Frank Sinatra

Hello Young Lovers [Columbia/Sony]

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At the time of its release in 1987, this two-LP compilation (issued as a single CD in 1990) was like a gift from heaven. For 35 years, Columbia Records had heaped neglect upon the portion of Frank Sinatra's legacy that they owned, putting out precious little of it (yet also managing to assemble what little they did release in some amazingly ill-conceived packages) and not treating it terribly well. Hello Young Lovers was a step in the right direction, surveying two dozen songs (26 on the LP version) highlighting various important aspects of Sinatra's nine years on the label; the sound was good, if not great, and the package was annotated by Jim Miller of Newsweek, who knew whereof he wrote. The label would do better by the singer in the future, and this release would be supplanted several times over, but there hadn't been a better extant way of discovering the young Sinatra than this, up to that time. Whether it's Axel Stordahl's string-drenched arrangement of "I Dream of You (More Than You Dream I Do)" or the jazzy, chamber group-accompanied "We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye," it's all here: the early sentimental ballads and the later, harder-sounding releases like "Walkin' in the Sunshine," which slot in perfectly alongside his Capitol sides with their reputation for a more swinging beat; and the show tunes and standards alongside the jazzier moments, such as the break on "You Do Something to Me." The sound is good, if not great, and the treatment is respectful and informative. And there are worse places to start discovering this side of Sinatra's work, though this is also not the place to stop. (Note: listeners shouldn't confuse this authorized Columbia release with the identically titled but very different Musketeer CD making the rounds since the mid-'90s.)

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