Sinatra's influence on 20th Century pop culture can not be overestimated. Throughout the '50s and '60s, Old Blue Eyes not only left his indelible stylistic mark in America's contemporary songbook but also altered popular conception of what singers and performers could and should be. Even when listening to another performer's interpretation of a standard, it is hard not to recall Sinatra's rich, floating tenor. Chances are excellent that he recorded a definitive version of the song at some point.
By focusing on some of the Chairman's formative recordings, THE EARLY YEARS lives up to its title. Superb versions of "You Are Too Beautiful," "Embraceable You," and "If I Loved You" exhibit the fluid sense of style and phrasing that would make Sinatra an icon. His swinging showman persona occasionally overshadows his vocal talents. But the grace and impact of his smooth tenor on THE EARLY YEARS are enough to remind you that Sinatra was, first and foremost, a great singer.