~ Established 2011 ~
Last Update: January 2nd, 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Song Is You, Vol. 3

by Frank Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
1941-1942 (released 1994)
Overall Rating = 12

Best Song: The highlights are too even here

Once again, very little should separate Vol. 3 from its predecessors on a conceptual level, but for once I feel like I'm listening to something great. Even if it's just single sides organized by recording session, it has the coherence of a real traditional pop album but with much less of the stylistic uniformity you can expect before LPs. Of course, if you were to look at Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 by their number of highlights, they would come up even (exactly half of their tracks), but while Vol. 2's highlights range from pretty good to great, Vol. 3's are mostly all great.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Song Is You, Vol. 2

by Frank Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
1940-1941 (released 1994)
Overall Rating = 11


The Song Is You, Vol. 2 is in essence a little more of the same – not to the volume's detriment, given that its contents were recorded in the six or seven months after Vol. 1 –, but at the same time, it's a little different too. Possibly spurred on by the success of "I'll Never Smile Again", the Pied Pipers, the quartet of vocalists backing Sinatra on the no. 1 hit, were no longer relegated to singing their own single sides, but would back Frank quite often until his departure. Another lead vocalist joined the orchestra as well, one Connie Haines, and she has two duets with Sinatra here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Song Is You, Vol. 1

by Frank Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
1940 (released 1994)
Overall Rating = 11


The second phase of Sinatra's recording career, as a member of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, is most easily collected with the 5-disc The Song Is You boxset. Being able to sit through all five discs in one sitting would be difficult, so I'm reviewing them one by one, since they're discs with their own cover art like real albums and they're more or less in chronological order, bar some alternate takes on disc 4 and comprehensive radio sessions on disc 5. Of course, each disc is longer than an actual album (pre-CD era, obviously), but since that wasn't a thing at the time these were recorded, I feel this would be appropriate enough.

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Complete Recordings 1939

by Frank Sinatra with the Harry James Orchestra
1939 (released 1995)
Overall Rating = 10


Sinatra's tenure with the Harry James Orchestra would prove to be short-lived – he recorded but eight singles and two of their b-sides, plus a few alternate takes of these and about 20 minutes of a live performance, all gathered nicely on this package reviewed here – but it certainly was an interesting period to be able to observe Sinatra as just a member of a band. Unlike when he later joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra where he essentially was co-leader with Dorsey, Sinatra really was just another guy in the band, and not the star of the show. It helps out with the fact that, at this stage of his career, the Bing Crosby influence outweighed his own distinct talent, and indeed, most of these recordings sound like Bing Crosby outtakes recorded with a brass-and-woodwind-oriented band rather than a strings-oriented one.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Plans for 2018

2017 wasn't the review-filled year I might have wanted it to be, mostly since my collection was expanding far beyond the 50 artists or so I had in my itinerary. In fact, much of my music-related time was consumed by my exploring the pre-Beatles-era, which I've come to enjoy so much I decided to expand my itinerary. Of course, as I went through my music collection, the itinerary in mind kept expanding as well, five times the size, in fact. So with the new additions, I'll basically be restarting the review chronology back all the way to 1939, the earliest recordings in this expansion. 

This indicates one major change: many albums to be reviewed won't be reviewed by release date, but by recording date, meaning many albums skipped from those artists I started reviewing, like, say, the Beatles' Past Masters, will be done at an earlier time (specifically, not the recording date of the tunes assembled in the compilation, but their release date as singles). This is mainly done to accommodate the pre-1960s additions, but also to make sure the non-album stuff of the 1960s and 1970s is reviewed in a time where the album material is much fresher on my mind.

Now, I've said in the past that if I restarted reviewing I wouldn't get rid of my old reviews, and that still somewhat holds true (ignoring the fact that I currently have them inaccessible; they've just been reverted to drafts on this site). However, I've noticed that, as time went on, each additional review got longer and longer, which is why, when I get to the albums already reviewed, I'll be... err... reviewing my reviews, if you will. Some might stay the same, others may be tweaked or shortened a bit, and others may be rewritten altogether. 

Regardless, I'm looking forward to getting back to a regular schedule of publishing my thoughts on music after nearly a year of expanding my collection and exploring styles I had only occasionally listened to, and reading what others may have to add to my thoughts. The first reviews should be up sometime in the coming week, perhaps this coming Sunday or Monday, depending on how many I can have written by then. I haven't decided whether I'll stick to a weekday-only publishing schedule, a one-review-a-day schedule or a "double-weekday" schedule, with two reviews per day Mondays through Fridays, the schedule I had back when I started back in 2011 (which, as you can tell, worked out just as you'd expect). I guess I'll figure that out soon enough as well.

Mr. X