Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First 40 Years

Chris M. Slawecki BY

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Frank Sinatra
Live From Caesar's Palace | The First 40 Years
Eagle Rock Entertainment

As the National Academy of Recording Arts so wonderfully puts it: "Frank Sinatra didn't put Las Vegas on the map, but he certainly made it worth the trip." (Sin-atra City: The Story of Frank Sinatra and Las Vegas) The second DVD in this series also maintains a theme, with two late 1970s shows from Caesar's Palace.

Sinatra strides onstage like he owned the town, languidly swaying with closed eyes to his own rhythms in "All of Me," mugging through "The Lady is a Tramp"—well, because he did. If Sinatra was a boxer instead of a singer: You'd say that he's no longer the crisp, dancing on his toes jazz counterpuncher; instead, he plants himself firmly and swings haymakers from his heels, outpunching instead of outmaneuvering his music.

"Maybe This Time" is one of these powerhouse moments: As the orchestra sways and bounces and swoons, Sinatra literally punches out the chorus' closing downbeats with his fists, then majestically roars into his upper register to shut the tune down.

"Some love songs played by our string section" include George Harrison's romantic ballad "Something" and Don Costa's arrangements of "Someone to Watch Over Me" and Jimmy Webb's contemplative "Didn't We." In his duet with pianist Vincent Falcone, Sinatra emphasizes the lyrics to "Send in the Clowns" with body language and hand gestures, staring deep into his glass of bourbon in between lines and then closing with, "If you ain't a drinking man, that'll get you to the saloon in a hurry, baby."

"Baubles, Bangles And Beads" sparkles through brief but swinging solos by electric guitarist Al Viola, pianist Falcone and Gene Cherico, "the pickpocket playing the bass."

Sinatra slips into "The Gal Who Got Away/It Never Entered My Mind" as comfortably as a well-worn slipper. His tonal control, especially at the end of each line (and of course his stretched-out "eeeeezzzy chair") is breathtaking, with hand gestures and other body language shading each lyric. The crowd recognizes the magic in Sinatra's smoldering heartbroken moan in "It Never Entered My Mind" with an extended ovation when it's done.

Recorded at Caesar's in December 1979, The First 40 Years brings together stars from stage and screen, from Paul Anka to Orson Wells, to celebrate Sinatra's first four decades in the business. Harry James jumps off while the curtain is still going up, then enthusiastically blows the top off of "Two o' Clock Jump." Paul Anka recrafts his most famous set of lyrics to make them about Sinatra, from "My Way" to "His Way," while Robert Merrill sings a small "Holiday for Frank" melody with lyrics made up of nothing but Sinatra film titles that ends with the phrase "From Here to Eternity," the film for which Sinatra won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Other Vegas legends participating include Sammy Davis Jr., who brightly and brilliantly tap dances (literally) through "The Lady is a Tramp"; and Tony Bennett, who bounces through a medley that journeys from "Chicago" to "New York, New York" to "San Francisco," the city where Bennett left his heart.

Sinatra responds with his own standard but no less powerful performance (even if he's obviously reading his "heartfelt" personal remarks), swinging like Mike Tyson through heavyweight versions of "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "I've Got The World On A String" before his daughter Tina introduces Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn and Cary Grant to lead the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" to close the show.

Live From Caesar's Palace
Welcome To Caesars; All Of Me; Maybe This Time; The Lady Is A Tramp; Didn't We; Someone To Watch Over Me; Something; Baubles, Bangles And Beads; Medley: The Gal That Got Away / It Never Entered My Mind; Monologue; My Kind Of Town; Send In The Clowns; Don't Worry 'Bout Me; Introductions; My Way; America The Beautiful.

Live From Caesar's Palace
Caesar's Palace Orchestra conducted by Bill Miller with Vincent Falcone, Jr.: piano; Bill Miller: piano; Al Viola: guitar; Gene Cherico: bass; Irv Cottler: drums.

The First 40 Years
Ciribiribin (Harry James); The Two O'Clock Jump (Harry James); Holiday For Strings (Robert Merrill); New York, New York (Tony Bennett); My Kind Of Town (Tony Bennett); I Left My Heart In San Francisco (Tony Bennett); The Lady Is A Tramp (Sammy Davis, Jr.); My Way (Paul Anka); Theme From New York, New York (Frank Sinatra); It Was A Very Good Year (Frank Sinatra); The Best Is Yet To Come (Frank Sinatra); I've Got You Under My Skin (Frank Sinatra); I've Got The World On A String (Frank Sinatra); Happy Birthday (all).

The First 40 Years
The Caesar's Palace Orchestra, Paul Anka, Lucille Ball, Tony Bennett, Milton Berle, Sammy Cahn, Charlie Callas, Don Costa, Sammy Davis Jr., Glenn Ford, Cary Grant, Monty Hall, Pat Henry, Harry James, Gene Kelly, Rich Little, Dean Martin, Robert Merrill, Don Rickles, Frank Sinatra Jr., Nancy Sinatra, Tina Sinatra, Red Skelton, Julie Styne, Jimmy Van Heusen, Dionne Warwick, Orson Wells.

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