|Title||Compact disk (CD-ROM) copy from digital audio cassette: song, "Roses of Picardy" with the vocal probably by Frank Sinatra, no date, possibly 1930's.|
|Object Name||Disk, Compact|
|Credit||Gift of Angela Calandriello|
Compact disk (CD-ROM) copy from a digital audio tape cassette (2002.212.0001) with a song, "Roses of Picardy" with the vocal probably by Frank Sinatra, transferred from an acetate master recording disk, undated, ca. 1930's. The second side has an accordion solo of "I'll See You in My Dreams." The audio studio worksheet calls this an "acetate" disc, but it was acetate with a metal center, recorded both sides. See worksheet image for contents and timings.
Below is a copyrighted newspaper article:
It's Sinatra, all right, and it may even be his earliest solo recording
Newark Star-Ledger - 01/23/2000
Some people remember the past with photographs, others with stories. Walter Costello was able to travel back in time with the help of a lacquered aluminum record he made with Frank Sinatra when they both were young - an artifact that may represent one of the earliest recordings of The Voice.
''He treasured it," said Angela "Dolly" Calandriello, Costello's widow. "He played it often, but because of the static and the scratchiness, it wasn't that great. But you could grasp parts of the melody of 'Roses of Picardy.'"
After Costello, an amateur musician, died in 1971, Calandriello never again played the 78-rpm record, possibly Sinatra's first as a solo artist. "I just kept it as a memory," said Calandriello, now 77.
But over the past 10 days, the sound of the scratched, smudged and warped 8-inch record has been transferred to CD, Sinatra's voice has been authenticated, and Calandriello has heard those familiar sounds again.
Her eyes lit up the first time she heard the CD in her Hoboken apartment on Jan. 14. "That sounds wonderful. It sounds better than it did before. . . . I can't believe it," she said.
Calandriello has no plans for the disc other than to display it at From Here To Eternity, a Sinatra minimuseum in Hoboken, when it reopens in February. A copy of the recording also has been made for the Hoboken Historical Museum, due to open in the summer.
The recording captures Sinatra singing in the relaxed, starry-eyed style of his early years, with only Costello's accordion behind him. Calandriello is not sure exactly when it was made, only that it dates from a time when Costello and Sinatra were young and Sinatra was not yet famous.
Experts say it could date from as early as 1936 and might have been made on a home-recording kit, in a record-store do-it-yourself booth or even in a professional recording studio.
There is no writing on the record except for the words "Roses of Picardy" (pronounced PICK-ar- dee) on one side and "I'll See You In My Dreams" (performed as a guitar-and-accordion instrumental) on the other. The titles are scratched into the aluminum circle in the middle of the platter.
Tom Owen, a voice-identification expert from Woodbridge, compared Calandriello's tape to a 1962 Sinatra recording of "Roses of Picardy," and came to the conclusion that it is "highly probable" that the two voices are the same.
''My opinion is that the record is for real," said Owen. "If it's not Sinatra, it's the best fake you could do."
Owen's scientific proof verifies what Sinatra expert Charles Granata heard on a taped copy of the CD. "You can hear the hallmarks of Sinatra's vocal style there," said Granata, a Livingston resident who has produced many Sinatra reissues and published the 1999 book, "Sessions With Sinatra: Frank Sinatra and the Art of Recording."
''It does sound very supple, very fluid; it's definitely his intonation. There's no doubt it's him."
Doug Pomeroy, an audio engineer who has worked with Granata on many Sinatra reissues and transferred the sound of Calandriello's disc to CD, knew it from the first listen, too. "There is no question in my mind," he said. "In addition to the voice, there is something in the phrasing which points to Frank. If you had played the disc for me without saying who it was, I'm certain I would have guessed Frank."
He wouldn't have reached that conclusion from the song title alone, since "Roses of Picardy" did not figure prominently in Sinatra's career. The 1962 version is his only known recording of the wistful ballad, written by Frederick E. Weatherly (who also wrote "Danny Boy") and Haydn Wood in 1916. He recorded it for his "Sinatra Sings Great Songs From Great Britain" album, but decided not to include it; it was not released until 1985, when it came out as a bonus track on a Japanese CD reissue of the album. It also appeared on the 1992 American CD reissue, now out of print.
Will Friedwald, author of the 1995 book "Sinatra! The Song Is You: A Singer's Art," stressed that ultimately, the importance of the newly found version hinges on its date. "If it actually is Sinatra, the crucial issue is dating it accurately," he said. "We have hundreds of unissued and rare songs by Sinatra, songs he never commercially recorded, mainly from '40s radio broadcasts. But if we could substantiate that this recording was from 1938 or earlier, that would be big news."
