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Thread: Frank Sinatra: Album of the Month #29 (Jan 2010) "Great Songs From Great Britain"

  1. Frank Sinatra: Album of the Month #29 (Jan 2010) "Great Songs From Great Britain"

    Reprise, 1962


    1. The Very Thought of You
    2. We’ll Gather Lilacs in the Spring
    3. If I Had You
    4. Now Is the Hour
    5. The Gypsy
    6. Roses of Picardy
    7. A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square
    8. A Garden in the Rain
    9. London By Night
    10. We’ll Meet Again
    11. I’ll Follow My Secret Heart


    (All tracks arranged and conducted by Robert Farnon)

    I am honored to introduce the first Album of the Month for 2010! This album is one of my favorites, and surprisingly, it is one of Sinatra’s lesser-known and harder-to-find albums. It was recorded in mid-June of 1962 after a grueling world tour, and was then released across Europe; however, it wasn’t released in America until 1993. It was surmised that Sinatra’s desire to release this album only in Europe for so long was because he wanted to dedicate the album to his European fans, who stuck by him when it seemed his American fans had deserted him.

    Whatever the reason for the late release, many of his American fans, myself included, have since been thrilled to finally be able to purchase and enjoy this stunning work of musical genius.

    I went to London when I was thirteen. While I spent most of my time trying to recover from jet-lag, the time I spent in a beautiful little village called Bath is what I remember most about that holiday. We’ll Gather Lilacs in the Spring and A Garden in the Rain remind me very much of strolling down the streets of Bath, drinking in the scenery. The colors of the flowers and the fields around the village were vivid and breath-taking. I go there often in my daydreams, when the dreariness of life becomes too much to bear, and these songs help to transport me.

    "London by night is a wonderful sight. There is magic abroad in the air…" This song couldn’t have captured the essence of London more. I remember one specific night when I walked down the streets of London with my parents, and I was in awe of the energy and, yes, magic of the city. There were twinkling lights everywhere and the air buzzed with electricity. "…Most people say they love London by day, but lovers love London by night. " Guess I’ve always been a lover

    This album’s version of The Very Thought of You is the definitive version, personally speaking. It is soft, understated, and elegant. When there is a slight drizzle outside, I turn to this album, and with a steaming cup of coffee or tea, this song, and all the others, immediately soothe and relax me.

    As the wee small hours of the New Year dawn upon us, I encourage you to take the time to give this album a spin. Grab a glass of wine, curl up in your favorite nook, close your eyes, and be transported to the picturesque streets of London, where nightingales sing in Berkley Square…

    (PS: I apologize for the shortened title. It would not allow me to finish "Great Britain." Is there any way to fix this?)
    Kate

    "Frank is just like you. Just like me. Only bigger."

  2. #2
    Guest
    I'm glad you enjoyed your stay in England Kate, Bath is in Somerset and is mostly famous for it's Roman "baths" hence the name ...a beautiful historic town.

    "London By Night" and " A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square" are two of my favourites from this album.

  3. #3
    Love this album. Great pick as album of the month. My fave cut is The Very Thought Of You but I like them all.
    George B.

  4. #4
    Guest
    Frank's Recordings thread: Sinatra Sings Great Songs From Great Britain

    LP cover (without bonus track "Roses of Picardy"):




  5. #5
    Great pick for Album of the month.It's in my personal Top 5 favorite Sinatra albums.

  6. #6

    Smile Your pick for January is terrific,

    The Very Thought Of You is one of my favorites.
    LEATRICE (LEE) Fort Myers, Florida, USA
    Sinatra, Sinatra,Sinatra! Pray for Robin!

  7. #7
    Kate, being a Londoner myself I love what you've written

  8. Lovely description, Kate. I have to confess that this album is far from being one of my all-time favorites, but your evocative post has prompted me to give it another spin.

  9. Thanks for linking to the album discussion thread, Bob The thread is an interesting read, especially when discussing how the celeste came to be used in the recordings - a piano string broke! The celeste is a wonderful addition and the bell-like tones add that genteel sound.

    I'm glad this thread inspired you to reach for the album again, Todd. It really is a beautifully-arranged album and Mr. Sinatra, despite what some have said, sounds as wonderful as always!

    Nick, I know my descriptions could never do London justice, but the place really is magical!
    Kate

    "Frank is just like you. Just like me. Only bigger."

