Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Frank Sinatra's Capitol albums, cut between 1953 and 1961, comprise one of the most important bodies of work in the history of American pop. Collected in the newly repackaged 16-disc Concepts box set, they prove no less mo... more »
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Frank Sinatra's Capitol albums, cut between 1953 and 1961, comprise one of the most important bodies of work in the history of American pop. Collected in the newly repackaged 16-disc Concepts box set, they prove no less moving and revelatory than when they initially appeared. In his late 30s and 40s when the records were made, Sinatra brought a new sense of shading to his music, ensuring that each set held its own niche on the emotional and sonic spectrums. The revered ballad albums, for instance, range from the rueful (In the Wee Small Hours) to the near-suicidal ("'Scuse me while I disappear," from "Angel Eyes," is as definitive a moment on Only the Lonely as the more well-known "One for My Baby"), while the string-quartet backing of Close to You and the revival of the wittily sad-eyed '40s nugget "Why Try to Change Me Now" on No One Cares deepen each LP's meaning. At the same time, Sinatra slyly celebrated romance and its conventions on the likes of Songs for Swingin' Lovers! and A Swingin' Affair! The latter in particular plays as both an invitation to the floor (except when it's explicitly not, as on the raised-eyebrow "I Won't Dance") and the personal statement of a man who makes both the utterly passionate ("Night and Day") and the utterly wiseass ("I Wish I Were in Love Again") fly. Finally, the inclusion not only of the Sinatra-conducted instrumental set Tone Poems of Color but of a number of otherwise currently unavailable vocal discs in Concepts makes the box something of a must for those who'd fully dig this fully dig-able run of creative genius. --Rickey Wright
Recommended but with ( technical ) qualifications
Ian K. Hughes | San Mateo, CA | 10/06/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This box set contains what I believe to be the absolute summit of American popular music. The featured artist sang unfathomably deep interpretations of popular tunes written by America's greatest popular songwriters & lyricists, orchestrated by brilliant popular music arrangers and produced with enormous craftsmanship by the dedicated engineers and technicians of a first-rate record company. The music in this collection is almost certainly well known to everyone reading this review. Therefore, I will concentrate on specific technical issues. What are the technical qualifications mentioned in the title line of this review?As a huge Sinatra fan, particularly of his Capitol era recordings, I have collected all of the Capitol "concept" albums in the following forms:1. Early CD re-issues ( c. 1987 ) individually 2. Original "CONCEPTS" box set from 1992 ( containing the same 1987 CD reissues in one package ).3. 20-BIT re-mastered versions of all albums that have been released to date ( 1998-2000 ). 4. An imported 21 CD ( England ) set of the Capitol recordings titled "THE CAPITOL YEARS".My findings are that the 20-BIT re-mastered versions of SOME of the albums have muddied their quality and definition. For me, the "muddied" recordings are the albums from 1953 thru 1956. However, all have tolerable if unspectacular sound except for one album. "SONGS FOR SWINGIN' LOVERS" is the one unmitigated disaster. The problem is a sort of "compression" that dampens ( flattens ) the sound of the band, pushing it to the background and over-emphasizes Frank's voice ( puts in the foreground ). It sounds almost as if he's singing to pre-recorded arrangements ( which of course he wasn't; he always sang LIVE with the band during the recording sessions in the 1950's and 1960's ). This is a serious matter and NOT primarily for monetary reasons (cost is obviously a factor to people interested in coughing up for an expensive set like this ). Frank Sinatra's music from the Capitol era is sacred for millions of people and for there to be this type of error in the re-mastering process is quite a concern. The British did a FAR better job of re-mastering the Capitol era material on the import box mentioned above ( "THE CAPITOL YEARS", available through AMAZON.CO.UK ). The clarity achieved by the British re-masters allows the listener to hear a perfect balance between voice and orchestra; it really is a dramatic improvement over all other versions. And, to top it off, the cost of that import is just about equal to the new "CONCEPTS" release despite the fact the British box contains all of the "concept" albums ( minus the Christmas album ) AND the singles releases! Unlike the "CONCEPTS" release being reviewed, where the albums have the "bonus cuts" following the original songs in the original order, the British set PRESERVES the original order, which is much more aesthetically satisfying than having "bonus cuts" intruding on the mood of albums very carefully planned by Mr. Sinatra himself to convey such moods ( that is the point of the "concept" album ). The bonus cuts on the British set are contained on the "best of" albums like "THIS IS SINATRA". POSITIVE POINTS ABOUT THE NEW BOX SET: 1. The rest of the re-mastered albums featured ( ie, virtually all recordings from 1957 on ) have, in general, good quality sound ( again however, the sound is easily surpassed by the English import box set ).2. Several albums are featured that hadn't been 20-BIT re-mastered heretofore:"CLOSE TO YOU" ( 1956 ) In the top 5 of all time greatest Sinatra albums ( arr by Nelson Riddle ). Previously out of print."WHERE ARE YOU?", (1957) / "NO ONE CARES" ( 1959 ). Two classics arranged by Gordon Jenkins."NICE N EASY" ( 1960 ) One of the most popular Sinatra LP's and deservedly so ( Nelson Riddle, arr )"COME SWING WITH ME" ( 1961 ) Great Billy May all-brass ( no saxophones ) arrangements for up tempo swingers."POINT OF NO RETURN" ( 1962 ). Beautiful orchestrations by Axel Stordahl; an elegiac farewell ( for Axel and Frank's Capitol era )3. The packaging and notes are attractive and very nicely produced; the best I've seen of all of the Sinatra box sets. Will Friedwald's essay is as good as one would expect from a man who wrote the definitive book on Frank Sinatra's music ( "SINATRA: A SINGER'S ART" ). Pete Welding's notes on each of the albums are very informative, well written and thankfully, of some length. 4. All instrumental ( Sinatra conducted ) rarity entitled "TONE POEMS OF COLOR" ( 1956 ).5.The cost of this new version of "CONCEPTS" is reasonable; a lot less than the previous box set version released in 1992.MINOR GRIPES: 1.At least 50% of the photos in the lavish booklet have been captioned with the wrong dates. 2.The back side of the box is marred by the lengthwise paper listing the albums contents and attached to the box with rubber cement. It's very hard to remove this sticky stuff! This was a ridiculous move on the part of Capitol that should NEVER have been allowed to stain an expensive deluxe package!CONCLUSION:I have no regrets about purchasing this box set, given the positive points I listed towards the latter part of my review. Then again, I have a collector's mindset and someone looking to be economical ought to investigate the sound on an INDIVIDUAL copy of one of the 20-BIT re-mastered copies. If after listening to it yourself, you think the sound is just fine and wonder what the heck I was thinking, then by all means purchase this set with a clear conscience.Needless to say, the musical content of the set is priceless and will continue to be treasured by generations of people to come."
THIS IS THE ONE BOX SET YOU NEED TO OWN !
hankbe46 | Schenectady, NY United States | 01/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have owned every big box set that has been issued by the three record companies Mr. S worked for as a solo artist. These include Columbia's Complete Recordings, the British Capitol 21 cd set The Capitol Years, the 20 cd Complete Reprise Studio Recordings, and the subject of this review Capitol Records CONCEPTS, which is a 16 cd set containing 17 original albums
that Sinatra released during his years at Capitol (1953- 1962 ).This set includes one instrumental only album(Tone Poems of Color) and 16 vocal albums(2 being included on one cd).It can be legitimately argued that the Capitol years were the acme of Sinatra's career and these albums prove that fact.
The British box set The Capitol Years, was issued in 1998 and consists of 21 cd's, including 5 singles compilations and one Rarities disc. The sound is 20 bit remastered from 2nd generation lp masters, and the sound is impressive, but NOT as good as this box set, which was 24 bit remastered from Original Master Tapes by Bob Norberg, who is something of a legend for his fine work in restoring the original brilliance to older recordings.His work on this set is monumental, and infinitely better than the set of 20 bit remasters that Capitol did in 1998 for the individual reissues of half of the albums on this set.When I listen to these recordings Sinatra sounds fabulous, and the bass lines and orchestral textures are beautifully done. These cd's sound like the original lp's but even better. The British set sounds fine, until you compare recordings with this set. Bass lines are fuzzy and everything sounds rather thin and shrill, maybe because the master tapes used were from digital masters done in 1984, when cd sound was NOT so true to life as it is today.
The large hardcover booklet that comes with this set is drop dead gorgeous and very informative, the only caveat being that many of the great pictures are miscaptioned. The Will Friedwald essay is fascinating and informative and all of the original cd liner notes are included.
The box is superbly designed and the whole package is extremely attractive. My advice is to seek this box set out (yes you can find bargains on the price) and buy it ASAP before it becomes unavailable. It will be the best musical investment you could ever make."
P. Cooney | Springfield, VA | 02/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this collection of Sinatra for my 90 year old blind father. It has brought back so many memories for him: I have heard stories about the courtship of him and mom, stories of his military service, and many more stories about his life . . . all sparked by hearing "Blue Eyes" sing a certain song. A family friend came over and upon hearing some of the music, told a story of going into NYC on the subway when she was 11 years old to see Sinatra perform live. In reliving some of these memories, I have been able to glean some very key information in my geneology research. I'm so glad I got this set for dad."