Various Artists

Let's Be Frank: A Tribute to Sinatra

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So when is a tribute album not really a tribute album? When it's made up of tracks recorded over a period of years that were never originally intended to be part of a tribute album in the first place. None of the folks here -- everyone from Mel Tormé ("The Second Time Around"), Ella Fitzgerald ("The Tender Trap"), and Billie Holiday ("All the Way") to ring-a-ding-ding pretenders to the throne like Buddy Greco ("The Lady Is a Tramp"), Jack Jones ("Strangers in the Night"), and Paul Anka ("My Way") -- ever did an actual Sinatra tribute album during his lifetime and all the tracks here were album filler, buried on a side two where they wouldn't get much comparison to the definitive reading by the Chairman of the Board. So with all that said and with this released less than a month after Sinatra's death in 1998 (although to be fair, it was compiled and annotated before his death), the odd thing is how well this collection actually does hang together. Nobody tries to cut Sinatra on his own turf here, and you walk away realizing what an enormous influence the man had on 20th century song interpretation and the majority of its practitioners. On that level, it's a true success.

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