Great lost pop albums – Frank Sinatra goes psych – Watertown

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We are massive Sinatra fans in this house, we play the tunes, watch the DVD and occasionally even sport the kinky boots. Apparently though there was another member of the Sinatra family in the music biz , Nancy’s dad Frank, who had a hit or two in the fifties.

There are some who have you believe his voice was legendary, but IMO the jury is still out. Sure he was technically perfect, but compared with say, Scott Walker, he lacked drama, pathos and passion. When he sang You Make Me Feel So Young, it sounds to me like he was harking back to the glory days just before his bus pass arrived. And as for Fly Me To The Moon, well he instilled that tune with so much passion that he would be lucky if he got beyond Slough. No matter though, for in the late ’60s, he did make one album in which those dulcet tones seemed to find its voice and that’s Watertown. Conceived by crack song writing team, Jake Holmes and Bob Gaudio, who were also responsible for the Four Seasons masterpiece (no, really) Genuine Imitation Life Gazette, Watertown is a soft pop/psychy concept album of sorts in which the narrator, that’s Frank, tells the tale of how he’s getting on with his life now that his missus has left him and his two boys to try and make it as a film star. Like many so called easy listening albums, Watertown is a harrowing experience, mainly because songs like Michael and Peter (‘Michael is you, he has your eyes’) are shot through with self-resignation and sadness of a middle aged fella who realises his life is pretty much over now that his one true love has gone. Best of all is For A While, a stunning lament for the women he still loves, but doesn’t love him, in which our narrator temporarily forgets his sad life. Not only are the songs magical, and the sweeping orchestral arrangements that underpin the vocalist both beautiful and subtle, but Sinatra really does immerse himself in the character and in many respect delivers the most passionate vocal performance of his career. If you buy one Sinatra CD, make it Nancy’s Greatest Hits, perhaps the ultimate groovy ’60s pop album. But if you are going to get a few more Sinatra albums, pass on Nancy in London and give her dad’s masterpiece a listen. It might cost you a few quid -the CD currently goes for £100 on Amazon – but it is an album you’ll treasure.

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