A long time ago when men were men and women knew that their rightful place was at home, Sinatra strode like a whiskey soaked giant across the American musical landscape.

By 1948 he was the undisputed musical caesar, “The Voice” who could screw any man's wife with easily, his piercing blue gaze picking off boarded housewives like a hyena looking for the weak, yes Sinatra truly was a god amongst men.

 

2D9A6388 B6AD 473E BD18 28A117996753Skip forward 5 years to 1953 and his career was lying in tatters, years of nailing anything with a pulse had caused an uproar among the boorish uptight society of the conservative America. Sadly even his honey soaked voice couldn’t explain away his questionable moral standards of what was deemed to be “acceptable” with regards to his marital infidelities and an unfortunate encounter in Cuba with mob boss Lucky Luciano left him being unfairly tied in with the Mafia.65D9D24A 984E 4DE3 96AB EB8F2C301F62

This series of unfortunate events were enough to send his once magnificent star tumbling into the great Pacific Ocean.

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels” Frank Sinatra 1964

Until a chance encounter led to his casting and Oscar winning performance in the 1953 masterpiece “From Here Until Eternity” changing his fortunes considerably enough to earn the now sobering Sinatra a second chance at musical stardom at Capitol Records after 5 long years of trying to salvage his languishing career out of the gutters of skid row.

Our story however, picks up on the threads of those early albums he made for Capitol Records between 1954 -1956, with a focus on what can only be described as the true original “Concept” album, “In The Wee Small Hours” released In 1955.D2078DB5 B3D7 4D9C 8783 04306509C6E3

Forget about “Darkside Of The Moon”or “What’s Going On” the concept album was born a long time before LSD trips and rampant cocaine use had indelibly smeared itself into the wax of modern music, Sinatra did Americana long before “Tumbleweed Connection” set the standard.

“Frank is the pioneer of the Concept Album” Nick King 2019

“In The Wee Small Hours” is based around themes of loneliness, isolation and despair with every song hand picked by Sinatra, including the running order, each one strategically placed to relate as heavily with the listener as possible. You cannot help but feel he knows each song intimately, as if a mirror has been held up to show us his innermost vulnerabilities.

818620A0 C069 4E6F 88BF FFFAE67C3094His personal life was in tatters and his marriage to Ava was crumbling around him, amidst such turmoil his superb vocals on tracks like “Can’t We Be Friends” or “I’ll Be Around” ache with such resonating pain they are still easily relatable to anybody who has ever gone through such misery and overwhelming desperation themselves.

Sinatra was many unpleasant things however pretentious was not one of them and “In The Wee Small Hours” is just simply a fanatic collection of songs held together by a deeply personal theme, the thought of calling anything as pedestrian as an album “A Concept ” was truly a laughable idea in 1955 and it's only with the shifting of time that critics today have an overwhelming desire to try and label every musical style, if only to make everything slot far more neatly into their little 2 by 6 boxes.

“The best revenge is massive success” Frank Sinatra 19827FB162E6 4C39 4FB6 98FB AD0115970922

Sinatra’s music never could be placed into confined boxes and to do so now would be a disastrous error of judgement, however if we need to label his early Capitol years as his “conceptual period” then this is what we must do, if only to allow him is true stature as originator of the “Concept album”.

Tom Waits once called “In The Wee Small Hours” the first true concept album and if it’s good enough for him, then it should be good enough for us all.

 

A6FDCC63 D26F 4462 99B0 A27EE5C60016

“I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day” Frank Sinatra 1959