Frank Sinatra

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Cycles Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Cycles was Frank Sinatra's first full-fledged pop/rock-oriented album, concentrating on a more orchestrated variation on the popular folk-rock of the late '60s. The foundation of the arrangements on Cycles are guitars, bass, and drum kits, all played gently and unobtrusively; the strings are layered on top of the pop rhythm section. Appropriately, Sinatra sang a variety of material associated with folk-rock, particularly Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" and Glen Campbell's "Gentle on My Mind" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." Sinatra responds to the softer material by phasing out most of the edginess in his phrasing. He doesn't sing with the nuanced textures of his Jobim albums -- he is simply restrained. That doesn't result in an embarrassing album, yet Cycles isn't the successful rock and traditional pop fusion that it might have been. Some of the material isn't well-suited for Sinatra -- neither "Little Green Apples" or "Pretty Colors" sound convincing -- but the main problem is with Don Costa's arrangements and production. There simply isn't enough variety to sustain interest throughout the course of the short, ten-song album. Certain sections work well, particularly the Glen Campbell numbers, but there isn't anything distinctive about the record, which makes it one of the weakest albums Sinatra ever released.

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