This isn’t nearly as insightful as Mr. Dispenza’s post, but here goes!
First off, let me make my thanks to Sinatra Enterprises and Shout very clear…this seven dvd set containing twelve complete shows plus the bonus vintage performances is swell indeed.
I enjoy that some of these discs include lesser-known songs of the Sinatra catalogue – not simply the standards that comprised most of his concerts. I love “Lady is a Tramp” as much as the next fan, but (forgive me) I don’t need that many versions of it… On the other hand, I love “I Loved Her,” “Monday Morning Quarterback” and “(We had a) Good Thing Going” from Sinatra: The Man and His Music (with Count Basie), which were released on what I consider Sinatra’s last great album She Shot Me Down. (Anyone agree with that statement?)
I had forgotten that the 1981 special also included the pretty awful “Say Hello,” which nevertheless holds a warm spot in my heart because it served as the original theme song of my radio show (bad rhymes and all!) I used to play in from the 45 – how long ago that seems.
Sinatra and Friends offer another of the favorite early memories in my Sinatra life was the trio Dino, Robert Merrill, and Frank” on “Oldest Established,” which in 1977 demonstrated vividly to this high school student just how much fun Sinatra’s singing with friends could be…and introduced me to Guys and Dolls.
Watching these shows also makes me think that Sinatra should’ve sung otherpeople’s songs more, like his humorous duet with the Fifth Dimension for Francis Albert Sinatra Does His Thing, on “Sweet Blindness.”
What I enjoy so much about it – more than, for example, the duet on “Chicago” with Tony Bennett for Sinatra and Friends – is how it highlights exactly how talented, comfortable and confident a singer Frank was – no matter the genre (and even if the chorography wasn’t exactly worked out).
The Bennett duet, meanwhile, just seems uncomfortable to me, and I can’t determine whether Tony wasn’t in fine voice or whether the key of the Sinatra arrangement is just too low for him.
The dvd set also makes me lament that Watertown was never turned into the television special it was meant to be.
I really think that a live Sinatra performance of those songs, and telling that story, would have made arresting television, and would’ve made the album a far more significant part of his catalogue of recordings than, sadly, it has turned out to be.
One final thought: a singing Sinatra surrounded by posing women. I LOVE 1950s television!