1. The Gypsy In My Soul (1953) [2:34]
2. I Donít Care Who Knows (1949) [2:41]
3. Smile, Darn Ya, Smile(1949) [2:34]
4. Azure (1949) [2:23]
5. Because Of You, Part 1 (1954) [2:40]
6. Because Of You, Part 2(1954) [2:45]
7. Hey There (1954) [2:46]
8. And This Is My Beloved (1954) [2:51]
9. All Of You (1954) [2:42]
10. The Birth Of The Blues (1955) [5:10]
11. That Old Black Magic (1955) [3:17]
12. A Man With A Dream (1955) [2:53]
13. Somethingís Gotta Give (1955) [2:03]
14. A Fine Romance (1955) [2:52]
15. Love Me Or Leave Me (1955) [2:56]
16. In A Persian Market (1955) [2:32]
17. Iíll Know (1955) [3:00]
18. Adelaide (1955) [2:48]
19. The Man With The Golden Arm (1955)
20. Lonesome Road (1954) [2:10]
Sammy Davis, Jr. vocals and tap dancing
Carmen McRae, vocals on "A Fine Romance"
Sam "The Man" Taylor, tenor sax
on "Love Me Or Leave Me"
With Morty Stevenís Orchestra, Dave Cavinaughís
Music, and Sy Oliverís Orchestra Jack Pleisís
Recorded in New York and
Los Angeles between 1949 and 1955
Sammy Davis, Jr. is truly
one of the great American performers, and
this is a compilation of many of his performances
during the height of his popularity. This
is not a greatest hits compilation, but rather
a collection of many of his lesser known performances.
The result is an album that is a bit uneven
in places, but does a nice job of capturing
the performer at a specific point in his career.
Among the highlights are
his renditions of "The Gypsy In My Soul",
"The Birth of the Blues", "Azure"
and "Adelaide". In each of these
recordings, the band and the singer are in
perfect sync, and the listener is reminded
just how good a singer Sammy Davis, Jr. was
when he wanted to be. "And This Is My
Beloved" could have been performed by
any opera-trained baritone, with all of the
power in vocal technique that implies. "All
of You" does a nice job of highlighting
the orchestra, if just for a few bars. And
his version of "A Fine Romance"
with Carmen McRae, while not his best musically,
highlights the pacing, banter and showmanship
that really made him such a great performer.
Unfortunately, there are
some tracks that canít be considered ageless.
His "Smile, Darn Ya, Smile" includes
a tap-dancing solo. The thought is nice, as
he truly was noted as a dancer. However, tap
dancing is difficult to mic well, and is always
more impressive to watch rather than listen.
"Because of You, Part 1" is adequate
as a recording, although not among his best.
"Because of You, Part 2" is more
of a comedy sketch where he does a collection
of impersonations than it is a singing performance.
Without a firm knowledge of early 1950s movies,
there will be several impersonations that
are completely unrecognizable, and even the
better ones are really not particularly funny.
Additionally, at the tag ending of "That
Old Black Magic" he indulges himself
with another collection of character voices
to try and elicit a laugh from the audience.
It is understood that impersonations and character
voices were part of Sammy Davisís stage act,
so this does fit into the album as a point
of interest, but only because this album really
does try to show more than simply the highlights.
Throughout most of the album,
the recording quality is good. There is no
record noise, and only marginal tape-hiss.
The fidelity is good for a vintage recording.
However, as previously mentioned, the tap-dancing
is not well recorded. Additionally, even under
optimal conditions, live recordings with big-bands
often had balance issues, with the rhythm
section disappearing at times or the strings
and brass not balancing well. This is better
than many recordings, but not optimal at all
If youíre only going to own
one Sammy Davis, Jr. recording, this is not
the best selection. Youíd probably do better
to get a greatest hits complication of some
kind. However, if you are more than the most
marginal of rat-pack fan, this is a fun disc.
It does attempt to recreate a good show, just
the way Sammy Davis would have done it back
in his heyday.