Review Summary: The king of greatest-hits albums.
Frank Sinatra is undoubtedly a legend. How can he not be? Over a 60 (!) year career, the man has made countless accomplishments as both a singer and actor. From Sinatramania in the 40's, to producing some absolutely stunning albums with Capitol in the 50's, to forming his own record label and making incredible music there, to being the King of Las Vegas, Frank Sinatra has had one of the most successful careers in music history, all the while keeping up a larger-than-life persona of swaggering braggadocio and lavish expenses.
This compilation album takes 22 songs from Sinatra's period with his own Reprise record label, and only includes two tracks that aren't from the '60s, so this is no career overview, and there are plenty of classics from outside the Reprise era that were missed (*ahem* In the Wee Small Hours
*ahem*). But what Nothing But the Best
does so well is that it embodies the performer from all angles at this time period: the swagger and confidence found on "Luck Be a Lady" and "Come Fly With Me" (a more experienced Sinatra listener may note the latter differs from the more well-known 1957 Capitol version, but Sinatra kills it here nonetheless), the romantic on "The Way You Look Tonight", the depressed, hurt soul found on "My Way". It's all represented very well here.
Of course, one cannot talk about Sinatra without discussing the people he recorded with, and the 60's saw Sinatra having the freedom to work with some wonderful musicians. The most notable is the astonishing Count Basie orchestra on "The Best Is Yet to Come", "The Good Life" and "Fly Me to the Moon" (the last of which may be the best track on this album.) Other supporters appear alongside the Chairman of the Board as well, as Nancy Sinatra ("Somethin' Stupid")and Antonio Carlos Jobim ("The Girl From Ipanema") both do very well on their respective tracks. Reprise also did a wonderful remaster of the tracks for this album, and the arrangements sound gorgeous.
As a greatest hits album, Nothing But the Best
fulfills its purpose in that everything is almost instantly recognizable to even the slightly-seasoned Sinatra fan (exception to the last track, "Body and Soul", which places a new string arrangement onto a 1984 vocal recording by Sinatra), which is something that is ironically not often seen in recent greatest hits albums. Of course it's a cash grab by the company, so they're not going to care whether I recognize only 3 songs of the Killers' greatest hits album, as long as they can make money off it. Sinatra has both the popularity and skill to release a greatest hits album that can both make money and be of actual quality.
Simply put, this is Sinatra not only on top, but at the top of his game. Careers of this magnitude are going to always going to cause plenty of compilations (and there already have been plenty), but Nothing But the Best
does a particularly good job at showcasing all of the Chairman of the Board's best qualities. If there is any greatest-hits album to get, there is no one with a better amount of quality (and sheer amount of actual hits) like Nothing But the Best
The Way You Look Tonight
Luck Be a Lady
Fly Me to the Moon