Dean Martin

The Essential [EMI]

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The Essential Dean Martin compiles the best of the silky crooner's work with Capitol during the 1950s (and, in one case, the early '60s). His easy-going style and cool phrasing (along with his Rat Pack persona) made Martin a star, and this disc features him singing songs that have become classics: "That's Amore," "Innamorata," "Return to Me," "Volare," "Sway," and "Money Burns a Hole in My Pocket." Lesser known tracks such as "Kiss," "All in a Night's Work," and "Just in Time" are as much fun and go down just as smooth. The only jarring note in this symphony of cool is the absence of Martin's huge hit "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" from 1960. It is very difficult to recommend a collection, even one otherwise as worthy as The Essential, if it is missing this stellar track. So chalk this album up as a near miss and look for Greatest Hits: King of Cool or Martin's Capitol Collectors Series, instead.

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