Thursday, August 14, 2014

Frank Sinatra - L.A. Is My Lady

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of L.A. Is My Lady, the final solo album from the legendary Frank Sinatra. This 1984 release, produced and arranged by Quincy Jones, spent thirteen weeks on the US Billboard Album chart where it peaked at number 58. It also went to number 41 in the UK and number 8 on the US Billboard Jazz chart.

Side one begins with the title track; the all-new track “L.A. Is My Lady” was released as the first single from the record. The song has a smooth, R&B rhythm to it.

“The Best of Everything” was first sung by Liza Minnelli for the 1983 film of the same name. Unlike the opener, this one features a more traditional sound that was in line to Sinatra’s early career recordings.

Sinatra next poses the question “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?”, a song originally from the 1982 film Best Friends where it was recorded as a duet by James Ingram and Patti Austin.

“Teach Me Tonight” was first written and recorded in 1953. Original lyricist Sammy Cahn added a verse for Sinatra that referenced the Chairman’s many love affairs.

Closing the side is a cover of the 1953 song “It’s All Right With Me”, written by Cole Porter. This version was released as the B-side to the second single. It has a quick-step rhythm to it that gets my foot to a tapping.

Side two opens with Sinatra’s first ever recording of “Mack the Knife”, first made famous here in the US in 1956 by Bobby Darin. This version was released as the second single from the album. This is the first time I have heard this more jazzy arrangement of the song, and I liked it. I like how Sinatra name checks musicians who previously recorded the song as well as the musicians in the band. On a tangent note, back in the late 80’s/early 90’s my older brother convinced me one night to join him for karaoke of Darren’s version.

Another song Cahn contributed to was the 1936 standard “Until the Real Thing Comes Along”. Sinatra’s version was updated to make reference to the A-Team star Mr. T. The track was released on the B-side of the first single.

Next up is a take on the 1933 classic “Stormy Weather”.

“If I Should Lose You” first appeared in the 1936 film Rose of the Rancho.

“A Hundred Years From Today” is another tune that was first recorded in 1933.

The album closes with the oldest of tunes in the set, 1918‘s “After You’ve Gone”.

L.A. Is My Lady has rich, orchestrated arrangements and Frank Sinatra’s signature vocal styling. Growing up as a kid in the 70’s, I heard a lot of this genre of music while visiting with my grandparents. That included Saturday night viewings of the Lawrence Welk Show and New Year’s Eve celebrations featuring Guy Lombardo. For that reason, even today listening to records like this I get a safe, welcoming feeling. Back in 1984, this was not what I was into regularly, but I certainly enjoyed Sinatra and Jones’ offering here.

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