Scores of modern artists have adapted songs from Frank Sinatra’s vast catalogue over the years to varying results.
From reverential note-for-note covers to punked out parodies, his decades deep songbook has something in it for everybody. But when the theme for this year’s Specialized Project (an annual compilation organised by members of The Specials to benefit the UK’s Teenage Cancer Trust) was announced as Our Way: The Rat Pack Collection, the floodgates were thrown open with an array of ska and (for the first time ever) non-ska artists putting their own unique spins on the work of Ol’ Blue Eyes and a host of songs from his musical cohorts from The Great American Songbook.
When one of the Project curators, Specials’ horn section member (and extended family True Groove All-Star) Jonathan Read, invited Tomás Doncker and Sam Huber to contribute to this year’s edition, Huber immediately went slightly outside the Rat Pack/great American Songbook box and suggested they do ‘How Insensitive‘, from Sinatra’s landmark 1969 collaboration album with Antonio-Carlos Jobim.
“I’ve always loved this song,” Huber enthuses. “It’s a song that’s hard for me to sing because it really strikes a nerve with me. Emotionally, it’s an incredibly powerful song; it’s probably one of the greatest songs ever written about the end of a relationship.” “I’m a huge fan of both Sinatra and Jobim,” adds producer/arranger/guitarist Doncker, “and creating this treatment was a great experience. I wanted to put a modern Brit-Soul spin on it, something along the lines of Paul Young meets Jeff Beck, and I think we got that.” “I’ve sung it live many times, and also recorded it with a Finnish jazz band called Aulanko” Huber comments. “But I had to shake that traditional version from my mind to and adapt the lyrics to the modern version that Tomás and the band created. I always welcome the chance to take an established classic and relocate it to an entirely different space; it’s pretty cool and unexpected.”