01 MAR 11 ANNE FARNSWORTH
Las Vegas was a dusty little oasis before Frank Sinatra arrived and made it the hippest place on the planet. Best Of Vegas, a collection of live recordings that span 26 years and several legendary casinos, captures the golden era of both the man and the milieu.
Beginning with two Sands appearances in 1961 and '66, the tracks move on to a 1982 date at Caesar's Palace and a show at the Golden Nugget in 1987. The thrilling big band arrangements, Sinatra's playful repartee and the audiences' energized response put you right there at a little round table with a drink in your hand. For those of us who never had the chance to see Sinatra live, the 8-minute monologue that's included will show why it wasn't just his iconic voice that made him the consummate entertainer.
Sinatra's singing is looser here, more melodically and lyrically playful. He's having as much fun as the audience. He jokes around in "The Lady Is A Tramp" and lets fly a benign expletive after holding an unusually long note in "Moonlight In Vermont." When the ebullient horns take flight on "I've Got You Under My Skin" he uses his famous line, "We're gonna move this building three feet... now!" Sure feels like they did.
I've heard a lot of Sinatra recordings but this one is special. Listening to it brought out a range of emotions in me -- a little disappointed that I never got to join his swinging Vegas party but really happy I get to experience it now.