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Thread: Frank Sinatra : Album of the Month #32 (April 2010) "Swing Along With Me"

  1. #1

    Frank Sinatra : Album of the Month #32 (April 2010) "Swing Along With Me"

    The 1960's are here and Frank Sinatra has his own label, Reprise. On this, his second Reprise album (also knowns as "Sinatra Swings"), he's in wonderful voice, let's it rip and is joyously involved. The twelve songs were recorded on May 18, 19 and 23, 1961, four songs each night. A mix of standards and some unusual choices that go way back. Frank's singing shows how much he liked them, one of them from before he was born. Billy May has said it's the best work he and Frank ever did together and that Frank sings his ass off.

    May had arranged and conducted three previous Sinatra albums on Capitol, Come Fly with Me, Come Dance with Me and Come Swing with Me. Later he would write the arrangements for the Sinatra-Ellington album and arrange and conduct Part One of Trilogy along with various singles and portions of the Reprise Repertory Box Set on up to "My Foolish Heart" in 1988, Frank's final studio recording prior to the Duets albums. Often Heinie Beau would ghost write some arrangements credited to May as well as some credited to Stordahl, Mandel and maybe others. As far as I know, though, all of these are by Billy May with no ghosting. If anyone knows otherwise, please reply.

    The arrangements are great fun. Billy May's musical sense of humor is well known and his charts are full of delightful surprises. There are more of them than usual this time around and an ample numnber of terrific instrumental solos.

    Here are the songs in the order they appear on the album:

    "Falling in Love with Love" gets the album off to a great start. Rodgers & Hart wrote it for their 1938 Broadway musical, "The Boys from Syracuse."

    "The Curse of an Aching Heart." Just the title tells us this song is old. A hit in 1913 that stayed around. I can picture Frank as a child hearing it and maybe even singing it then. Here he attacks it with good humor and zeal. Written by the team of Fink & Piantadosi, not quite up there with the team of Rodgers & Hart. One of their World War One hits was "I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier."

    "Don't Cry Joe." Slower tempo change of pace that builds beautifully. Words and music by clarinetist Joe Marsala. This song and "Falling in Love with Love" were done much differently by Frank in the 40's on Columbia. They're the albums only two re-recordings.

    "Please Don't Talk About Me when I'm Gone." Another oldie (1930). The band cooks with more great solos from the boys in the band on this warhorse. Doris Day sang the song earlier in one of her Warner Brothers musicals. Written by three people I'm not familiar with, but here's some trivia: one of them, Sam Stept, was a writer of "I Fall in Love with You Everyday" which Frank recorded in 1946. Another, Sidney Clare, lyricist for Shirley Temple's "On the Good Ship Lollipop" and Satchno's "Big Butter and Egg Man."

    "Love Walked in." By the Gershwin's. One of the last two songs composed by George Gershwin before he died from a brain tumor in 1937 at age 38. George and Ira wrote this song and "Love Is Here to Stay" for the movie "The Gershwin Follies of 1938." For trivia buffs, the then unknown Alan Ladd plays a bit role as an auditioning singer. He worked as a bit player and extra in more than 40 movies including "Citizen Kane" prior to stardom. It was also performed in "Rahpsody in Blue," the George Gershwin movie biography starring Robert Alda as Gershwin. He's Alan Alda's dad and the man who introduced "Luck Be A Lady" as Sky Masterson in the original Broadway production of "Guys and Dolls."

    "Granada." Early 30's song that had been performed mostly by grim, serious baritones. Frank and Billy take the starch out and have a ball (cha, cha, cha) as they did with "On the Road to Mandalay" on "Come Fly with Me." Frankie Laine did a goofy over the top version a few years earlier.

    "I Never Knew." Gus Kahn-Ted Fiorito hit from the roaring 20's. Frank, Billy and everyone in the band bring it up to date with another fun performance. Danny Thomas played Gus Kahn in the Warner Brothers movie bio with Doris Day as his love.

    "Don't Be That Way." A Benny Goodman standard. Benny wrote it with Edgar Sampson and Mitchell Parrish. Parrish is the lyricist of such songs as Stardust, Sweet Lorraine, Sophistiated Lady and Moonlight Serenade. Sampson had been a sax player with Ellington and other bands, wrote "Stompin' at the Savoy" with Goodman. the record swings of course, but Frank fades at the end instead of doing another big ending.

    "Moonlight on the Ganges." Written by Montague Ewing and Chester Wallace. Remember them? Me neither. Frank probably first heard this at age 10 in 1926. Some nice Billy May exotic touches but the swinging is intact.

    "It's a Wonderful World." a 1931 Jan Savitt composition. Jaunty change of pace.

    "Have You Met Miss Jones." Rodgers & Hart again, this from the 1937 musical, "I'd rather Be Right" starring George M. Cohan. Book written by the great team of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart who wrote many inlcuding "You Can't Take it With You." Frank tried the song a few months earlier with a Mandel arrangement on "Ring A Ding, Ding," but put it aside without completing it.

