Sammy Davis Jr. had already scored 14 pop hits by the time he made his Broadway-musical debut in this Clifford Odets classic. The interracial kiss between Sammy and Paula Wayne drew lots of attention at the time, but what interests us is this fabulous jazz score, featuring many tunes that became staples of Sammy's nightclub act.
already had quite a showbiz legacy by the time this 1964 Broadway musical debuted. Clifford Odets's heavy drama was originally produced (sans music) in 1937 as part of New York's Group Theater, featuring in its cast, among others, Lee J. Cobb, Elia Kazan, and Francis Farmer; John Garfield starred in a 1952 Broadway revival of Golden Boy, while the film version was what turned William Holden (in the title role) into a star. Sammy Davis Jr. was already a star--the Rat Pack was in full bloom--when he made his Broadway musical debut as the title character in the Charles Strouse-Lee Adams transformation of Odets's original play, directed by soon-to-be-great film director Arthur Penn, no less. Davis's presence added a racial theme to this story of a prize boxer, addressed in such songs as "Colorful." Unfortunately, the Strouse-Lee score isn't nearly as impressive as their earlier Bye Bye Birdie
--no standards were created here--although the fine "Gimme Some," with its rock & roll progression, could have been an outtake from that show. And "Don't Forget 127th St." is the kind of grand production number Broadway rarely delivers anymore. Sammy, meanwhile, is in full, uh, Sammy glory here, and a few of these songs were part of his nightclub repertoire during the mid-'60s. His fans will undoubtedly cheer this remastered rerelease on CD at last. --Bill Holdship