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Thread: Frank Sinatra : Album Of The Month Club #14 (Oct 2008) "Cycles"

  1. #1

    Frank Sinatra : Album Of The Month Club #14 (Oct 2008) "Cycles"




    CYCLES (1968, Reprise LP: FS-1027)

    This beautiful masterpiece will be 40 years young this November 2008!!

    The title song and "My Way of Life" were recorded and released first on a single, with "Cycles" reaching #23 on the Billboard hits chart (10 weeks beginning October 12, 1968). Following the success of the single, additional songs were recorded for the LP release, which peaked at #18 on the Billboard albums chart (28 weeks beginning December 28, 1968).

    From Wikipedia:

    Released just before Christmas in 1968, there was a ten month gap between this album and the release of Francis A. & Edward K., which was the longest period in Sinatra's Reprise years in which he did not commercially record music (barring his contributions to The Sinatra Family Wish You a Merry Christmas).

    This was Sinatra's first fully-fledged pop/rock-oriented album, concentrating on a more orchestrated variation on the popular folk-rock of the late 1960s. The foundation of the arrangements on Cycles are guitars, bass, and drum kits, all played gently and unobtrusively; the strings are layered on top of the pop rhythm section.

    Appropriately, Sinatra sang a variety of folk-rock oriented fare, including Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" and the Glen Campbell hits "Gentle on My Mind" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", as well as darker material with more of a majestic, classical sound, such as "Rain In My Heart" and "My Way of Life."
    Tracks
    1. Rain in My Heart (Teddy Randazzo, Victoria Pike) – 3:20
    2. From Both Sides, Now (Joni Mitchell) – 2:55
    3. Little Green Apples (Bobby Russell) – 5:00
    4. Pretty Colors (Al Gorgoni, Chip Taylor) – 2:35
    5. Cycles (Gayle Caldwell) – 3:07
    6. Wandering (Gayle Caldwell) – 2:45
    7. By the Time I Get to Phoenix (Jimmy Webb) – 3:55
    8. Moody River (Gary D. Bruce) – 2:33
    9. My Way of Life (Bert Kaempfert, Herb Rehbein, Carl Sigman) – 3:05
    10. Gentle On My Mind (John Hartford) – 3:25

      All tracks arranged by Don Costa.
      Tracks 5 and 9 conducted by Don Costa in New York, July 25, 1968.
      All other tracks conducted by Bill Miller in Hollywood, November 12–14, 1968.

    Credits

    Don Costa: Arranger & Producer
    Bill Miller: Conductor
    Frank Laico: Engineer in New York
    Lee Herschberg: Engineer in Hollywood
    Ed Thrasher: Art Direction & Photography
    Hal Halverstadt: Liner Notes


    Cycles was one of those Frank Sinatra albums that played over and over again when I was growing up in Van Nuys, California and Miami Beach, Florida. From the great cover of this super album, to the great arrangement and production of Don Costa. Even George Harrison and Tiny Tim stopped by to check out the sessions. Hal Halverstadt wrote the superb liner notes to the album, and instead of me ranting and raving on one of my all time favorite albums by Frank, please let Hal do the talking for a while, because I really think it is worthwhile to post these great liner notes....It certainly is worth reading again....and then again and again. —DSW


    Liner Notes

    Like the great American buffalo, the Sinatra brand of recording session is diminishing. Times were when moms, dads, kissing cousins, visiting firemen, royalty, and music bums in general could elbow their way past the puerile guards at recording studios in New York and Los Angeles and, on a good night, be turned on by the spontaneous combustion of a singer and band grooving together.

