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The Complete Recordings: The Columbia Years 1943-1952

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Album Review

This four-CD set stands midway between the 12-CD Complete Collection 1943-1952 box (which is worth every cent, for those who can afford it) and the single-CD 15-song Essential Frank Sinatra: The Columbia Years — in its favor, along with an affordable price, is its thorough and wide-ranging overview of the least well-known part of Frank Sinatra's career. Scholars and listeners with long memories over 70 aside, the chances are that no more than a dozen of its 97 tracks will be known to most of Sinatra's fans. And it does offer a detailed look at the singer's evolution, from a big-band era balladeer into a new breed of vocalist, just inches away from the defining Vegas swinger of his Capitol years — the 97 songs here cover a significant chunk of that Columbia library (although like the 12-disc box, it doesn't include any of the singer's V-Disc sides that constituted just about his only recorded output for the first year of his solo career, or the radio performances that have been licensed in more recent years to augment his Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hammerstein catalogs); additionally, this set is better for the more casually minded serious fan, in that it avoids the missteps imposed upon Sinatra by Mitch Miller, which require explanation for the uninitiated. The sound is state-of-the-art and the source materials have been treated with exceptional care, thus giving the music its best hearing in history, and certainly since the original 78 rpm releases; indeed, much of what's here never showed up on vinyl, and those that did often didn't get represented long or well. The annotation is superb, and the booklet is well illustrated. The set also exists in two different editions: the original long-box shaped release, a foot tall with the type in large font, and also as a less expensive CD-jewel case-sized set in a slipcase, with smaller print and photos.

Customer Reviews

A portrait of the artist

Sinatra fans come in three categories: those that love the Reprise years, those that favor the Capitol era and a few (like me) love the Columbia years. Why? This collection tells the whole story of how Tommy Dorsey’s “boy singer” cut loose and became a superstar.

Along the way you hear, through the various songs, how he perfected his craft and was not afraid to try new genres: novelty tunes, Broadway and even Gospel music.

And we witness the downfall in which Columbia boss Mitch Miller gave him material that was popular at the time, but not Sinatra’s style (Sinatra and Dagmar sing “Mama Will Bark”). Finally “Why Try to Change Me Now,” the prophetic tune released before Columbia dropped him.

It would take more bad movies and bad times before his Academy Award-winning role in “From Here to Eternity”and a record deal with Capitol Records before Sinatra was back on top and better than ever.

If you're a serious Sinatra fan this collection is worth every penny.

Young Frank sings ballads

Frank's early years, 1943-1952 were with Columbia. Most of these songs are syrupy ballads, but when Frank sings them, you just want to keep listening.

Highly recommended to any Frank fan who still doesn't have this.


The gates of Heaven just opened and I'm here. Whoever made this God bless their soul forever.


Born: December 12, 1915 in Hoboken, NJ

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Frank Sinatra was arguably the most important popular music figure of the 20th century, his only real rivals for the title being Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and the Beatles. In a professional career that lasted 60 years, he demonstrated a remarkable ability to maintain his appeal and pursue his musical goals despite often countervailing trends. He came to the fore during the swing era of the 1930s and '40s, helped to define the "sing era" of the '40s and '50s, and continued to attract listeners during...
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