Frank Talk: `Frank'ophiles May Want to Buy the New Sinatra Collection, but the Six-CD Box Isn't for the Casual Fan. (Music)

Article excerpt

Frank Sinatra may be the greatest singer of popular songs this nation has produced. His voice, his interpretations, his ability to capture nearly every human emotion in his music--these are rare and beautiful qualities whose effect has not been diminished by his death in May 1998.

But it is important to know that Sinatra, like any artist, turned out his share of dreck. As an unabashed admirer of his music, I would like to be able to say I love the new six-CD box set Sinatra in Hollywood (Rhino Records, $119) and that it's worth every penny. But I can't.

When Sinatra was in the studio recording for Columbia, Capitol or Reprise, he would do a song countless times, if necessary, to get it right. This painstaking procedure resulted in perhaps 20 of the finest thematic albums in creation, from the wildly uninhibited Come Dance With Me to the agonizingly sorrowful Only the Lonely.

On-screen, however, Sinatra was known as "Charlie One-Take" for his often careless method of working. From 1940 to 1964, when he was making films, he always seemed to have something else to do, somewhere else to go, somebody else to see. Hollywood reflects this approach, as well as the fact that he often was forced to do mediocre material before he became "chairman of the board" and called his own shots.

Because Sinatra never sang a tune exactly the same way twice, collectors may be interested in owning the film versions of some well-known takes. And there are "new" songs, previously unavailable, including "The Last Call for Love" from Ship Ahoy, "We're on Our Way" from the [lamentable] Kissing Bandit and "Boys and Girls Like You and Me" from Take Me Out to the Ball Game. …