Frank Stallone

In Love in Vain

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Frank Stallone switches gears on In Love in Vain, abandoning his pop/rock style to come on as a Frank Sinatra-style traditional pop singer. Stallone, an accomplished character actor, has studied the styles of Sinatra and especially Bobby Darin, and he avoids the usual mistakes made by rock singers trying to handle this kind of material. In particular, he knows to swing the rhythm rather than hitting every beat spot-on, and he works well with the orchestra led by Sammy Nestico. He has a smooth low tenor that allows him to evoke Darin during "Beyond the Sea (La Mer)" and also the late-'50s Sinatra of "Witchcraft." Stallone's live performances no doubt please audiences. On record, the question is more problematic, if only because the re-creation he is attempting is less necessary. One can simply listen to Sinatra and Darin records instead of this earnest copy. Essentially, Stallone here is doing another acting job, and though he does it well for the most part, it's hard to say why someone would rather hear him than the original. Just as he doesn't get the names of the songwriters correct, consistently listing Richard Rodgers as "Rogers," he misses nuances in the lyrics that would suggest he was feeling the meanings independently and not through the filter of an earlier singer. Stallone's entry into traditional pop is welcome, but he might be better advised to seek out less familiar material (such as the title song) that he could put his own stamp on.

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