Though already in business in 1961 with his own record label, Frank Sinatra was contractually obligated to give Capitol one more record before moving on to Reprise. Sinatra gave them the ironically titled Point of No Return, which is hardly the deal-fulfilling throwaway one might expect. Expertly arranged and conducted by longtime Sinatra ally Alex Stordahl, it's an elegant collection of farewell songs (including "I'll See You Again," "As Time Goes By," "There Will Never Be Another You," and "It's a Blue World"), delivered by Sinatra with a profound sense of sadness and loss. Fans of such downbeat Sinatra concept albums as In the Wee Small Hours and Sings for Only the Lonely would do well to pick up on this oft-overlooked gem.
Frank Sinatra turned 80 in 1995, and Capitol released this two-disc "best of" in celebration. Sinatra's initial tenure at Capitol, which lasted from 1953 to 1962, is generally considered to be his artistic watermark. His voice and technique had improved considerably since his initial peak of popularity in the mid-'40s (the "swinging" phrasing most commonly associated with Sinatra's style really came to the fore during the Capitol years); he also had the good fortune to work with Nelson Riddle and Billy May, whose inventive arrangements certainly brought out the best in Sinatra's singing. This set's song selection is tough to argue with, but you'll really need to get all of Sinatra's Capitol albums to gauge the true measure of the man's artistry. ~ Dan Epstein
Christmas probably sounded a lot like this in Hoboken, circa the late 1930s: A skinny kid with a huge voice leading friends through favorite carols like "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Greensleeves." Fast forward and that skinny kid is no longer just another voice in the crowd. All ears are turned his way as he croons through a whole new set of Christmas standards, from "The Christmas Waltz" to "I Wouldn't Trade Christmas." Sinatra is in fine voice on this 13-song set, which boasts some of the better arrangements you'll hear on a seasonal album.