    But now, more often than not, the scene is four or five young men and a weary engineer valiantly battling their eight- and twelve-track equipment—laying down instrumental tracks, then vocals, combining them, perhaps adding horns, maybe deleting strings, mixing, remixing, leaving it alone for awhile, and sometimes coming back only to decide to start from scratch. All of which can result in some earth-shaking music but makes even more special, to the spectator, the speed, utter professionalism, finesse, and genuine excitment of a Sinatra session—in the past with Basie and Ellington, Riddle and Ogerman, and now, in mid-November 1968, with Costa.
    ____________________

    Studio One at Western Recording in Los Angeles began as a food market in the 30's, became a live audience radio theater in the 40's, home base for panel, quiz, and variety shows in the infancy of television, and finally, after extensive renovation, what it is today. Perhaps for historical reasons, the walls are painted pea-soup and canned-string-bean green, and even though these are partly hidden by baffles of white acoustic board, the vegetarian color scheme is heightened by batteries of fluorescent bulbs. But, appetizing in decor or not, Studio One has probably the best sound in Los Angeles. It is warm, flexible, with "good isolation" . . . and is perfect for Sinatra.

    7:45 PM and into Studio One is poured the heavy cream of West Coast musicians. Also arranger-conductor Don Costa (energy activated, with a Groucho Marx stalk and an insouciant smile that someday deserves to be rendered immortal on the wall of a high-class delicatessen), assorted engineers and record company personnel, approximately 25 visitors (stuffed into the booth and strung around the edge of the studio on near-to-collapsing chairs), and in the midst of it all, in the vortex, the man who told reporters that afternoon that he was giving up Los Angeles because of the smog (a medical clinic at UCLA had issued some hair-raising facts), and who now draped himself across the conductor's podium and announced to anyone, "I'm Tired".

    (A comment which elicited belly laughs from the boys in the band because, one, the session hadn't even begun, and two, Sinatra looked terrific in a body-tapered gray suit, red-and-white striped shirt, open at the collar, and a winey-colored paisley tie, knotted but loose. Except for the Caesar Romero gray that has salted his hair, he was time standing still and the walking-talking image of his old record covers from Capitol days. The only things lacking were a lamp post, two lovers in silhouette, and Peggy Lee, of Mañana and the Vaselined lips, in the next rack. The eternal dangling cigarette was already on hand.)

    At 8:00 the session rolls and so does Sinatra. Feeling his way through By the Time I Get To Phoenix as if it were newly written. Belieing the lyric of Cycles. Capping Pretty Colors with a gritty dissonance, breaking into a beam-wide grin, and again flinging himself on the podium with: "Hey now, hey now, baby, what's Stan Kenton?"




    The Countess Maria ties and dangling charm bracelets that once accessorized the sidelines of Sinatra Sessions are no more. The spectators change with the times, and now there are turtlenecks and chunky chains with chunkier medallions and, on the distaff side: legs. Some very nice, some just okay, but all stretching out from a variety of minis, medium to micro. There is also a new wave of drop-in celebrities: a long blond actress (late arrival) in something like a navy blue crepe gym suit topped with a blond mink chubby; the ineffable Tiny Tim (who in a sidelines conversation with Mr. Sinatra became so excited that, lacking a slip of paper on which to write some phone numbers, pulled up one pant leg and pencilled them on his ankle); and (heads turning, eyebrows raised) Beatle George Harrison and his wife, Patti, fresh from camera waving and hand shaking at a benefit showing of Yellow Submarine.




    Also, of note, the lone woman among the musicians, a perky, orange-haired mistress of the harp who whips up a mean glissando but, visually, would seem more at home as pastry lady in a college dormitory.

    And the reason for it all: Sinatra. Cranking up the world with a fine-and-dandy Moody River. Shifting tempo ever so slightly to make the second take of Little Green Apples the one. Acting the perfectionist and deciding to scrap a not-quite-right Wait By the Fire. Making it all the way to Nashville and back with Gentle On My Mind. And in the short space of three hours turning asbestos baffles and canned green bean walls into rosewood.

    11 PM and the session is over. Sinatra raps with Harrison about the talents of American songwriters, bids all good night, and vanishes through a side door, followed by friends, assorted, and the long blond adjusting her chubby. It's cold for Los Angeles, and for once a fur looks right.
    —HAL HALVERSTADT



    Frank and Don Costa
    _________________________________________________

    Click here for the CYCLES post in the Frank's Recording section on the SFF! Check out all the great comments on this amazing album too!

