Frank Sinatra returned from his brief retirement in 1973 with the appropriately titled Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back. Released amidst a whirlwind of publicity, the album was a commercial success, earning gold status and nearly climbing its way into the Top Ten, but it wasn't a return to form. Produced by Don Costa, the album doesn't follow the sound of Sinatra's last handful of albums (Sinatra & Company, Watertown, A Man Alone, My Way), jettisoning then-recent pop hits for selections by upcoming songwriters, particularly Joe Raposo, as well as several current film and Broadway numbers. Much of the material is unmemorable, featuring slight melodies and clichéd, underdeveloped lyrics. The noticeable exceptions are "Send in the Clowns" and the moving "There Used to Be a Ballpark," both featuring sublime, subtle arrangements from Gordon Jenkins and outstanding singing by Sinatra. However, Jenkins' arrangements are undercut by the lethargic, uneventful production by Costa. Not that Jenkins' arrangements are all perfect -- on "Noah," one of the worst songs Sinatra ever recorded, his writing actually accentuates the banality of Raposo's tune. Much of the material is indicative of the lack of songwriting ingenuity in the early '70s; straddling the line between rock-inflected pop and traditionalist pop, most of the songs wind up making a small impression, if they make one at all. Apart from "Send in the Clowns" and "There Used to Be a Ballpark," there's little on Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back that's rewarding, and Sinatra recorded better versions of both of those songs.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine