In the wee small hours – Frank Sinatra (1955)
Considered the greatest break-up album of all time…and indeed the first concept album of all time.
So, it’s good to know the album as an entity started off on a positive note!
By this point in his career, Frank Sinatra was on the wane, his fans were moving towards that new fangled rock n roll, his TV show had been cancelled after one episode, he had been dropped from Columbia Records, he’d been through a divorce with Nancy and his relationship with Ava Gardner had broken down.
Then bang! Suddenly he gets a 7 year deal at Capitol and he gets the chance and fight to produce ‘In the Wee Small hours’ – A record of sincere, mature, beautiful swooning jazz standards and ballads with exquisite string sections and the delivery of emotional tenderness from Ol’ Blue Eyes. Masterful. The recordings and artwork reflect the nocturnal recordings, Frank’s pain and loss of his relationships and experienced many emotional breakdowns in the studio following a take.
This is one of those records which is incredibly hard to judge with modern ears – It was written and recorded largely before the ‘teenager’ had been invented and the blues root had not really hit the mainstream. It would be 10 years before the British invasion and America was still in the bizarre state of country cowboy music acts on the TV, church gospel and hymns for most wholesome church-goers…and some new guy called Elvis, not sure what happened to him; he’ll never catch on.
It seems quite twee and like a soundtrack from the glory days of 1950s Hollywood, but make no mistake, this is a beautiful and masterful vocal performance, but the album as an idea is yet to hit its stride.
Song of the album: When your lover is gone