Frank Sinatra
That's Life

very poor


by AugustWest1990 USER (41 Reviews)
April 15th, 2018 | 4 replies

Release Date: 1966 | Tracklist

It's quite ironic that the classic title song to 1966's "That's Life" has a line about Frank finding himself flat on his face, because it's the only track where he doesn't manage to embarass himself thoroughly.

Frank's obsession with being hip and contemporary came to its nadir on this trash heap of a record. Between his lazy singing, the gaudy arrangements by Ernie Freeman, and a mostly dire selection of material (who the hell wants to hear Frank sing "Winchester Cathedral""), "That's Life" sits comfortably at the very bottom of Frank's recorded output.

The aforementioned title song is the only time on the record where Frank has any real fire in him; it's the sort of strident, confident, almost egotistical anthem of self-confidence and perseverance Frank usually sunk his teeth into, and it deservedly stands as one of his biggest and best hits. Even the arrangement, despite being drenched in cocktail lounge organ and 'chorus line' style backup singers, isn't as offensive as the rest of the album's.

Some songs on here could've been dazzling in Frank's hands: "The Impossible Dream" is the perfect dramatic ballad and could've been an emotional showstopper in the same vein as "Ol' Man River" or "Come Rain Or Come Shine," but this rote, tired and lifeless rendition is maybe the biggest missed opportunity in Frank's whole recorded output. "What Now My Love" suffers a similar fate, sounding far too upbeat in contrast to the despair in the lyrics, though Frank eventually got it right and turned it into a powerhouse live song in the late 1980s'.

The rest of the album is barely even worth discussing: each track fails to achieve its own identity, mostly because Hayton is absolutely hellbent on making literally every song sound like a Vegas revue, so much so that I feel bad about my portrayal of Don Costa's work in my "Trilogy" review. "Somewhere My Love" from "Dr. Zhivago almost makes it to being bearable, but even that one gets pretty tedious about a minute in. "Give Her Love" and "Tell Her You Love Her (Each Day") (the latter a tack-on from a 1965 flop single) are probably the worst of the worst, with Frank trying to sound more like Dean Martin. The only problem there is that Frank just didn't have the relaxed quality Dean had to make songs like these work, just as Dean didn't have the dramatic flair Frank had for his signature ballads.

In fact, that's the worst thing about the record: Frank is trying to be anyone but Frank Sinatra. He's doing Tom Jones, he's doing Engelbert Humperdinck, he's doing Petula Clark and other 1960s' kitsch singers whose charm came from the fact that they never took themselves seriously, which is the polar opposite of Frank. Frank took what he did seriously: he always set out to make his albums have a purpose and be cohesive statements as opposed to collections of songs. He never wanted to just be another crooner, he was far more ambitious. "That's Life" has him succumbing to a startling lack of quality control, perhaps feeling demotivated and disgusted by the kind of music that was outselling him (though Frank's sales were still quite fine at this time - he just had a number one single and album with "Strangers In The Night").

"That's Life" is a near complete failure for Frank, and there's really no reason at all to own it, since the one salvageable track is on almost every Frank compilation known to man. Listen to it only for completist purposes, then forget it exists.

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user ratings (14)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 15th 2018


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Oh damn

Digging: Marika Papagika - Marika Papagika Vol. 1: Recordings 1918-1929

April 15th 2018


Album Rating: 2.0


Digging: Secrecy - Raging Romance

April 16th 2018


*Says in a Rick and Morty minor character voice* God DAAAmn.

April 16th 2018


Sinatra deserves much higher than 1.5. It's Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board, he doesn't make bad music.

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