Yes, Yes he does…

As I’ve mentioned many times here over the past year, I love trolling quality internet radio stations to find new (to me) artists.

Invariably when I tee up TheStandardsChannel or Martiniinthemorming, I will come across Fresh Faces that are just making the vocal standards scene … most recently guys like Luca Ellis and Joseph Leo Bwarie.

Even more exciting is the somewhat rare find of a classic era artist that for whatever reason plied their trade just out of my listening “view” … amazing talents like Frank D’Rone and Jeri Southern.

Frankie Randall is one of those classic “finds” for me.

For awhile, it seemed like every time I settled in to listen to TheStandardsChannel, Jim Raposa would spin up some cool swinging number … I’d look at the Sonos remote to find out who it was and there’d be Frankie Randall staring back at me!

I was repeatedly dumbfounded (I can be a bit dense) that a classic area artist of Frankie’s talent was off my radar. After doing some research and finding out how close Frankie was to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, I was even more surprised — he used to fill in as host on Dean’s TV show (religiously watched at our house) for god’s sake!

Fun and Frustration…

As much fun as it is to find a talented new/”new to me” artist, it can also lead to frustration. The emerging performers are usually just getting started and I get really antsy waiting for them to cough up more material (Hello Nikki Yanofsky, Robert Davi and Mr. Bwarie!).

The classic era artists have a different problem. Though they usually have deeper catalogs, often many of their records are out of print … or only available as expensive imports or vinyl. Frankie definitely fits into the latter category … Jim Raposa apparently possess a full flight of FR’s best material but sadly much of Frankie’s recorded stuff is very hard to come by these days.

That said, there is one fabulous (and widely available) Frankie Randall release out there…

Frankie Randall Sings & Swings to the rescue…

In 1964 Frankie got together with arranger Marty Paich and delivered a wonderful LP of classic 60’s era Songbook numbers. Re-released by Master Classic Records in 2011, this excellent quality recording is really the only Randall material widely available (downloadable from both iTunes and Amazon) and I consider it a “gotta have” album.

I wrote a piece about “Sinatra’s Wingmen” last fall focused on the Sinatra-complementary performance styles of Matt Monro and Jack Jones. Though I think FR’s vocal style leans a bit more in Bobby Darin’s direction, there’s no doubt that Frankie was fast friends with Sinatra over the last 30 or so years of Frank’s career/life.

Visit Frankie’s website for some interesting anecdotes and a slew of photos about Frank and Frankie’s long relationship (yo. The story Frankie relates that I found the most telling (and relevant to this review … believe it or not, I do have a point here!) occurred after Sinatra retired.

Apparently after Frank announced he was hanging ’em up, FR asked Mr. S if he could have some of his great arrangements. Well … I’ll let Marilyn Mitchell who wrote a nice piece on Frankie for tell it:

“When Ol’ Blue eyes announced his own retirement, Frankie asked if he could have some of his arrangements. Sinatra’s reply: “You can have anything you want. It’s great to have a guy like you who’ll continue my music after I’m gone.” The next thing Frankie knew, he says, “A FedEx truck pulls up to the house with all these arrangements by Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Neil Hefti and Quincy Jones!”

After listening to the great work Frankie and Marty Paich rendered on this ’64 Sings & Swings release, I can see why Mr. Sinatra was so willing to place the posterity of his arrangements in the hands of Frankie Randall.

Frankie Randall Sings & Swings

This is just a great record. I’ve never heard the original recording but the mastering on the 2011 re-release is  surprisingly expansive … rock solid.

Like I mentioned above, to me Frankie’s vocal style and the tempo arch of this album evokes a swinging Bobby Darin … and at times a bit of Jack Jones as well.

But those Bobby and Jack vocal tinges are just echoes … Frankie really has a style all his own, and that style rides wonderfully on the “Classic simple”, yet elegant arrangements the consummate Marty Paich lays down on this LP.

As always, the full set list is detailed below but I’ve developed a few favorites over the last few days. With 13 numbers from Broadway, Tin Pan Ally and the 60’s popular catalog, there’s a lot to choose from — and every one of these numbers seem to lay perfect for Frankie.

You can’t go wrong…

…with the classic front-line hits Marty and Frankie lay in on this album … starting with great versions of Hoagy Carmichael’s “One Morning In May” and maybe my favorite Sammy Davis Jr. number — “As Long As She Needs Me” (Lionel Bart) you quickly get the sense of Frankie Randall’s vocal dexterity and range. The guy can punctuate a note and yet he has this lilting, lyrically smooth flow — sort of like Jack Jones or Steve Lawrence in their 60’s prime — but different.

When you arrive at “club Randall”, most of the songs will have you tossing your head, tapping your shoe or snapping you fingers … and you get that in spades with “More”, “She Loves Me” , “The Other Side Of The Tracks” and “My Kind Of Town” (Manhattan style version of the Sinatra hit from the movie Robin and the Seven Hoods).

He hits a different stride with some less well known numbers that I find intriguing. Frankie’s impressive range and intensity is still present but the aptly named “Our Waltz” and Greenfield/Keller’s “Bewitched” carry Randall back toward Sinatra with that shoulder rolling singsong ’60s popular number feel.

Frankie goes “all in” as the balladeer on “Stay With Me” and  hit’s it out of the park with Mercer’s poetic “When the World Was Young” … simply beautiful charts from Marty Paich and Frankie’s vocals clean and crisp … so nice.

“When The World Was Young” from Frankie Randall Sings & Swings*

Like I said at the top of this review…

Sings & Swings – Frankie Randall is gotta have material. It’s also a hell of a deal at iTunes these days with the complete LP download costing only $5.99 … a steal at twice the price. Go get you some Frankie Randall!

[* Please remember that any songs streamed here are for REVIEW PURPOSES ONLY and is not intended as a substitute for the original record company product. Give it a listen and support the artists via iTunes, Amazon or your favorite music store. Artists/Record Labels, NO DOWNLOADS ARE SUPPORTED please contact me directly regarding the removal of any potentially infringing material.] 

Frankie Randall Sings & Swings

(VS_Guy ratings: “+++” pluses are good; “~” for meh to middling;  “- – -” minuses are not good)

1. One Morning In May 2:57 +++ lilting tempo builds to big finish
2. As Long As She Needs Me 3:15 +++ Frankie’s impressive range on display with classic SDjr number
3. Our Waltz 2:38 +++ new song to me … cool guitar, warm horns and Frankie belting it out!
4. She Loves Me 2:27 ++ FR picks up the pace on this Jack Jones hit with a samba edge
5. When The World Was Young 4:16 ++++ Mercer poetry … rendered by Randall the balladeer
6. Stay With Me 3:09 +++ More Sinatraesk ballad fare from Frankie and Mr. Paich
7. More 3:38 ++++ So classic and right in FR’s wheelhouse; the Best number on the LP
8. I Believe in You 2:40 ++ picking up the pace again
9. Once In A Lifetime 3:22 +++ distinctive FR style brought to this Anthony Newley classic
10. On The Other Side Of The Tracks 3:11 +++ big finger snapp’n musical number
11. My Kind Of Town 3:44 +++ this song lays perfect for Frankie (Manhattan style!)
12. Bewitched 2:26 +++ new-to-me, another perfect pick for Frankie just keeps building
13. Mimi 2:18 +++ Rodgers and Hart at the speed of Frankie!