Among only a handful of entertainers who bridged the gap between '50s rock fans and their Sinatra-loving parents, Bronx-born pop legend Bobby Darin's life and career were short but extraordinary. In 1959 the singer/composer rocketed to stardom with 2 Grammy Awards-Best New Artist and Record of the Year for the #1 smash "Mack the Knife." His other signature smash provides the title for this biopic chronicling his genre-defying music, tempestuous marriage to starlet Sandra Dee, and untimely death at age 37-in 1973-from a heart defect acquired during a childhood illness. Kate Bosworth stars as Dee, and Darin is brought to life by Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey, who also directed the film and sings 18 of the artist's classic hits.
You've got to credit Kevin Spacey for sheer gumption: not only did he choose to direct a biopic about Bobby Darin (not the hippest of 1960s singers), but he also decided to star in it despite the fact that he was in his midforties and Darin died at 37. As if this weren't enough, unlike Jamie Foxx in Ray
, Spacey performs all the songs himself. The hard-driving "Hello Young Lovers" starts off the album with a bang, the actor working with the big band with casual ease. While Darin is now best known for his swinging "Mack the Knife" and his adaptation of Charles Trenet's "La Mer" ("Beyond the Sea"), he also explored folk and scored with the teeny-bopperish "Splish Splash." Spacey acquits himself honorably in all these genres, though he's best when he swings hard--his yelpy "Splish Splash" lacks the required levity. No matter what you think of the film itself, what we hear on this album is an actor who wouldn't be out of place in a Broadway musical. --Elisabeth Vincentelli