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Eventually we are all forced to realize that, no matter who we are, we will never be as cool as Sinatra. A Voice In Time, a four-CD box set that captures the period from 1939-1952, helps to show why. While these are not his most well-known recordingsand arguably his best recordings came immediately after this period, once he signed with Capitolthere is still a lot of great music here to enjoy, and it's a testament to how great Sinatra was even early on, helping to transform the way popular music was sung.
A Voice In Time covers the Columbia period, which begins with his stint with the Tommy Dorsey band. At this point Sinatra was still finding his voice, his vocal style radiating tenderness more than macho swagger. These recordings are prime examples of the big band music of the period, and feature some unissued radio broadcasts as a bonus for collectors. The Dorsey band is in fine form during this period, buoyed by the popularity of dance music, and Dorsey found a perfect complement to his singing trombone in Sinatra. These early recordings helped establish Sinatra as a star, and the appeal even half a century later makes it easy to see why.
Disc two begins to cover the "Teen Idol years, a point in time where singers began to eclipse the leaders in popularity and were able to launch their own careers. At this point the collection covers the same periodfrom 1943 to 1952yet breaks the songs down into categories. The third disc, titled "The Great American Songbook, weighs heavily on the ballads and begins to plod despite the quality of the material. Disc four, though, is appropriately titled "The Sound of Things To Come, as the artistry that would be captured in the great series of recordings with Nelson Riddle immediately afterward begins to emerge. Also included are a handful of the best tracks from the record Sinatra cut with Basie; not the best session for either, but still a compelling merging of the styles of two greats.
A Voice In Time is a thorough look at the earliest point in Sinatra's career and his rapid rise to stardom, showing along the way why he continues to be the gold standard for many singers. Although not his best period, these are still terrific recordings that still sound fresh today. Once again Columbia has succeeded in presenting one of their artists in a fantastic box set that renders all the others that cover the same material irrelevant.
Track Listing: CD1: All or Nothing at All; From the Bottom Of My Heart; If I Didn't Care; Moon Love; East of the Sun; I'll Be Seeing You; Say It; Blue Skies; I'll Never Smile Again; Fools Rush In; This Love Of Mine; Oh, Look At Me Now! Just As Though You Were Here; How About You? Imagination; Frenesi; Blue Moon; Be Careful It's My Heart; Night and Day; The Song Is You.
CD2: No Love, No Nothin'; Saturday Night; Oh! What It Seemed To Be; You'll Never Know; I've Got A Crush On You; The Brooklyn Bridge; Five Minutes More; I've Heard That Song Before; The Trolley Song; Time After Time; Dream; I Fall In Love Too Easily; She's Funny That Way; It's Been A Long, Long Time; Dancing In the Dark; I've Got You Under My Skin/Easy To Love; Nancy; Lover Come Back To Me; Put Your Dreams Away; Again.
CD3: All Of Me; Sweet Lorraine; Body and Soul; All The Things You Are; Embraceable You; These Foolish Things; Stormy Weather; Begin the Beguine; There Will Never Be Another You; As Time Goes By; The Nearness of You; Stella By Starlight; I Get A Kick Out Of You; That Old Black Magic; One For My Baby; It Had To Be You; What'll I Do?; Laura; September Song; Ol' Man River.
CD4: The Birth of the Blues; April In Paris; American Beauty Rose; Lover; The Continental; Should I; When You're Smiling; All Depends On You; Bye Bye Baby; I Could Write A Book; Autumn In New York; If Only She Looked My Way; Hello, Young Lovers; We Kiss In the Shadow; My Girl; Love Me; Farewell, Farewell, To Love; Walking In the Sunshine; Why Try To Change Me Now; I'm A Fool To Want You.
Personnel: Frank Sinatra: vocal; with various others.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.