A Voice in Time: 1939-1952 (Legacy)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Dec. 7, 2007
Frank SinatraA Voice in Time (1939-1952) (Legacy)
Frank Sinatra's legacy is still largely, and appropriately, defined by his later Capitol and Reprise recordings, the bluster of the Vegas voice coupled with Hollywood iconicity. This 4-CD, 80-track compilation, however, collects his earliest recordings culled from labels like Brunswick, Bluebird, Victor, and Columbia, as well as numerous radio broadcasts of unreleased songs, and superbly displays the young versatility and development of Sinatra's talent. Though not without its forgettable moments, like the cringingly high reach of 1940 opener "All or Nothing at All" or embarrassingly hokey "Ol' Man River," even the first disc chronicling his big-band years with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey provides an astoundingly rich progression to 1942's "Night and Day." The extensive liner notes argue Sinatra's status as the first teen idol, supported by the second disc's velvet-voiced offerings of "No Love, No Nothin'" – recorded on CBS' Your Hit Parade in 1943 and nearly drowned by female exclamations – the swooning "Time After Time," a live 1945 performance of "It's Been a Long, Long Time," and impressive vocal distentions of "Dream (When You're Feeling Blue)." Disc three, The Great American Songbook, features familiar takes on "All of Me," "Embraceable You," and "As Time Goes By," alongside a wrenchingly subtle "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)" and "September Song." The final cuts forecast an emerging maturity with the swaggering "The Birth of the Blues." Aside from its archival appeal, A Voice in Time progresses from youthful innocence to historical milestone.