Duets (Frank Sinatra album)

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Duets
Studio album by Frank Sinatra
Released November 2, 1993
Recorded June–July 1993
Genre Vocal jazz, Traditional pop
Length 45:44
Label Capitol
Producer Phil Ramone
Hank Cattaneo
Frank Sinatra chronology
The Columbia Years 1943-1952: The Complete Recordings
(1993)
Duets
(1993)
The Columbia Years 1943–1952: The V-Discs
(1994)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars [1]
Robert Christgau C[2]

Duets is an album by American singer Frank Sinatra, released in 1993. Recorded near the end of Sinatra's career, it consists of electronically-assembled duets between Sinatra and younger singers from various genres. The album was a commercial success, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard albums chart, reaching No. 5 in the UK, and selling over 3 million copies in the US. It is the only Sinatra album to date to achieve triple platinum certification.

The album received mixed critical notices, with complaints stemming from Sinatra's specified style of isolated performance wherein he was never joined by his duet partners in the studio, an artificial method of record production which lacked the elements of personal collaboration and spontaneity. The guest singers had been directed to sing along to his pre-recorded vocal parts, and to make their performances complement his.[3]

The cover art displays a specially commissioned painting of Frank Sinatra by LeRoy Neiman. Its sequel, Duets II, was released the following year. Both albums were packaged together in a "90th Birthday Limited Collector's Edition" released in 2005; North American pressings add an unreleased duet recording of "My Way" with Willie Nelson, while international pressings have him singing with Luciano Pavarotti.

Production[edit]

Sinatra was approached in 1992 with the idea of making an album of duets. Phil Ramone, Eliot Weisman and Don Rubin discussed the details at Sinatra's house in Palm Beach, Florida. For duet partners, Sinatra suggested Ella Fitzgerald but she was not well enough to participate. Other artists, younger than Sinatra, were put on the list of potential partners. Sinatra specified that the duet partners must not be in the studio when he was singing his part.[4]

The project was pushed forward by Charles Koppelman, the CEO of EMI Records Group North America.[5] An orchestra was rehearsed at Capitol Records Studio A in Los Angeles, where Sinatra had recorded many times, the orchestra using classic Nelson Riddle arrangements. Sinatra showed up for the first two days of intended tracking sessions but begged off laying down any vocals, the first day because he did not like being isolated in a vocal booth as intended by recording engineer Al Schmitt. On the second day Ramone, Schmitt and the studio staff had arranged a small stage for Sinatra to stand on next to the orchestra, to make the recording session feel more like a live performance, but Sinatra said his voice was not in optimal condition. At this point, about $350,000 had been spent to put the project together, and Ramone was worried the record would never be completed. On the third day, June 30, 1993, Sinatra appeared looking sharp and confident in a suit and tie, and he proceeded to record nine songs in five hours, beginning with "Come Fly With Me".[4]

The various duet partners were invited to participate remotely, their recordings sent to Capitol by way of ISDN digital telephone lines connected by EDnet to the digital recording equipment. Bono and Aretha Franklin asked that Ramone fly out to appear in person at their local studios to strengthen the connection to Sinatra and the project. Bono recorded his part to "I've Got You Under My Skin" while standing on a couch in the STS Studios control room in Dublin, singing into a handheld microphone.[6] After Franklin recorded her part to "What Now My Love" in Detroit, she recorded a personal message to Sinatra, thanking him for the opportunity.[7]

Legacy[edit]

Ramone felt that Sinatra's classic songs would be brought to new, younger listeners by way of the Duets project.[8]

Despite the album being advertised as "The Recording Event of The Decade", its sterile recording process did not satisfy many observers.[9][10] Criticism of Sinatra's choice of isolated recording style drove Tony Bennett to specify the opposite style for his similar projects Duets: An American Classic (2006) and Duets II (2011). For those recording sessions, Ramone and Bennett flew in many cases to join the duet partners in their local studios.[11]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "The Lady Is a Tramp" (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) (with Luther Vandross) – 3:24
  2. "What Now My Love" (Gilbert Bécaud, Carl Sigman, Pierre Delanoë) (with Aretha Franklin) – 3:15
  3. "I've Got a Crush on You" (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) (with Barbra Streisand) – 3:23
  4. "Summer Wind" (Heinz Meier, Hans Bradtke, Johnny Mercer) (with Julio Iglesias) – 2:32
  5. "Come Rain or Come Shine" (Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer) (with Gloria Estefan) – 4:04
  6. "New York, New York" (Fred Ebb, John Kander) (with Tony Bennett) – 3:30
  7. "They Can't Take That Away From Me" (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) (with Natalie Cole) – 3:11
  8. "You Make Me Feel So Young" (Mack Gordon, Josef Myrow) (with Charles Aznavour) – 3:05
  9. "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry"/"In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" (Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne)/(Bob Hilliard, David Mann) (with Carly Simon) – 3:57
  10. "I've Got the World on a String" (Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler) (with Liza Minnelli) – 2:18
  11. "Witchcraft" (Carolyn Leigh, Cy Coleman) (with Anita Baker) – 3:22
  12. "I've Got You Under My Skin" (Cole Porter) (with Bono) – 3:32
  13. "All the Way"/"One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)" (Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen)/(Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer) (with Kenny G) – 6:03

Personnel[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[12] Platinum 60,000x
Austria (IFPI Austria)[13] Gold 25,000x
Canada (Music Canada)[14] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Ireland (IRMA)[15] Gold 7,500x
Sweden (GLF)[16] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[17] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[18] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ Duets (Frank Sinatra album) at AllMusic
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (November 23, 1993). "Turkey Shoot". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  3. ^ Rojek, Chris (2004). Frank Sinatra. Polity. p. 155. ISBN 9780745630908. 
  4. ^ a b Ramone, Phil; Granata, Charles L. (2007). Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music. Hyperion. p. 5. ISBN 9780786868599. 
  5. ^ Waldman, Allison J. The Barbara Streisand Scrapbook. p. 79. 
  6. ^ Ramone 2007, p. 89
  7. ^ Ramone 2007, p. 264
  8. ^ Ramone 2007, pp. 6, 52
  9. ^ Larkin, Colin (1999). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Stage and Film Musicals. Virgin. p. 553. ISBN 9780753503751. 
  10. ^ "advertisement". Spy (Sussex): 66. January 1994. ISSN 0890-1759. 
  11. ^ Bego, Mark (2013). Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 318. ISBN 9781620871690. 
  12. ^ "Discos de oro y platino" (in Spanish). Cámara Argentina de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  13. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Frank Sinatra – Duets" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter Frank Sinatra in the field Interpret. Enter Duets in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  14. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Frank Sinatra – Duets". Music Canada. 
  15. ^ "Irish album certifications – Frank Sinatra – Duets". Irish Recorded Music Association. 
  16. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Archived from the original on 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  17. ^ "British album certifications – Frank Sinatra – Duets". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Duets in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  18. ^ "American album certifications – Frank Sinatra – Duets". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]