I get a kick out of hearing people argue as to who made the first concept album. The Beatles? The Who? I’d like to throw Frank Sinatra’s fedora into the ring. Sinatra made a series of thematic albums in the 1950’s that surely qualify as concept albums. Sinatra, in fact, was the first artist to fully exploit the expanded format offered by the LP. A quaint concept in the day of the download and audio stream but it was groundbreaking in its day.
This LP is referred to by multiple titles but I’ll stick to the most concise one. It’s all torch songs, all the time. Nelson Riddle’s arrangements focus on strings as opposed to the swinging horns on the equally brilliant Songs For Swingin’ Lovers and A Swingin’ Affair. This LP, however, has the better cover and that’s where it’s at on Wednesdays. I like this scan of a grimy old Capitol LP cover. It fits the record’s saloon song atmospherics:
Here’s the Chairman of the Board’s torchy take on the Mercer-Arlen classic: