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Frank Sinatra

A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra

50th Anniversary

(Capitol; US: 18 Sep 2007; UK: Available as import)

Sinatra’s first Christmas album, now 50 years old, sounds lovelier than it ever has thanks to the magic of remastering, but that’s unfortunately faint praise. The Ralph Brewer singers are predictably majestic, and the orchestra conducted by Gordon Jenkins is as sweeping and full of wonder as the season dictates, but Frank himself seems a little bit tired on A Jolly Christmas. Perhaps it’s the choice of songs on display, an odd mix of slow, slower, and “Jingle Bells”, that weighs him down, but it’s more likely that on those slow songs, it’s that he sounds like he’s being desperately careful to hit each note perfectly. He doesn’t have his usual energy, and he sounds constrained by his surroundings. “Jingle Bells” and “The Christmas Waltz” manage to transcend these limitations, but they’re not quite enough to make Sinatra’s Christmas the definitive one of the era. The PSA tacked on to the end of this 50th Anniversary Edition is cute, and would make for a perfectly nostalgic sort of interlude on a Christmas-themed mix tape, but that’s all the “new” you get from this latest edition. Still, the familiarity of these versions may well make for a worthwhile purchase. Just make sure you save A Jolly Christmas for later on Christmas Eve night, when your guests are leaving and you’re ready to welcome those visions of sugar plums dancing in your heads.

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Mike Schiller is a software engineer in Buffalo, NY who enjoys filling the free time he finds with media of any sort -- music, movies, and lately, video games. Stepping into the role of PopMatters Multimedia editor in 2006 after having written music and game reviews for two years previous, he has renewed his passion for gaming to levels not seen since his fondly-remembered college days of ethernet-enabled dorm rooms and all-night Goldeneye marathons. His three children unconditionally approve of their father's most recent set of obsessions.


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