Music Review: High hopes for heavy metal Sinatra tribute

Various Artists “Sin-atra” (Eagle Rock)

Just what makes those heavy metal rockers

Think they can sing like ’ol Frank Sinatra?

Everyone knows a rocker can’t sound like Sinatra

But they’ve got high hopes.

And some of those hopes are even justified on “Sin-atra,” an interesting and most unexpected heavy metal tribute album to Frank Sinatra. This is where the Chairman of the Board meets the power chord.

The best here — by far — is Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider’s version of “It Was A Very Good Year,” a preening, insistent remake somewhat reminiscent of Queen’s “Innuendo” that lets Snider stretch his vocal talents into the higher ranges while remaining true to the spirit of the original.

Most of the songs on “Sin-atra” fall into two distinct categories: those that embrace the melody that was Sinatra’s hallmark, and those that bash melody in the head, stomp on its broken body, and then floss with it. Falling firmly into the latter category is the opener, “New York, New York” by Strapping Young Lad’s Devin Townsend. This track is so aggressively, over-the-top awful that it sounds like a bad Jack Black parody. The screams, growls and campy ringmaster-like asides will doubtless have Francis Albert Sinatra spinning in his grave.

“High Hopes” by Franky Perez of Scars on Broadway, and “Love And Marriage” by Elias Soriano of Nonpoint, are also Sinatra heresy: The hardcore, Pantera-like menace just doesn’t work here.

The melodic camp fares much better, led by Queensryche’s Geoff Tate on “Summerwind.” His soaring vocals perfectly fit the bill here, capturing the smoothness and class that defined Sinatra’s music, only four registers higher.

Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, 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.”

Former Judas Priest singer Tim “Ripper” Owens shoots and scores with “Witchcraft.” The remake would have made an excellent Judas Priest song.

Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander tackles “Fly Me To The Moon,” but his softer-edged vocals clash with the harsh foundation of the track’s guitar, bass and drums. Mr. Big’s Eric Martin fares better on “Lady Is A Tramp,” and it’s worth the entire price of the album just to hear Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna croon “doo-be-doo-be-doo” on “Strangers In The Night.”

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: Warrant’s 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.

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