// Album Recommendation

Dean Martin

The Essential Dean Martin

(2014)

"Like a flower bending in the breeze
Bend with me, sway with ease
When we dance you have a way with me
Stay with me, sway with me."

The Essential Dean Martin Album Cover3

Dean Martin’s recording career can be divided into two time periods: his years with Capitol Records (1948-1960) and his years with Reprise Records (1961-1978). The majority of all Dean Martin compilations focus on either one or the other, but the superlative The Essential Dean Martin makes room for his most beloved recordings from both labels. All of the signature tunes widely associated with Dean Martin are included: his greatest early hits with Capitol, the novelty song That’s Amore, the spirited Volare (Italian for “To fly”), the bossa nova of the breezy Sway, the bouncy Memories Are Made Of This, an obvious influence on Elvis Presley’s Don’t Be Cruel (Presley was a self-confessed Dean Martin fan), and several of Dean’s biggest Reprise hits, such as the gently swinging You’re Nobody ‘Till Somebody Loves You, and the lovable Everybody Loves Somebody, which knocked no less than The Beatles off the top of the U.S. Singles Chart in 1963 (not bad for a middle-aged crooner competing with youth culture).

Where Frank Sinatra's music was rooted in the big band sound of the '30s, Dean Martin was and remains a classic crooner –- relaxed, laid-back, and easy-going. Dean’s Capitol output in the '50s was unabashedly romantic and his vocal style was very much inspired by his idol, '30s and '40s crooner Bing Crosby -– just listen to Dean singing Innamorata, Just In Time, and If –- but in the mid-late '60s his Reprise recordings, though still lovelorn, incorporated more of a Country-Pop flavor. Dean sang many of these Country-flavored songs on his hugely popular, long-running The Dean Martin Show (1965-1973), and even if the songs were never Country enough for him to establish credibility amongst the die-hard Country Music devotees, they always inhabited a special place in the hearts of his many fans, who liked both Pop and Country Music. The second half of The Essential Dean Martin features some of the most memorable of these recordings: the humorous Houston about a guy down on his luck (“Saw a dollar yesterday / But the wind blew it away”), the melodically upbeat but lyrically bittersweet I Will (“I'm not ashamed for you to know how much I really love you so / Cuz it was such a thrill / And just remember when you're gone / There'll be that someone sad who loves you still”), the irresistibly optimistic and uplifting Somewhere There’s a Someone, the hopelessly romantic In The Moonlight In The Chapel and In The Misty Moonlight, the hopeful The Door Is Still Open To My Heart (with charmingly old-fashioned lines like “You’re as close to me as two is to three”), and the tearjerker Little Ole Wine Drinker Me about a broken-hearted guy drowning his sorrows (“I came here last week from down in Nashville / 'Cause my baby left for Florida on a train / I thought I'd get a job and just forget her / But in Chicago a broken heart is still the same”).

To this day, the smooth, warm and rich tone of Dean Martin’s voice and the natural ease of his singing remain instantly recognizable, and as The Essential Dean Martin proves song by song, he is a vastly underrated singer and song interpreter. Frank Sinatra is the most respected of the two, held in high esteem by many critics, and certainly his singing was more complex, expressing both deep melancholia and upbeat joy, his legacy fully deserving of all of the accolades, but even if Dean Martin stuck to a tried and tested formula, he was, undisputedly, a very expressive and masterful singer in his own right. The fact remains that because Dean Martin made everything he did look so easy, he often didn't get the recognition that he deserved as the highly talented all-round entertainer that he was, whether he was performing on stage in Las Vegas, hosting his own variety show, or acting or singing. Containing 40 classic tracks, The Essential Dean Martin is the absolute best introduction to this beloved, iconic crooner -- a testament to his enduring musical legacy.

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