He made his first recordings with Harry James and in 1940 bandleader Tommy Dorsey invited him to join his band. Sinatra worked with Dorsey for a couple of years before making the decision to follow a solo career.
In March 1943 he signed with Columbia Records and over a ten-year period recorded tracks including If You Are But A Dream, Nancy and Time After Time. He also released several albums including The Voice Of Frank Sinatra, Christmas Songs By Sinatra and Frankly Sentimental. Falling out of favor with the recording community he would record his last song for the label, Why Try To Change Me Now, in 1952.
A change of record label, signing to Capitol in 1953, saw Sinatra record some of his landmark concept albums which have become classics - Songs For Swingin' Lovers, Come Dance With Me, Swing Easy, Come Fly With Me, Only The Lonely, Nice 'n' Easy and Come Swing With Me.
Talking about their work Riddle said, "Frank undoubtedly brought out my best work. He's stimulating to work with. You have to be right on the mettle all of the time. The man himself draws something out of you. He has the same effect on the boys in the band - they know he means business so they pull everything out... He expects your best."
Although still under contract for another two years Sinatra decided not to renew his contract with Capitol in 1960 and they let him go only after he agreed to record four more albums with them. His reason for leaving was to realise a life-long ambition, to start his own record label. Formed in 1960 Reprise allowed Sinatra to collaborate with many of his musical idols including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Quincy Jones and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
It was during this period that Sinatra recorded many of his most famous and best loved records. There were the unforgettable classic like Fly Me To The Moon, September Of My Years, That's Life, Strangers In The Night, Something Stupid, a duet with daughter Nancy, Theme From New York, New York and, of course, My Way.
His Reprise albums showed a versatility not present on his earlier albums with titles like Great Songs From Great Britain, Moonlight Sinatra, Cycles, A Man Alone, The Concert Sinatra and the 1973 comeback album Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back.
There is no doubt his work for Capitol Records defined Sinatra and set him miles apart from other vocalists and it is ironic that his final two albums were recorded at Capitol's Studio A. Both Duets and Duets II sold in their millions and became two of his most successful albums. These featured guest appearances by a wide variety of artists including Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, Liza Minelli, Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt and Neil Diamond. A fitting end to an incredible career.
Ultimate Sinatra brings together 101 tracks covering the period from 1939 to 1979 beginning with All Or Nothing At All and ending with Theme From New York, New York and one additional song, a previously unreleased rehearsal of The Surrey With The Fringe On Top from 1979.
Each of the four CDs covers an important era of his career with a CD devoted to each of the following - The Big Band Years (1939-1942), The Columbia Years (1943-1952), The Capitol Years (1953-1962 & 1993-1994) and finally The Reprise Years (1960-1988).
All the classics are here and as well as the songs mentioned earlier you will find many of his greatest recordings - My Funny Valentine, Someone To Watch Over Me, I've Got You Under My Skin, The Lady Is A Tramp, High Hopes, Luck Be A Lady, It Was A Very Good Year and many more.
Packaged in a fold-out sleeve with space for each of the four CDs the set also includes an informative and well-illustrated booklet with a brief biography, quotes from those who worked with him and full details of each track including recording dates.
This set is a great introduction to the music of Frank Sinatra and if you don't own any of his albums this is a good place to start.
While Ultimate Sinatra only offers one previously unreleased recording A Voice On Air (1935-1955) is a treasure trove of previously unreleased live performances from the 'Golden Age' of radio. Lovingly restored from the original glass and aluminium radio transcription discs and magnetic tape masters for the best possible sound this set features 100 songs spread over four discs.
The set opens with his first radio broadcast on the Major Bowes Show, complete with radio tuning, with Sinatra performing S-H-I-N-E with the Hoboken Four. Other performances come from shows like Broadway Bandbox, Your Hit Parade Show, Songs By Sinatra and The Frank Sinatra Show, with the majority of the tracks coming from the latter two shows.
The set holds special significance as a centenary tribute with many songs never officially recorded by Sinatra along with rare and unusual arrangements of many of his most prized songs.
Among the one hundred tracks are That Old Black Magic, The Right Kind Of Love, My Heart Tells Me, It Might As Well Be Spring, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Serenade Of The Bells, On A Slow Boat To China, It's Alright With Me and Mad About You.
There are also several duets including Exactly Like You (Nat King Cole), Take Me Out To The Ballgame (Doris Day) and Alexander's Ragtime Band (Irving Berlin). The set also includes several interviews, radio spots, dedications and announcements.
Packaged with a 60-page book with an introductory essay, a personal remembrance of her father by Nancy Sinatra and a detailed essay by Sinatra historian, and compiler of the set, Charles L. Granata, this is an essential purchase for any Frank Sinatra fan.