Dean Martin

French Style

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Dean Martin's first album for pal Frank Sinatra's Reprise label was ignored at the time of its initial 1962 release, but it's one of his lighthearted best. As you'd imagine from the leering cover shot of Martin in a beret, French Style is a breezy and tongue-in-cheek but ultimately romantic collection of American standards about Paris and actual French favorites such as "La Vie en Rose." It would still be a couple of years until Martin would be a major seller for Reprise, but the material on the album is actually much better than his later MOR hits. Neal Hefti, the excellent big band arranger who helped craft Count Basie's streamlined "atomic" style, handles the lounge-y charts, but they're in a swank lounge style, and you always laugh with Martin rather than at him (which has always been a considerable part of his lasting appeal). Martin's next musical voyage was to go south of the border with Dino Latino, but he actually started the next successful phase of his career with Country Style. Martin was just more comfortable wearing a cowboy hat than a beret.

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