Thursday, August 11, 2016

SHG: Frank Sinatra: "All the Way"

Frank Sinatra: “All the Way”
Entered the chart on: 10/28/1957
Peaked on: 1/6/1958
Weeks at #2: 1 week
Song at #1: “At the Hop” by Danny & the Juniors

Frank Sinatra is an artist that is hard to be impartial about.

I know some who absolutely hate him (Hello, Al!). I know others who think he is an utterly brilliant song stylist. Me? I think a lot of the former camp are letting perceptions of Frank Sinatra the person get in the way of Frank Sinatra the artist. Sort of how people hate Richard Wagner because he’s such a horrible person, rather than because he makes bad music (which he didn’t).

To be fair, by the time the 60s rolled round, Sinatra had rather become a grotesque caricature of himself, a cantankerous, foul-mouthed, hard-drinking lout who’d rather spend time carousing with his drinking buddies, romancing hot young starlets and pushing his considerably less-talented offspring into the spotlight than polishing his vocal instrument. His lackadasical performance on the fluke 1966 #1 smash “Strangers in the Night” was sadly indicative of his approach to singing at the time (the half-assed scat singing quickly becoming a point of parody for Sinatra impressionists).

That said, this is from the reliable Cahn/Van Heusen songwriting team, so one gets the feeling that, even though I can’t conjure up the melody from memory, Frank probably cared about this a little more than “Strangers” (which he considered “a piece of shit,” and it shows in his “I don’t give a crap about this” performance).

OK, this one’s coming back to me now. From the movie The Joker Is Wild, which I’m sure I’ve never seen, but I have heard this before.

Frank isn’t unseating Nat “King” Cole as my favorite pre-rock balladeer, but damn, his performance on this could come close to convincing me. This is another brilliant Nelson Riddle orchestration, swathed in pillowy strings. His voice is smooth and supple as Nat’s, and glides gorgeously over the notes.

This is really a beautiful song. I get the feeling that Frank was to singing what Bette Davis was to acting, i.e.: he gave the song the performance he thought it deserved.

It’s pretty obvious he thought very highly of this one.

Rating: 4

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