Sammy Davis, Jr.

Lonely Is the Name

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For Lonely Is the Name (1968), Sammy Davis, Jr. once again blended his interminable hipness with a batch of popular standards and fresh interpretations of selections that he had previously delivered in a distinctly different style. Although Davis' emphasis remained ensconced within orchestral and big band-backed melodies for a decidedly adult-oriented audience, his take on "Up, Up and Away" and the medley pairing Stevie Wonder's "Uptight" with "You've Got Your Troubles" is evidence that he was trying to broaden his appeal. Driving that point home is the sassy and swinging "Shake, Shake, Shake," which is arguably over the top when considering modern pop and soul music in 1968. The uptempo and soaring arrangement isn't unified when juxtaposed against the comparatively syrupy title track "Lonely Is the Name" or the cool and refined balladry of the noir-tinged "Children, Children." Those incongruities aside, this collection has a few bright moments, particularly on "We'll Be Together Again" and Cole Porter's ageless "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" -- both of which had been recorded by Davis and Laurindo Almeida (guitar) on their 1966 collaboration Sammy Davis, Jr. Sings/Laurindo Almeida Plays. Another revisitation is an unquestionable return to form on the Benny Carter composition "All That Jazz" from the motion picture A Man Called Adam (1966). Of course, Davis had starred in the film, but it was Mel Tormé's (vocal) be-boppin' that gave the number a boost in the context of the movie. Here, Davis gets his chance, taking the tune to a new and similarly jazzy place, giving the Velvet Fog a run for his money with his own deliciously improvised scat vocal. [In 2004 Collectors' Choice Music included Lonely Is the Name as one of their entries in the restoration of Davis' classic 1960s Reprise Records catalog.]

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