Dean Martin

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Houston Review

by William Ruhlmann

On Dean Martin's previous album, (Remember Me) I'm the One Who Loves You, he had turned in an excellent version of Roger Miller's "King of the Road," and Lee Hazlewood wrote him a similar easygoing country-pop ballad about a drifter in "Houston," which he took into the Top 40 in the summer of 1965. The song therefore lent its name to his next album, handled, as usual, by producer Jimmy Bowen, although arranger/conductor Ernie Freeman was replaced by Bill Justis. Freeman had done the chart for "Everybody Loves Somebody," the record that launched Martin's 1960s comeback, but Justis proved he could write in a similar style, notably on "The First Thing Ev'ry Morning (And the Last Thing Ev'ry Night)," which shared its 1950s-style rock & roll arrangement with many of the hits Martin had scored over the last year. And Justis was not afraid to take Martin even further into pop/rock with Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart's "Little Lovely One." He also had a good sense of middle-of-the-road pop, best shown on "I Will," which was on its way to the Top Ten when the album was released. All of this demonstrated that Bowen was shrewdly expanding Martin's contemporary base beyond the formula records he had made in the wake of "Everybody Loves Somebody," and doing it successfully. Houston actually charted higher than Martin's last two albums (it didn't hurt that he now had a television series on which to promote his records), indicating that his comeback was being sustained, not diminishing.

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