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Frankie Randall: Singing & Swinging

On the 50th anniversary of vocalist Frankie Randall’s recording debut, Christopher Loudon revisits the jazz/pop stylist’s career

Frank Sinatra and Frankie Randall
Frankie Randall album
Frankie Randall album cover
Frankie Randall album cover

With the advent and subsequent explosion of rock ‘n’ roll in the late 1950s and early ’60s, and the concurrent shift to teenagers as music’s prime consumers, it was a precarious time for emerging jazz and pop vocalists. Some – Nancy Wilson, Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gormé – not only weathered the storm but prospered in spite of it. Others, often of equal merit, were left on the sidelines. Principal among the latter group is Frankie Randall.

Randall’s failed ignition wasn’t for lack of opportunity or support. He was, throughout the 1960s, backed by two major labels; first, briefly, by Roulette, then more fervently by RCA. Nor was it for lack of talent. In his heyday, Randall sounded remarkably like Lawrence, rivaled Jones’ polished authority and could swing like Bobby Darin. And therein surely lies the problem. Lawrence, Jones and Darin were all well established by the time Randall entered their arena. There was no room, nor any real desire, for another vocal doppelganger, even one as gifted as Randall. Also, Lawrence, Jones and Darin were all bolstered by big chart hits, providing them with valuable crossover appeal. Stylistically they were cocktail hour fare, but occasionally caught the ears of the soda pop set. Randall, though RCA pushed out a steady stream of singles, never so much as grazed Billboard‘s Hot 100.

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