Artist: Frank Sinatra
Album: A Voice On Air
Release Date: 11/20/2015
They called him “The Voice” for good reason. The most successful pop singer of the 20th century– and its first true teen idol– Frank Sinatra arrived on the scene from humble beginnings and evolved into a musical icon, an artist against whom all others continue to be measured. His appeal was both endless and enduring, and even now, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, he continues to be idolized and admired as much as when he was alive, a legendary performer whose catalogue still sets the standard.
As is the case with most icons of a similar stature, any posthumous release is bound to attract attention, satiating and satisfying the rabid demands of those who feel the need to pursue diehard devotion. Elvis Presley offers the most obvious example of a personal industry that shows no signs of faltering, even now, 40 years after his demise. Michael Jackson has become a reliable contender even much quicker. However, A Voice On Air makes a far better case for historical relevance, given the fact that this four disc box set spans Sinatra’s formative years. It was an era when radio ruled, prior to the advent of television, and, along with the burgeoning industry of motion pictures, became the major source of information and entertainment for an eager nation.
While this box boasts over 100 unique performances– the majority of them unreleased as well as a lavish 60 page book– the curiosity factor exceeds expectations. Sinatra’s charm is immediately apparent, his casual airs creating an obvious audience attraction while listening to the sounds coming over the airwaves. It’s also amusing hearing Sinatra hawking the pleasures of cigarette smoking, a practice that has long since been declared strictly off limits, especially over the air.
Nevertheless, it’s still the music that matters, and happily, a number of hits are here– familiar standards like “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover,“ “Birth of the Blues” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” as well as those songs that were destined to hit the top of the charts– “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “Nature Boy,” “As Time Goes By” and “That Old Black Magic,” among the many. Some were known for Sinatra’s trademark croon, while others are rarities that Sinatra never had occasion to perform anywhere else. Ultimately A Voice On Air speaks volumes, not only as a must for all the Frank fans, but also for anyone who appreciates the evolution of popular music over the last hundred years.
– Lee Zimmerman