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56 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Album he ever recorded,
By A Customer
If you are just starting to buy Sinatra's albums start with this one - probably the best album he ever recorded in his long career - every song is a classic and Sinatra's swinging style and the wonderful arrangements from Nelson Riddle make it superb from beginning to end. The version of 'I've Got You Under My Skin' on this album is just about the best thing he ever did. I'll guarantee if you buy this album you'll soon have a shelf-full of CDS by Frank - be warned!
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sinatra and Riddle record "I've Got You Under My Skin",
By A Customer
This review is from: Songs for Swingin Lovers (Audio CD)
If we are talking about essential Frank Sinatra albums for a music collection, the first one would have to be 1954's "In the Wee Small Hours," a superb collection of ballads that helped establish the former bobbysoxer heartthrob as the premier saloon singer of his generation. But the second album on that list would be 1955's "Songs for Swingin' Lovers," in which Sinatra and arranger Nelson Riddle go in the opposite direction, providing a stellar collection of pop standards reinterpreted for the crooner who was becoming a damn fine singer. Several of the songs, such as "Pennies From Heaven" and "I've Got You Under My Skin," actually predated the start of Sinatra's career, but in the case of the latter Sinatra provided what is arguably the definitive version of the Cole Potter classic and the song that in retrospect defined Frank Sinatra as the premier vocalist of the 20th century (sorry for the understatement). The zesty tone for the album is established with the opening track, "You Make Me Feel So Young," while other great tracks if you had to be picky would be "You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me" and "Too Marvelous for Words." All of these songs give you the undeniable sense that Sinatra is just having a great time singing each and every one of them. Riddle's arrangements, done with a core rhythm section and a full orchestra, are the key to unlocking the door to musical greatness and are as fine as anything he ever did for Sinatra or anyone else. Part of the problem is that nobody really remembers what most of these songs sounded like before Riddle and Sinatra reworked them into the songs we know today. I may well change my mind tomorrow, but today I would make the case that "I've Got You Under My Skin" is the greatest Frank Sinatra song.
73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb...,
Unlike some of his contemporaries at the time, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and other celebrated jazz vocalists, Sinatra's art was in the concealment of his technique. Upon first listen, this album sounds like Frank is just serenading his lover, or singing to himself. But the music feels strangely satisfying and euphoric and just makes you want to dance and click your fingers. This is due, to the many subtleties in Sinatra's voice. As opposed to Ella, who's inventive scat lines keep you constantly interested in her delightful voice, or Louis, who's warm character and humour just shines through the speakers, Sinatra possesses, I believe, an equal measure of talent, but in a different way.
Sinatra excels in three directions: Rhythm, expression and control. Sometimes, Frank chomps down hard on the beat, fitting into the groove, like on "Anything Goes". Here, the syllables "in-ol-den-days-a-glimpse..." are right on the beat. He then jumps right off the beat, with "stock" in "stocking". This is just one example of Frank's extraordinary understanding of the jazz idiom. Sometimes, his democratic timing spreads the notes equally out. Such as in "I've Got You Under My Skin". Porter writes that the word "skin" ends up at the beginning of the third bar, with a long gap till the next phrase. Sinatra spreads out the phrase, so "skin" ends up halfway through the bar, then, starts the next phrase early. This incredibly romantic style is always appropriately used, and never more so than on this album, which, is all about romanticism.
Expression wise, aside from the elongated phrases which just glide over the music, as better illustrated in other albums at this time (Wee Small Hours), Frank possesses a natural gift for dynamics and diction. Even though, at this time, and for the rest of his life, Sinatra spoke in a heavy New Jersey accent, he sings like a poet. His wonderful, conversational expressiveness that made him the pin-up of every teenage girl in the 40's still remains. He can insinuate such complex feelings, such as in "I Thought About You" where he thinks about his loved one, as his train speeds away, and you can hear him smiling as he says the line "I like New York in June", reverting for a moment to a faint New Jersey accent. In a way, Sinatra's wide range of expressiveness on this album shows his understading of the complexities of love.
Frank's voice in this era has taken on a lovely colour. While retaining the boyish charisma of his Columbia era, his voice has deepened, acquiring a beautifully deep viola timbre. Although Frank was only a light baritone, his deep timbre implies that, should he choose to do so, he could go much lower. Even on the high notes, his voice resonates with warmth, with no nasal tones. When he wanted, he could even use the shortcomings of his voice to his advantage. Not so much on this album, but on other Capitol albums of the time, he could exploit the area of his voice that was above middle C, which was hard to control. He would sing in this area on ballads or torch songs, and his voice would sound weak or maybe might crack. Just one example of Frank's dark art, as it were.
You might wonder what the difference or advantage of these hidden talents are. Whereas any woman who hears Ella or any man who hears Mel Torme, maybe, thinks, I could never do that. Those singers take you out of yourself and in again. Singers like Billie Holiday and Sinatra take you in yourself and out again. A young man hearing Frank on this album thinks, "I can do that", but in fact, Frank sings better than anyone else thinks they can.
There are other great components of this album, aside from the marvellous singing. Nelson Riddle's arrangements are simply "Too Marvellous For Words". Unlike some of his contemporaries of the time such as Buddy Bregman, or Paul Weston, Riddle doesn't write standard block Jazz arrangements. Aside from the sheer masterpiece that is "I've Got You Under My Skin", arrangments such as "You Make Me Feel So Young" burst with life and zest. Riddle was imaginative in his use of strings. He uses them like a jazz instrument, like in "It Happened in Monterey" where the strings flutter and twirl with life and colour. Riddle also uses marimbas, bass trombone and flutes for different touches of colour.
