Frank Sinatra’s career was at its lowest ebb when Capitol Records agreed to take him on in the early 1950s. The swooner-crooner of the bobbysoxers girls of the 1940s was at first reluctant to have arranger Nelson Riddle thrust on him but he needed some solid hits after a string of mediocre singes including a few inane novelty songs.
Riddle, reluctant too in his way, was a perfect fit—a big band background and a fresh harmonic approach (favoring flute and celesta to flavor the swinging horns made celestial by a full string section).
But Sinatra called the tunes, unconsciously devising a concept format by revisiting standards from the 1920s (even a south of the border-style waltz) as well as 1930s favorites associated with established stars like Maurice Chevalier and Bing Crosby. Then Riddle set them swinging at a medium four-four pace peppering Sinatra laid-back rhythmic approach with sudden bomb blasts from the brass. A winning combination just right for the new medium of the high fidelity long playing disc. Now there was—unlike single 78s-- room for liner notes, artwork and a good half hour of smoothly swinging sounds that set up an evening of romance for many a bachelor. Sinatra had transitioned from being the object of female fluttering to a useful tool and even a model for up and coming young hipster males. Ring-a-ding would soon be heard. This LP was a practical concept album as opposed to Ella Fitzgerald’s straight-ahead songwriter albums. And all this was achieved—in bestseller status—in 1956 when the revolutionary din of rock & roll was starting to shake the old smug towers of Tin Pan Alley and Broadway.