Wee small hours album cover high definition.jpg

2020 Album Draft- Round 8- Pick 8- Hanspostcard selects Frank Sinatra-In The Wee Small Hours.

Blues guitar legend B.B. King said that he went to sleep every night listening to Sinatra”s”In The Wee Small Hours- Tom Waits named it as one of his favorite albums. The late Marvin Gaye also called it a favorite. In 2012 Rolling Stone listed it at 101 in their 500 Greatest Albums ever list.

Frank Sinatra at Capitol Records in 1954 | Morrison Hotel Gallery

I can’t recall when it was that I became a Sinatra nut [in a series of posts a year ago listing my 25 favorite recording artists- Frank Sinatra came in at #5 on my list behind- The Beatles/ Bob Dylan/ Steve Earle and Elvis Costello.} Sinatra seems to have just always been there. From an early age I became fascinated with him mostly from seeing him on television. I didn’t start buying Sinatra albums until I was nineteen. A couple times a year I go through a Sinatra period- and over the past month I have spent a lot of time in the car- and Frank’s albums have been my constant companion. Frank is my favorite singer.

Frank Sinatra Fine Art Pictures | Frank Sinatra Photos

Over the years there has always been a lot of discussion on concept albums- and who had the first ‘concept’ album- was it The Beatles with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? The Who with Tommy. Countless other mid-60’s albums have been thrown into the discussion. The concept album began in 1954 with Frank Sinatra- In The Wee Small Hours. Up until this time- the album- which was relatively new the first 33 1/3 album was released in 1948- consisted of a couple hit singles and filler. Sinatra changed that.

In 1953 when Capitol Records signed Frank Sinatra to a contract- Capitol executive Alan Livingston’s announcement at the company’s convention received a groan from the audience. Sinatra was considered a has-been, washed up- past his prime as he approached his 40’s. Near the end of his time at Columbia- in the early 50’s- his records weren’t selling and Columbia dropped him. But Livingston believed in Sinatra’s talent- and over the next decade from 1953-61 his faith paid off. The Capitol Years are considered by most Sinatra aficionados as being his greatest. Sinatra at Capitol would rise from the lowest point in his career- to making possibly the greatest comeback in music history.

Frank Sinatra | © Jazzinphoto | Pagina 6

In The Wee Small Hours- Sinatra’s first 12″ LP- the album had a theme- a concept- all the songs deal with themes like loneliness, depression, lost love. It was a concept album and one of 15 concept albums Sinatra would release at Capitol. Sinatra was great at choosing material- and surrounded himself with great musicians and arrangers- In The Wee Small Hours he partners with his most celebrated arranger- Nelson Riddle. The sixteen songs he selected for the album were from some of the most celebrated songwriters from what is now called The Great American Songbook- Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Jimmy Van Heusen etc.

The title song is the opening track and sets the mood for what is to come over the next 48 plus minutes.

Sinatra’s voice had now matured- and the down years of his career seems to have added character and emotional range to his singing. As this clip from Spinal Tap says- “When you’ve loved and lost like Frank has.”

It is hard to pick out favorites on this album- the whole album from start to finish is terrific. It is the ultimate 3 o’clock in the morning album. Sinatra’s other ‘concept’ albums at Capitol explore a wide range of moods- both up and down- and there is even a concept album on traveling. In his entire Capitol output there are only a few failures- and from reading a couple Sinatra biographies- the failures -towards the end of his time there seemed to be Frank being pissed off at the record company and sabotaging things. I have the concept albums box- and it contains all his Capitol albums- except for his Christmas album and the singles that weren’t released on albums- and those are available.


  1. I’ve had a couple of those Nelson Riddle/Capitol years albums on my short list for the draft. Glad somebody took one. I always felt kind of “bad” for my parents’ generation who scoffed at rock music. I mean, I get to love Zeppelin AND Sinatra and Mozart.

    • Good point on the Zeppelin- Sinatra and Mozart!… the first Sinatra album I bought was September of My Years- as a 19 year old- I didn’t get it- as much as I do 40 years later…

  2. This is a great change of pace and what the draft needed. I’m no expert on Sinatra but I have heard a lot of songs by him…he was one of if not the most famous/talented singers of the 20th century. There is no doubting who he is when you hear him. Love the write up Hans.

  3. Very good take Hans. I find all that label stuff interesting. Moving from one to another and then redeeming or reinventing himself. I betcha Frank gave Columbia a few shots after that. I really like this style and you’re right, Sinatra always made sure he had the right musicians backing him..

    • I always liked how in concert he’d name the songwriters who wrote the song. I forgot to add in the post that I did see him once- early 90’s towards the end- but I did see him!

    • I just like the sound of this music. Franks vocals are perfect. From what I know of him , he was cantankerous but gave dues like you pointed out. Plus he always fought the segregation that was going on at he time. That music world back then doesn’t get enough credit for breaking down the color line. He wasn’t the first but he definitely picked up the fight.

    • It was one of those things- I saw he was coming and knew it would probably be my only shot at ever seeing him. He wasn’t in his prime but it was a memorable experience for sure. Saw Tony Bennett around the same period.

  4. I like what you say here: “It is the ultimate 3 o’clock in the morning album.” I can see where it would be. In a Frank Sinatra state of mind. We had the album with When I Was 17 and to me there is something magical about it that I recognized even back then. I like your “fanatic” review of Old Blue Eyes’ and this album and think it adds a bit of class to the draft lineup.

  5. The surprises keep coming…Sinatra beats out the Osmonds in the race for the final few…
    I looked over the song list, don’ t know that I know any of them but you have to respect Frank. Great voice & great way of making songs his own! Glad he got mentioned in this.
    Weird thing, the kiddo , just turned 20 loves his stuff…way more than her Mom or I do.

  6. Great pick Hans. Certainly can’t go wrong with Frank Sinatra. He’s unquestionably one of the greatest singers – and entertainers – of the 20th Century. While I don’t have this particular album, I do have three others of his.

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