As the epitome of vocal cool and confidence, Frank Sinatra ruled the Las Vegas strip for more than two decades. This compilation draws on four of his best performances there between 1961 and 1987. In a 1966 recording, Old Blue Eyes is at his Rat Pack best on "I've Got You Under My Skin," with growling backup from Count Basie and his orchestra.
With the recent resurgence in the Four Seasons' popularity thanks to Jersey Boys, it's an apt time to rediscover Cannon (born Frederick Picariello), another East Coast Italian-American who worked with Four Seasons producer Bob Crewe.
When he's not backing up Wilco members on their solo projects, singer-songwriter Morgan Taylor makes sparkling kids' music, drawing comparisons to adult artists from Bread to the Beatles. Taylor sings about characters like a frisky eel that dresses in a wardrobe of single socks ("Slim Gets in 'Em").
With roots stretching back seven decades, the Blind Boys of Alabama still chug along, aided here by a host of country luminaries, including Vince Gill ("Can You Give Me a Drink?") and the Oak Ridge Boys ("Take the High Road," which pairs majestic vocals with laid-back twang).
There are no plumy accents when traveling by coach, just ordinary people going about extraordinary lives. The bus grinds through small, forgotten villages, stops for elderly women with rheumy eyes dragging plaid shopping trolleys, stops for old men under flat woolen caps, hearing aids at odd angles whistling in their hairy ears, stops for weary young mums with impossibly complex prams. We bump by sodden fields of sheep, into market towns no longer proffering produce, only plastic. Yet three times on this journey I have seen standing stones, great, gray plinths alone in fields, reminders of time immemorial, reminders there is more than what appears to be. They watch us hurtle by.