SIN-ATRA – A Metal Tribute To Frank Sinatra (2011)

SIN-ATRA - A Metal Tribute To Frank Sinatra (2011)

There’s little doubt that someone at some point in time in the last couple decades probably thought it would be an interesting experiment to marry hard rock or heavy metal with something else, anything else — polka, reggae, disco, Dixieland jazz, you name it.

On the flipside, you have crooners like Pat Boone who have tried their hand at metal. But who in his right mind would ever think metal could break bread with Frank Sinatra?

After all, it was Frank Sinatra who once said that rock ‘n roll was the “most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear…” This was after he first heard Elvis in the 50s.

Can you imagine what his reaction would be to Twisted Sister and Anthrax? Putting “The Impossible Dream” aside, the lead singers for these and other bands were prepared, in the face of controversy, to show their allegiance to the original rock star in a heartfelt, loving and diabolic tribute called SIN-ATRA.

To make it all happen, Bob Kulick (Kiss) and drummer Brett Chassen, two brazen musicians and producers, took on the task of assembling 12 songs, 12 singers and a supportive band to create their hard rock homage.

Once the band was ready to go, selling the idea of Sin-atra to renowned singers wasn’t all that difficult. Finding the right singer for the right song, however, was arduous and time-consuming.

Kulick and Chassen compiled lists upon lists of songs and singers, shared their ideas with the record label and executive producer Wendy Dio (Ronnie’s wife), and began piecing it all together.

Chassen, Kulick, bassist Billy Sheehan and keyboardist Doug Katsaros delivered on the instrumental undertow that drives each track.

Upon hearing the album I had mixed emotions. Half of tracks works well, but the other half left me scratching my head.

There are two schools of thought about doing covers. One is to make the song ‘your own’ and change it up a little or a lot. The second school of thought is to stay true to the song and redo it note for note.

The artists on SIN-atra have for the most part taken the songs and put their own touches on them. For the most part the songs are recognizable as the originals, but the arrangements and vocals throw a new spin on old classics. Some work, some not.

First track is “New York, New York” by Strapping Young Lad’s Devin Townsend. I don’t like it, this song is so aggressively, over-the-top awful that it sounds like a bad Jack Black parody.

Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Country Communion) is seemingly everywhere these days, and he’s here, too, adding a soulful bluesy turn on “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”. After a couple of spins, his version grabs you.

“Summerwind” is performed by Queensryche’s Geoff Tate. His soaring vocals perfectly fit the bill here, capturing the smoothness and class that defined Sinatra’s music, only four registers higher. A great bass job by Billy Sheehan too.

My favorite track here is Dee Snider’s version of “It Was A Very Good Year” a preening, insistent remake which shutters forth very much on a ‘Kashmir’ like groove. Somewhat reminiscent of Queen’s ‘Innuendo’, Snider stretch his vocal into a dramatic, almost melancholic melody, and he comes through like you may have never heard him before.

I don’t like Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens. So skip his take on “Witchcraft”.

Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander is one of my favorite singers, but his softer-edged vocals clash with the harsh foundation of the track’s guitar, bass and drums on “Fly Me To The Moon”.

“The Lady Is A Tramp”, with an opening straight out of Van Halenetics, is an appropriate fit for Mr. Big’s Eric Martin. The man can sing anything, his ability is very well showcased on this song. I really like it.

Belladona’s take on “Strangers In The Night” isn’t bad at all, but the melody of the song was completely changed.

“High Hopes” and particularly “Love And Marriage” are horrible, forgettable versions.

“I’ve Got The World On A String” is sung by Dug Pinnick (King’s X) which has such a soulful voice, but I am not convinced by the music arrangements.

Jani Lane closes out the disc with a decent remake of “That’s Life,” with a tasty guitar solo from Richie Kotzen. But what this track really proves is how much better David Lee Roth did it 25 years ago, with a lot more of the Sinatra swagger and showmanship that really pushes the song across the finish line.

Reworking standards is never easy, that’s clear on SIN-ATRA. Some are good, some not.

You have one of the greatest songwriters of a generation, one of the most popular singers of all time supplying the material, then you have such great voices like Glenn Hughes, Geoff Tate, Eric Martin and Dee Snider to belt out the great tunes. How could this go wrong?

Well, I think the bad side of this album relies on the awful, metalized arrangements on some songs.

The melodic camp fares much better, and it’s very interesting to hear many of the best melodic rock singers doin’ something different.

1.) New York, New York – Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad)

2.) I’ve Got You Under My Skin – Glenn Hughes (ex Deep Purple)

3.) Summerwind – Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche)

4.) It Was A Very Good Year – Dee Snider (ex Twisted Sister)

5.) Witchcraft – Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth)

6.) Fly Me To The Moon – Robin Zander (Cheap Trick)

7.) Lady Is A Tramp – Eric Martin (Mr. Big)

8.) Strangers In The Night – Joey Belladonna (Anthrax)

9.) High Hopes – Franky Perez (Scars on Broadway)

10.) I’ve Got The World On A String – Doug Pinnick (King’s X)

11.) Love And Marriage – Elias Soriano (Nonpoint)

12.) That’s Life – Jani Lane (ex Warrant)

Bob Kulick: Guitars

Brett Chassen: Drums

Billy Sheehan: Bass

Doug Katsaros: Keyboards

Richie Kotzen: Guitar


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