Frank Sinatra had one of the most recognisable voices in recorded music history. He is the epitome of that ‘easy listening’ area, located within most music stores. Plus, when it comes time to turn down the lights, and enjoy a romantic evening with a significant other, there is no one quite like Sinatra to set the tone.
Songs For Young Lovers is Sinatra’s seventh album and is rather short with a running time of just over 21 minutes. Interestingly, there has been a trend over the last few years where albums are being released with a shorter runtime. Two that I can immediately think of are AC/DC’s Rock Or Bust (34:55) and Rob Zombie’s The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser (31:29). I was initially a little perturbed by this shortening of albums again, but it is growing on me and I find that a shorter runtime is keeping the album tight, with no filler to be seen. This is one reason why I adore Songs For Young Lovers as it plays like it should simply be a greatest hits release. In reflection, I feel the CD with its 74–80-minute runtime was just too long for an album. After listening to an album that maxes out of the capacity of CD, I find that I am often tired by the time it concludes. Whereas a 40-minute album, or less, encourages me to listen to the album again. It is an interesting conundrum, but I do hope with the resurgence of vinyl and the refocus on the song, via streaming services, that we will see less filler-filled albums; for a format need no longer be filled, just because it can be.
Anyway, at the time of Record Store Day 2015 ( RSD 15), my better half was in Europe looking for a gift to buy her beloved, that’s me (she doesn’t read my reviews, so I can pad my ego), to say she was thinking of me. She had asked me if there was anything in particular I would like. It was a shame that she wasn’t travelling to the United States as I would have got her to pick up Neil Young’s Pono music player, but I did make it clear that I wasn’t interested in the regular fridge magnet, fancy spoon, or other dust collecting knickknack. Yes, dear reader, I know what I want, and I’m not afraid to ask for it when questioned on the subject. Sure, I like surprises too, and I did get a couple of those, but as much as consumerism may be essential to modern society, I only want to have the goods and services that I will use. Hence, this is one reason why I generally only link to TIDAL Hi-Fi here at Subjective Sounds, despite most of the albums I discuss being available on other streaming platforms. I know some reviewers out there have numerous subscriptions, but I find that TIDAL’s catalogue is sufficient for my diverse interests. For the few albums that aren’t present on the service, I generally have those in my private collection anyway. Interestingly, the biggest holdout for TIDAL Hi-Fi is Metallica. Given that they supported Neil Young’s Pono, with a limited edition signatured edition, I’m quite surprised that they would not be present on a platform that not only pays a higher royalty, but also offers CD-quality streaming to a significant number of countries. Nevertheless, I have their catalogue on vinyl and CD, plus with the addition of iTunes Match for my own private collection, I have my bases covered.
Now will you look at that, I have written close to 500 words about everything other than Frank Sinatra’s album. Fingers crossed I can get back on track, but don’t quote me on it.
One of the things that intrigued me, when my significant other gifted me this album, was that it came as a 10–inch release. In-fact, it was the first 10–inch vinyl in my collection, so to me it was rather unique. It was also the first time that this album had been reissued on vinyl since the mid 80s and the version I have is the stereo release. The RSD reissue was not released in Mono, however, Vinylogy’s DOL label reissued a Mono release in 2015 that includes additional tracks. It is important to note that as Songs For Young Lovers is no longer in copyright in Europe, Vinylogy’s release is most likely cut from a digital source of unknown origin or mastering quality (possibly a CD). It is almost certain that the original tapes would not have been used. Perhaps a first, or second, generation duplication master tape if we’re lucky. That said, these ‘bootleg’ style pressings from DOL, WaxTime, Vinyl Lovers etc, that I have in my collection, all seem to have a pleasurable sound as well as being incredibly quiet with little to no noticeable noise between the tracks, or throughout the lower volume areas within songs. Even some of the highly regarded vinyl labels don’t achieve this. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are after a Mono release of the album, you should seriously consider the DOL release. Personally, the stereo edition is adequate as I’ve never quite got into Mono recordings. If anyone can suggest a Mono recording that I should check out, that you believe is superior to the stereo mix, please let me know and I will take a look.
