A sequel of sorts to the previous New York
box sets, London
is in some respects a super-expanded version of 1962's Sinatra Sings Great Songs from Great Britain
, with the record anchoring the first disc of this three-CD/one-DVD box and outtakes from the album showing up on the second CD; the rest of the set consists of BBC performances from 1953, spoken Sinatra introductions from a 1962 "Light Programme" special, and a full performance at Royal Albert Hall from 1984 on the third disc, while the DVD contains a previously unreleased filmed 1962 concert at Royal Festival Hall along with a 1970 performance at the same venue. It's a rather lavish celebration for a record that isn't wildly remembered as one of Sinatra's best. Frankly speaking, Sings Great Songs from Great Britain
isn't remembered often at all, as it was something of a curiosity: it is the only album Frank recorded outside of the United States, working with arranger Robert Farnon and supported entirely by British musicians. Appropriately enough, the album only saw release in the U.K., in 1962, not appearing in the U.S. until a CD reissue in the '90s, where it wound up getting lost amidst all the other heavyweight '60s titles. Sings Great Songs from Great Britain
isn't forceful, it's a subtle, insinuating record -- the kind of thing to turn to once all the great Sinatra albums have dimmed slightly, because that's when it'll sound rich and fresh. And so it is here with the box: now that it's placed on a handsome boxed pedestal, the lushness of Farnon's arrangements contrast nicely with Frank's slightly weary, weathered voice. It's also interesting to hear the session tapes on disc two, as they offer insight on how the conductor and singer collaborated, but the BBC sessions are even better: bold, robust performances that capture Sinatra on the cusp of his '50s revival (the spoken sessions from the special are little more than period curios). Finally, the third disc is pure Chairman of the Board shtick, all swinging Vegas brass that is fun but seems a little gauche compared to the rest of this fine, understated box.