    The studio albums released before and after Cycles were Francis A. & Edward K. in 1968, and My Way in 1969.
    _________________________________________________

    In closing, Cycles is certainly in my top five personal favorite FS albums of all time. I love all the recordings on this album. It's a masterpiece and will live on forever!! The album is one of the shorter ones, but I always say, it's the Quality, not the Quantity!

    Do I have a favorite? NO, they are all my favorites, each in its own special unique way. They all have special memories to me. I was 4 years old when this album was released.

    I treasure each and every single second of this unique album!



    Listen to CYCLES, and you will get a different feeling and memory of something that happened to you in your past and present life. It's an album of reality, sadness and what could have been and might be again. —DSW
    _________________________________________________

    Thank You Marty for reserving this spot for me for October 2008 and for your invaluable help and contributions to this post. You are the groove Marty!

    Thank You Bob for all your invaluable help and contributions made to this post! You are a real Sinatra pro!

  2. #2
    Excellent post, Dan! I had a feeling you would pick this album.

    I like Frank's "modern" sound on this album, it showed that he was always interested in trying something new. My favorite track is Cycles, what a great Sinatra song! However, I've never liked Little Green Apples, no matter who sings it.
    Allen
    "Could start for the corner... turn up in Spain... why try to change me now..."

  3. #3
    Guest

    Thumbs up

    Fantastic post Dan. I love this album too. It's so beautiful. "rain in my heart" and "pretty colours" still breaks my heart and "moody river" gets me going each time.!

    Little Green apples is probably my favorite track on here. I love them all but that is so soft and understated and beautiful. By the time I get to phoenix is so lovely too oh it's just too damn hard to pick.

    Thanks again Dan great choice!

  4. #4
    Thank You Allen and Melissa.
    This is a very special album to me, as I am sure to millions of people around the world.

  5. #5
    Nice job, Dan! Great LP!
    When You're Here, It's Family
    www.reverbnation.com/Soundslikefrank/songs

  6. #6
    Thank You George! It certainly is a great LP, and much more!

  7. #7
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan View Post
    From Wikipedia:
    Released just before Christmas in 1968, there was a ten month gap between this album and the release of Francis A. & Edward K., which was the longest period in Sinatra's Reprise years in which he did not commercially record music (barring his contributions to The Sinatra Family Wish You a Merry Christmas).
    This quote, which is widely circulated around the web, is misleading on several fronts and deserves some clarification.

    The year 1968 was a slow one for FS recordings, and the 10-month gap between major studio album releases was indeed the longest UP TO THAT TIME, i.e. since the start of Reprise in 1961. There were much longer gaps later, including the two-year period of Sinatra's temporary retirement from 1971–73.

    Also, the gap between recordings was not that great, as sessions were held in mid-year, and two albums—Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits and The Sinatra Family Wish You A Merry Christmas—were issued in the interim in 1968.

    FS may have been disappointed by the lack of response to the Ellington album and the seeming disinterest in his music during 1968, but the relative success of the song "Cycles" must have changed that feeling, at least temporarily. Not only was the song a top 40 hit, but the LP was a top 20 album, and "My Way" (the song and the album) followed on its heels the following spring.

  8. #8
    Excellent clarification Bob.

    Thanks!

  9. #9
    Guest

    "My Way of Life" and "Wait By the Fire"

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan View Post
    The title song and "My Way of Life" were recorded and released first on a single, with "Cycles" reaching #23 on the Billboard hits chart (10 weeks beginning October 12, 1968).
    The single was actually released in August, and "My Way of Life" on the flip side received the most attention initially. The song lasted six weeks on the Billboard singles chart beginning August 31, 1968, peaking at #64. "Cycles" bubbled under the Top 100 for a number of weeks, finally breaking through after "My Way of Life" had fallen off the charts.

    By the way, "My Way of Life" was not intended for the album originally. If you look closely at the album cover in the lead post,



    you will notice that it includes a song titled "Wait By the Fire." On the back cover, "My Way of Life" was listed instead with a footnote stating "Substituted for Wait By the Fire." This is also mentioned briefly in the liner notes:

    Acting the perfectionist and deciding to scrap a not-quite-right Wait By the Fire.
    AFAIK, "Wait By the Fire" was never recorded. Its appearance on the early album cover printings is probably indicative of how quickly this album was rushed into production—just in time for Christmas '68 buying sprees, and before the recording sessions were even completed—after "Cycles" (the song) hit big.

