Strangers In The Night
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/18/2010
Millions of words have been written about Frank Sinatra. He made his first appearance with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in January of 1940, and for the next half century-plus, he remained a superstar of American music.
I must admit that during my teenage years, I thought of him mainly as the father of Nancy Sinatra, but as time passed and I aged a bit, I came to appreciate his talent and ability to interpret songs. Years later, many of his vinyl releases now adorn my record collection.
Strangers In The Night was released in 1966 during a very productive period of Sinatra’s career. The record and the single of the same name would both top the American pop charts in the middle of The Beatles era. Yesterday…And Today would replace the album at number one and “Paperback Writer” the single.
This classic pop album has now returned as a Deluxe Edition complete with bonus tracks. It has been digitally remastered and the sound is crystal-clear. Liner notes give a complete history of the album’s development, with original notes by Stan Cornyn also included.
The title song was a hurried affair. At the time, Jack Jones and Bobby Darin were preparing their own versions, so producer Jimmy Bowen recorded it in a day and had it in the hands of radio stations the next. It became one of the definitive performances of Sinatra’s career and a rare pop/easy listening hit during the mid-‘60s.
Sinatra quickly went back into the studio to record an album to support the hit single. However, the song selection was not aimed at the teenage rock audience of the day. Instead, Sinatra stayed true to his roots and chose songs that fit his style. It proved to be a wise decision, as the album became one of the most commercially successful of his career and won Grammys for Record Of The Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
The album is filled with standards that fit his musical comfort zone and his genius interpretation skills. “My Baby Cares For Me” (1928), “You’re Driving Me Crazy” (1930), “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” (1925), and “The Most Beautiful Girl In The Word” (1935) are all given the Sinatra treatment and remain an excellent listen today.
Other than the title track, my favorite cut on this disc is “Summer Wind,” which was a German tune with English lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The only real miss is Sinatra’s version of “Downtown;” Petula Clark’s hit version just cannot be beat.
The bonus tracks include live versions of “Strangers In The Night” and “All Or Nothing,” both of which were recorded in Japan on April 18, 1985 and were previously unreleased. Finally, an alternate version of “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” from 1966 completes the album.
Strangers In The Night found Sinatra at the top of his form back in 1966. Its return 44 years later should delight both his old and new fans.