Unbelievably, this amazing album was pretty much completely ignored when it first came out in 1957 — although, saying it's a Sinatra-Riddle "sleeper" is a bit like calling the "Pastoral" Symphony a Beethoven "sleeper." Surrounded by such masterpieces as Swingin' Lovers and Only the Lonely, it was, alas, easy to overlook this unprepossessing jewel of an album hidden away in the darker recesses of the Sinatra canon. Here, Sinatra and Nelson Riddle explore an instrumental format the singer had experimented with a decade earlier, a "chamber" ensemble consisting of a rhythm section and a string quartet (the Hollywood String Quartet, led by Felix Slatkin) plus occasional horn solos. Even more than Wee Small Hours, this was Sinatra's most intimate album ever, and somehow he managed to come up with 15 exquisitely appropriate songs that combine self-deprecating humor with torchy drama — the result is a rather amazing slice of black comedy. The CD adds three "bonus" tracks, one of which, Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen's "There's a Flaw in my Flue," is at once the funniest and the saddest thing that Sinatra ever sang.
By Wondering Sound Staff on 09.16.09 in Icons
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