Friday, July 22, 2016


Sinatra at The Sands
Sinatra at Sands
Frank Sinatra With Count Basie & The Orchestra / Arranged & Conducted by Quincy Jones

Reprise Records (1966)
Music Grade: A+
Pressing Grade: A

The good news: This “holy grail” LP and cross-generational favorite is widely available and isn’t difficult to acquire.

Comprised of live material recorded across five nights in 1966 at the Copa Room in Vegas, this double LP set not only stands as one of Sinatra’s finest performances, but in retrospect, it was also a towering last hurrah for the swinging big band music beloved by America’s “Greatest Generation.” Only a year after this release, Hendrix, The Doors, and the “Summer of Love” would usher in a whole new paradigm for the record business that would stay in place for decades.

By 1966, Sinatra had conquered the world, and Sinatra at the Sands recalls a time when concerts were a true event. Most live albums from the 1960’s were of low fidelity and poorly-recorded, but Sonny Burke’s production team captured an energized Sinatra beast in sparkling, full range sound. You can even hear the sound of cocktail glasses clinking every now and then in the background. Sinatra at the Sands keeps the magic of those Vegas evenings frozen in time for us.

Commenting on “Live at the Sands,” Sinatra told an interviewer, “The Basie orchestra was like a juggernaut. When they came at you, after the downbeat and the orchestra started to play, you knew that you had to be part of that or you got lost. That was the greatest orchestra at any time in the history of the world.”

The original 1966 pressing on Reprise is readily available for about $15-$25 from Ebay to flea markets, but not so easy to find in “like new” condition. The “crown jewel” edition is Mobile Fidelity’s limited 2010 audiophile pressing, which goes for $150 to $400, if you can find it. A more recent 180-gram superb Reprise reissue is commonly available online for about $40.

Trivia  footnote: One other voice was in fine form on this LP – the show’s emcee, actor William Conrad. Conrad’s commanding baritone was also the narrative voice for the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons and “The Fugitive” on 1960’s TV.

Lastly…..don’t miss this unexpectedly wonderful note-for-note homage to “Sinatra at the Sands” by Huey Morgan of the rap group Fun Lovin Criminals.

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