For not completely unconnected reasons, the resurrection of Frank Sinatra's career (after his early bobby-soxer peak and late-'40s fall) coincided with the rise of Las Vegas as the nation's number one entertainment destination. When Sinatra first appeared at the Desert Inn in 1951, his fortunes were at their lowest ebb; his career had fallen far from its mid-'40s peak, and even his personal life lay in a shambles, with a high-profile divorce from his wife and an even higher-profile fling with actress Ava Gardner. Las Vegas, meanwhile, was merely a desert outpost in the '50s, but it began its quick ascent to entertainment greatness just as Sinatra and other entertainers began ensconcing themselves in the friendly confines of venues such as the Sands, Caesars Palace, and the Golden Nugget. Best of Vegas is an effective overview of this facet of Sinatra's career, chronologically compiling four mini sets -- 1961 and 1966 at the Sands, 1982 at Caesars Palace, 1987 at the Golden Nugget -- to show how Sinatra's songcraft and stagecraft evolved over the years. The second set is especially inviting, including songs featuring the Count Basie Orchestra and conducted by Quincy Jones (all but one of which are also available on the 1966 LP Sinatra at the Sands). Listeners wanting the full treatment of Sinatra in Vegas should invest in the box set Sinatra: Vegas, but this 17-track set is a good basic overview.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush