The Rat Pack

Live and Swingin': The Ultimate Rat Pack Collection

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As a double-dose audiovisual document of the Rat Pack, this two-disc package -- one a CD, one a DVD -- more than lives up to its title. Disc one is an audio-only CD culled from performances given by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis, Jr. at a Chicago nightclub between November 26 and December 2, 1962, over half of which is previously unreleased. Disc two, never before issued, captures about an hour and a half of a mid-1965 St. Louis performance by the same fellas on DVD, with a young Johnny Carson MCing. How much you like this sort of thing depends almost as much on how much you like the celebrity sleaze-kitsch that the Rat Pack mythology was built upon as you do the trio's estimable vocal abilities. But both parts deliver all the all-around entertainment you'd expect, particularly the DVD portion. As for the CD of the 1962 shows, much of it's devoted to solo turns by Martin, Davis, and Sinatra, each of whom delivers some of the standards deemed highlights of his repertoire. Martin trots out medleys, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," and "Volare"; Sinatra ups the swing with "Goody Goody" and "Chicago"; Davis leads off with "What Kind of Fool Am I." The individual sets are preserved in good sound, but in a way they're just the preamble to the comic sketches between Sinatra and Martin, soon expanded to include Davis as well. These bits (particularly the impressions) don't come off nearly as well on record as they do on film, which gives the DVD a considerable edge for appreciating the Rat Pack experience in all its full-dimensional, oft-corny glory. The strengths and weaknesses of the shtick are amplified on this disc, with Martin playing up his lush persona to the point of distaste, though he does manage to include his then-recent number one hit, "Everybody Loves Somebody." Davis' set perhaps comes off best, and certainly as the most versatile, though his hepcat jazz-swing moves (sometimes backed by just a drummer, not the full orchestra) might strike some true jazzbos as slumming. The Chairman of the Board's set includes some of his audience's faves: "Fly Me to the Moon," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "You Make Me Feel So Young." And though only two "tracks" featuring the entire Rat Pack are listed on the sleeve, actually these are quite extended comic routines (in which yet more impressions are trotted out) that capture the essence of the Rat Pack better than anything else here, ending with an ensemble rendition of "Birth of the Blues."

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 0:43
2 3:52
3 3:18
4 1:46
5 2:30
6 1:34
7 2:08
8 2:35
9
1:16
10 2:45
11 3:13
12 3:01
13 3:36
14 1:56
15 1:46
16
4:09
17 5:09
18 8:35
19
2:15
20 2:22
21
1:03
22 2:29
23 2:30
24 2:43
25 1:30

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Dean Martin
2
feat: Dean Martin
3
feat: Dean Martin
4
feat: Dean Martin
5
feat: Dean Martin
6
feat: Dean Martin
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
blue highlight denotes track pick