Sinatra Live at the Meadowlands

Frank Sinatra - Live at the Meadowlands

Eleven years after his death, you have to wonder if the Frank Sinatra estate is going to run out of new material to release at some point. Three of the four labels he recorded for have already done "complete recordings" box sets, and you can only put out so many themed "best of" compilations. There's always live albums, and with a performing career that spanned seven decades, surely there are a lot of recorded shows in the archives. But even with that you can only release so many before the marketplace gets cluttered, and the CD racks already contain nine live albums, including a five CD boxed set of performances from Las Vegas. Add in countless bootlegs, and it begs the question how many more concerts can actually be worth hearing?

Apparently the answer is at least one more.*

Live at the Meadowlands documents an 1986 concert in New Jersey. And while Sinatra's setlists in the later years of his performing career could be hit or miss, the song selection for this show was pretty spot on. Heavy on the classics, and almost totally devoid of the MOR schlock he sometimes recorded in the 70s and 80s, this sort of homecoming show is full of gems from the great American songbook. With signature anthems like "My Way" and "Strangers In The Night" relegated to the opening instrumental medley, Frank was free to concentrate on the likes of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, the Gershwins, and a triple shot of Rodgers and Hart. And as he did throughout his career, he frequently credits the songwriters and arrangers who were responsible for the foundations upon which his career was built. "Change Partners" is presented in a fantastic non-bossavnoa arrangement, and as great as the studio version of "It Was A Very Good Year" is, here Sinatra gives the song even more meaning with an additional 20 years of living behind him. Following it with "You Make Feel So Young" proved that despite being 61 years old at the time, there was still plenty of life left ahead of him. The only turkey in the set is the inclusion of Quincy Jones' television theme song wannabe "L.A. Is My Lady," but I guess you can't fault the guy for wanting to promote what was at the time his most recent album. Frank was clearly energized performing withing spitting distance of his hometown of Hoboken, and his enthusiasm is apparent throughout the concert. Far from being the kind of CD that only appeals to completists, this is a live album that any level of Sinatra fan would love.

Frank Sinatra - "My Heart Stood Still (Live)" (mp3)

*NOTE: Well, I guess the answer may be more than just one more. Turns out the same day I finish this post, the estate has released Sinatra:New York, a five disc set of live material recorded in the city that never sleeps. With material ranging between 1955 and 1990, this is sure to be a treat. And so my Christmas wish list begins...


As I think you know, I just got the Meadowlands CD from Roz when I was in Nashville... have yet to listen to it. As you may not know, there's quite a few recordings of Sinatra at Circus Maximus that Caesars Palace is sitting on. Actually, I think you did know that.
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