THREE RARITIES BY FRANK SINATRA
by Tony Maygarden
The first Frank Sinatra rarity is one of his contributions to the V-Disc program. Started during Word War II, V-Discs featured exclusive performances by many popular entertainers of the period, usually two songs by an artist on one side of a 12" 78 rpm disc, with a different artist on the other side (Martha Tilton in this case). V-Discs were distributed to military installations around the world. They were not legally for sale or for commercial radio broadcast. Recently, Frank's V-Disc output has been reissued by Legacy/Columbia.
Next up is "High Hopes" with Jack Kennedy. An innocent looking 45, with no label name or writer, producer or publisher credits. But -- could "Jack Kennedy" be John F. Kennedy, our 35th president, who was nicknamed "Jack?" A quick listen settles the question. It's not JFK, it's Frank Sinatra!
This single was a promotional item for JFK's 1960 presidential campaign, with an anonymous contribution from his good buddy, Frank. Having seen plenty of Capitol Records pressings from this era, I would take an educated guess and say it was pressed by Capitol. The song, "High Hopes," is the same song made famous a year earlier in Frank's film A Hole in the Head. This version features a fast charging big band and mixed chorus, and new campaign lyrics:
"Everyone is voting for Jack
There's a second verse and chorus just as imaginative as the first. The B-side, "All the Way" features the same band and mixed chorus but no Frank. A sample of the lyrics: "Both sides of the Mason-Dixon/All the voters shout/Our Jack can beat Mr. Nixon/Mr. Nixon better look out."
No a look at "Summit Meeting" album, featuring (according
to the label) Frankie (Frank Sinatra), Dino (Dean Martin) and Sammy
(Sammy Davis, Jr.).This is not an officially released album, but I'm
not exactly sure it's a "bootleg" as that term became to be
understood in the late '60s and '70s. The album was put out by Bill
Rodstein, who ran the Latimer Cafe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The
cafe was known as the "Sinatrama Room." A quote by Earl Wilson
on the cover describes it as "A shrine to the life and works of
There are plenty of disclaimers on the cover and label: "Restricted collectors item," "Non published album," "Souvenir," "Not available anywhere else," "Offered as a gift," "Not for sale or resale." The album was distributed with a number of different front cover paste overs (there's no back cover on this example). The one below shows a still from the movie Robin and the Seven Hoods (which starred - surprise! - Frankie, Dino and Sammy), and appears to have been made for the 1964 Christmas season. The front was pasted over other album covers (the one below is over a copy of Skip Martin's Scheherajazz). The glue seeping through the thin paper is clearly visible in the scan.
On to the "Summit Meeting." Rodstein introduces the album as having been recorded at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, NJ, August 15th, 1962, the 4 a.m. (!) show. It starts with an emcee's introduction of Dino "direct from the bar." Dino croons his way through "I'm Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter," "Volare" and "An Evening in Roma(?)." Dino sounds a little drunk. Suddenly there are loud female screams from the audience. Frankie takes the mike: "While they sober up the drunk, I'll sing a few songs" he croaks. Frankie is definitely drunk. He staggers through "Goody Goody," "At Long Last Love" and "I Get a Kick Out of You." Next up is Sammy, who starts off with "The Lady is Tramp." His voice is very hoarse (Frank at one point interjects "I think you're blowing your reed"). Sammy stops after a verse and starts complaining about how he can't sing "The Lady is a Tramp" because it's a Frankie song. But hey, wouldn't it be neat to hear how other people might interpret the song? Sammy proceeds to do imitations of Jimmy Cagney, Marlon Brando, Edward G. Robinson, Lionel Barrymore and George "Kingfish" Stevens doing "their" versions of "The Lady is a Tramp." Besides his hoarse voice he's pretty good.
Side two opens with drunken clowning around by the boys. Finally they realize they owe the audience a few more songs. Sammy promises to dance while Dino and Frankie sing. Dino starts with "Can't Give You Anything but Love." Frank (who sings too loud and swears throughout) takes over and stumbles into "Too Marvelous for Words." Dino and Frankie alternate through "It Had to Be You," "The Lady is a Tramp," "Where or When," "All of Me," and "Got the World on a String." Sammy joins in for "Birth of the Blues." They introduce the piano player, Ken Lane, and orchestra leader, Johnny Silvera, and the show comes to a close.
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