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Sinatra's Personal Favorites Make for a Pleasing Collection : FRANK SINATRA: "Everything Happens to Me" Reprise *** 1/2

February 16, 1996|ROBERT HILBURN

Everyone acknowledges Sinatra's greatness as a singer, but how good is he as a judge of his own work? This warm, affecting collection provides a clue.

After the landmark 20-disc box set last year that included everything Sinatra recorded for Reprise in the '60s, '70s and '80s, the label is back with yet another collection. The twist: It's Sinatra's own 19 favorites from the Reprise years.

"His choices are interesting because they do have a very autumnal feel to them, perhaps even beyond autumn in a sense . . . very reflective," said Gregg Geller, who produced the set, which is based on a list of favorites that grew out of a conversation between Sinatra and his daughter Tina.

"I was especially pleased to see 'Summer Wind' and 'I'll Only Miss Her When I Think of Her,' which is something I hadn't really focused on until I got involved in doing [last year's] box," Geller added. "And of course the version of 'Everything Happens to Me,' with its customized lyrics, is just priceless. This is the first time it has been available except on the box set."

Besides the titles cited by Geller, the album includes Sintra's versions of "The Second Time Around," "Drinking Again" and "More Than You Know." It also includes the Beatles' "Yesterday" and Jimmy Webb's "Didn't We," two of the rare successful Sinatra treatments of songs by rock-related writers.

Though the liner notes would have been greatly improved by song-by-song reflections from Sinatra himself, this is still a wonderfully pleasing package. For casual fans seeking an introduction to his work, however, other Capitol and Reprise collections--either original single-disc studio collections or the various greatest-hits packages--might be a more rewarding starting point.

What's next from Reprise? There may be some vintage live packages, possibly including material from Sinatra concerts that were recorded during his Reprise years but never released.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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