Various Artists

Classic Cocktail

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EMI doesn't need to do most compilations on the cheap, since it holds the rights to large amounts of the Western pop catalog, including both an American heavyweight (Capitol) and a British staple (Parlophone). The three-disc set Classic Cocktail could very well have been done inexpensively, since none of the versions are classics or familiar to the listener who's aiming for a collection builder here. It's Sinatra whose version of "Strangers in the Night" needs to be heard, not Wayne Newton's; the same goes for "Music to Watch Girls By" (substituting for Andy Williams here is Matt Monro) and "The James Bond Theme" (instead of John Barry, you get Leroy Holmes). But for all that, Classic Cocktail is great fun anyway since the compilers obviously spent time finding versions of those classics that would interest the curious. Highlights include a version of "Mission: Impossible" by Billy May that's equally frenetic to Lalo Schifrin's original, Count Basie's breezy removal of all traces of Cold War gloom from the James Bond title "From Russia With Love," Martin Denny's surprisingly lively "Harlem Nocturne," and a mambo version of the "Peter Gunn" theme by bongo-player-for-the-stars Jack Costanzo.

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