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Frank Sinatra: A Voice in Time (1939-1952)

The Sinatra of dames and broads, the Vegas swinger who believed luck could be a lady, who could woo strangers in the night and score at 30,000 feet (long before there was a club for such mile-high shenanigans); that’s the hipster, bachelor-pad Frank this writer grew up with. The discovery was made much later that there was an entire other Sinatra, a choirboy-turned-dreamy balladeer whose romantic appeal had much more to do with shy warmth and heart-on-his-sleeve tenderness than cocky bravado.

That’s the Sinatra this impressively fashioned, four-disc, 80-track compilation salutes, covering the period from 1939 to 1952 as he progressed from skinny, wet-behind-his-big-ears New Jersey kid to big-band crooner to solo superstar to forgotten man. The beauty of the set lies both in what’s included and what’s not. Missing is the dreck (need anyone reminding of that lowest of lows, “Mama Will Bark”?), plus the sugary duets that teamed him with such Columbia labelmates as Doris Day and Dinah Shore. Granted, the corny “American Beauty Rose” doesn’t hold up too well after more than a half-century, but that’s just one wilted bloom in an otherwise stunning bouquet.

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