Wednesday, September 14, 2011

London Guardian - "Reprise Records"

They Did It Their Way -- the Story of Reprise Records (Radio Review)
Frank Sinatra's own label had a wide variety of stars and this show made good use of its back catalogue
Tom Meltzer for London Guardian - September 13, 2011

"They Did It Their Way: the Story of Reprise Records" (Radio 2) was an eye-opening chronological tour of the label set up and owned by Frank Sinatra. Paul Gambaccini's emotive narration matched the tone of the times, giving Sinatra's story the air of a frivolous film noir: "Fabulous Frank was unhappy. He hated the artistic limitations he thought were imposed on him. He wanted out."

The interviews, meanwhile, were impressive in their breadth and expertise, if often brief -- rarely did we hear more than two sentences from a speaker before an excerpt from a song arrived to illustrate the point. It made the show an easy listen but in places frustrating, where it felt that more insightful comments had been held back for the sake of pace.

That pace, however, did allow the show to make liberal use of Reprise's back catalogue, and bursts of the Kinks, Eric Clapton and Hendrix underlined the truth of one speaker's early claim: "There is no Reprise sound." This point was then hammered home with songs from more recent stars Green Day, Josh Groban and Michael Buble.

While Sinatra himself would likely have been embarrassed by the effusive praise he received throughout, as this record showed, it's much deserved: they took the blows and did it their way.

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