In the Wee Small Hours 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
. 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
- The title track, "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning", has been recorded by a number of artists following Sinatra's version, including Johnny Hartman, Astrud Gilberto, Lou Rawls, Carly Simon, Art Blakey, Count Basie and His Orchestra, Andy Williams, Wes Montgomery, Ruby Braff, and many others.
- The Heart of Saturday Night, an album by Singer/songwriter Tom Waits, features cover artwork based heavily on that of In the Wee Small Hours.
- "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" (Bob Hilliard, David Mann) – 3:00
- "Mood Indigo" (Barney Bigard, Duke Ellington, Irving Mills) – 3:30
- "Glad to Be Unhappy" (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) – 2:35
- "I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes)" (Hoagy Carmichael, Jane Brown Thompson) – 3:42
- "Deep in a Dream" (Eddie DeLange, Jimmy Van Heusen) – 2:49
- "I See Your Face Before Me" (Howard Dietz, Arthur Schwartz) – 3:24
- "Can't We Be Friends?" (Paul James, Kay Swift) – 2:48
- "When Your Lover Has Gone" (Einar Aaron Swan) – 3:10
- "What Is This Thing Called Love?" (Cole Porter) – 2:35
- "Last Night When We Were Young" (Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg) – 3:17
- "I'll Be Around" (Alec Wilder) – 2:59
- "Ill Wind" (Arlen, Ted Koehler) – 3:46
- "It Never Entered My Mind" (Rodgers, Hart) – 2:42
- "Dancing on the Ceiling" (Rodgers, Hart) – 2:57
- "I'll Never Be the Same" (Gus Kahn, Matty Malneck, Frank Signorelli) – 3:05
- "This Love of Mine" (Sol Parker, Henry W. Sanicola, Jr., Frank Sinatra) – 3:33