Sinatra Swings Because He Can

Frank Sinatra recorded this album for Capitol in the summer of 1960—the same year he left the label and with a few hundred thousand dollars of his own money started Reprise Records. You can be sure plans for the new label were well underway during the production of this thirty three minutes and change long album.

Sinatra and his team at Capitol literally invented the "concept album", whether the concept was travel (Come Fly With Me!) or misery (Sings For Only For the Lonely) but here there really is no concept—unless you count swinging, which Sinatra did on almost all of his records.

So you could think of this as a throwaway end-of-contract album but for my money, it's one of Sinatra's most enjoyable Capitol outings. Sinatra's liberation is at hand and he sings with power and abandon. He's having fun reprising a half dozen songs he previously recorded a decade earlier for Swing and Dance With Frank Sinatra his final Columbia Records album, "When You're Smiling," "It All Depends On You," "It's Only a Paper Moon" and "My Blue Heaven" among them. So okay, you could say that's the "concept", but that's a stretch.

It's important to remember that when Sinatra left Columbia he was considered by many to be a "washed up" teen idol unable to re-calibrate his career and hit the same heights even though he released many superb records during his time at Columbia, where he exercised almost unprecedented control of his output. That is, until the label that forced Rosemary Clooney to sing "Come on a My House" against her will (though it became a huge "novelty" hit), began making similar demands upon Sinatra.

The parting was not pleasant and Sinatra's career took a plunge until in 1953 he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in "From Here to Eternity". His first album for Capitol was released a year later. The four year lag time between records is another kind of eternity in the music business.

During his time at Capitol, Sinatra's re-established himself both as a pre-eminent singer and interpreter of the "American Songbook" and as one of the most important recording artists of the early LP era, releasing a series of albums that remain classics. His voice had deepened to a rich luster and his rise from the depths had burnished his interpretive skills.

No wonder the guy was happy at the end of his Capitol contract! You can hear it in every song on this album, backed by Nelson Riddle and his orchestra. Sinatra was on top, Riddle was on top and Capitol's recording engineers had by then sufficient experience with stereo recording techniques to produce a sonic spectacular.

While it could be argued that some of the early Cap stereos were inferior to their mono counterparts, this one works as a stereo masterpiece. Yes, the orchestra is spread pretty much hard left/right with Sinatra having the center to himself, but the mixers add just the right amount of studio and echo chamber reverb to give both channels richness and depth.

So if you're looking for a way "in" to Frank Sinatra, this would be a great place to start and if you're a fan this one is a great place to continue. Riddle's big band arrangements are aggressive, exuberant and high energy throughout and occasionally whimsical and light-hearted—listen to how he get's out of "I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me." This was, after all, 1960 and as far as Americans were concerned, the future looked, well, like the future was supposed to look according to the science fiction writers. Though Sinatra's pal John F. Kennedy hadn't yet won, it was clear that a new era was upon us. You can hear it in the grooves of this record.

If you have a clean original pressing of this record, this will not be revelatory, but that's a big "if". A clean original, probably an all-tube mastering, will have a fatter, warmer more explosive bottom end, but other than that, Mobile Fidelity has done a superb job here, and which sounds better, an original or this reissue, will be system dependent. Your original will not likely be as dead quiet as this RTI pressing.

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stretch35's picture

I've heard the term Tip on several times, what does it look like?

RobWynn's picture

In words, the outer jacket (usually of thick-stock quality) starts out as blank and a separate sheet of paper (or sheets) has the cover images, which is glued to the blank jacket.  You can tell if it is tip-on because the back corners are similar to a gift that you receive that is gift wrapped.

In pictures, I tried to search for images to find a regular example but only found images from companies that press albums so unfortunately I'm going to link you to one.  This is not an advertisement or endorsement of this company, but it only shown for illustrative purposes because I like how they zoom in on the tell-tale corner:

Most other LPs that are not tip-on have the images printed directly onto the cardboard.  I believe these became more popular in the '80s, but my timing could be off... but you'll definitely see tip-on as the stardard with 70's LPs and earlier.

I hope this helps.


stretch35's picture

thanks for info on "tip-on", just looked at my copy of "Swings" and it is like the other mo-fi sinatra releases a normal jacket. tip on would have been cool however. I can't remember any mofi releases being tip on. Next time I stop in at 318 Laflin I'll ask'em if they do it on their releases.

RobWynn's picture

Yes, MoFi does tip-ons but it seems to be for their gatefold items moreso than for the non-gatefold titles, but I can't be 100% sure on that.  For example, this Sinatra and the other two titles released at the same time were neither gatefold nor tip-on but Nice 'N Easy which is gatefold is tip-on.

Martin's picture

I like this one too and you can hear him and the band having fun. Lots of fun. And I love all the recent Mo-Fi re-issues, to my ears, every one of them so far betters the original. Picking them up has been a no brainer. Mo Fi comes out with a new one, I order it. 

It wasn't Sinatras last album with Capitol though, that was Point of no return. 

As a note, until the Mo-Fis, the best sounding versions of the capitol albums I've heard is a run of Pathe Marconi French pressed issues from the '60s using the American metalwork, the stampers used were even the "D" stampers, being the LA original tapes, not the "N" stampers, the copies sent to the east coast to be pressed. The french vinyl is quieter than the american stuff. Finding them is hit and miss, I've only found three of them....  

marmil's picture

The way I heard the story is that Sinatra (who was 43 and at the top of his game) & Jack Warner (who was getting old and starting to show it) became partners on the label which was launched in 1960 for $1m. WB were the only major studio w/o a record label. Their 1st signing was the Everly Bros.for a $1m advance!! When Frank sold back his portion, he sold it for 1/3 of Warner/Reprise stock and some other stuff. Would have loved to have dinner w/ Frank that nite!!!

marmil's picture

What I previously wrote was a little unclear. When Frank sold Reprise to WB, he got 1/3 of the combined Warner/Reprise stock. Which was a pretty incredible deal for Frank!!

Brother John's picture

I can more than understand a customer from Russia or Europe's dilemma when ordering USA made Vinyl because whenever I order Vinyl from Europe or Japan on Discogs the foreign postage often equals or surpasses the price of the record I want to purchase.

However, Amazon dot com USA Mobile Fidelity, QRP/APO charges $10-50.00 more than suggested retail price for audiophile vinyl. I've written and complained to Amazon customer service about it 5 times my emails have gone unanswered!  Furthermore, I strongly believe in supporting independent internet businesses like Acoustic Sounds, Soundstage Direct, Music Direct, Elusive Disk and Amazon has spent millions of dollars lobbying congress to pass an unfair Internet tax in hopes that thousands of independent internet retailers will lose their livelihoods.

Amazon also runs their shipping warehouse's like a sweatshop from the third world right here in the USA. Workers have been fired for talking to each other or ggoing to the bathroom. Sorry to rant on Analog Planet but this disturbs me greatly!

CindyNorman's picture

This is absolutely what I like most about Frank Sinatara, his unfaceted swinging prowess. - Michael Courouleau

Dual's picture

Has anyone compared these recent Sinatra Capitol releases with MOFI's earlier (1980's) box set?