Written by General Jabbo
In 1968, Frank Sinatra took a stab at modern pop rock with his album Cycles. While the results were a mixed bag, that didn’t stop Sinatra from trying again. In 1969, he released My Way, which successfully blended his beloved standards with modern pop-rock songs.
The album opens with the laid-back swing of “Watch What Happens,” with Sinatra in fine voice and Don Costa’s arrangements driving the song while “Didn’t We” is a tender ballad brimming with optimism.
The pop-rock cuts, for the most part, work. Sinatra delivers a bluesy, swinging take on Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah I Love Her So,” and, at age 53, when he sings “Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be” on his cover of “Yesterday,” the line takes on an entirely different meaning than when Paul McCartney sang it. “Mrs. Robinson” with its changed lyrics and swinging arrangement falls flat however.
My Way includes two staples of Sinatra’s later concert career — the legendary title track, which would also serve as a sort of theme song for the singer and “For Once in My Life,” also made famous by Stevie Wonder.
Long out of print, Concord Records has reissued the classic album with remastered sound and liner notes by U2’s Bono. To Concord’s credit, the album is well mastered and not “brick walled” as so many modern CDs are, allowing the dynamics of the album to shine through. The quiet parts are as they should be — quiet. As a result, when the orchestra kicks in, you really feel it.
Concord has also added two bonus tracks, a rehearsal take of “For Once in My Life” recorded at the NBC Studio in Burbank, CA in 1969 and a live rendition of “My Way” recorded at Reunion Arena in Dallas, TX in October of 1987.
It’s a shame more of Sinatra’s remarkable catalog is not in print save for digital downloads. One can hope that this release will be the catalyst for future Sinatra CD releases. In the meantime, My Way offers an enjoyable listen of an interesting point in Sinatra’s storied career.