Frank Sinatra’s eleventh album, This Is Sinatra! was part of Capitol Records “This Is…” series of compilations of previously released hits, misses, obscurities and fan favorites. nat King Cole has one, so does Dean Martin. It certainly isn’t a greatest hits, the recordings date between April 30, 1953 and September 13, 1955. There is nothing off In The Wee Small Hours or Songs For Swingin’ Lovers, though everything that is on the album was either arranged or conducted or both by Nelson Riddle,
If this was the only place to find the set opener Harold Arlen’s “I’ve Got the World on a String” or “(Love Is) The Tender Trap” perhaps it would be simply a must buy. Or if it was the 1980s and “Married With Children” had turned you on to “Love And marriage” this would be as good a place as any to find them. But for a compilation the choice of songs can be very weak. Sinatra sings “From Here To Eternity” beautifully but so what? It is a dreadful piece of overwrought fluff,the bridge sounds like the climax of a “Peyton Place”. “Three Coins In The Fountain” is equally lousy -another movie song though this dog received the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1955.
This Is Sinatra! was a money move but not quite the Presley Camden Budget like taking the rubes on a ride look it is at first glance. You and I might shake our heads at calling Ira Gershwin’s sublime lyric “The Gal That Got Away” and wonder what Judy Garland thought of it (another film song, this one from “A Star Is Born”). “South of The Border” is ANOTHER movie song (it’s from a 1939 Gene Autry flick) and while Sinatra gringos it well, it won’t have you forgetting Patsy Cline’s countrypolitan version.
Besides “I’ve Got The World On A String” and “(Love Is The) Tender Trap” (from yet another movie) there is the third great song, “Young At heart,” certainly as much a Sinatra standard as any you care to mention. I bet the paying public added “Three Coins In The Fountain” and “From Here To Eternity” to those three making them five sure fire hits, and good value for money.