Calandriello's disc could date from 1936, said Michael Biel, professor of radio and television at Morehead State University in Morehead, Ky., and an expert on early recordings. The lacquer doesn't go all the way to the center of the disc, but leaves room for a bare-aluminum circle in the middle. Before 1936, he said, the lacquer on discs extended to the center hole.
Biel said that even if the creation date for the disc were determined, chemically, there would be no way to know for sure whether the songs were pressed around that time.
Sinatra's earliest known recordings are from 1935, when he appeared on the "Major Bowes Amateur Hour" radio show with the vocal group The Hoboken Four. There also is a tape of him singing "Our Love" with the Frank Mane Orchestra, a Hudson County group, in early 1939. Later in 1939 he recorded with the Harry James Orchestra, and it was all uphill from there - as well as increasingly unlikely that he would make such a low-tech record as Calandriello's.
So "Roses of Picardy" can't pre-date 1936, but it could be a missing link between the 1935 and 1939 recordings.
This recording differs from the 1935 version in several ways, said Granata. "It captures him as a solo crooner rather than as a group member, and it was made in an isolated setting rather than in a radio studio.
''This really allows us to hear his phrasing and the intonation, the shaping of his way of singing, which is not evident on those Major Bowes things," said Granata. "It's a totally different kind of song and style."
Not much is known about the making of the record. Calandriello didn't meet Costello until 1960, so all she can do is retell his old stories.
''They were kids, really," said Calandriello, who later remarried. "Walter played at different affairs with various bands" - she doesn't remember any specific names - "and Frankie, as a kid that could sing, would break into the places and say, 'Hey, boys, how about letting me sing?' Then he'd get in there."
Costello never became a professional musician, working for most of his life as a trouble-shooter for Keuffel & Esser, a Hoboken manufacturer of drafting equipment. Calandriello said he remained friendly with Sinatra's parents and occasionally performed with James "Skelly" Petrozelli, a member of The Hoboken Four.
''In later years, Skelly and Walter would play at small nightclubs on a weekend," she said. "Skelly would play the piano, Walter (was) with the guitar, and it was great. It wasn't their life; it was like a sideline."
When Costello died, Calandriello informed Sinatra and also mentioned the recording. She received a signed, typed note from Sinatra expressing his condolences, but adding that he would like to hear the recording. "I wonder if you would mind my listening to the record 'Roses of Picardy' that Walter and I cut together," he wrote. "I would like to make a copy and return yours to you."
Calandriello had health problems at the time and also was busy raising Costello's son from a previous marriage. She didn't get around to sending the record to Sinatra until 1975, and it came back in 1977 with a note from Sinatra's secretary, Marlene Mattaschian, saying that the record "is in such poor condition that there is nothing that can be done."
Calandriello never tried to play it herself again. "If they couldn't do anything with it, what could I do?" she said. "I figured they'd have every apparatus going."
The latest chapter of this story begins in October, when Ed Shirak Jr., a Sinatra aficionado, was running for city council. He was campaigning on foot and happened to knock on Calandriello's door.
In the course of their conversation, he mentioned the Sinatra shrine he was planning to open. She then showed him the letter and the recording.
Naturally, Shirak was curious if it could be played, but was reluctant to try it himself. He went to Robert Foster, director of the Hoboken Historical Museum, who in turn talked with Chris Butler, a Hoboken musician who has experimented with vintage recording equipment. Butler suggested Pomeroy, who frequently works on historic reissue projects at his Brooklyn studio, and Foster volunteered to have the museum finance the sound transfer.
The first thing Pomeroy noticed about the disc when Foster arrived was how thin it was. "I've never seen one quite that flimsy," he said.
He cleaned it with water to remove the dust, then put it on his turntable, recording the sound on his computer, so that if the disc became unplayable, there would be some record of what was there.
''I'll See You In My Dreams" turned out to be an accordion-and-guitar instrumental. Pomeroy then flipped the disc to the "Roses of Picardy" side.
The singing and instrumental backing was far from crystal clear, but audible through the sea of static.
As soon as the sweet, calm crooning was heard, Pomeroy and Foster breathed sighs of relief.
From selected Sinatra discographies-
The only recording of this song by Sinatra was on June 13, 1962 in London (his only British album) for Reprise Records. It was only issued on the 1985 Japanese LP release, P-7721 Great Songs from Great Britain. (The American LP was FS1006 Great Songs from Great Britain.) According to Museum's curator, a CD has been made from the tape and the original is not restored, enhanced and is quite scratchy with skips.
