Sammy Davis, Jr.

Sammy Davis Jr. Now

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That this artist was unhappy with his relations with MGM, and in particular the cheesy producer Mike Curb, is hardly a state secret. The artist was quite outspoken about his feelings in his autobioraphy as well as elsewhere. As if trying to convince a jury that the rest of a murder trail is not worth sitting through, the song "Candy Man" starts the first side off. Yes, this was the biggest-selling record Sammy Davis, Jr. ever had, but thankfully full appreciation of the dismal nature of that fact does not require repeated listening to the song itself. There are tracks enough on this album that are painful to sit through, without enduring this one. The Mike Curb Congregation accompanies Davis on a song that surely will retain its historical value simply for being about the closest music has ever come to being pure excrement. Things pick up from there, but the general impression is that of an artist whose forte is the Great American Songbook being forced into something of much less value. "I Am Over 25 -- But You Can Trust Me" is an example of the type of material he is faced with here, each of the songs presenting a situation where he is required to emote with great sincerity, no matter what, while gospel-tinged background singers ooh in the background. Various producers wandered in and out of the proceedings, one of them going to great trouble to arrange a full orchestra and chorus and then mixing in a badly played electric guitar that almost drowns it all out. Surprising, the best track is "MacArthur Park," a song that rarely appears in proximity with the word "best" unless it is a list of songs disc jockeys can use when they must heed nature's call. Perhaps it is because it is actually the best-written song of the bunch on the album, providing at least some kind of melody to work with as well as all the makings of a huge production number. Curb produced this version, actually displaying some subtlety. Shaft completists will have to have this album despite its lack of quality; the man himself, Isaac Hayes, comes in to arrange and produce a cover version of "John Shaft" that at least ends this mess on an enjoyable note. Some of the enjoyment involves laughing, but listeners may not he laughing with Sammy Davis, Jr. when it comes to the amusing blend of the over the top electric guitar and a vocal that's both squaresville and tuneful at the same time. The best thing about this album is the cover packaging, which unfolds into a giant Sammy poster. It is big enough for the artist himself to hide behind -- and he probably did.

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