  10. #10
    A nice one, with beautiful arrangements. "Nightingale" is one of Frank's very best of all.

  11. Thumbs up

    A wonderful choice, Kate. Perfect.

  12. #12
    Guest
    I also love this album (I have the LP) and I adore "A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square". I also love the Nat King Cole version of this song. Both are definitive versions of a wonderful song. This is an album of sheer romanticism. Great choice Kate.

  13. #13
    Could go on and on about this album. Wonderful project. I had no knowledge of it until the special 1965 Sinatra "Billboard" issue came out celebrating Frank's 50th. Saw it listed there, but of course it had not been released in the USA. I called Reprise, spoke with several people before I got to someone who knew about the album. He told me he had none and gave me a name and number at, I think, Pye, in London. I called and they sent it to me. What a revelations.

    I was working for a TV station in Virginia at the time. The company also owned a radio station. I brought it to the radio program director and got airplay. I presume that was the first time recordings from "Great Songs from Great Britain" were ever played on the air in this country.

  14. Well Kate, I played it (and, in true Reprise fashion, played it again) and there are some very nice moments. I suddenly remembered that the first time I bought this rarity was around 1972. It was a Warner Bros tape release, with the gold steamship logo on the label and the cassette case made from plastic which was the spot-on color of a ripe, green olive.

    "London by Night" is fantastic and I had forgotten how good it was. I even prefer it to the "Come Fly with Me" version. "The Very Thought of You" and "If I Had You" are very good, too. And "We'll Meet Again" is a big improvement of the first version I ever owned: the B-side of the "Happy Together" single by The Turtles! Thanks, Kate, for re-introducing these versions to me.

    However, I do think "Roses of Picardy" should have remained in the vaults. That said, my opinion is skewed somewhat because of a old British comedian/actor called Reg Varney who, in a long-forgotten TV special, sang the line, "But there's one rose that dies" - then takes a breath - "Not in Picardy" which ruins the whole sentiment of the lyric.

    It's like the pet hate I have of recordings of the fine Gershwin standard, "Someone to Watch Over Me" when singers get the scan wrong by singing "Although he may not be the man" - pause for breath - "Some girls think of as handsome." Yep, things like this make me realize just how far down the road I have come to being a "grumpy old man."

    [Incidentally, have you heard the Sarah Vaughan version of "A Garden in the Rain" - it really swings, with a fantastic Benny Carter arrangement.]

  15. #15
    I love this album, especially London by Night, and A Nightingale Sang in Berkely Square...
    Amy

  16. #16
    Although I began collecting in 1959, I was unaware of this gem until 1972, and finallly got one through my barber (from Rome) in 1976.

    The LP remains one of my best recorded albums although it is a bit worn today. I have three other copies (cassette,and cds) but none have the clarity of the Sinatra in London from Rome.

    I literally gasped when I heard the beauty of this album.
    NICK
    Old School Teacher

  17. #17

    Great Choice, Kate!

    A big Texas-size prop for your album choice! Robert Farnon's beautiful, lush orchestra is the perfect complement to Frank's wonderful singing!

    "We'll Meet Again," "Garden in the Rain," "Now is the Hour," "The Very Thought of You," are downright gorgeous. The slower tempo for "If I Had You" gives this song an entirely different identity, and it's just lovely. And "London By Night" is so terrific that it could have been the title of the album!

    It's too bad that Frank & Farnon didn't get to collaborate on another album. What we DO have is something very special, so let's be thankful...and listen again & again & again...
    Stanley

  18. #18
    This Album is just wonderful and it's one that's in my CD player rather a lot these last few weeks, it's certainly a wonderful choice for album of the month.

    My only criticism (and this is the English Man in me) is American way FS says lilacs (or as he put's it Lie - Lacks as though it's 2 separate words) Sorry I couldn't resist saying it I mean no harm but I had to get it off my chest, other than that it's fabulous and one of the best Reprise Albums.
    Graham

    The Definition of a Yorkshire Man is a Scotsman With all The Generosity Squeezed Out.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by hodgo View Post
    This Album is just wonderful and it's one that's in my CD player rather a lot these last few weeks.
    A lot more will have it in their CD players soon as thankfully, and finally, its being reissued. 25th January over here.

  20. #20
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick_Bradley78 View Post
    its being reissued. 25th January over here.
    Available January 19th in Germany and January 26th in the US (as an import).
    See: Catalog nos. & Amazon links for UMG January releases.

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