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Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan

Frank: The Voice (2010)

by James Kaplan

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This is really the story of how Frankie became Frank. Whereas other Sinatra tomes go through his entire life or just focus on the music, James Kaplan has pulled the reader into Francis Albert's beginnings up until Ava's goodbye. We get a deepened look at the man who changed song, along with some sweet asides about the songwriters, the conductors, and the loves of The Voice's rise-fall-rise before he took off into the stratosphere.

It all started with Mama Dolly. Abortionist, midwife, neighborhood politico. She was the one who shaped young Frankie, made him into the man he became, which isn't exactly Mr. Cool. Through his relentless quest to be better than Der Bingle, to his alienation of much of Hollywood, past his pursuit of Ava Gardner, to his sudden comeback, we get a solid picture of what made this guy the best of the best of the best.

There is a good section of the book devoted to Ava Gardner, of whom I had little interest or knowledge of before I read this, but now I want to know more about her. In my view, that means Kaplan did his job. It's also obvious that the author loves music, as evidenced when he suddenly describes some of Frankie's earlier songs and, especially, as the bowties disappear and the fedora and lamp post take over.

Sinatra was a lifelong Dodger fan, so I felt heartened to know that his favorite color scheme was orange and black...the colors of the Giants (it's worth another hour or so just to read Kaplan's notes/sources section).

Book Season = Summer (when the swinging begins) ( )
  Gold_Gato | Sep 16, 2013 |
Well researched and written bio of Frank Sinatra. Not sure why it only ended at the point he won his oscar, but maybe there's a sequel in the works somewhere.

Worth the read if interested in the subject matter. ( )
  jmatson | Jun 27, 2012 |
A lot of quotes and not bad but I don't see how someone can provide quotes of two people in intimate conversation. Also, seemed that every film before From Here to Eternity was bad. The early MGM films were what MGM was famous for at that time - pure, delightful entertainment - and there is nothing more entertaining that Frank and Durante in It Happened in Brooklyn or Frank and Kelly in Take Me Out to the Ball Game - two films the author particularly disliked. ( )
  knahs | May 16, 2011 |
Written in a breezy, accessible style, this is one of the best biographies of a musician to come along in a long time, and will probably become the definitive Sinatra biography. Frank comes off as a complicated, thin-skinned, musical genius, with some serious issues around women. A lot of myths and gossip gets debunked here, but the truth is even more amazing than the stories. _The Voice_ covers Frank's childhood, rise to musical stardom, fall from grace, and triumphant return via his role in _From Here to Eternity_, with his very complex love affair with Eva Gardner dominating the last half of the book. Personally I can't wait for Volume Two and the rest of the Sinatra story. Place it on the shelf next to Peter Guralnick's masterful 2-volume Elvis bio. ( )
1 vote rmharris | Feb 14, 2011 |
A poor amalgam of previously written bios of Sinatra. Kaplan adds only some snarky comments and sleazy innuendo, providing a behind the bedroom door look at Sinatra and his many conquests, especially Ava Gardner. ( )
  susanamper | Dec 7, 2010 |
Showing 5 of 5
James Kaplan’s Frank: The Voice is authentically a page-turner, a strident tabloid epic constructed out of facts—or more precisely out of the disparate and sometimes contradictory testimony of scores of participants in Frank Sinatra’s early life. There is certainly enough testimony to choose from; pieces of Sinatra, variously skewed and distorted, are scattered all over the latter part of the twentieth century. But they hardly converge into a unified portrait: confronted with the multitude of Sinatras that one must attempt to resolve into a single plausible person, there is a gathering sense of unsettling dissonance quite at odds with the perfected harmonies of his greatest recordings.
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Sinatra endowed the songs he sang with the explosive conflict of his own personality. He also made the very act of listening to pop music a more personal experience than it had ever been. In "Frank: The Voice," Kaplan reveals how he did it, bringing deeper insight than ever before to the complex psyche and turbulent life behind that incomparable vocal instrument.… (more)

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