Frank Sinatra – Songs For Swingin’ Lovers! (1956)

Before The Beatles, rock and roll had a mild introduction into the world of music. Jazz was still the main form of music listened to at this time. Frank Sinatra had a career turnaround with his album released in 1955 In The Wee Small Hours. It was a great record, and paved the way for future classics done by “old blue eyes”.

This is completely different from the album released the year before. Instead of laments about love lost, we find ourselves swinging to happy, positive songs about being in love with someone special. It’s definitely a different listen, so here we go.

We kick off with the upbeat You Make Me Feel So Young referring to the youthful love experience at hand. It alludes to childhood delights and the wonderful feeling of bliss involved. This album sounds great from the word go, it’s a lovely piece.

The next piece, It Happened In Monterey refers to a love that was magical met long ago in Mexico. Now, this piece of music does seem lyrically melancholic, but musically is anything but. Frank Sinatra seems happy about it all, and it is a great listen. Obviously, he misses the lady in question. But it’s a well orchestrated piece here for sure.

You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me refers to a love that never dies, and in fact, intensifies over time. Could one these days make a successful pop song like this? Doubtfully so. It refers to the habit of love needed “as regularly as coffee or tea”. Nice stuff here.

You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me is really inspired. It’s so classy sounding, and outright great listening that one is tempted to fall in love with the music here. Better than most contemporary artists out there today, and that is saying something right here. It sounds sort of suspenseful too.

The next song, Too Marvelous For Words is a very lovely piece devoted to a direct love in one’s life. It still sounds upbeat and positive that it lifts the mood up high in a positive way. It refers to Webster’s Dictionary and birds as well. A great listen.

After that, we have the wonderfully sung Old Devil Moon referring to a look in a partner’s eyes on a great night out together. Lyrically, it is just so good here. Suitable music for any modest dinner party with friends at home, this album is.

Pennies From Heaven refers to a dream like state of thinking where coins fall out of the sky. Perhaps Syd Barrett got his ideas from these sorts of lyrics? Maybe, maybe not. It’s another really great sounding tune though. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Love Is Here To Stay is a lovely piece about eternal love and feeling good about it. These days, people are lucky to survive a marriage longer than 2-3 years. But this is a blissful song. No questions asked. The music here is quality, not quantity.

The next piece is the now classic tune I’ve Got You Under My Skin. It’s one of the most famous songs from Frank Sinatra ever. Why is this so? It’s a great performance, period. Frank Sinatra sings along very well here, a must listen. The suspense and instrumentation here is terrific.

After this, we have I Thought About You which is a reminder of love at hand. It’s another swinging number that just sounds great. This album is consistent all the way through, which is why it deserves its place in history as one of the best albums not just by Frank Sinatra, but of all time. Mint.

We’ll Be Together Again is a reminder of a love that is being missed. But hold on, it’s not totally dreary. In fact, Frank Sinatra pulls off the need and desire for a lover so well here, it’s a great little number. A nice listen.

Makin’ Whoopee refers to making love in the title and the lyrics indicate this too. It’s a lovely song, showing off Frank Sinatra’s cheerful and crooner style voice here. Nobody does this sort of music better than Frank Sinatra himself. A nice piece.

The lovely piece Swingin’ Down The Lane is very old fashioned indeed. It’s a joyful ode to love and dancing. It puts a 1950’s style imagery of lovers in your mind that are dancing to this sort of music. Great stuff.

The subtle sounding Anything Goes is a lyrically nonsensical piece about people’s love and individual preferences in life. A nice, yet strange piece. It is still as enjoyable as the other songs here, mind you.

How About You? is the last piece on the album. It has our singer telling us what he enjoys best, and asking if you also enjoy the same things as well as much as Frank Sinatra does. A nice way to finish this album.

This is truly a great listen. If you love vocal jazz in a pop context, do start here. It’s one of Frank Sinatra’s best albums too. Give this album a whirl, it still sounds as good today as it did in 1956.

Smooth.

9/10

Frank Sinatra – In The Wee Small Hours (1955)

The world was a totally different place back in 1955. Colour TV didn’t exist, every person on the street wore Victorian era like clothes and there were no social media outlets either, let alone computers.

In addition, Frank Sinatra was alive and well. After signing to Capitol Records, he delivered this – the first great LP ever made. LPs were a new thing at the time, and fortunately, the music here stands the test of time.

The album is a sort of Burt Bacharach take on love. Lots of heartbreak and misery written in the subjects of the lyrics. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s observe this fine album from Frank Sinatra.

We begin with In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning which sets the scene for Frank Sinatra. It’s about reflecting on love lost. This is about the loneliness and pain associated with it. A sad but great song. Excellent stuff. The lyrics here are awesome, despite the fact that Frank Sinatra never wrote his songs.

Following that, we have Mood Indigo. It uses the colour to reflect the mood and is an unhappy piece with reference to reflections on love. Many people can connect with this album, as no relationship is perfect. A nice piece though.

Glad To Be Unhappy follows. Frank Sinatra sings about the difference between idealistic love versus the reality of love. It’s a really good piece and can be mood provoking in sadness. A nice listen for the lyrics especially, as well as the melody.

