Frank Sinatra

The Sinatra Family Wish You a Merry Christmas

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Released in 1968, The Sinatra Family Wish You a Merry Christmas is certainly a relic of its time. The cover photo alone -- picturing Frank with Nancy, Tina, and Frank Jr., all dressed in white -- is a sign of Sinatra's post-Rat Pack times, as is the music inside. Nelson Riddle seems to take Don Costa's slick, lush orchestrations as his cue for the arrangements, which rarely show the subtle grace and wit of his best work. That's not a slight to Costa, whose big orchestrations had their own charm, but it's a little unfair to go into The Sinatra Family expecting something similar to Sinatra's past glories with Riddle. Then again, the title of the record signals that this an album about personality, not music. On that level, it's pretty fun, although it's quite slight and really dated. Frank doesn't have a huge presence on the record, soloing on the two highlights, Jimmy Webb's "Whatever Happened to Christmas?" and Cahn/Styne's "The Christmas Waltz." Apart from "The Bells of Christmas," which is delivered fairly seriously, the family tracks are a lark, especially the conspicuously modern reworking of "The 12 Days of Christmas," where Daddy gets nine games of Scrabble. "I Wouldn't Trade Christmas" shares a similarly lighthearted, consciously hep tone, and it's the next best thing here. Frank Jr. apes his father a bit too enthusiastically on "Some Children See Him," while Nancy's two tracks are enjoyable but ephemeral, as are Tina's "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" and the daughters' duet "O Bambino." But so what? This wasn't meant to be substantial -- it was just a seasonal laugh for 1968. It probably was an enjoyable trifle then, and decades later, it's still an enjoyable trifle, made all the more fun because it is a pop culture artifact.

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