Happy 100 Frank Sinatra! "Ultimate Sinatra" And Today A Free Vintage UBER Ride On Frank

Of course the only "ultimate" Sinatra collection for fans is having a huge collection of his albums on Columbia, Capitol and Reprise—the label he started—plus some of the original 78s from the late '30's up until the era of the long playing record.

But not everyone is that as into Sinatra, so for those who don't collect but want a well-curated compilation, this one, containing twenty four tracks put together with help from Frank, Jr., Nancy and Tina Sinatra will do nicely and it might get some buyers to start collecting Frank vinyl.

This set smartly includes early Sinatra originally on 78, including "All of Nothing at All", which is the name of Alex Gibney's four hour documentary originally shown on HBO back in April. No Sinatra fan should miss it.

The tune, with Harry James and His Orchestra was also Sinatra's first big hit in 1943, though it was recorded in 1939 and only after Columbia reissued it five years later during a musicians' strike, did it become a hit.

The predictables are here: "I'll Never Smile Again" with Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra, "Love and Marriage", "Witchcraft", "Love and Marriage", "All the Way", "Come Fly With Me", "Strangers in the Night" (feh!), "My Way", "Theme From New York, New York" and "It Was a Very Good Year" (plus others).

Record one of the two LP set is all mono and of course these are digitally mastered from the master tapes (or from 78), which makes sense on a compilation like this.

The second LP brings things into what most of us consider the modern recording era. Stereo begins here with "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)"and here, if you have the original LPs, you'll hear that while these are very good transfers, space, depth, instrumental textures and especially transparency get lost. I compared this "One For My Baby...." with the original on Frank Sinatra sings for only the lonely ( Capitol SW 1053) and guess what? Digital still sucks. On the original the lonely piano is well in the distance and Frank's in the room. The reissue sounds like a CD and that's all there is to it—and I have no doubt the files used were CD resolution.

However, for what it is, this is a very nicely done production and either a great Frank intro, or the one Frank you'll own so you have some Frank. In my opinion no record collection is complete without at least one Sinatra record. However, it does suffer the fate of many such compilations, which is that though the originals all have unique sonics—even within a given record label—everything here sounds "cut from the same cloth. Another compilation that suffers the same sonic fate is an otherwise excellent ABKCO Sam Cooke double LP set mastered from DSD files. Everything sounds the same.

This was no cheaply done for vinyl production. The jacket is nicely done (though not "tip on") with the title raised and shiny and the inner gatefold photo alone almost makes this worth buying. Lacquers were cut by "anonymous" but it was well done and very well pressed somewhere in Europe. (There's also a far more complete 4CD set for old people).

Meanwhile, today only (12-12-15—Frank's birthday), the car service Uber in conjunction with UMe is offering this:

To celebrate Frank's birthday, "...a fleet of vintage vehicles will be available for request through the Uber app in Manhattan, transporting passengers in a classic style synonymous with Sinatra. Users who enter the promo code FRANKS FLEET in their Uber app will unlock the "SINATRA" option to request a free ride in one of these vintage vehicles starting at 12pm. When connected with a driver, passengers will be transported to their destinations in timeless Sinatra style, complete with an inspiring listening experience of Ol' Blue Eyes classics. The promotion will be available from 12pm to 8pm EST in Manhattan below 59th Street. Participating cars are limited, and demand will be high."

soundman45's picture

Michael: I have other vinyl pressings, thanks for steering me clear.

Pretzel Logic's picture
2_channel_ears's picture

Great article, thanks.

thomoz's picture

I've hung out with Harlan Ellison, and more than once. And I was good friends with one of his best friends, co-incidentally named Frank (and also like Sinatra, sadly now deceased).

Harlan never told me this story though.

Rudy's picture

Thanks for the write-up. I had looked at this set, almost as an impulse purchase, but knowing how scatterbrained some of the record label suits can be, I was very dubious about how the set would actually sound. It's no secret that the quality of his releases vary over the decades, even over the span of a decade.

