Sammy Davis, Jr.

What Kind of Fool Am I and Other Show-Stoppers

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After scoring some significant notice on Sammy Belts the Best of Broadway, Sammy Davis, Jr. returned to the Great White Way for inspiration and material. Containing a dozen show tunes, What Kind of Fool Am I and Other Show-Stoppers from 1962 became one of Davis' most revered and highest-charting long-players during the 1960s. Under the direction of Marty Paich, Davis practically redefines himself as a decidedly hip and modern interpreter of American popular song. This in itself is notable, as rock & roll had all but relegated singers of his caliber to becoming dinosaurs. Nothing could be further from the truth, as many of the melodies gathered here remained essential entries in Davis' performance repertoire for the rest of his career. One particular case in point is the quartet of Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse selections from the play Stop the World I Want to Get Off (1961) -- which Davis revived on Broadway nearly two decades later. "What Kind of Fool Am I"commences the effort and has been given suitable ornamental orchestration that Davis turns into his own minor masterpiece. The emotive vocals build from an understated plea into a powerful and virtually unforgettable crescendo. Similarly, the languid and moody introduction to "Once in a Lifetime" is cast off for a rousing energetic reading that, in a word, sparkles. However, it is the soulful and gospel-infused "Gonna Build a Mountain" that became one of the artist's calling cards. From Bye Bye Birdie (1960) comes "A Lot of Livin' to Do," and Paich's brass-happy arrangement certainly fits the bill as Davis punctuates the cut with his own definitive buoyant syncopated interjections. Another memorable selection is the reworking of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine," swinging hard as Davis provides an emphatic lead over top of the tropically-flavored instrumentation. The outing spawned the additional classics "Something Coming," "Thou Swell," and "Lost in the Stars," all immeasurably contributing to the LP landing at the number 14 spot and further accentuating the singer's undeniable talent and presence.

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