    "You're Nobody Till Somedody Loves You." A 40's hit for composer Russ Morgan and a Mills Brothers signature song. Frank, Billy and the band turn it into a miraculous tour de force, the album's longest track and a socko finale. Frank called it a fine saloon song and it became one of his great performance songs. Swung it wonderfullly on his 1966 TV special. Nancy Sinatra was his special guest on the show.

    This is one of my favorite uptempo Sinatra albums. As Paul Mock wrote on this forum a couple years ago, "From the moment the needle hits the groove, Sinatra just GOES!" Sinatra's landmark swinging masterpiece from five years ealrier, "Songs for Swingin' Lovers," is perfection, but "Swing Along" needn't take a back seat. Some of the same musicians are present in this roaring Billy May band. It's infectious, will make you smile, improve your mood and is as much fun as any record has a right to be. The song choices are unusual for Frank at the time. There are two Rodgers & Harts and a Gershwin. But no Mercer, Porter, Van Heusen, Cahn, Arlen, Kern or Berlin. Instead he makes a few unusual choices, some from way back, and he and the band have a great time with them. Important - the CD is back and available once again. It will make you smile.

  2. Great album to be Album of the Month, Edwin and very written opening post. I've been listening to a lot of Billy May lately so this will accompany that very well.

  3. #3
    Excellent choice, Edwin.
    The enemy of truth is distortion.

  4. #4
    Frank's Recordings thread: SINATRA SWINGS - SWING ALONG WITH ME 1961

  5. #5
    Thank you Greg, Rick and Bob. Hope we get some discussion going on the forum.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Edwin View Post
    The arrangements are great fun. Billy May's musical sense of humor is well known and his charts are full of delightful surprises. There are more of them than usual this time around and an ample numnber of terrific instrumental solos.[/U]
    Well said.
    Terrific album.
    S V Peluzio Jr

  7. #7
    Terrific post, Edwin. It's a fun album that really swings! The unedited version of Granada is my favorite.
    "Could start for the corner... turn up in Spain... why try to change me now..."

  8. #8
    I enjoyed your post. Well done!

  9. Thank you, Edwin. I love this album.

  10. #10
    This is a really terrific album that became a nightmare to sell.

    Beyond it's musical merits, I think that it is my all-time favourite Photograph Cover. Anybody know the photographer?
    Old School Teacher

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick in Toronto View Post
    Anybody know the photographer?
    Paul Hesse

  12. #12
    Billy May's arrangements are very much like splashing cold water on your face!!! Excellent album!

    Support the FAS Times Square Statue
    Sleep warm all!!!!!

  13. What a brilliant post!!
    Superb choice! Really feels appropiate for the begining of spring, such a trerrfic album. One of the first Reprise era discs I got. Sinatra is on fine form and May once again delivers such clever, fun arrangements. Great album soo much fun, a real treat!

  14. #14
    Thanks once again to my friend Bob for providing the info.

    Any opinions on the cover art?
    Old School Teacher

  15. #15
    Excellent choice and post too Edwin.


  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick in Toronto View Post
    Any opinions on the cover art?
    I don't like the hat. Album's a ton of fun though.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick in Toronto View Post
    This is a really terrific album that became a nightmare to sell
    Good point, Nick. Frank and Capitol were no longer friends at that time. Capitol reissued most of their albums at low, low prices, mostly with tracks deleted, which many consumers did not notice. In addition, Columbia and RCA were issuing collections, so that along with Reprise records, the market was glutted with Sinatra albums from four labels. Some of the Columbia reissues would put new covers on the albums showing a more mature Sinatra. For example, one fine collection that had been around for a long time, "Frankie," with a photo of the young Frank, was reissued with a painted cover showing an older Frank wearing a fedora. Same album, same great recordings, but one example of cutting into the prospects for the new Reprise.

    Then there was the Capitol lawsuit claiming the title was too close to one of their Capitol albums, "Come Swing with Me."

  18. #18
    Thanks for adding those facts. As somebody who is simply enamoured of the music, it is fascinating to read of all the problems that plagued and to some extent, still plague the industry today.

    My 18 year old son has signed a contract with BMI. It took me 8 hours to read it once and another $4,000.00 to an attorney to make it reasonable.
    The enemy of truth is distortion.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by voice1 View Post
    My 18 year old son has signed a contract with BMI. It took me 8 hours to read it once and another $4,000.00 to an attorney to make it reasonable.
    18 and has a BMI job requiring a lawyer to sort through the details. Sounds like a hell of a job. What does he do?

  20. #20
    He's a ....gulp..."recording artist". His band's album has sold about 10,000 units since it's september release for which he has been paid exactly $95.00.
    The enemy of truth is distortion.