Once in a While

Dean Martin

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Once in a While Review

by William Ruhlmann

In November 1974, Dean Martin, as usual, made his annual two-day visit to a recording studio to cut an album for Reprise Records. In recent years, Martin and his producer, Jimmy Bowen, had veered from the country-pop style with which they had succeeded in the mid-'60s, returning now and then to the traditional pop Martin had sung and recorded before the breakout success of "Everybody Loves Somebody" in 1964. At the 1974 sessions, they stuck with country-pop arrangements, but the songs were all traditional pop standards. In fact, all but one were songs associated with Martin's main influence, Bing Crosby, among them big Crosby hits like "Love Thy Neighbor" and "Only Forever." The only song Crosby had not recorded first was "It's Magic," a 1948 Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne composition introduced by Doris Day in the film Romance on the High Seas, and a big hit for her. Bowen's versions of the songs often didn't sound much like Crosby or Day, however. For example, "If I Had You" was given something of a light disco treatment. Martin had no trouble negotiating such arrangements, though, and his familiarity with the songs themselves made his interpretations more comfortable than ever. So far, so good. But Reprise, perhaps stung by the sales decline of Martin's recent recordings, didn't bother to release the album at the time. It finally turned up in stores four years later, by which time Martin was nearly forgotten as a record-maker.

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