Sammy Davis, Jr.

Sammy and Friends

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Rhino's Sammy & Friends isn't a greatest-hits compilation, but for many casual fans this 20-track collection may be definitive, since it concentrates on his early-'60s recordings -- all cut when the Rat Pack was at the height of its powers. Like many of Frank Sinatra's friends, Davis signed with Frank's new label, Reprise, as soon as he could, and once he was there, his arrangements became brassier and jazzier, and his records had many celebrity duets, usually with friends who were also signed to Reprise. Apart from standards, Sammy was never given the prime material during his time at Reprise, but he worked with great arrangers and bands, including Billy May, Nelson Riddle, Marty Paich, Benny Carter, Buddy Rich, and Morty Stevens. Still, what mattered most was his personality and the intoxicating intoxication of the Rat Pack. No other collection captures their charm better than Sammy & Friends. Almost all of the songs were recorded for Reprise between 1962 and 1964, with a stray selection from 1969 ("The Goin's Great"), a couple of 1965/1966 selections, and, most importantly, three tunes from the Rat Pack's greatest accomplishment, the heist flick Ocean's 11, including "Eee-O-Eleven," which makes its CD debut here. That certainly makes this single disc attractive to collectors, but for anyone who isn't a dedicated fan, Sammy & Friends is still the disc to own. Yes, it's missing his early Decca hits and such latter-day smashes as "I've Gotta Be Me" and "The Candy Man." Yes, there are some silly throwaways scattered throughout this collection, and, rather inexplicably, Dean Martin's Ocean's 11 version of "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" is included (apparently, that falls under the "& Friends" category). But that's all nitpicking, since Sammy & Friends delivers the swinging, sophisticated, funny, and stylish showman that was Sammy Davis, Jr.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:33
2 4:34
3 2:46
4 3:02
5 3:07
6 2:16
feat: Dean Martin
8 1:17
9 3:50
10 3:02
feat: Buddy Rich
feat: Dean Martin
13 3:23
14 2:29
feat: Friends
16 2:22
17 2:28
18 4:31
19 2:56
20 1:39
blue highlight denotes track pick