At age 23, Sammy Davis, Jr., undertook his first-ever recording session for Capitol Records on January 13, 1949, which means that on January 1, 2000, his recordings began to go out of copyright in Europe, where there is a 50-year copyright limit on recordings. (U.S. copyright laws provide for much longer terms.) The British Living Era label, one of many taking advantage of this circumstance to issue unlicensed albums of tracks new to the public domain, waited until 2006 to release a Davis collection, however, because his recordings didn't start to become really successful until 1955, when his version of "Something's Gotta Give" for Decca became a Top Ten hit and his first LP, Starring Sammy Davis Jr., topped the charts. But the set draws material from all the way back to 1949, including three of the four songs from that first session ("I Don't Care Who Knows," "The Way You Look Tonight," and "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone"), along with eight more of the 20 sides Davis recorded for Capitol in 1949. His brief sojourn with the Design label, circa 1953, later immortalized by the album Sammy Davis Jr. Jumps with Joya, is represented by "The Gypsy in My Soul." And the remaining 15 tracks come from Decca, 1954-1955. Especially on the Capitol material, this is the work of a young artist trying to find himself and doing so by trying out various different approaches. Sometimes he sounds like other singers of the day, perhaps unintentionally; other times, he is deliberately doing impressions with comic intent. This continues into the Decca tracks, with, for example, the cover of the Tony Bennett hit "Because of You" (originally split onto two sides of a single) beginning with impersonations of singers like Nat King Cole and continuing on to film stars like Cary Grant before turning manic in the imagined voice of Jerry Lewis. The mature Davis, however, begins to emerge in his covers of show tunes like "Hey There" (a Top 20 hit) and "I'll Know." He never entirely dispenses with the schtick, however, just as he never did in his nightclub act.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann