Saturday, September 01, 2007

1001 Albums - Number 7

Frank Sinatra – Songs for Swinging Lovers
In the wee small hours

The scene is a darkened office, 1954. Frank Sinatra stands before the desk of a fatcat record exec, who is probably puffing on a cigar. “It's a disaster Frank,” he says, “Your morbid opus of despair, In the Wee Small Hours, is responsible for over four hundred suicides in the last month alone. In the news this morning I read that a young girl saw you stop smiling for a split second at your last show and bashed her own head in with a brick.”
“So.. hard... to keep... smiling”, Frank forces out between the gritted teeth of his fixed, rictus grin.
“Don't worry.” Says the executive. “We have a plan...”
And so was born Songs for Swinging Lovers, an album so grotesquely upbeat that the Surgeon General recommends playing four hours of Ren and Stimpy's 'Happy Happy Joy Joy' afterwards in order to bring the listener back down to the grim reality of life on this cold, forsaken earth.

Like In the Wee Small Hours before it, this album is a short collection of lite jazz arrangements so substanceless that they barely impinge on one's consciousness, overlayed by Sinatra's hammy crooning. However this time around the 'emotion' switch has been flicked from 'sad' to 'happy', and instead of the unconvincing moping Frank delivered on the former we get a selection of perky, upbeat tributes to sunshine and puppies. It's really impossible to overstate just how insipid this album is. Here's a selection of lyrics from 'How About You':
I like potato chips, moonlight motor trips, how about you?
I'm mad about good books, can't get my fill
And James Durante's looks give me a thrill

This is a joke right?

The first half hour is hard enough to stomach, but then we get to what is probably (and I honestly say this without a speck of hyperbole) the most offensive song I have heard in my entire life: 'Anything Goes', a heartfelt tribute to puritan conformity. It totally shits me that this is considered by anyone to be good music. I know I often sound like a cynical misanthrope who hates any kind of positive feeling in music or art, but surely I'm not the only one who's horrified by the thought of legions of middle aged, middle class drones tapping their feet contentedly to this soulless nothing-music and nodding in approval at Frank's condemnation of the young people nowadays and their bad language. If we can take comfort in one thing from this song, it's that even back in the Fifties conservatives were sternly disapproving of the ever worsening morals of society, and that
most guys today that women prize today
Are just silly gigolos

You tell 'em Frank! It just goes to show that that attitude is all a bunch of bullshit.

And that's the last I'll be hearing of this guy, at least assuming I remember to delete the songs off my ipod.

Next up, Buddy Holly.

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