// Album Recommendation

Dean Martin

Italian Love Songs

(1962)

“Once he thought he had a sweetheart
Then he broke the golden rule
Never take your love for granted
Wise men often play the fool.”

Italian Love Songs by Dean Martin

Italian-American singer Dean Martin was born and raised in America, but due to his non-English speaking Italian immigrant parents he spoke only Italian until he started school at the age of five. Even as he became the epitome of the American Dream, his Italian roots remained an integral part of him. As the most overtly Italian of the Italian-American crooners (Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, etc.), Dean Martin recorded several Italian-flavored songs throughout the 50’s, the most famous of which are Come Back To Sorrento and his signature hits That’s Amore, Volare and Return To Me.

Therefore it came very naturally to him, as he recorded an entire album’s worth of songs originating from Italy. It was a perfect concept for the singer, whose birth name was Dino Crocetti, and his dedication to the material is heard clearly in the passionate, textured and utterly convincing vocal performances of each and every song on the album. Italian Love Songs is one of Dean Martin’s most critically acclaimed album releases, and many fans also consider it to be a personal favorite. Conducted and arranged by Gus Levene, the orchestra supplies a subtle and delicate musical backdrop for Dean Martin’s evocative singing. Only a few passages are sung in Italian, but as befits an album based on Italian ballads as lovelorn as Torna A Surriento and Ritorna-Me, it’s unabashedly romantic, evoking images of “The Old Country” – Rome, Italian restaurants and cafés, Italian food, Italian culture and, of course, old-fashioned romance.

Dean Martin had already recorded a few of the songs on Italian Love Songs for earlier albums. Torna A Surriento was recorded as Come Back To Sorrento (for 1953’s Dean Martin Sings), which he sang almost entirely in Italian (except for 5 lines in English). For Italian Love Songs he recorded the song as Take Me In Your Arms. This stunning version ranks among Dean Martin’s finest, most heartfelt vocal performances ever – evidence of what an underrated singer he is. Another song he had recorded prior to Italian Love Songs is Return To Me (Ritorna-Me). The first version can be found on 1958’s This Is Dean Martin album. As wonderful as the originals are, both of these two re-recordings are even more exquisite because of Dean Martin’s strongly expressive and superior vocal efforts. There’s also an Americanized version of the Italian ballad O Sole Mio, re-titled There’s No Tomorrow, that's no less dreamy than the Mediterranean romance of the original (“Love is a flower / That blooms so tender / Each kiss a dew drop / Of sweet surrender”). Other songs worthy of mention are On An Evening In Roma (Sott’er Cello De Roma), Arriverderci, Roma, and the cover of the Nat King Cole classic Non Dimenticar.

Also read the review of Dean Martin Sings Italian Favorites.

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