While the RSD 15 edition of Songs For Young Lovers was limited to an odd print run of 2,575 copies, none of them are numbered. Yes, I know a number isn’t everything, but it is something to show off and my kids think it’s cool. When it comes to music appreciation, music loving parents really have to fight to have the music heard in the modern era. Yes, the technologies have been wonderful for music discovery, but let’s just say that YouTube et al has eroded more hours of my life than I care to admit.
What I particularly like about this reissue of Songs For Young Lovers, is Universal Records ensured that this release is as close to a replica of the original as possible. Yes, there are a couple of very minor alterations but original information is presented such as how to store the record and a word about high fidelity vinyl reproduction. From a collector’s point-of-view, I love this additional information as it is nostalgic, as well as informative, of the vinyl production, distribution, and playback processes employed in the 1950s. If only they would include this kind of information/marketing speak on modern releases. I love linear notes that give me something more than who sang and played what, along with the lyrics of the song and the random individuals the artist wishes to thank.
I’ve often read that Songs For Young Lovers is considered to be one of the first concept albums, whereby a theme or story arc continued throughout the entire album. While I’m in no position to disagree, I have always enjoyed a concept album and have held Alice Cooper’s concept releases, such as Welcome To My Nightmare, in the highest regard as they tell an overarching story across the entire album, rather than being random songs from the same genre, as Songs For Young Lovers is. That opinion shouldn’t be viewed as negative, just a different view as to what a concept album is.
Songs presented on this album include:
The lovely playful song My Funny Valentine. It immediately shows off Sinatra’s gorgeous vocal delivery. Honestly, the world has so many amazing vocalists, but as soon as I hear Sinatra, I find that I am just in awe and I honestly don’t believe he had, or has, any peers.
The Girl Next Door is a lovely easy-listening track. Perhaps what I love most is the mix of Sinatra’s vocal with the accompanying musical elements. In this case, as with most of Sinatra’s recordings, his vocal delivery takes pride of place and isn’t drowned out by the music; a very common problem I find with modern recordings.
A Foggy Day is a song that I truly enjoy. The song has a number of slow and fast elements that work perfectly together.
Like Someone In Love has that traditional classic tone that is common in recordings of that era. It isn’t my favourite song on the album, but I don’t think I have ever heard a bad Sinatra song.
I Get A Kick Out Of You is an absolute classic Sinatra song. If you’ve never heard the song before, just take a listen. It is one of the best songs Sinatra ever recorded and it would be in a playlist of my top songs of all time. I love how Sinatra holds onto the lyrics, before ending the specific word. It is unique and has a very jazzy feel.
Little Girl Blue is a letdown after I Get A Kick Out Of You, but it is a lovely relaxing song.
They Can’t Take That Away From Me has a very sultry late night jazz sound. I love it! It is a sing-a-long song that makes you move and smile throughout. The one thing that I find fascinating is how short this song is. That said, it is the perfect length at just under two minutes, but it feels like it should be considerably longer.
Violets For Your Furs isn’t my favourite Sinatra song, but as I eluded to earlier, there really isn’t a bad Sinatra song. It should also be noted that Sinatra sang other people’s songs. Hence, not all songs are equally appealing to his vocal style.
So how does the record sound? Absolutely gorgeous. Warm and smooth with no harshness to be seen. I have also listened to this album on TIDAL Hi-Fi and that edition is akin to a facsimile of the record. Not bad by any means, but just not as dynamically engaging as the record. Plus, the record adds an element of nostalgia to a recording that was released when vinyl reigned supreme. As I listen to the vinyl edition, it sounds like Sinatra is is my living room. Hence, as much as I love TIDAL Hi-Fi, if you can get a copy of this album on vinyl, don’t hesitate as it is significantly more appealing.
Overall, this is a great collection of songs that highlight some of Sinatra’s greatest recordings. If you’re looking to add a little romance to your relationship, you can't go wrong by spinning this album, while you share a glass of wine and a cheese platter with your significant other.