Frank Sinatra: The V-Discs
Columbia/Legacy C2K 66135 (two CDs) .
Here are fifty-three Sinatra recordings that were first waxed to be sent to troops at the front in World War II; many of them have never before been released to the general public (a musicians’ union ban on recording meant that they couldn’t be made commercially available at the time). The singer’s Dorsey years were behind him, his Nelson Riddle years well ahead of him, and he had both that light, silken early voice and much of the power and swagger that came later. In addition to standards like “All of Me,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” and “My Romance”—mostly backed by Axel Stordahl’s orchestra—the troops got to hear Sinatra’s first recording of “Nancy (With the Laughing Face),” plus numbers they probably wouldn’t associate with him like “Stormy Weather,” “Over the Rainbow,” and the Brahms Lullaby, as well as novelties like “(There’ll Be a) Hot Time in the Town of Berlin” (“I’m going to take a hike through Hitler’s Reich and change that heil to gimme some skin …#8220;) and “Dick Haymes, Dick Todd and Como” (“They’re really comin’ fast, who knows I may be past…”). Will Friedwald writes in his fine notes: “The records were so coveted that at one point during the war, one shipful of sailors even christened their PT boat the ’Oh Frankie’; the ship had an adjoining dinghy which naturally became the ’Oh Frankie, Junior!’” Listen to these and you’ll understand why.