After Frank Sinatra's successful run with Capitol Records he decided to strike out on his own and start his own label. So, in the late 60's he founded Reprise. Nothing But the Best is a greatest hits collection from Frank's Reprise years.
While Sinatra's Capitol songs are the type of songs you hear in musicals and movie soundtracks, his Reprise works are more the type you hear over your spaghetti dinner. Sinatra still sang swingy, vocal pop but now the strings sounded more classical and the songs were more reflective.
The album gets off to a bit of a rocky start. On "Come Fly With Me", "Luck Be a Lady", and "Bewitched" Sinatra and his producers sound like they are trying to replace the classic versions of the songs. The orchestra is top notch of course, but Sinatra tries to improvise on the vocals to give the songs a looser feel. This cause his voice and the music to clash a bit, his vocal notes seem to stretch longer than the musical melodies. This is especially troublesome on "Luck Be a Lady" and "Bewitched" because they sound awkward unless everything about them is perfect.
After the first few songs the meat of the album starts. "Fly Me to the Moon", "Strangers in The Night", "Call Me Irresponsible", and "Something Stupid" are all album highlights. They are some of Sinatra's finest later work. Like most of his later work, they are sentimental, string-laden, and mid-tempo. Unlike most it, they are not bogged down in those characteristics. Not only that, they are now intrinsically linked with Sinatra because of his performance of them.
Towards the later part of the album, the energy begins to lag with too many ballads in a row.
The proper album closes with Frank's two greatest acts of defiance, "My Way" and "Theme from New York, New York". These two songs sound very much like Frank's response to his critics and an explanation of his way of life.
The very last song on the album is a bonus track of "Body and Soul". This slow bluesy ballad effectively kills the mood the previous two songs set.
This is yet another collection of fine songs from Sinatra. One problem I have with it is that it is sometimes too pretty. Sinatra has great control of his voice at this point and the music charts are very well done. A few of the songs are so perfect they are a little boring. They lack the personality of some of his other work.
If you are looking for a collection of Sinatra's later work, definitely pick this up. If you just want one Sinatra greatest hits CD, you would have to decide between this, Sinatra at the Movies, and Classic Sinatra: His Greatest Performances 1953-1960. It comes down more to personal preference; each contains essential Sinatra.
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