Dean Martin

Live from Las Vegas

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An unreleased recording of Dean Martin live at the Sands hotel circa 1967 should have any fun-loving hipster's tail wagging, but tell him it's the late show and his head will explode. That's what's captured on this entry into Capitol's Las Vegas Centennial series, and as with other volumes, Dino's Live From Las Vegas has great packaging, fantastic liner notes, and superb sound. Now, the Sinatra, Bobby Darin, and other volumes in the series might represent how the artist could sound different and looser while playing to a live audience, but the difference between the in-studio Dino and live Dino is as drastic as it gets. Martin could nail a perfect reproduction of his recordings if he wanted to -- as he proves with a line here, a stanza there on this recording -- but that's just too dull for the man Frank dubbed "the Funny One." Throughout Live From Las Vegas, Martin seems to start each song with every intention of finishing it properly, but somehow he gets lost along the way. Words are twisted, innuendos are plentiful, and the usual Dino quips work their way into even the most precious of numbers, and while some of these quips show up on every Dino show ever documented, the man has the charm to deliver them as new. He's the most graceful stumbler imaginable and has a keen sense of when to let up and dip back into the music. Drunk-driving jokes, a devil-may-care attitude toward cheating, and other politically incorrect moments are of their time but not as shocking as expected, due in part to Martin's charm and the "Dino never cheated, never!" liner notes. One wishes Capitol's outside packaging would have pointed out Dino's live show/studio album difference a bit more, but only the most cold-hearted, humorless folk will be disappointed by this disc. Buy a best-of if you want faithful versions of the hits, but if you want to hear Martin hilariously demolish his evergreens, take a venomous jab at Jerry Lewis, and work a late-night crowd like nobody else can, Live From Las Vegas is highly recommended.

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