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Sad State of Sinatra on DVD

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I see that a deluxe five DVD set of Barbra Streisand’s TV specials has been released recently. Apparently Warner Bros./Rhino has decided that there are enough of her fans out there willing and eager to spend $60 or so on this set. So, why doesn’t Warner/Reprise do the same thing for Frank Sinatra’s classic TV specials? Could “the family” be involved perhaps? Sure, they can get behind a phony “Sinatra at the Palladium” multi-media extravaganza where you watch 20-foot projected videos of Sinatra singing accompanied by a live orchestra thanks to “unprecedented access to Frank Sinatra’s film archives”, but they can’t seem to get Sinatra’s video performance legacy released appropriately on DVD.

The classic 1960s, 70s, and 80s musical TV specials (A Man and His Music Part I & II, Sinatra+Ella+Jobim, The Main Event, etc…) are still being sold as individual DVDs at full price ($15-$20 each). They are each about 50 minutes long with “stereo” sound (actually “2-channel mono”, I think) with no bonus features whatsoever, packaged in flimsy plastic and cardboard cases.

Why don’t they compile all 9 of the Reprise Collection Sinatra TV specials in a 3-DVD package with 3 specials per DVD? Price it at about $40-$50, include some bonus goodies (there must be hours of stuff in the vaults — better go with 4 DVDs!) and give this material the deluxe, classy treatment it deserves.

Surely this would sell well enough to justify the minimal investment required (just repackaging/remastering the same old material for the most part). Wouldn’t a DVD set like this be a better 90th birthday “limited edition” release than reissuing the sub-standard Duets CDs again? And what about all the amazing unreleased audio that remains stagnating in the vaults? Get with the program, folks!

I am truly very happy for all you Babs fans though! You’re “the luckiest people in the world…” ed/pub:ak

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  • I’ve often wondered why Sinatra’s TV material has not received the posthumous treatment he deserves. Frank welcoming Elvis back from the Army is but one televised highlight of so many that could move a cool DVD. Perhaps there’s a problem with the best stuff running across Capitol-Reprise lines. I’m not so sure there’s many audio rarities, though; Sinatra usually nailed his classics in two takes and it requires real sharp ears to hear the difference. Sinatra remains the Gold Standard of mega-celebrity, deservedly; he was a genius and a shithead, often simultaneously.

  • Actually there’s an amazing amount of unreleased Siantra audio and video in the vaults, much of it of very high quality. This stuff used to circulate among collectors before The Family started threatening lawsuits in the name of “preserving our father’s legacy”… there’s all the great early 1950s “Perfectly Frank” radio broadcasts, lots of interesting Capitol & Reprise sessions, multiple takes, studio chatter, etc. (most notably the abandoned “Lush Life” from the “Only the Lonely” sessions), hours of live Sinatra/Basie from the “Sands” recording sessions, the historic “Farewell concert” in 1971, professional recordings from Resorts shows in Atlantic City in 1979 around the time of “Triolgy”… and on it goes (click the “hours of stuff in the vaults” link in my post for the incredible list of TV appearances, some of which have hopefully survived…) Yeah, they’ve released a few things over the years (notably the 1957 Seattle concert, the amazing “Sinatra in Hollywood” box set, and a [heavily edited] 1986 Vegas/Gold Nugget concert) but mostly they appear to be more interested in reissuing stuff like the Duets albums for the 3rd time. Is that really the only Sinatra 90th birthday release we’re going to see? unbelievable…