August 31, 2011 – 4:35 am

The great Frank Sinatra album you never knew.

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

Inside Great Songs From Great Britain [Artisan, 2CD]

Sessions recorded at CTS Studios, Bayswater, London; June 12-14, 1962. Ex SBD stereo. These are the raw takes.

When Frank Sinatra arrived in London to record his only “British” album, he was middle-age, already past his best years which is generally agreed as his decade-long stay at Capitol and with nothing much to prove.

The album he recorded here was “Sinatra Sings Great Songs From Great Britain”, forever locked in controversy because he only released it first in the UK and then as years went by in the rest of Europe and subsequently in Japan on vinyl in 1985. It was never released in America until the compact disc era, when it finally appeared in April 1993. Many Americans had no idea Sinatra made this album.

Sinatra was clearly tired when he entered the Bayswater studio. He had just ended a world tour that started in Australia in the last month of 1961, a tour that won him new fans in the Far East and across Europe. All-in-all, Sinatra’s world tour took in 30 cities. According to Sinatra’s log, he played three shows in London starting from June 1. The first session on June 12, clearly shows the Voice had been overstretched, raw from too many performances and in need of a good rest.

This contrasted with the splendid hospitality of his British fans and musicians. All in the studio were British and the arranger for the sessions was the highly acclaimed and respected Robert Farnon. Sinatra and Farnon had planned the album even before his world tour. All the songs had been pre-selected, the melodies learnt and memorised. Like a trooper, Sinatra decided to wing it.

The first song recorded on June 12, If I Had You, showed the most strain. How Sinatra felt then, we’ll never know but we do know from Farnon’s account that “the studio was absolutely crammed with people… it was great, like a party” he recalled in the 1993 US CD’s liner notes. Farnon’s arrangements were also less bombastic and gave a lot of space to the singer. Unfortunately, this was one time Sinatra needed the strings to give him cover.

But if you listen to the finished album, you’ll find that Sinatra quickly adapted to the situation and his weakened voice was actually more suited to the regretful songs he was singing.

Two years before he died, Sinatra was asked to select his all-time favorite recordings for a 1996 compilation, Everything Happens To Me. And one of the songs he picked was the first song from the London sessions, If I Had You. Sinatra said Farnon’s  arrangement of the song was his all-time favourite arrangement of a song he had recorded on three different occasions.

The only song from the session that Sinatra requested not be released was “Roses Of Picardy”. Sinatra had said: “Scrub ‘Roses Of Picardy’ - I don’t like it.” The song finally saw release on the Japanese vinyl edition of Songs From Great Britain that was issued in 1985. Since then, “Roses Of Picardy” has made it to the CD reissues. It has since become a favourite among Sinatra-philes.

However, over the years the Great Britain album has been difficult to find. The 1993 US CD is out-of-print and while it was included in the 1995 box set, The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings, that 20-CD set is very expensive and no longer in print. You can finally get a copy of the album from the 2010 UK reissue, see the link below.

The reissue is the best place to explore this long forgotten album, then listen to the raw sessions here. Sometimes, only when you are at your weakest do you find the strength to show your best. Sinatra’s Great Britain is comparable in virtue to Elvis’ most painful album, From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis Tennessee, his final studio album. Both were recorded under difficult conditions and have become an acquired taste.

We will never know why Sinatra never went back to England to record once more with Robert Farnon or why he never pushed for the Great Britain album to be issued in America. What we do know is Sinatra had a lifetime to reflect on his recordings and revalue them again from a distance. Elvis burnt like a Roman candle.
- Professor Red

Read Bernhard Vogel’s complete essay of the recording of the Great Britain album here.

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (sample rate 224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Disc 1
Session on June 12, 1962.
Track 101. If I Had You (Jimmy Campbell, Reginald Connelly, Ted Shapiro) Takes 1-5, Takes 9-12 (28.0MB)
Track 102. The Very Thought Of You (Ray Noble) Takes 1-6 (17.1MB)
Track 103. I’ll Follow My Secret Heart (Nöel Coward) Takes 1-2 (6.2MB)
Track 104. A Garden In The Rain (James Dyrenforth, Carroll Gibbons) Takes 1-2 (6.6MB)

Session on June 13, 1962.
Track 105. London By Night (Carroll Coates) Takes 3-6 (16.7MB)
Track 106. The Gypsy (Billy Reid) Takes 1-7 (16.5MB)
Track 107. Roses Of Picardy (Frederic E. Weatherly, Hayden Wood) Takes 1-6 (14.1MB)
Track 108. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square (Eric Maschwitz, Manning Sherwin) Takes 1-3 (7.8MB)

Session on June 14, 1962.
Track 109. We’ll Meet Again (Hughie Charles, Ross Parker) Takes 1-6 (12.2MB)
Click here if you reside in North America
Click here if you reside outside North America

Disc 2
Session on June 14, 1962.
Track 201. Now Is The Hour (Maewa Kaihan, Clemnet Scott, Dorothy Stewart) cuts in, Takes 1-2 (9.1MB)
Track 202. We’ll Gather Lilacs In The Spring (Ivor Novello) Takes 1-2 (10.7MB)
Track 203. We’ll Meet Again (Hughie Charles, Ross Parker) Take 7 (7.3MB)

The Jan 21, 1963 session with Nelson Riddle
Track 204. Come Blow Your Horn (for the film with the same name) 3 takes (16.1MB)
Track 205. Call Me Irresponsible (46.6MB)
Released on Sinatra’s Sinatra. This is a 30-minute excerpt of the session.

This rare album was reissued only in the UK in 2010 in a remastered edition. Buy it here.

  1. 11 Responses to “SINFULLY GOOD”

  2. La classe internationale !

    By juju on Sep 1, 2011

  3. thanks, bigO - a nice change of pace!


    By I-) on Sep 1, 2011

  4. These are HUGE. A beautiful document of one of Earth’s grandest human vocalists. Thank you so much for being of strong holders of Light…

    By Timmy on Sep 2, 2011

  5. Hello BigO,
    Thanks for the classic- I know I ask a lot, but do you have any Dean Martin outtakes? Unpublished Dino would be an excellent compliment to all of this.
    Cheers & Thanks,

    By John McNea on Sep 3, 2011

  6. Nice share. Sounds like some interesting sessions

    By Matt on Oct 21, 2011

  7. Superb treat!!! Thank you!

    By Paul on Mar 26, 2014

  8. track three is not MP3 , please correct, thanx

    By J.B. van der Sluis on Jan 14, 2017

  9. track 201 is not mp3, please correct, thankx

    i got adres with extension php

    By J.B. van der Sluis on Jan 14, 2017

  10. Track 201 is working

    By Beat Pest on Jan 14, 2017

  11. The BIG DICK returns

    By Dino Martin on Jan 21, 2017

  12. It’s a shame he never learned how to use that big dick properly, that’s why the broads he fucked with it were so happy to see him go.

    By Ava Gardner's ghost on Jan 21, 2017

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