Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published September 13th 2021
An album is more than one hit song
Well, I kept talking about it, so here it is a classic album review of Boots by Nancy Sinatra (1966)
How was that for the most boring intro ever?
Recently, I brought up a song from this album, nor for the first time, and mentioned that I should do a review of it because the songs keep appearing. Well, on Twitter, I received a very simple message: "Boots. Sinatra. Do it."
Okay. Yes. I will.
Now, I own this on original vinyl my father bought it and so it was in our house for as long as I can remember. Nancy Sinatra was the daughter of crooner Frank. I was never the biggest fan of Frank Sinatra (though his version of 'My Way' is the best one and I love that song so much), but Nancy really had the chops, and she hit the ground running with this debut album. Wow. As a child, the image on the cover didn't mean that much to me, so I was just in this for the music, and side one was played almost constantly (I just really liked side one when I was a pre-teen).
This is one of the finest albums by a female artist from the 1960s, and the fact that she did not have a long and fruitful career as a singer always stunned me. The only other song of hers I know I own without looking through everything is the theme song to the James Bond film You Only Live Twice. I might have others on various compilation albums as well, but none spring to mind. I do remember hearing some work from her with her partnership with Lee Hazelwood, however.
The problem (?) is, this album is something that would be hard for anyone to match as they go on with their career.
So, with that in mind, here is the tracklisting for what is a truly glorious album.
'As Tears Go By'
We start with a Rolling Stones cover song, a really beautiful version of the track where her smooth voice is accompanied by some very fine guitar playing. This is an interesting choice to open the album, but I think it is more to appeal to her father's fans with a slower song.
'Day Tripper' And we go straight into a Beatles cover song! She takes an interesting song and turns it into one of anger, accentuated by some strong brass stabs and, again, her voice is just wonderful.
'I Move Around' Written by Lee Hazlewood, this song takes some of the folk-rock stylings of the time and uses it to tell a tale of moving around whenever a relationship goes bad. This has a vibe of many of the folk-rock bands of the time, like The Lovin' Spoonful, and is a pleasant song.
'It Ain't Me Babe'
Now we have a Bob Dylan cover song. Sinatra sings this with a sultry voice, punctuated again by a brass section. She turns a brush-off song into something (as I said last time) almost sexily evil in its intent. I should point out that I heard her version before Dylan's, and I always associate it with her.
'These Boots Are Made for Walkin''
Another Lee Hazlewood track, this song about footwear is probably Nancy's best-known song, and one that I still hear occasionally today. Again, there is anger in her tone, as well as determination. Sinatra was not singing as a meek little girl, but as a strong woman. I think that was a difference that stood out. This is the track that closes out side one of the album, and so whenever I listened to it, this was the last track I heard and so it stuck in my head more than any other, from the time I knew how to work the record player. This is a great song.
'In My Room'
Another song filled with brass instruments, as a kid I didn't like it, which was why side two was not listened to as much. But as I've got older, I appreciate it more, especially for Nancy's amazing voice. I sold this one short when I was younger.
The Knickerbockers' song, given the sort of treatment I would have expected in a Dean Martin movie. As a stand-alone song, it's an okay cover, but in the context of the album, it is a welcome relief in tone. Having said that, Nancy's anger yet again comes out as she sings.
'So Long, Babe'
Another song in that folk-rock style, slower this time, with a bitterness about her tone. This is a song I really didn't get into until my teenaged years when I realised just how well put together it is, this time driven along by some really strong drumming.
'Flowers On The Wall'
This is a song that doesn't resonate with me. After Nancy's voice singing with such strength and emotion through the rest of the album, this feels very light-weight. It's not a terrible song by any stretch, but it does not compare to what else is here.
'If He'd Love Me'
A proper ballad, with a Jimmy Webb feel about it (it's not one of his; it was written by Miriam Eddy), and it is okay. I think it is at its best when she lets her voice go over the top, but the verses are a little slight. Still, a bit of a fun song.
'Run For Your Life'
And we finish with another Beatles cover song. And this is a really strong track to end the album on, with that anger back in her voice. She has so much emotion when she sings when she lets herself.
And there you are a classic album from an artist known, if we're being honest, for only one song, but who should be appreciated for so much more. Nancy Sinatra was one of the first female artists I was exposed to, and so to me, it was all about her music because I was too young for it to be about anything else.
This album deserves to be re-appraised by modern audiences. Because, without Nancy Sinatra, I'm not sure we'd have a few of the female singers we do today. She was actually a bit of a trail-blazer in that regard. I think she deserves more praise and credit than she gets.
And hopefully this album will help people start on that road.
Boots are made for Walking is one of my favourite songs. I often listen to it on You Tube. Reminds me of many years ago when working night shift in winery, the young people had the radio some weird FM station which read out a list they had compiled of the worst tens songs of all time. Most of them were my favourites! So much for my musical tastes.
I had the EP of Boots are made fir walking in my family too with that same cover on it and I played it constantly Boots is one of the all time best female liberation songs of all time not to mention just the catchiest