) printed by Stoughton; both sides of the black vinyl have replica Decca labels with a similar but not identical font treatment for the text. Thanks to this audiophile-quality treatment, Lee’s smoky brew of Black Coffee is as heady and strong today as it was upon its original release.
Universal has also reissued David Bowie‘s mono self-titled debut LP as a limited edition, online-exclusive picture disc. Bowie circa 1966 was an artist in search of an identity. He had flirted with theatre, the mod movement, and even mime. When signed by Decca’s Deram, he had already released six unsuccessful singles on three different labels and fronted a number of short-lived bands. The Decca contract came shortly after his recordings for Pye, which had been shepherded by British hitmaker Tony Hatch of “Downtown” and “Call Me” fame. The Deram David Bowie album was all but forgotten once international superstardom beckoned for the artist, but its reputation has steadily grown over the years. While in need of a consistent direction, Bowie’s talent was very much in place on the 14-track LP which features strong arrangements from the likes of Ivor Raymonde and Arthur Greenslade and solid period production from Mike Vernon. Bowie’s songs such as “Love You Till Tuesday,” “When I Live My Dream,” and “Silly Boy Blue” are workmanlike and highly theatrical yet hint at the darkness and “plastic” sound Bowie would later mine to great effect. David Bowie is the sound of an artist on the cusp of an artistic breakthrough, and well worth (re)discovering.
The new picture disc is housed in a simple sleeve showcasing the suitable-for-framing cover image of the young Bowie. Side B has the track listing and original back cover image. A download card is also included. This release is an online exclusive through Universal’s webstores. You’ll find order links and the track listing below.
- Tina (December 21, 1960 – Reprise single B-side, 1961)
- Since Marie Has Left Paree (July 17, 1964 – first issued on The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings, Reprise, 1995)
- Blue Lace (November 11, 1968 – Reprise single B-side, 1969)
- Star! (November 11, 1968 – Reprise single B-side, 1968)
- Lady Day (August 25, 1969 – this version first issued on Watertown reissue, Reprise, 1994)
- I Love My Wife (November 12, 1976 – Reprise single A-side, 1976)
- Nancy (March 9, 1977 – this version first issued on The Reprise Collection, Reprise, 1990)
- Emily (March 9, 1977 – first issued on The Reprise Collection, Reprise, 1990)
- Linda – March 14, 1977 (first issued on The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings, Reprise, 1995)
- Sweet Lorraine (March 14, 1977 – first issued on The Reprise Collection, Reprise, 1990)
- Barbara (March 14, 1977 – first issued on The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings, Reprise, 1995)
- It’s Sunday (February 28, 1983 – Reprise single B-side, 1983)
- The Girls I’ve Never Kissed (October 30, 1986 – first issued on The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings, Reprise, 1995)
- Black Coffee
- I’ve Got You Under My Skin
- Easy Living
- My Heart Belongs to Daddy
- It Ain’t Necessarily So
- Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You
- A Woman Alone with the Blues
- I Didn’t Know What Time It Was
- (Ah, The Apple Trees) When the World Was Young
- Love Me or Leave Me
- You’re My Thrill
- There’s a Small Hotel
- Uncle Arthur
- Sell Me a Coat
- Rubber Band
- Love You Till Tuesday
- There Is a Happy Land
- We Are Hungry Men
- When I Live My Dream
- Little Bombardier
- Silly Boy Blue
- Come and Buy My Toys
- Join the Gang
- She’s Got Medals
- Maids of Bond Street
- Please Mr. Gravedigger