Thursday, January 28, 2016

Album Review: Watertown by Frank Sinatra

I'm getting ahead of my 1970 self here--this record's not going to be released until March 1970--but I didn't want to risk my or the Internet's collapsing and wait any longer to say this about Frank Sintra's Watertown: Wow.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

This album is stunning.

On a variety of fronts, things reportedly weren't going so hot for 53-year-old Frank Sinatra when he was making his part of this record. And, reportedly, Watertown didn't exactly turn that frown upside-down. Wikipedia:

... it sold a mere 30,000 copies that year and reached a peak chart position of 101. He left Caesars Palace in September that year after an incident where executive Sanford Waterman pulled a gun on him. He performed several charity concerts with Count Basie at the Royal Festival Hall in London. On November 2, 1970, Sinatra recorded the last songs for Reprise Records before his self-imposed retirement, announced the following June at a concert in Hollywood to raise money for the Motion Picture and TV Relief Fund. He finished the concert with a "rousing" performance of "That's Life", and stated "Excuse me while I disappear" as he left the stage. He told LIFE journalist Thomas Thompson that "I've got things to do, like the first thing is not to do anything at all for eight months ... maybe a year ...

Well, out of this reported (and I keep using that word, because, really, who freaking knows?) valley in Frank Sinatra's amazing, riding-high-in-April/shot-down-in-May life emerged a simply terrific album. It's definitely a 5-star in my mind, but I didn't want to water down Matthew's work by using the "5-Star Review" label. I like everything about Watertown--the story, Jake Holmes's spartan poetry (John Henry came to cut the lawn/Again he asked me where you'd gone/Can't tell you all the times he's been told/But he's so old), the orchestra, the cover ... but blahblahblah ... come on ... it's Frank Sinatra, stupid. Of course, it's Frank Sinatra.

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