Saturday, February 16, 2008

Come Fly With Me

“Once I get you up there, where the air is rarefied We'll just glide, starry eyed”
Come Fly With Me

This was Frank’s first album with Billy May as arranger and conductor. It exudes style and sophistication, a clarion call to middle America to see the world.

After six albums with Nelson Riddle and one with Gordon Jenkins Frank at last got to work with his Capitol arranger of choice. It’s not difficulty to see why Frank wanted Billy as a partner. Mandalay, Hawaii, Capri, London, Paris or Rome? Frank’s invitation to “come fly with me” was an evocative invitation to 175 million Americans. Back in 1958 most people could only dream of air travel; foreign travel was for the rich and famous - Frank qualified on both counts. In actual fact few Americans even had a passport. The inspired selection of songs took the listener on a trip around the world. From the toe tapping swing numbers (like ‘Come Fly with Me’ and ‘Let’s Get Away From It All) to the romantic ballads (‘Autumn in New York’ and ‘Moonlight in Vermont’) every song is crafted for maximum impact. The light hearted humour of numbers like ‘The Road To Mandalay’ and ‘Isle of Capri’ add an extra dimension to what some consider to be an even stronger contender for the title of ‘the first real concept album’ (a decade before it became an over used notion in rock music).

It became Frank’s first album to make the British album charts, which were inaugurated on November 8 1958. Although Swing Easy made the charts in 1960, six years after it’s American release.Billy May swears that he arranged "Flying Down To Rio" for the "Come Fly With Me" album, but no recording has ever surfaced.

In their March 1958 review High Fidelity thought it a great album. “Frank swings through a list of standards [as if on a trip], including "Moonlight in Vermont," "Autumn in New York," "April in Paris, "Brazil," etc. It is Sinatra at close to his very best, especially on the most bright-tempoed tunes like the title song and "Isle of Capri," in which he amusingly tips his hat to a Hollywood restaurant in which he often eats, substituting these words: “She wore a lovely meatball on her finger/t'was goodbye at the Villa Capri."


r morris said...

Great choice, Richard! Though it's hard to pick the best Sinatra album, this is one of his best. I love Billy May's arrangements. They have a light-heartedness and joy about them.
My all-time favorite Frankie album is 'Songs for Swingin' Lovers' but this one is up there. I like the way Frank invites us to travel with him, and that the songs all deal with geographical locations.
Long live ol' blue eyes.

Richard Evans said...

I'd say if you needed just one Frank album you couldn't do better than this one.

Incidentally Richard, did you know that when the Grammy Awards first began in 1959, the very first Grammy awarded for best album cover was awarded to Frank Sinatra - as Art Director! - for the cover of his 1958 'Only The Lonely' album

Richard Havers said...

Yes, I've modeled myself on Frank as an art director. It's easy being an A. D. you just need clever people like you to make sense of our b/s

r morris said...

That 'Only the Lonely' cover was a strange one. Why was Frank a clown? I guess I don't get it.
Either one of you Richards have any idea?

Richard Evans said...

Rob, it really is an odd illustration, isn't it? The pastel drawing is uncredited - I'm not surprised! Only Frank would take the credit for it! According to the sleeve notes by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen, the album was to be called 'For Losers Only' but Frank was talked out of it.

r morris said...

Thanks, Richard E. It's a brilliant album. I just never understood what the clown was supposed to mean.