The Essential Frank Sinatra: The Columbia Years is half greatest-hits wrap-up and half rarities compilation, a prospect that will likely frustrate either set of record-buyers (collectors and neophytes) who purchase it. Including the same number of tracks as the label's 16 Most Requested Songs from 1992, this one alternates eight of Sinatra's Columbia-era classics -- "Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night of the Week)," "All of Me," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Day By Day," etc. -- with eight alternate takes, all previously unreleased and all of them an intriguing prospect for fans. Even more than usual, Sinatra is laid-back and relaxed on the alternates, easing his way through "The Coffee Song" in a similar manner to that he'd perfect during the '50s and '60s. "Mam'selle" is solid as well, though "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)" is a very straightforward reading, even to a fault, making it obvious why this version wasn't chosen for (original) release. As Sinatra's Columbia years are well-covered by compilations, this isn't a good introduction, and with only a few exceptions, the alternate takes hardly make it worthwhile for casual fans as well.
AllMusic Review by John Bush
feat: The Ray Charles Singers