If you’re searching for the perfect holiday gift for the Frank Sinatra fan(s) in your life, you need look no further than remarkable new box set “A Voice on Air (1935-1949).” This whopping 4-CD, 107-track collection is culled from rare radio broadcasts and rehearsals and features 91 previously unreleased live performances recorded during the golden age of radio.
Clocking in at well over five hours, it’s impossible to make it through “A Voice on Air” in a single sitting. The set traces Sinatra’s evolution as a vocalist and on-air presence. In his earliest radio appearances he came across as shy and soft-spoken, but soon develops into the larger-than-life personality that we all remember.
You won’t go wrong anywhere on the set — though a few of the radio commercials and skits aren’t particularly memorable. There are duets with the likes of Nat King Cole (“Exactly Like You”), Doris Day (“Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business”), Peggy Lee (“You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me”), Johnny Mercer (“Ac-Cen-Tchu-Ate the Positive”) and Dorothy Kirsten (“A Fine Romance”).
Another highlight is the inclusion of songs Sinatra sang on various radio broadcasts that he never recrded over the course of his lengthy career. Included in this bunch are renditions of “Don’t Fence Me In,” “I Wish I Didn’t Love You So,” “Long Ago and Far Away” and “Aren’t You Glad You’re You,” Highly recommended. (Jeffrey Sisk)