Sammy Davis, Jr.

From Nashville with Love

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In 1982, Sammy Davis, Jr. made the musical move to Nashville. Perhaps the last place you would expect the diminutive wonder to turn up, but he cut ten songs there for the Applause label and the Closest of Friends album was the result. The songs assembled for Davis to sing come from some of the finest writers the town had to offer ("Oh Lonesome Me" by Don Gibson, "Come Sundown" and "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends" by Kris Kristofferson, "Smoke Smoke Smoke (That Cigarette)" by Tex Williams and Merle Travis), and while the aging Sammy did what he could vocally, the wooden arrangements and pedestrian playing really bring the album down. The best of the songs, like Sammys light bounce through "Hey, Won't You Play (Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song)" and his knowing take on "Smoke Smoke Smoke (That Cigarette)" (which contains the cruelly foreshadowing lyric "I've smoked 'em all my life and I ain't dead yet") are miles away from his best work and have only the slightest glimmer of what made Davis so spectacular in his prime. Only a true Davis fanatic would ever want to hear these songs. It was one of his last forays into a recording studio and should probably just be forgotten. Unfortunately, it is one of the few Davis sessions that turns up time and time again on cheap reissue labels, often with mis-leading titles and cover shots. From Nashville With Love is a good title and if you have to have these sessions, this would be one of the better ways to get them.