The production, is maybe the least best element of the album, but it is only contrained by recording limitations: The trombones and trumpets are right at the back, and the sound is often dull and grey. But Voyle Gilmore has stuck Frank right in the middle of the band, right in amongst the musicians, as opposed to someone like Norman Granz, who liked Ella to be on top of the music, seperated from it, aurally. Maybe it's just that Sinatra had a brilliant big band voice, but he sounds like he could be standing in the trombone section.
And finally the material. The two Cole Porter songs "Under My Skin" and "Anything Goes" are two of the many high points of the album. Most lyrics, if not the titles, contain the word "you" in them, which is appropriate to the vision of Sinatra crooning to his swingin' lover.
The album may have one or two minor discrepencies, such as the flatness in sound that occurs (fiddle with the treble and bass on the stereo, and you will eliminate this problem - the recording will sound crystalline, and you will forget about the sound) and the dated sound that the celesta some times brings to the music, but this is an epitomic album of the peak of Sinatra's entire career.
In short, if you are a Frank fan, i can't think of any reason why you haven't bought this album yet, and if you aren't a Frank fan, then this album will blow you away.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The standout swing album of the Capitol era...,
I completely agree with what everyone has said here, this is a brilliant Sinatra album. It captures the finesse of the 'Riddle swing' really nicely and the slower ballads are performed with a wonderful light-heartedness giving the album a perfect balance. This is a good place to get into Frank and I would say the best of the 'upbeat' capitol albums. However, my personal preference is for the more moving and solemn Nelson Riddle albums of this period where Frank has more opportunity to show off the emotion in his voice.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Sinatra recording!,
If you only ever buy one Frank Sinatra album, but this one. Forget the compilations, this album captures Sinatra at his best, with Nelson Riddles superb arrangements. Everyone should own this record. Perfection!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Songs for learning to love swing!,
After the heart ache of "In The Wee Small Hours" released the previous year, Sinatra and Riddle mapped out an album with a completely different feel in 1956. The differences between the two works are both marked and extraordinary.
Instead of the wallowing vulnerability of the previous year's effort, the Frank of '56 is positively skipping and leaping with a renewed love for life. Highlights include the opening track, and the relish with which he develops the theme on "Makin' Whoopee," making the listener smile along with him.
The star track, however, is "I've Got You Under My Skin." This is thanks in no small measure to Riddle's fautless arrangement of the song, which, legend has it, the musicians applauded spontaneously having played it for the first time.
A splendid collection of songs, delivered beautifully by a duo who were meant to work together.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars i'm sorry i only have 5 stars to give,
By A Customer
First of all, well done the previous reviewer for a perceptive tribute. Sinatra was a gifted actor, too, bringing a wide communicative talent to his singing - as they used to say 'when he sings a song it stays sung'. Love the way he uses his native New Jersey accent artfully, for a common touch effect. As for the album, if you ever cared about music you need this record like you need your next breath.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sinatra at his sparkling best,
This album is simply Sinatra at his very best. If, like me, you starting listening to Sinatra because you liked his classics, like New York New York and My Way, then you are in for a real treat. As good as the above are, this album showcases Sinatra's special talent. Each track is given the treatment, he carries the beat and your feet just cannot stop tapping.
The album is without doubt one of his very best. No Sinatra collection would be complete without it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive collection deserves top marks...,
This CD set is well presented and illustrated and has liner notes by Tony Watts. A nice touch is the labelling of each CD with the appearance of an LP. The public domain status of these recordings allows them to be offered here along with bonus tracks making 2 sought after CDs. Recorded in 1954 and 1955 with the Nelson Riddle orchestra these recording are from the peak Capitol years. The transfers have achieved excellent sound quality and make a good addition to the Not Now catalogue, which is being added to regularly.
It is difficult to pick an outstanding performance from these recording simply because they are all definitive but if pushed I'd say "Swingin' Down the Lane" is a favourite.
As far as the composer credits go they cannot get much better and with the Gershwin's, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Harry warren and many more represented these releases bring together the perfect combination of vocalist, musicians and composer. The running times are approx 52 and 44 minutes.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That Old Magic,
Frank Sinatra's musical collaboration with arranger Nelson Riddle is the stuff of legend. The 1956 landmark recording Songs For Swingin' Lovers captures the essence of the two jazzmen's chemistry in what is an inspired collection of songs. Despite what would now be considered a decidedly naff (or maybe even risqué) album title, it is difficult not to get carried away by Sinatra's infectious, witty and suave delivery of this selection of compositions written (predominantly with Hollywood cinema in mind) by some of the 20th century's most renowned songwriters, including the likes of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Harry Warren, Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Van Heusen, Mack Gordon and many more.
Of course, it could be argued (I suppose) that making a Sinatra record was no big deal - he's only recording - rehashing, even - other people's material. But where, for me, Sinatra scores above all the other singers that were his contemporaries (even those with undoubtedly - technically - superior voices, such as Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald) - is that the man (certainly at the time of this recording) was the ultimate 'vocalist', that is, his 'singing' was about much more than simply the voice; it was as much about pacing, mannerisms and inflection, plus his visual delivery. Indeed, it was these qualities which led to Sinatra being the biggest sex symbol of his day - coincidentally, the month of Songs For Swingin' Lovers' release (March 1956) also saw the release of the debut album of the vocalist who would (arguably) eclipse even Sinatra, Elvis Presley.
So, the message is: just sit back and enjoy the beautiful melodies and lyricism of songs such as You Make Me Feel So Young, You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me, Old Devil Moon, Makin' Whoopee (I'm amazed such a song title was allowed in 1928!), I Thought About You and my personal favourite, I've Got You Under My Skin ('Why not use your mentality - get up, wake up to reality?').
For anyone who wishes to hear a musical combination (singer and arranger) as near to perfect as it is possible to get, then this is as good a place as any to start.
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