November 02, 1998 12:00 PM

Various Artists (Motown)

The 16 tracks on this fascinating album, recorded from 1961 to 1995, feature Motown performers singing songs identified with Frank Sinatra. Only a painfully lame version of “All the Things You Are” by Michael Jackson should embarrass anyone. The closest Motown had to Sinatra was Marvin Gaye, and this collection includes a Gaye reading of “Witchcraft” that is as swingy and sensual as the master’s and a slightly hurried but atmospheric “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road).” Another Motown star who had Sinatra level arrogance and style was Diana Ross, who does a spirited “The Lady Is a Tramp” and a sweetly romantic “Strangers in the Night” with the Supremes.

Sinatra always credited his arrangers for a major part of his success, and the absence of such help is apparent here, especially on the Four Tops’ stiff version of “Nice ‘N’ Easy,” always one of Sinatra’s most fluid numbers. Gladys Knight’s “Just in Time” is unorthodox too, but turning that tune into a ballad turns out to be a not-bad idea.

Bottom Line: Curiosity value, plus

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