Frank Sinatra – Trilogy: Past, Present and Future

More Frank Sinatra

More Billy May

More Gordon Jenkins

  • An outstanding copy of Sinatra’s superb 1980 release with solid sound on all SIX sides
  • The sound here is rich and full-bodied with much less grain and much more Tubey Magic than most of the other copies we played
  • Credit the brilliant engineering of Frank Laico for the excellent sound – this record doesn’t sound like 1980, and that’s a very, very good thing
  • “An audacious, ambitious way to stage a comeback, each of the album’s three records was conceived as an individual work, and each was arranged by one of Sinatra’s major collaborators. . . the best moments are triumphant, proving that the Voice was still vital in his fourth decade of recording.”

These original Reprise pressings have the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Frank Sinatra singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 41 years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

What the Best Sides of Trilogy: Past, Present and Future Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1980
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Trilogy: Past, Present and Future

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.


Side One

The Song Is You
But Not For Me
I Had The Craziest Dream
It Had To Be You
Let’s Face The Music And Dance

Side Two

Street Of Dreams
My Shining Hour
All Of You
More Than You Know
They All Laughed

Side Three

You And Me (We Wanted It All)
Just The Way You Are
MacArthur Park
Theme From New York, New York

Side Four

Summer Me, Winter Me
Song Sung Blue
For The Good Times
Love Me Tender
That’s What God Looks Like

Side Five

What Time Does The Next Miracle Leave?
World War None!
The Future

Side Six

The Future (Continued) “I’ve Been There”
The Future (Conclusion) “Songs Without Words”
Finale: Before The Music Ends

AMG  Review

By the time the triple-record set Trilogy was released, Frank Sinatra had become somewhat of a recluse from the recording studio. An audacious, ambitious way to stage a comeback, each of the album’s three records was conceived as an individual work, and each was arranged by one of Sinatra’s major collaborators — Billy May (The Past), Don Costa (The Present), and Gordon Jenkins (The Future). . . the best moments are triumphant, proving that the Voice was still vital in his fourth decade of recording.

The Past is easily the best record on the album. For the first time since the early ’60s, Sinatra made a record of standards (“The Song Is You,” “It Had to Be You,” “All of You”), which is the material best suited for his talents.

The Present isn’t quite as accomplished, concentrating on pop hits like “Love Me Tender,” “Something,” “Song Sung Blue,” “MacArthur Park,” and “Just the Way You Are.”. . Don Costa’s arrangements are lovely, as is Sinatra’s singing. Together, they make mid-level songs like “Theme From New York, New York” into anthems.

Something Else! Review

Trilogy, presented as an “event” in 1980 when Frank Sinatra sessions began slowing to a crawl, finds him attempting to frame the past, present and future on a trio of discs. . .

Then nearing the end of his recording career, Sinatra was to be commended, I guess, for attempting something like the concluding album’s free-form “Reflections on the Future in Three Tenses” . . .

Arranger Billy May (a rumpled and formerly legendary boozer) fashioned a sensitive, even supple set of charts on Disc 1 — his first collaboration on strings with Sinatra since 1957’s remarkable Come Fly With Me.

Called “The Past,” it’s dotted with several now-familiar songs that, at this point, the then-64-year-old Sinatra hadn’t tackled before. There’s a deeper coloring both to his phrasing and May’s once-blazing brass on tracks like Gershwin’s “But Not For Me” and “They All Laughed”; Gus Kahn’s “It Had to Be You,” Cole Porter’s “All of You,” the lost 1929 hit “More than You Know.”

He and May also make spirited runs through a few tunes that Frank Sinatra had already added similar dimension to in concert as he grew older, including his early hit “The Song Is You” and “Street of Dreams” — which Sinatra had memorably interpreted during his live mid-1960s recording with the Count Basie Orchestra. Beats me how the brilliant May (who worked with Glenn Miller, Bing Crosby, Stan Freeberg and George Shearing; and originally arranged “Cherokee,” a swing classic widely considered a key inspiration for bop) has somehow remained underrated. Equally adept as driving rhythms as he was with a ballad orchestration, May was as off-handed as he was unique. “

–Nick Deriso

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