In these style-obsessed days I thought that my status in fashion might be improved by claiming my choice to be Dirk Bogarde's Lyrics For Lovers, or maybe it should be the Privilege soundtrack.
But what about The Impressions' Big Sixteen, Loretta Lynn's I Remember Patsy, The Band, The Greatest Hits of Lee Dorsey, Billie Holiday, The Ronettes, Hank Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Supremes, Charlie Rich, Dusty Springfield, or The Temptations?
How about one of George Jones' hundred odd albums, Motown Chartbusters Vol. 3, Aretha Franklin's I Never Loved A Man, Ella Fitzgerald Sings Cole Porter, Walls And Bridges, With The Beatles, Gram Parsons' G.P., Heroes, Low, Lust For Life, The Clash, Here Comes Rhymin' Simon, Aftermath, The Exciting Wilson Pickett, Blood On The Tracks, Squeezing Out Sparks, Court And Spark, Full House, Revolver, Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue, Janis Martin, Otis Redding Live In Europe, Randy Newman's Good Old Boys, Pet Sounds, The Explosive Little Richard, Sailing Shoes, All Mod Cons, My Generation, I Want To See The Bright Lights, Modern Lovers, Mad About The Wrong Boy, Labour Of Lust, The Specials, East Side Story, or Get Happy. Now wait a minute, this is getting out of hand.
But there is one album which beats the current bright young things hands down at the style game, and is as genuinely romantic as certain of today's jokers are wooden and sexless.
Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely was recorded in 1958 and remains the man's most consistent album, aside from the compilations. You get more than a clue from the cover, a chalk drawing of Sinatra in tearful clown's make-up. The mood is extremely melancholic. The tempi are very slow and the singing has a personal sounding sadness. There is none of the dated brashness of his swing material, this is moody stuff beyond categorization.
Of course the compositions and arrangements are 'sophisticated', but they compliment the performances and therefore have not dated at all, while the singing is as emotional as any blues and soul, only with control and restraint, so obviously romantic but never purely sentimental. Sinatra's massive showbiz status and his dubious friendships in the crime world of Las Vegas and Washington might blind you to his finest moments. Well here they are: "Willow Weep For Me, Angel Eyes," "One For My Baby," "It's A Lonesome Old Town," and my personal favourite "Goodbye."
What if there are no great lyrical insights into the human condition? These songs date from an era of more stylised emotions and image, but the voice says it all.
"Excuse Me While I Disappear"