In the second part of this evenings vinyl pleasures I’m leading away from the “sex-ay soul” before Kelly’s poor girly heart explodes mid-beat. After all, I’m sure she can only takes so much imminent hotness and, well, she already has me…so….
By the end of 1967 when this album was recorded (on Frank’s birthday no less), Sinatra and Ellington had a combined 90 years of performing and recording without ever getting in each other’s way and there are fans of both who will have hoped that the avoidance could have continued. The pre-release hype and Stan Cornyn’s typically fawning liner notes celebrate this however as a momentous event in recorded music history.
Here’s just an excerpt:
“How’s your cornpone, baby?” Laughs from the band. Sinatra wearing a vest. Green and gold paisley tie at 3/4 mast. Sings, “Oh, I just gotta get her outta my bed…” More laughs. “Let’s play some dirty songs” he says.”
And it just goes on and on and on.
Unfortunately, the album didn’t quite match its high expectations. At the time of recording, the Ellington band was no longer at its peak, and Sinatra was concentrating on contemporary pop material, not standards. It was decided that the record would be a mixture of standards and new material; as it happened, only one Ellington number, ‘I Like the Sunrise’, was included. Due to a mild cold, Sinatra was not at his best during the sessions, and his performance is consequently uneven on the record, varying between robust, expressive performances and thin singing. Similarly, Ellington and his band are hot and cold, occasionally turning in inspired performances and just as frequently walking through the numbers. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing to recommend on ‘Francis A. & Edward K.‘. On the contrary, the best moments on the album fulfill all of the duo’s promise. All eight songs are slow numbers, which brings out Sinatra’s romantic side. ‘Indian Summer‘ is a particular standout, with a sensual vocal and a breathtaking solo from saxophonist Johnny Hodges.
What’s funny about this album is that I almost didn’t get it. I was browsing other things when a young couple beside picked it up and not immediately knowing who “Edward K.” was, poo-pooed it and put it back before going off to look for something more instantly recognizable I guess. So I nabbed it instead…for $2.00. A short while later I noticed they had gravitated back for it but, low and behold, it was gone.
You snooze, you loose.