Since we have your ear, are there any modern-day Sinatra remasters you'd recommend? Aside from the Jobim album-and-a-half, I have zero interest in Reprise era Frankie, but the Capitol era is something I would not mind owning more of. With original pressings in such bad shape (the tonearms tracked in pounds, not ounces, back then--I have a "Swingin' Lovers" that has "I've Got You Under My Skin" worn practically down to pink noise!), I'd consider some of the MoFi discs if they are any good.

I wouldn't say all digitally sourced LPs are bad (I have a few that IMHO sound quite nice), but yeah, I know exactly what you mean about that bland "sameness" to some releases out there. To be honest, I don't know what is worse: a flawless pressing of a mediocre-sounding digital title, or (like I'm dealing with today) a poorly-manufactured 180 gram LP that was nicely remastered by Bernie Grundman. It's shameful how some pressing plants are still turning out crap! (I can email the video if you'd like...)

rakalm's picture

I stuck with The September of My Years and Sinatra Swings (10 inch) for the reissues. Both pressed in the Netherlands. I steered clear of the one reviewed and now I am glad I did. I am hoping some of those Nov. 20th reissues were sourced from the tapes. I guess the 10 inch can't be? Sinatra '65 may be next on my list.

VirginVinyl's picture

It surprises me to know that the family members didn't' go out with at bang, but rather left the record exec, coast them down a bind mans path. With all the music access that Jr, Nancy and Tina you'd think that they would have made it a priority to have there father (Frank Sinatra) catalogue open and oversee the remixed from the master tapes so that a new generation can listen there dad's music.
I'll pass this box set.

Martin's picture

This is another reissue I will not be buying.
I was assuming that, from the "look and feel" of it, it was style over substance and thanks for confirming that.
As the owner of multiple copies of pretty much all of Sinatras Capitol output, all his Reprise stuff and most of the Columbia stuff on vinyl, it's pretty redundant anyway.
It is possible to find decent versions of Sinatras Columbia stuff, in mono, without studio tweaking, if you know what you are doing and look long enough. To know what you are doing, there is a small group of fanatics at the Steve Hoffman forum who are happy, overeager in fact to share their knowledge. It's become a lot easier in recent years to acquire the necessary knowledge to avoid buying crap. One of them even has put together a very useful table with all the various pressings of Sinatras Capitol output and grading them in terms of sound quality. Having a number of the pressings in question, I can only agree with them. Really remarkable.
The biggest shame of all is that MoFi was stopped just short of producing vinyl reissues of "Songs for Swingin Lovers" and "Wee Small Hours".
What were they thinking?

Michael Fremer's picture
Is for non-Frank fans looking for a pleasant sampler.
rakalm's picture

Do you have link for that release table? I would love to see that.

Martin's picture


This is the work of true fanatics.
On the other hand, having most of the preferred pressings in the table, plus a heap of others, I have to agree with them...

audiophilewannab's picture

so should we call them Frankophiles?

thomoz's picture

The Capitol Years import cd boxed set that now runs $400 used contained 21 albums, but the sonics were really a mixed bag (albeit less filtered than the easy to find US cds mastered by "BN").

Frank's Capitol-era legacy is not well represented by any post 1985 reissues at any price, it seems!

Martin's picture

is another one. Which you can pick up I think for 400 - 500$
It has been - unjustly in my opinion - discounted for being bright.
The MoFi box is simply inconsistent, some are the best versions I've heard, like Songs for young lovers / Swing Easy, on Only the Lonely.
Some are off, like Songs for Swingin Lovers, or for some reason really bright, like Swingin Session.

But overall, it's pretty good.

rakalm's picture

This reminds me of the Steve Hoffman interview Michael did several years back where he states the Buddy Holly compilation "Legend" was AAA. Yet, the vinyl reads "Digitally remastered from the original mono and stereo 1st generation tapes." Michael even states back the MCA2-4184 LP label number to Steve to verify that it is AAA and he affirms that it is. Maybe the jacket is wrong and they used the CD notes for the pressing. My point is that some of these (those it may take a lot of extra effort), could be done from at least some of the masters when possible.