Perceived by some cynics as a mere booze-sozzled sidekick to Rat Pack leader Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin’s musical achievements are often criminally overlooked. Blessed with a resonant and creamy velvet croon, he could reduce the hardest-hearted Mafioso to tears with his renditions of sentimental Italian ballads; and he could swing too, with a jazzed-up, rhythmically-astute finesse that could give Sinatra a run for his money.
Martin racked up a plethora of hits in the 50s, most of which are featured on this excellent overview of his career. Disc One covers the singer’s Capitol oeuvre – where Martin scored the majority of his chart entries, including That’s Amore, Memories Are Made Of This and Volare – while Disc Two focuses on his tenure at Sinatra’s Reprise label. A third CD is devoted to a previously unissued live show from Lake Tahoe in 1962. It’s classic Martin fare, with plenty of hilarious onstage banter punctuating the music.
A chance to actually see Martin in concert is provided by a 60-minute DVD in this package, which was recorded in London in 1983. Though he was 66 at the time, Martin had lost none of his charisma and magic. Even as a pensioner he was still the king of cool.