In the Wee Small Hours is released
In the Wee Small Hours (original issue: Capitol W-581) is an album by Frank Sinatra with arrangements by Nelson Riddle, released in 1955.
It is with this album that Sinatra perfected the concept album, fully realizing the ideas he had been grappling with in record presentation going all the way back to The Voice from 1946. It remains one of the most celebrated and enduring concept albums that Sinatra put out during the 1950s.
The album was his first full 12-inch LP, and more importantly it contained a set of songs specifically recorded for the album, which had not always been true of his previous 10-inch records; further, albums at the time were generally randomly compiled collections of a performer's hits rather than deliberately sequenced and selected. In the Wee Small Hours used only ballads, organized around a central mood of late-night isolation and aching lost love (supposedly due to his separation from Ava Gardner). The sequence is triggered by the morose opening title track, which had just been written, and then is followed up by a selection of pop standards, each effectively arranged in a restrained, mellow manner, either for a small ensemble or brooding strings (often highlighted by woodwinds or a celesta.) The album cover, now considered a classic, directly reinforced the overall theme, featuring a pensive Sinatra set against the backdrop of a deserted and eerie night-time streetscape.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 100 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album is also the first album reviewed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery. In 2007, Time Magazine selected it as one of The All-TIME 100 Albums
For a decade, Sinatra pushed to make a cohesive LP at a time when no one in the record business was thinking beyond singles. Finally, his break-up with Ava Gardner provided the perfect catalyst. These 16 ballads, recorded in just a few days, are the authoritative take on masculine loneliness. Like all Sinatra songs, they're not just beautifully sung but interpreted into drama: the title track is the initial confession of pain, Rodgers and Hart's "Glad to Be Unhappy" and Cole Porter's "I Get Along Without You Very Well" the futile denials, and "I'll Never Be the Same" the grim acceptance that the lady's gone for good.