Start Walkin’: 1965-1976

Mar 25, 2021
Web Exclusive

By Michael Watkins


As Light in the Attic kick off their celebration of one of music’s most famous daughters, this compilation of Nancy Sinatra’s hits from the early part of her career seeks to act as an overview of her body of work. In that regard, it is wonderfully successful. Incorporating solo hits with those achieved alongside long-time collaborator Lee Hazlewood, Start Walkin’ does a good job of showing how Sinatra’s singular vocal styling remained her main asset and maintained front-and-center positioning in all of her strongest work. Regardless of whether it is on her best songs (“These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” still ranks among the best singles by a female singer of all time) or on the less-essential offerings (“Hook and Ladder,” and “So Long Babe” don’t quite speak to just how brilliantly talented she is), there is a constant theme running throughout. Nancy Sinatra is a proper singer’s singer.

It seems odd to have to make that point but—and this is something that the Light in the Attic celebration is attempting to redress—if you think about any discussion about the greatest singers of this era, how often does Nancy’s name come up? Not very often. And yet, on the evidence of this compilation alone, there is a strong case to be made for her inclusion. Her contralto cuts through every composition here—including a freakin’ Bond theme, for god’s sake—like a jagged piece of glass would through a taut sheet of cellophane. And that’s before we even begin to talk about her influence. Throw it forward some 50 years, and the roots of every modern great, from Fiona Apple to Lana Del Rey, Tori Amos, Amy Winehouse, Sharon Van Etten, and beyond can be traced back to Sinatra’s output as documented here.
It may not—in fact, it certainly doesn’t—present as the most unanimously immaculate collection of forgotten gems you are likely to here, and the Hazlewood duets certainly fluctuate between hot and cold far too much, but as a document and testament to the scope and appeal of Nancy Sinatra, it’s fair to say that this compilation nails it and then some. Reminding those who had forgotten, and enlightening those who are learning, of the singular gifts of the singer-turned-actress-turned-activist who was far too readily overlooked during her most prolific and rewarding era. (www.lightintheattic.net)

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