Columbia celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of Sinatra’s first recordings as a solo artist (June 1943) with three new compilations that showcase the fledgling singer’s grace and dexterity with the popular songbook of the time. Sings Cole Porter puts every Sinatra studio recording of Cole Porter for Columbia together with ten previously unreleased radio and TV broadcasts of Sinatra singing Porter tunes during the time he was a Columbia artist.
It is odd to hear, through the periscope of so many decades, the Chairman of the Board sound youthful and playful as a colt, like barely more than a choirboy. The spry and sparkle of the material certainly helps. The arrangements, including charts by enduring Sinatra associate Billy May, are as clever as Porter’s lyrics – sometimes, perhaps, a bit too clever, as when Sinatra complains “There’s too many words” as he gallops through “Don’t Fence Me In.”
At this time, Sinatra was a genuine pop idol, as the swooning and squealing young girls who respond to “I Love You” and “I Get A Kick Out of You” will attest. Small wonder: his elocution is picture-perfect in the first, textbook reading of “Night and Day,” and he strolls coolly through the one bluesy change of pace (and the least orchestrated piece, piano trio plus clarinet), “Why Can’t You Behave?” Though not yet with the personalized style he would develop two decades later, this reading of “I Concentrate on You” does foreshadow the liquid, samba version on Francis Albert Sinatra / Antonio Carlos Jobim.
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