This 65-minute pirate release, taken from the "To Be Perfectly Frank" radio broadcasts, will automatically be of interest even to casual Frank Sinatra fans, for the 21 songs it contains that the Voice never recorded commercially. For those born too late or with less-than-elephantine memories, To Be Perfectly Frank was an NBC radio series that ran twice weekly (15 minutes each) between the years 1953 and 1955 -- it was the last radio series of Sinatra's career, and it had him acting as a deejay, spinning the top chart records of the week and doing one song live. The mere fact that these radio transcriptions date from the period in which Sinatra was just entering the prime of his career makes them of great interest -- the program coincided with his jump to Capitol Records and the recording of classic albums like In the Wee Small Hours and Songs for Swingin' Lovers, where Sinatra hit his stride as a singer and stylist. The swinging, jazzy nature of his formal recordings from the mid-'50s are here, on songs like "Just You, Just Me," "Them There Eyes," and "You Took Advantage of Me," among others, all done with a small group backing, usually led by Bill Miller at the piano. There's not a chance that any of this material could be mistaken for his Columbia-era pop recordings of the years leading up to the show; the hot and the cool together are on such prominent display in all of it. One must concede that some of these songs, had they been done with formal commercial recording and permanency in mind, might have been arranged and recorded somewhat differently by Sinatra and Capitol -- he is relaxed throughout, but also not spot-on for every song, and the chance for retakes might well have been taken. On the other hand, the relatively high quality of the sound (tape sources were used), and the special nature of the repertory, as he ran through one song of his choice each week, makes this an essential addendum to the Capitol recordings and the entire Sinatra output. The sound quality is generally good, apart from some minor source noise and an overload on one piano part.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder