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“For a decade, Sinatra pushed to make a cohesive LP at a time when no one in the record business was thinking beyond singles. Finally, his break-up with Ava Gardner provided the perfect catalyst” TL for “the first collection of songs Sinatra recorded specifically for an LP.” RS It is also one of “one of Sinatra’s most jazz-oriented performances” AMG and “one of the finest jazz albums of all time.” CAD It “sustains a midnight mood of loneliness and lost love – it’s a prototypical concept album;” RS it is “considered by many to be the first concept album.” CAD
“Recorded in just a few days,” TL this collection makes for an “authoritative take on masculine loneliness.” TL “If you want to cry, here’s one to do it with.” ZS The reviewer at Cool Album of the Day even suggested playing “this album in its entirety while leaning against a lamp post preferably with a cigarette dangling out of the side of your mouth…Once you are finished put out your cigarette, down one more shot of whiskey, and leave the wee small hours of the morning behind you….and go to sleep.” CAD
The “feeling of not being able to sleep, tossing and turning, thinking about his lover sets the mood for the entire album.” CAD Ol’ Blue Eyes “wears his heart on his forlorn sleeve” CAD as he works “through a series of standards that are lonely and desolate.” AMG “Like all Sinatra songs, they’re not just beautifully sung but interpreted into drama.” TL thanks to “ravishing and heartfelt vocal phrasings” CAD from “the man with the world’s greatest diction.” ZS
Sinatra took on a deliberate “musical recipe of less-is-more” TB with “somewhat muted guitar work and the lush almost in the background string arrangements.” CAD The songs were crafted “around a spare rhythm section featuring a rhythm guitar, celesta, and Bill Miller’s piano, with gently aching strings added every once and a while.” AMG The “carefully selected melancholy standards that come across with even more sublime poignancy with the expertly crafted arrangements by Nelson Riddle and his orchestra.” CAD
“Sinatra recordings were the yardstick by which all other vocalists would be judged when it came to dealing with the American Popular Songbook.” TB “Both Tom Waits and Marvin Gaye have cited the album as one of their favorites with Waits using the album art on the cover of his own album The Heart of Saturday Night.” CAD
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning
- one of the top 1000 albums of all time
- Blender’s 100 Greatest American Albums
- Grammy Hall of Fame
- Mojo Magazine’s Album of the Year
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Time Magazine’s Top 100 Albums of All Time
Resources and Related Links:
- DMDB page for In the Wee Small Hours
- Frank Sinatra’s DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry
- AMG All Music Guide review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
- CAD Cool Album of the Day
- RS Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
- TB Thunder Bay (2005). Albums: The Stories Behind 50 Years of Great Recordings. Thunder Bay Press; San Diego, CA. Pages 8-12.
- TL Time Magazine’s All-TIME 100 Albums by Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light (11/13/06).
- UT USA Today, Top 40 Albums – the USA Today Way (12/5/2003).
- ZS Zagat Survey (2003). Music Guide: 1,000 Top Albums of All Time. Coordinator: Pat Blashill. Music Editor: Holly George-Warren. Editors: Betsy Andrews and Randi Gollin. Zagat Survey, LLC: New York, NY.