The tape of one of the shows from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr.'s week-long joint appearance at the mob-owned Villa Venice nightclub in the Chicago suburb of Wheeling, IL, from November 26 to December 2, 1962, has been kicking around ever since it was made. Jazz Hour Compact Classics put out a two-CD version (At Villa Venice, Chicago: Live 1962, JH-1033 and JH-1034) in 1993, and the Sinatra family finally released an authorized one-CD version in 1999 (The Summit: In Concert, Artanis ARZ 102-2). This single-disc British version appeared in 1996. It is one of the shorter edits (trimming comedy in favor of music), but retains the same qualities and flaws of the others. Both because of the shady circumstances of the gig and their own proclivities, the performers are not taking things seriously, and while Sinatra manages a mostly straight set, he is preceded by a Martin appearance replete with comic special lyrics followed by a Davis turn that is quickly torpedoed by the others. Other filmed and taped shows by the trio and their friends confirm that much of the apparently spontaneous comedy is, if not scripted, at least set in place, and it isn't really that funny unless you happened to be downing liquor at ringside. Nevertheless, Sinatra, Martin, and Davis remain the state of the art in '50s and '60s nightclub entertaining, and this is the definitive document of their Rat Pack persona.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann