I know I know so many of you care. Well too bad. Actually I am writing about this just to be writing about something. There are some deeper subjects I would like to touch on. Why are many Americans...well just not very bright? Why do we bend over backwards ( as people) to treat people with obvious handicaps with uber kindness and people with mild handicaps like shit? Why do we create heroes only to throw them under the buss? Why do some veterans have to tell us with every article of clothing they own that they were veterans? What the does Freedom isn't free even mean? And are Bootlegs ethical? Actually I'll leave that last one up to you. For now I am choosing to write about something late on a Friday night that is relaxing and should be non controversial. I'll tackle some of these other questions (maybe) on another day.
I actually don't own that many bootlegs...err...imports. There is an argument to be made against Bootlegs that I understand and one that I think is garbage. And of course the argument that I think is garbage is the one the Sinatra family makes against bootlegs. As Nancy Sinatra actually had the guts to say..."They takes food off of our table." Yeah right. The money you make selling 6 different versions of each CD you put out to different stores doesn't offset the money of one CD sold on Ebay. The argument to be made that I can buy is bootlegs often either contain shitty quality sound or a less than brilliant and sometimes even a embarrassing performance. It's Bootlegs that let us hear Elvis' 20 minute rambling monologue about he has never took drugs and how he would choke the son of a bitch who started that rumor and tear his Goddamn throat out. BTW other than the odd monologues which the crowd greeted with a mixture of cheers and What the fuck? It 's ironic that once he finally shut up to sing Elvis gave a helluva performance, still the show will forever be known as the "drugs" concert. There is no question in my mind when comparing the two families who does a better job controlling the catalog and image of their bell cows. The Sinatra family. Still there is one thing Priscilla and Lisa deserve credit for over the Sinatra's. They figured out they couldn't stamp out the massive and ever growing Elvis Presley bootleg market so they got into the act themselves. Setting up the Follow That Dream Label where what amounts to officially licensed bootleg are sold on their website. The Cd's are concert and alternate take recordings that cost $30 a single disk and the Presley's keep the money. I suspect the Sinatra's don't do this because of the varying quality of sound board recordings. Although they did release the 1959 Australia concert where Sinatra is backed by Red Norvo and that recording was audibly substandard. The performance it was determined (correctly) was so good that the limited audio could be overlooked. It is a must own CD for Sinatra fans. There is no doubt in my mind they could do this with other recorded concerts. Anyway with out further babbling...
Sinatra The Television Years 1957-1965 **** 1/2
As the title suggest this disc is made up of recordings Sinatra made on his various tv specials from 1957 through 1965. The cd contains 25 tracks including one medley with Ella Fitzgerald and one other duet with her as well. The Music here is nearly perfect there isn't a clunker here and taken alone would make this easily a 5 star CD. You have to take a half star off for the fact that much of this music comes from shows that are 50+ years old have haven't been well taken care of The sound quality of much of this CD though it's as good as it possibly could be... is still poor. Great versions of It's all right with me, September of my years and Everybody has the right to be wrong.
December Down Under Live In Sydney December 2nd 1961 **** 1/2
The complete closing night show from a 3 night stop in Sydney. 23 song 75 minute show is fantastic. Sinatra is in great voice and even manages to keep his cool as the people insist on shouting out the names of songs. Set list is similar to 1962 Children's benefit world tour shows. Sound is again a negative here although it's better than TV years and comparable to the 1959 concert with Red Norvo . Sinatra is magnificent through out. Great versions of Imagination and Second Time Around. There is the obligatory "saloon" song "One For My Baby" but no show stopper like Ol' Man River.
Sinatra The Lost London Concert 1970 ****
Frank Sinatra did 2 shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London the second show was taped and was shown in 1971 as a television special and is widely available (above board) on DVD. This is the first show. This CD contains 3 more songs than the television special but it is still fairly short at 55 minutes. The Sound is very good. This show is generally better than the video taped second show. Sinatra does his standard early 70's show with which by now contained Something by the Beatles and Didn't We from Jimmy Webb. Sinatra also sings I will drink the wine which he predicts will be a huge hit. (It wasn't) He closes with a fantastic My Way.
Washington D.C. 17 April 1973. *** 1/2
The Only Concert Sinatra gave in his retirement between 1971-1974 It was held at the White House for Richard Nixon and Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti. Sinatra was backed by the Marine Band and the sound is outstanding. The show is interesting from a historical perspective because Nixon does the Introduction and closing and Sinatra's set is good but very brief. Sinatra does 10 songs and the concert only lasts 42 minutes.
Live At The Forum Montreal 1975 *****
This was downloaded for me off the internet by a friend. Sinatra's voice in the 70's was hit and miss but it is in fine shape here. After blasting through one of the few misguided decisions in his catalog (Bad Bad Leroy Brown) Sinatra goes through a long set heavy on ballads. Nice and Easy, My Way, Send In The Clowns and the Saloon medley are highlights. But the topper for me on this show is Cycles. It's my favorite Sinatra song and one of his bigger hits of the late 60's. Yet he rarely sang the song on stage and dropped it all together after 1975. After singing it here he asks isn't that a nice song? I agree and it makes me wonder why he didn't sing it more.
The Sinatra Saga Volume 1. ****
2 CD set that contains performances from the 50's through the 80's. Sound Quality is mixed. Purest would suggest that the first disc contains the better music and they are probably right but it's the second disc I find more interesting. The first disc contains performances that would have been unearthing when this boot came out in 1992 but now break little ground. Most are taking from alternative shows of the released children's benefit concerts and the Red Norvo Australian show. The Second disc which contains songs from the 70's and 80's is as I said more interesting. Highlights are a on stage version of There Used To Be A Ball Park and Summer Wind.
Sinatra Saga Volume 2. *** 1/2
I disc 20 song compilation follow up to Sinatra Saga Volume 1. The performances taken from 1976-1986 and concentrates more on rarities than standards although it ends with a 1979 My Way. Sinatra's voice is not great for much if this cd, the song list certainly no best of, and the sound is mixed...and yet somehow it's an oddly fascinating listen. This is not a hard to find or exceptionally expensive bootleg and it's not one that I would suggest to somebody who isn't a diehard fan but it's oddly endearing.
Sinatra in Japan April 18th 1985. *** 1/2
A Television special one of two available on DVD now world wide everywhere except region 1 (the United States and Canada) It's one of two concerts on DVD like this the other being Concert for Americas. I need to invest in a region free DVD player. Anyway the CD version is a edited version of the TV concert. Sinatra is in better voice than he was a decade earlier and he is very energetic The sound is also Outstanding. The set list is decent but he cuts whole verses out of My Way. There is the less than stellar LA Is My Lady which was at least always better live than the studio version. There is also Mack The Knife which Sinatra should have left to Darin, Fitzgerald and Armstrong.