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Christmas with The Rat Pack
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Just as irony is being pronounced dead, along comes this boozy holiday compilation to suggest that rumors of its demise may be premature. Given the culture's simmering lounge mania, this collection (with its cheesy homage/rip-off Oceans 11 art direction) may be belated--but hey, punctuality was never these swingin' cats' bag, Jack. The novelty of having three of the 20th century's most notorious sinners belt, whoop, and sing the praises of sleigh bells, roasting chestnuts, and the virgin birth would be enough to recommend this dizzy, 21-track delight, but there's actually some rewarding pop archaeology here as well. Two of the best tracks--Sammy Davis's ring-a-ding-ding romp through "Jingle Bells" and Dino's dreamy "Peace on Earth/Silent Night"--hail from a vintage, ultra-rare Reprise sampler. Sammy's typically over-the-top "Christmastime All Over the World" and Nat Cole tribute, "The Christmas Song," also make their CD debut. Dino's holiday TV specials yield more unreleased rarities: Sinatra-Martin duets of the loopy "Marshmallow World" and a touchingly tipsy take on "Auld Lang Syne" that suggests the boys have shared more than one cup of kindness. --Jerry McCulley
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Top customer reviews
Doesn't get BETTER than this. The talent on display is not only as magical as this holiday season but also will put ANYONE In the Christmas mood.
SINATRA, Martin & Sammy D. Jr... singing Christmas music.
Priceless! (but oh, ironically as for pricing.....NOT much, so wonderful and quick delivery, no isues to contend with at a time when otherwise VERY busy as if).
Sinatra is in fine form. 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing' is a masterly rendition of this hymn, and Sinatra's remaining tracks are an experience in themselves. 'It Came Upon A Midnight Clear' is especially wonderful with its choir. Even on lighter fare such as 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas', Sinatra makes the song his own.
Dean Martin is right at home with these holiday songs, his charming crooner persona coming through. 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' is silly, but Martin's version will make you smile and listen. It's a kind of genius. Even 'Rudolph' gets a bit of lounge-music swagger to make it bearable. 'Winter Wonderland' showcases Martin's velvet voice to perfection. He could be the official voice of the 1960s Christmas genre (I made that up -- I have no idea if this is genre...)
Sammy Davis, Jr. makes three appearances: The previously unreleased 'Christmas Time All Over the World', 'The Christmas Song' and 'Jingle Bells'. Davis was a huge talent, and the first of these especially is a real treat. After a few listenings, though, you'll wonder whether all of this holiday music is really up to Davis' standards.
The real treasures are the two final tracks, live recordings from Dean Martin's TV show in 1967 and 1970. Recording quality is notably bad, but it's worth the compromise. 'A Marshmallow World' is a blatantly silly song with saccharine lyrics, and Sinatra and Martin have a ball with it. It's almost a relief to hear these two singers goofing around with a song that no one could take seriously. 'Auld Lang Syne' is a good closer, quiet and sensitive. Even the variety show choir can't spoil it. You really leave this album feeling like you spent an hour in the 1960s, and once again that's a good thing.
The extra bits of dialogue at the end of these last two tracks put the music into perspective. Sure it would be great to have clean stereo recordings, but there's a time-capsule aspect to the Rat Pack Christmas album that makes it something special.
It's happy, it's cheery, and it's a compilation of the familiar, with a few new songs.
The title may conjure up images of Frank Sinatra punching out some guy in Las Vegas, but the music itself speaks of the joy and celebration of the holiday season. Something much needed these days. Most of the songs were recorded in the sixties and seventies, and at least one was previously unreleased.
The standards are here, including some beautifully sung carols, plus a few new (to me ) pieces. A far cry from artists who feel they must put their own often caterwauling spin on beloved Christmas carols, and none of those "downer" Christmas songs about loneliness and alienation at Christmas, Third World starvation, and the like, or cheesy novelty songs.
This CD brings smiles and lifts spirits. It works for parties, present-wrapping, tree-trimming, cookie-baking, and all of the other good things that accompany Christmas.
I highly recommend it!
Frank singing "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas" and "I Believe"
Dean Martin singing: "Let it Snow" and "Baby It's Cold Outside"
Sammy Davis Jr's "Jingle Bells" is a swinging good time.
Like others have stated, be careful which version you buy. Some of them don't have all 21 songs on the CD. You'd miss out on Frank's "I Believe" and "It's a Marshmallow World" with Frank and Dean.
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