Sammy Davis, Jr.

That's Entertainment, Vol. 5

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The name of this series was lifted off a popular film anthology of the late '70s. The thrust of That's Entertainment, a collection of film clips from Hollywood's heyday, was that there was a world of performers from the pre-rock era that were capable of entertainment on a much higher level than what had been provided more recently by the gods of rock & roll, with their two and three chords and loud amplifiers. It is easy enough to extend this concept to performers such as Sammy Davis, Jr. and others in the series, and was part of the often-angry attitude some of these artists had in an era when they felt neglected or overlooked. This collection is drawn from recordings made hither and yon, including live material. There is very little information besides the songwriters, and a glance through the titles shows this is pretty much Davis Jr. as usual for this time period, a combination of the standard material he loved and was hoping the modern audience would at least retain an affection for and whatever current material he was either forced into recording or felt was up to his standards. There is one cover version here that is worth the price of admission alone, John Loudermilk's outrageous "Break My Mind," better known from its recording by Barbara Mandrell, but a perfect vehicle for our man when he is trying desperately to be hit. And in retrospect, the choice proves he really was. The version of "Up, Up and Away" is a resounding, bouncy success, while "Lonely Is the Name" comes off nicely, the singer wisely curbing the dramatics. His love for songs from the Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley songbook may be an acquired taste for some listeners, while "The Impossible Dream" is as overdone as a steak from the dreaded late-night restaurant The Ribeye. Anyone looking for '70s nostalgia will get their fill immediately, as the set kicks off with nothing else but "It's a Happening World."