  10. #10
    By the way, "My Way of Life" was not intended for the album originally
    I am so glad My Way Of Life was chosen for the album!
    Thank you for all this added clarification and news about the album, Bob.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    AFAIK, "Wait By the Fire" was never recorded.
    I wish Frank would have recorded the song. I would have liked to hear what it would have sounded like. If it sounded anything like the recordings on the rest of the album, I am sure it would have been terrific.

    Did Frank ever toss out other songs for other albums that could have been recorded?

  12. #12
    Any other members care to share any comments or reflections on this amazing album?

    This new album of the month for October is beginning to seem like the lonely old album of the month

    This is such a masterpiece!!!!!!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan View Post
    Any other members care to share any comments or reflections on this amazing album?

    This new album of the month for October is beginning to seem like the lonely old album of the month

    This is such a masterpiece!!!!!!
    I'll bite, Dan.

    The songs on this album are not of the same quality compared to what FS did on earlier albums at Capitol and Reprise. To me, this is not "Classic Sinatra", and I'm not sure if this album is really designed to stand the test of time (i.e., some of the other recent Albums of the Month).

    That being said, considering we are still talking about the album 40 years after it came out, a good case can be made that it has stood the test of time!

    I "discovered" this album in the spring, and have enjoyed a good number of the tracks. When I look at my IPOD and see what songs I play most frequently, Rain on My Heart, Both Sides Now, Cycles, By the Time..., and My Way of Life always show up on top.

    The songs on this album, and the arrangements, are far different than what FS recorded at other points in his career. In order to enjoy this Sinatra, recognize that this may not be what you expect to hear from Frank. But we need to listen to this album with an open mind, and appricate it for the artistry that it contains.
    Tim

    But then, this monday morning quarterback never lost a game...

  14. #14
    Tim, what part of Jersey do you reside? I used to live In Jersey City Heights (Edison, when I was married) and Hoboken, and will be moving very early next year hopefully to either JC, Hoboken or NYC.

    Why do you have your screen name as BillyJO if your real name is Tim? Just curious. I was almost ready to call you Billy Joel, just add an E and an L

    Thanks for your mini review on Cycles and for breaking the ice on this lonely thread Tim, even thought I disagree on some of what you said about this album.

  15. #15
    Awesome post! Thanks for the info Dan
    "It's the moment that you think you can't, you discover that you can"

  16. #16
    I'm listening to this album right now.
    Allen
    "Could start for the corner... turn up in Spain... why try to change me now..."

  17. #17
    Thanks Adam, Glad you dig it!

    Allen, what a great album, huh? anytime of the day or night!!

    It's truly a classic masterpiece from the first note to the very last note.

    The way all the songs are arranged and conducted is supreme!!!
    The Production is so terrific. Don was really ahead of his time on this album.

    Good to the last drop!!

  18. #18

    Thumbs up Frank Sinatra : Album of the Month Club #14 (Oct 2008) "Cycles"

    Good afternoon from a part of The American Midwest-USA:

    Hey, Dan, you picked a winner, thanks.....When CYCLES hit the juke boxes, in Columbus, OHIO-USA, I drove everybody crazy, throwing in quarter after quarter and just playing CYCLES over and over and over !!!! I just love stuff like: "My gal just up and left last week and Friday, I got fired" .....It's just so real especially in drinkers lives and believe me the 60's were wet years for this old booze research specialist....."I'll hide my head 'neath these covers"

    THAT'S SOME BAD HAT, HARRY !!!
    Respectfully,
    The journey's long, much longer that I reckoned, in any throng, I'd know her in a second......

  19. #19
    Doug, thanks for the great comments on Cycles.
    Glad you liked the choice for this month.

  20. #20

    I really enjoy

    The Cycles albumn, I play it very often.
    LEATRICE (LEE) Fort Myers, Florida, USA
    Sinatra, Sinatra,Sinatra! Pray for Robin!

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