Frank Sinatra: (100th Anniversary DVD Collection)

Frank Sinatra (100th Anniversary DVD Collection)
A Man and His Music/A Man and His Music Part ll
A Man and His Music +Ella+Jobim/Francis Albert Sinatra Does His Thing/Sinatra
Sinatra and Friends/Sinatra:The Man and His Music
Concert for the Americas
(Eagle Rock)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

He didn’t write many tunes out of the hundreds he recorded, but Frank Sinatra sure could pick them. Since he was a star from his early 20s when fronting the Tommy Dorsey band, he also had the financial wherewithal to surround himself with the best players, and more importantly arrangers, in the business. Along with his smooth, instantly recognizable voice, tough-guy good looks and larger than life personality, it was the perfect storm for super stardom. Another plus was Sinatra’s ability to shift from ring-a-ding-ding brassy big band swing to crooning the jazzy saloon ballads always included in his sets.

Those only familiar with Sinatra’s recorded hits need to see him in action, either in the studio or charming a live audience, to fully understand his massive appeal. You can do both on these four DVDs, re-issued as part of the singer’s yearlong 100th anniversary celebration. They capture Sinatra in nearly peak form from age 50 in his first televised 1965 special (when color was a new picture development) through a thrilling live performance from the Dominican Republic in 1982 where he was still firing on all cylinders at 67.

Listening to this music is a time trip through classic American songs narrated by one of its most talented interpreters. You’ll forget the movies, the Mafia connections, political side stories, numerous romances and Rat Pack shenanigans as you focus on the magnificent voice, stage presence, and impeccably effortless timing that made Sinatra such an iconic and ultimately enduring presence.

Longtime fans likely own these DVDs (available separately) that have been around since 2010 and this reissue series doesn’t enhance them. But those new to the Sinatra experience can catch up with his history—and in turn a rundown of the greatest tunes from the Great American Songbook by writers such as Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and others — by immersing themselves in these stunning performances. All his hits are here, some repeated, spread over the course of these three discs of television specials and one phenomenal concert. Sinatra used his stardom to work with and spotlight lesser known artists such as Brazilian composer/guitarist Antonio Carlos Jobim and singer Diahann Carroll. He also took pains to credit the songwriters, arrangers and band members in his shows, many of whom worked with him for decades.

Sinatra also pushed boundaries, recording a medley of black spirituals during the tense civil rights years on 1968’s Francis Albert Sinatra Does His Thing, highlighting percussion on his Jobim/Fitzgerald show and calling out George Harrison’s “Something” as one of the finest love songs he had heard.

Notably, the camera work, direction, sets and overall presentation of his TV shows was remarkably creative and innovative, especially for the time. Even if the audience reaction seems dubbed in and some of the jokes are stale, the attention to detail is superb. Considering the music and video combination was still relatively new in the mid-late 60s when the bulk of this was recorded and the sounds were being heard through tinny, shrill TV speakers from the most primitive of television sets that make your phone sound like 5.1 surround in comparison, the remastered audio here is full and alive.

There are no dull moments over the course of these four discs. The incredible talent on display from Fitzgerald, Buddy Rich, Jobim, guitarist Tommy Mottola and of course Sinatra himself, makes these wildly enjoyable performances essential to the understanding of American 20th century music.

The Hotelier