An icon of American music, Frank Sinatra defined sophisticated pop singing of the post-war era and spent more than 50 years in the limelight. After formative stints with Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, and others, Sinatra shot to worldwide fame through hit records and Hollywood movies. His hip, laid-back delivery defined cool, yet he also had a down-to-earth manner that connected easily with audiences. Ups and downs would follow him throughout his career--the details of his private life were not always fit for public consumption--but right up till the end, every comeback strengthened the intense loyalty of his fans.
Sinatra already had one youthful career behind him by the time he made Songs for Swingin'' Lovers! His were no longer the lustrous pipes of the kid crooner from Hoboken--the voice that made bobbysoxers swoon--but from the first notes of the opening track ("You Make Me Feel So Young") he seems to have discovered a musical fountain of youth that fully justifies the exclamation point in the album title. There''s a buoyant new spring in his step, accented by Nelson Riddle''s lighter-than-air arrangements, that makes the Columbia records of Sinatra''s younger days sound stiff and stodgy in comparison. Even chestnuts like "Old Devil Moon," "Pennies from Heaven," "Makin'' Whoopee," and "Anything Goes" are rejuvenated by his vibrant touch. Put this alongside his previous Capitol album, In the Wee Small Hours, and you have the definitive statements by both sides of Sinatra''s mature musical personality: the lonely "saloon singer" and the swaggering, sophisticated swinger. Sinatra''s carefree confidence achieves its supreme expression in "I''ve Got You Under My Skin," a performance that builds steadily to an ecstatic climax. Cole Porter may have hated his lyrical embellishments, but by the time the singer jauntily breaks the "fourth wall" on "Anything Goes" ("...may I say before this records spins to a close..."), you can''t deny he''s taken the title to heart. --Jim Emerson
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