Artist: Frank Sinatra
There are those who could listen to Frank sing all day. Me, I’m not one of ‘em. That’s not to say he isn’t the greatest vocalist of all time. When I say I can’t listen to Sinatra all day the way others do, I mean it in the sense of circumstance—if you’re reading this then there’s a good chance you’ve been inside a Barnes & Noble that actually does play Frank Sinatra all day long.
That being said, I could listen to Swing and Dance with Frank Sinatra twice, maybe three times in a row before my natural Sinatra fatigue would kick in. Some of Frank’s most underrated tunes – “Lover” is not only a vocal tour-de-force but also a showcase of stunning musicianship, while “It’s Only a Paper Moon” finds Frank briefly abandoning the croon (“Without your love/Without your love”).
Some minor qualms: the timing is a little off, and I only say this because Frank’s later masterpieces contain no errors whatsoever. The timbre, inflections, throatiness — it’s hard to pin down exactly, but it’s just off when compared to, say, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers. His maximum charisma isn’t on full display. Not really jittery, but just a little too quick.
Nevertheless, this is Frank Sinatra we’re talking about here. The man is a 20th-century master, and this is akin to picking on Beatles for Sale because it’s not as good as Abbey Road. Swing and Dance isn’t Frank Sinatra’s best collection of songs, but it is the best collection of swing and dance songs released in 1950. Clearly a superstar in the making.