I Get Along Without You Very Well is a great piece about moving on from a disappointing relationship. It sounds like Frank is singing about a lover who he is somewhat still infatuated with. It’s a good retrospective and reflective piece.

The next piece Deep In A Dream follows and it is about a dream of romantic illusion. It’s very descriptive and sounds very loving. It’s a sad reflection of the lack of love for a girl long gone. Nice work here by all parties who made the song. Mint.

The following song I See Your Face Before Me is a great reflection on the obsessiveness of a lover who our main man used to have. The whole album is also a concept album, perhaps unofficially so. Still, it’s a great listen all the way through. “I can’t erase your beautiful face, before me.” Wonderful lyrics indeed.

Can’t We Be Friends? is a lament for a sad outcome in a relationship. It’s about finding someone who at first, seems open to a relationship, but then uses that quote to turn down yourself. It’s another sad tale, but a rewarding listen.

When Your Lover Has Gone is about the split of lovers in affairs and other areas of romantic and sexual matters. The loneliness in Frank Sinatra’s voice here is outstanding. Given that this was the 1950s, the performances sound dead-on perfect with relation to lack of editing by digital means, as that did not exist at the time. A brilliant mood swinger here.

A question in What Is This Thing Called Love? It’s a sort of song for people who don’t know how to cope with love lost. It makes perfect sense to anybody who has had serious love in his or her life. Brilliant stuff.

The follow up Last Night When We Were Young talks about a past experience of love, long gone. The orchestral background in this album is really fantastic. Melancholy abounds everywhere here. It’s a very sad song indeed. Frank sounds very deeply emotional at the end of this song.

I’ll Be Around talks about hovering around for a lover who has already been taken. A very deep and meaningful piece about said scenario. Brilliant. Absolutely worth listening to.

Ill Wind begins with a clarinet melody before talking about a nasty scenario with the weather at hand. It loosely talks about love and disappointment with love. A good effort, and a nice performance by all.

The next piece It Never Entered My Mind talks about difficulties of coping with errors in relationships. It is a sad reflection on things, and being solitary in life without a love to be with.

The following song Dancing On The Ceiling is about using imagination to reflect on love lost. In a very unhappy state, our story unfolds to reveal how Frank Sinatra copes with it. An unusual song, but essential listening all the same.

I’ll Never Be The Same reveals how someone is destroyed by a failure in a romantic relationship. Frank Sinatra is underrated with his singing voice – and pulls every single song and note-off magnificently. A great job.

This Love Of Mine is the last song here. It concludes a truly great listen, and album. This song focuses on the loneliness of hurt from love. Brilliant job here by all involved.

Frank Sinatra broke with this album and began an upward trajectory with his music. He has recorded a huge amount of material throughout his life until he passed away in 1998 – some good, some not-so-good. This is likely one of his best recordings, if not his very best. This is hugely underrated today and is an absolutely essential listen.

If you like crooner style vocal jazz and want a starting point, begin here.

9/10

King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969)

It’s rare that we find a recording so enjoyable. The debut album by King Crimson is an absolutely wonderful and beautiful album to listen to. It’s a snapshot of a generally better musical time where music was considered true art. This album, although only having five pieces on it, is truly a majestic listen. You won’t be able to find it online, so make sure you order it in from your music store.

The leadoff 21st Century Schizoid Man (including “Mirrors”) starts with some train noises before crashing into the song itself. It has a variety of interesting textures with some squealing sax riffs, awesome drum rolls, and excellent processed vocals. It’s a quirky take on pop music but just fits the bill nicely.

Following up we have the flute let ballad I Talk To The Wind. Greg Lake’s brilliant delivery holds this piece together nicely. It’s just so beautiful that it’s one of the best things that this album has going for it. Majestic. Greg Lake later left King Crimson and joined Emerson Lake and Palmer which were also successful in their own right.

Epitaph (including “March For No Reason” and “Tomorrow And Tomorrow”) is a tearjerker ballad led by wonderful mellotron and acoustic guitar. It’s delivered so well here in its various sections that you will be blown away by the pseudo-classical nature of the song here. Truly awesome to hear to this day.

Moonchild (including “The Dream” and “The Illusion”) is an extended piece going for well over 10 minutes which discusses the astrology sign Cancer and is fantastic in delivery. When the song finishes, you are surprised with an instrumental improvisation that is very quiet in nature, perhaps alluding to jazz master Miles Davis’s In A Silent Way. It’s so well done that it deserves eager listening in this regard.

The album concludes with The Court Of The Crimson King (including “The Return Of The Fire Witch” and “The Dance Of The Puppets”) is just an awesome way to finish the great journey we have here on this record. We are placed into said place in the title of the track and we learn the tale of the said Crimson King. It’s a medieval scenario that refers to the king, queen, courtiers, and jester as well. It also has a very surprise ending to conclude the piece.

This album is a perfect fusion of psychedelic and progressive rock music and has a fusion of classical, jazz and rock sounds that are futuristic. In fact, it kick-started the 1970s progressive rock movement and many bands likewise have been inspired by this wonderful recording. It’s truly artistic and surprisingly fresh. Although many bands followed in the wake of King Crimson, very few had the ability to match this effort. If you are curious about the music of the late 1960s or just wish to hear the best of an LSD trip style setting in music, start here. It’s also frequently rated as one of the greatest albums of all time too.

9/10