Dean Martin

Gentle on My Mind/I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

By the late '60s, Dean Martin was spending less and less time in the recording studio. This entry in Collectors' Choice Music's series of two-fer reissues of the singer's long out of print Reprise albums combines his late-1968 LP, Gentle on My Mind, with his summer of 1969 album, I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am. Although several of the songs on these albums were released as singles (more than James Ritz's uninformed and brief liner notes recognize), Martin's days as a pop singles act were behind him. Producer Jimmy Bowen (who would go on to a lengthy career in Nashville) and arrangers Ernie Freeman, Glen D. Hardin, and Jimmie Haskell chose the best of the then-current country-pop scene and had Martin cover recent hits like Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey" and O.C. Smith's "Little Green Apples" (both written by Bobby Russell), as well as Glen Campbell's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Gentle on My Mind." Ray Charles' "Crying Time" and Merle Haggard's "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am" also remain familiar. The rest of the tracks, several of them by Baker Knight, who had supplied both Martin and Ricky Nelson with hits in the past, have not gone on to much notice. Martin, if possible, seems even more comfortable with this material and these arrangements than he had with the more up-tempo tracks he and Bowen had done in previous years. But his nonchalance also robs some of the songs of force. It's hard to tell that "Honey" is about a tragic death, or that "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" concerns a man desperate to leave a bad love affair behind. Martin simply meets every lyric and every chart with the same easygoing charm, and for his fans, that's more than enough.

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