Sammy Davis, Jr.

All-Star Spectacular

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In 1960 Sammy Davis, Jr. signed on to Frank Sinatra's Reprise label at the zenith of his success and association with Ol' Blue Eyes and Dean Martin as a member of the one and only Rat Pack. All-Star Spectacular (1962) presents Davis like never before, both as a dynamic vocalist and as an actor of equally impressive proficiency. As Davis explains during the brief spoken introduction, the idea behind this title is to capture some of the good-natured frivolity of his one-man show onto the grooves of a studio LP. Backed by conductor and arranger Morton Stevens, Davis demonstrates his uncanny abilities on the first half of the affair as an impressionist, singing pop standards under the guise of a wide spectrum of well-known personalities. Among the highlights are his send-up of Raymond Chandler and Frankie Laine on the opener, "That Lucky Old Sun." He moves swiftly between the unlikely pairing of Mel Tormé and comedic genius Jerry Lewis during a rousing rendition of "Lulu's Back in Town." The cheerful mid-tempo Bob Russell ballad "Ballerina" is given a playful workout as Huckleberry Hound, Kingfish from Amos 'n' Andy, and even Nat King Cole -- the voice who made the tune famous to begin with -- all "drop by" to put their proverbial two cents in. Undeniably, the best of them all is Davis' parody of Mario Lanza and Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong on the Sammy Kahn classic "Be My Love." The second half of All-Star Spectacular consists of straightforward interpretations of a half-dozen swinging sides, representing the best of what the artist has to offer as a vibrant singer and consummate performer. The heartfelt "If You Are but a Dream" is given an upbeat delivery set against a scintillating mambo backdrop. Rodgers and Hart's "I Married an Angel" bursts with the brassy verbosity that became Davis' calling card, while "You Can't Love 'Em All" is nothing short of the definitive swingin' space-age-bachelor-pad anthem, not to mention the second of two Sammy Kahn lyrical contributions. Although there are many facets to Sammy Davis, Jr.'s immeasurable talents, All-Star Spectacular is a unique album, cashing in on his sizable talents as a seminal master of melody and allowing for a peek into his infectious sense of humor.

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