As he states in the beginning of his review
"No Frank Sinatra box set should contain two versions of him singing "Bad Bad Leroy Brown.""I needed to get that out of the way before addressing the rest of this profoundly flawed but worthwhile new 4 CD/1 DVD collection."
I could not agree more. One version of Sinatra's painful take on Jim Croce is painful enough but thankfully and not surprisingly the positives far out way the negatives of Sinatra New York.
Disk One is split between a 3 song set that was part of a reunion radio program with Tommy Dorsey from February 1955. OBTW the audio of this CD is not as sharp as the rest of the set. This should come as no surprise but somehow it did to Thom Jurek...anyway... Frank sings I'll Never Smile Again, Oh Look at me now and This Love Of Mine. The later the only song Sinatra ever wrote. The rest of the disk is a 6 song set recorded at the United nations in September 1963. Again there is no problem with the 6 songs Sinatra sings nor his voice. The Music is great. The problem is the CD has 9 songs and runs a scant 35 minutes. I can't believe they couldn't find something else to put on the disk. The highlight for me of Disk 1. Is Sinatra's version of I Have Dreamed with the sparse accompaniment.
Disk 2. Is From April 1974. Sinatra is just back from retirement and his voice is not razor sharp especially early on. He gets better as the show goes on He does a great My Way, though he forgets a verse, Send In The Clowns, You Will Be My Music and There Used To Be A Ball Park. The show was on April 8th 1974 the night Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home-run record. Sinatra tells the crowd of Aaron's record home-run. the 72 Minute show gets better and better as it goes along. Highlight There Used To Be A Ball Park.
Disk 3 October 12th 1974. The first night of a two night gig at Madison Square Garden. The second night was recorded for the TV special "The Main Event" I have to be honest I have never seen the TV special. I have heard it's not great Sinatra himself said he was "bad" I have the CD of the album that was released in 1974 as "The Main Event" But the album was spliced together from several different tour stops and is not the same as the TV special. The set list here isn't much different than the April 74 show but make no mistake it's a longer, better show than the original Main Event album. Sinatra wasn't confined to the 50 minutes he got on TV and does an extra 20 minutes. The highlight of the CD might be when he says and tomorrow night Howard Cosell will be my co-star and the crowd boos lustfully. Then Sinatra has Cosell who is in the crowd stand-up and tries to get the crowd to cheer him by talking up their friendship. They boo him again. This is the best CD of the set.
Disk 4 is the strange one of the lot. Why they decided to edit 2 different shows from 6 years apart I do not know. I do hope the reasons aren't as petty as Mr. Sachs suggest though I wouldn't doubt it. Seeing as how the DVD is a show from 1980 maybe they should have just given us the complete 1990 show. And if there was a love lyric to Barbara Sinatra the kids didn't want out they could have just edited it. Especially if the show goes over 80 minutes, the length of most CD's, anyway. The good news here is that even though Sinatra's voice isn't obviously what it was it's far from bad. The 1990 portion of the CD is far from embarrassing. The other questioning thing about CD 4 is the fact that even though it's edited from 2 shows it runs only 55 minutes. Now Sinatra was from the Vegas school where his shows usually ran about an hour to 75 minutes so a 55 minute show isn't that rare but they could have edited together a 75 minute show. Nice versions of The Summerwind and Strangers In The Night which Sinatra tells us again he hates.
The DVD Carnegie Hall June 25th 1980.
The highlight of the package. This is a bit of an odd set list from Sinatra. There's no My Way but since we get 3 other versions of it that is fine. No Strangers either. Sinatra is in great voice here and it's a high energy 75 minute show. Sinatra talks about working with Chrystler to help save 63,000 jobs and the economy. He says this country is "on it's butt right now" wow I can't imagine. Tells Silvia Syms he wants her body then says it's too late I am married. Nobody ever accused the man of being graceful. The DVD closes of course with New York New York.
The Booklet is kinda skimpy. I agree again with Mr. Sachs that the bit about Patsy's restaurant,was kinda odd. Maybe if the booklet would have been larger it wouldn't have mattered. The Sinatra Vegas booklet was 60 pages to New York's 44.
To be clear I love this box-set I think it stacks up favorably to the great Sinatra Vegas. You do have to question why they didn't find some other material to round out disk 1, the 2 edited shows making one fairly short show on disk 4 and the booklet which seems to be a little light on real information but it's a treasure for Sinatra fans. The Family has done a good job of making this material available to those of us without great bootleg connections the last few years and I hope the family continues to do so. Maybe we'll get Sinatra Europe or Sinatra world next.
Disk 1 **** / ***** Great Music, Far too short
Disk 2 **** / ***** Slow start Very strong finish.
Disk 3. **** 1/2 ***** First night of the Main Event. Longer and better than the TV special.
Disk 4. *** 1/2 ***** Odd edit of 2 different shows from 1984 and 1990. The Music is good and the voice though aged is still fairly strong.
Disk 5 DVD *****/***** Strong 75 minute show presents Sinatra doing a bit of a different set list but is a real treasure.
Overall. ****/***** What is here is all pretty close to 5 star stuff. I take a point off for some of the seemingly odd decisions that were made in production of this set. There's a little to question but a lot to love.