Sinatra didn’t just sing great songs, he took them off the market by making each performance the definitive interpretation of the song. He was also the first major artist to record concept albums—well before The Beatles and The Who ever sang their first notes.
This quartet of re-releases from Capitol captures Sinatra at the height of his musical powers in the mid-50s when he had moved away from the sugary croon of his early years and into the smartly arranged gentle swing of the Nelson Riddle and Billy May years. Following a thematic progression that explores romance from first love to adult relationships, the quartet of albums begins with Songs For Young Lovers/Swing Easy (1954), a combination of two separate Sinatra releases that evoke the innocent sentimentality and tenderness of young love.
By 1956’s Songs For Swingin’ Lovers, love is still young, but a lot less innocent (“Makin’ Whoopee”) and by 1957’s A Swingin’ Affair, young love has become an adult relationship (“Night and Day”).
1958’s Come Fly With Me is either the honeymoon or a whole new affair, with “Autumn In New York,” “Moonlight In Vermont,” and “Come Fly With Me.” As far as I’m concerned, the best of these is A Swingin’ Affair with four Cole Porter songs, including the ultimate performance of “Night and Day” and the cleverest love song Porter ever wrote, “At Long Last Love.”