The worksheet notes that the first take is in the key of B-flat. It also notes an accordion "side" of "I'll See You in My Dreams."
see notes for more information.
|Related Records||Show Related Records...|
|Year Range from||1934|
|Year Range to||1939|
Roses of Picardy (Sinatra)
|Caption||cassette & case|
Sinatra Sings Great Songs From Great Britain
Recorded June 12/13/14 1962: C.T.S. Studios Bayswater, London
Arranged and Conducted by Robert Farnon
Recording Engineer: Eric Tomlinson
Supervising Producer: Alan Freeman, (Pye Records)
Tracks: Composers & Lyricists
1: The Very Thought of You Ray Noble
2: We'll Gather Lilacs in the Spring Ivor Novello
3: If I Had You Jimmy Campbell/Reg Connelly/Ted Shapiro
4: Now Is The Hour Maewa Kaihan/Clement Scott/Dorothy Stewart
5: The Gypsy Billy Reid
6: A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square Manning Sherwin/Eric Maschwitz
7: A Garden In The Rain Carroll Gibbons/James Dyrenforth
8: London By Night Carroll Coates
9: We'll Meet Again Hughie Charles/Ross Parker
10: I'll Follow My Secret Heart Noel Coward
Additional restored track for CD version
11: Roses of Picardy Fred Weatherley/Haydn Wood
Album Production: Following his European tour with the Bill Miller sextet, began a unique album recording session in the Sinatra catalogue with arrangements courtesy of the Canadian born - though long resident in Britain - Robert Farnon. Recording dates were arranged over three consecutive days in the CTS Bayswater studios, in arrangement with Pye Records - the British associate of Reprise. An orchestra of 42 (mainly British musicians, together with Bill Miller) was reduced to 38 for days 2 and 3. The songs to be recorded were a series of the best British ballad classics (though strictly 'Now is the Hour' has New Zealand antecedents). Farnon - one of the world's best 'string' arrangers (who incidentally had been the musical director on 'Road to Hong Kong' shot in Britain the year before and which Sinatra had made a cameo) , had worked on the orchestrations since the final selection of songs had been wired from the States by Sinatra earlier in the year.
Personal Review: The album, unique in its recording outside the US, was in fact only available there as the CD re-release in the 90s, this was partly explained by Sinatra's belief his voice was 'tired' after his long World charity tour which immediately preceded the sessions. Although this has been given some credence by other critical opinion, I find little to complain about the high vocal standards maintained throughout. Much of the success of the recording must also lay with the sumptuous arrangements produced by Robert Farnon. As noted in the CD sleeve notes, the introductions are particularly noteworthy in setting the mood.
The original LP release omitted 'Roses of Picardy' possibly because of Sinatra's unhappiness at attempting the 'range' of the music, its re-instatement first in a Japanese release in the 80s and then on the CD is very welcome. The verse particularly is very challenging vocally but I feel is mastered beautifully by Sinatra. Of the remaining 10 tracks, perhaps the Maori influenced 'Now Is the Hour' is a tad perfunctory and 'We'll Gather Lilacs....' may not have been a good choice - the juxtaposition of Sinatra with the tone of the lyric not really ringing true! 'The Gypsy' by Billy Reid is not my favourite Reid song but there is little to fault here and many might (especially in the UK) feel any performance of 'We'll Meet Again' other than by Dame Vera Lynn is hard to accept - I would disagree, the well crafted piece is a strong Sinatra recording and indeed several other US performers have taken to it in more recent times, including Rosemary Clooney and Andrea Marcovicci.
The remaining tracks are all superb. 'The Very Thought of You' remains Ray Noble's most celebrated piece, and although Frank had recorded other Noble songs previously, surprisingly this was the first for this standard. Britain's other acclaimed songwriter (and playwright and more) Noel Coward provided his most eloquent waltz in 'I'll Follow My Secret Heart' which Sinatra makes an outstanding album closer. 'A Garden In the Rain' also the first recording by Sinatra positively sparkles in the orchestration and was included in a Reprise compilation of Frank's work for the label, along with the celebrated 'A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square' perhaps one of the most recorded of the British standards. (As an aside for up-tempo versions of both 'Picardy' and 'Nightingale' check out the recordings by Bobby Darin at Capitol).
The two final songs on the album were both the third time Sinatra had recorded them, in each case previously for both Columbia and Capitol Records, 'London By Night' and one of the best of all the tracks 'If I Had You'. Both the Billy May arrangement for the former and the Nelson Riddle arrangement for the latter were fine pieces, however the Farnon orchestrations here are perhaps the definitive ones - see what you think. The CD overall is indeed unique and highly recommended ... check out your local music emporium or try an online music store.
CD: Great Songs From Great Britain (Reprise 45219-2 USA Apr 1993)
Original LP: Great Songs From Great Britain (Reprise R910006 UK Nov 1962)
Studio sessions, outakes and alternate takes included on 2-CD set:
Artisan 605-2, Italy 1995
Havelock Records HR006, Canada Sep 1999
A detailed article 'There Was Magic Abroad In The Air' by Bernhard Vogel which includes the background to the record and details of the complete studio sessions was published in Issue 280 of Perfectly Frank: The Journal of the Sinatra Music Society June/July 2000.