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Christmas cocktails with Frank, Dino and Sammy!
on December 7, 2002
Capitol has followed up their "Eee-O Eleven: The Best Of The Rat Pack" disc (one of the few excellent 'Rat Pack' compilations around; most others recycle the trio's bargain-basement material) with this brilliant Christmas-themed CD. While all of the songs Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin sing on their own have been released before on CD, this is a pretty good selection from that material.
From Frank, we get a few timeless carols, "The First Noel", "Hark! The Herald Angels", etc (backed with a choir), plus the beautiful "Christmas Waltz", and "I'll Be Home For Christmas". We even get treated to "I Believe", which is a somewhat rare single, and wouldn't really even be on this CD if not for a throw-away reference to Santa Claus!
From Dean, we get a few tracks from his "A Winter Romance" album (a priceless collection of frosty not-so-politically-correct charmers), as well as a few traditional by-the-numbers Christmas anthems: "Silver Bells", "White Christmas", "Rudolph The Red-Nose Reindeer" and "Winter Wonderland", all of which see Dean impeccably slurring his way along as only he can! A highlight is the stunning "Peace on Earth / Silent Night", which is taken from a ultra-rare Reprise Christmas promo album.
Another track from this album is the incomparable Sammy Davis, Jr.'s take on "Jingle Bells", which is given a Vegas arrangement that swings something fierce! Sammy's tracks really make you wish he'd recorded his own Christmas album. I suppose he was too busy wowing the world onstage as The Greatest Entertainer Who Ever Lived, to consistently blow the socks off everyone from the studio.
The only (minor) gripes are in the small print... For those who care, Capitol's telling a few badly-researched fibs in the liner notes. Dean's "White Christmas" is his '59 version, not the '66 as claimed; Sammy's "It's Christmas Time All Over The World" has in fact been released, and on so many budget Christmas LPs it's not funny, while Davis, Jr.'s sensational version of "The Christmas Song" was not originally from his "The Nat King Cole Songbook" LP, but from a 1963 album, "California Suite", devoted to songs written by Mel Tormé.
The two finishing tracks, Frank/Dean duets from Dean Martin's TV shows cap off a sensational album - the talent of these three guys will short circuit your CD-player if you're not careful, so pour yourself something stiff, and sit down to a nostalgically cool Yule! This CD is even enough to make this Australian reviewer forget that it's the middle of summer and as hot as blazes outside, and cry insanely into the bushfire smoke "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!"