A profile of a rugged Dean Martin by the fireplace with a cigarette adorns the jacket of this very interesting concept album. As Stan Cornyn's liner notes explain, "his longtime accompanist" on piano, Ken Lane, with "three of Hollywood's most thoughtful rhythm men" -- those being drummer Irv Cottler, bassist Red Mitchell, and guitarist Barney Kessel -- do create a mood, Dean Martin performing as if he were a lounge singer at 1:15 a.m. as the Saturday night crowd is dwindling. His signature tune, "Everybody Loves Somebody," is here in a laid-back style, produced by Jimmy Bowen, who would go on to produce Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, and so many others, also the same man who was behind the 1964 number one smash. This album with the original Martin recording was released after the hit single version and on the same day as the Everybody Loves Somebody LP, but how many times does the audience get a different studio reading of a seminal hit record? Not only that, but the version that preceded the hit. The backing is so sparse it is almost a cappella, with Kessel's guitar noodlings and Ken Lane's piano. The bass is mostly invisible, coming in only when needed. It's a slow and sultry version that caps off side one. There is a rendition of Rodgers & Hart's "Blue Moon" that strips away the doo wop of the Marcels' number one 1961 remake, and a run-through of the Bloom/Mercer hit for Glen Miller, "Fools Rush In," which Rick Nelson had launched into the Top 15 in 1963. Martin is just crooning away, and if the album has one drawback, it is that the 12 songs are incessant in their providing the same atmosphere. The backing quartet does not deviate from their job, nor does producer Jimmy Bowen add any technique, other than putting Martin's voice way out in the mix. But Dream With Dean was no doubt excellent research and development as Bowen landed 11 Top 40 hits with the singer from 1964's "Everybody Loves Somebody," which evolved out of this original idea to 1967's "Little Old Wine Drinker, Me." It sounds as if they tracked the album in one afternoon, and it is not only a very pleasant listening experience, it shows what a tremendous vocalist Dean Martin truly was.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione