Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Listen Or Die? #7 - Songs For Swingin' Lovers!...

Listen Or Die? Our weekly examination of the albums listed in the book, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Must you hear them? We'll be the judge of that...

by Frank Sinatra (1956)
Running Time: 45:00

1. You Make Me Feel So Young
2. It Happened in Monterey
3. You're Getting to be a Habit with Me
4. You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me
5. Too Marvelous For Words
6. Old Devil Moon
7. Pennies From Heaven
8. Love is Here to Stay
9. I've Got You Under My Skin
10. I Thought About You
11. We'll Be Together Again
12. Makin' Whoopee
13. Swingin' Down the Lane
14. Anything Goes
15. How About You

It only took a year for Frank Sinatra's mood to dramatically improve. What am I talking about? You might remember the first album we looked at in this series, In The Wee Small Hours, the ultra-depressed and ultimately satisfying 1955 Sinatra LP. That was a Frank Sinatra I was unfamiliar with; all woe is me and down in the dumps. Released eleven months later, Songs For Swingin' Lovers is Sinatra's light to his previous album's dark. Where stood tracks like 'Mood Indigo' and 'When Your Lover Has Gone' is now occupied with 'Love Is Here To Stay' and... 'Makin' Whoopee.' The evolution of sex in popular culture; 'Making Whoopee' becomes 'Afternoon Delight' becomes 'Put It In My Mouth' becomes 'Down A** B*tch.' Thank heavens the subtle 50s is long gone, am I right?! 

Songs For Swingin' Lovers is the return of the smooth talking, classy Sinatra. It's all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows everywhere. Personally, I want to hate it, but Sinatra makes this impossible; the man's too damn good at what he does. 'You Make Me Feel So Young' isn't the greatest album opener in the world and it's lost in translation 50s innocence just comes across as creepy. Potential double entendres abound. "The moment that you speak, I want to play hide and seek, I want to go and bounce the moon, just like a big toy balloon." Now imagine Kanye West rapping that line. Not so cute now! Alternatively, 'It Happened In Monterey' holds the right kind of charm with its 'days gone by' Mexican love story. You can't even find ways to twist the words into potentially new boudoir antics. Sinatra had just hit the 40 mark when the album went into production and the rich vocal tone he's got going on sells a song like this much better than a younger Frank could have.  

What separates the great songs from the decent ones can be found in the composers and lyricists. You'll find yourself immediately won over by the Gershwin's jazz standard, 'Love Is Here To Stay.' Perfectly dreamy strings and piano alongside Sinatra's equally mesmerising, deep voice make this one an easy winner. It would have been a hard task for what followed, if it wasn't Cole Porter's 'I've Got You Under My Skin.' Sinatra's rendition is fairly breezy, but that works with his lighthearted style. It's not as powerful as Ella Fitzgerald's version (released the same year), but the song is one of the all-time greats and ole Blue Eyes does it justice. For all of its lame innuendo, 'Makin' Whoopee' is actually the most boring track on the album. This song goes out to all the lamenting fathers out there. "He's washing dishes and baby clothes, he's so ambitious he even sews, but don't forget folks, that's what you get folks, for makin' whoopee." If you have sex, you will have a child and regret it! So says Frank Sinatra. 

While Songs For Swingin' Lovers is a step down in quality and a departure from the more adventurous In The Wee Small Hours, I'd still give this a LISTEN. Frank Sinatra knew how to deliver the goods and Songs For Swingin' Lovers proves to be no exception.  

The tally...

DIE - 4  

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