Sammy Davis, Jr.

The Goin's Great

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As the 1960s drew to a close, Sammy Davis, Jr.'s stint with Reprise was likewise coming to a rapid conclusion. The Goin's Great (1969). It also provides a glimpse of Davis caught between his pseudo ultra-hip persona and his undeniable gift for the more traditional approach to popular fare. Perhaps the most blatant evidence of the incongruity are the uncomfortably forced "Break My Heart" and "Bein' Natural Bein' Me." Both sport ersatz soul arrangements and less than believable "groovier-than-thou" slants that Davis isn't able to convincingly pull off. Conversely, Bacharach/David's "This Guy's in Love with You" is nothing less than a perfect vehicle. With a series of Davis' rhythmic and wordless vocalizations (read: "uh-uh-uh-ee-ah-uh"), he introduces the relaxed and jazzy feel in his trademark style. The update of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "I Have Dreamed" from The King & I is equally stellar, as the earnest interpretation bops with resolute grace, building to a full-blown show-stopping performance. The album's two disparate personas fittingly come together at the conclusion with the rousing "I Have But One Life to Live." Backed by a vocal ensemble as well as electric guitars and heavy percussion, Davis, as the saying goes, "lets it all hang out."

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