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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now you know why they called him Mr. Entertainment, 23 Mar. 2003
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: That's All! (Audio CD)
It's 1965, and Sammy has returned to the famous Sands Hotel in Las Vegas after a two-year hiatus performing Golden Boy on Broadway. This remarkable recording, finally released on CD a few years ago, gives the listener an amazing opportunity to hear Sammy the performer at his best. It is impossible to truly appreciate the magic of Sammy's act without being able to actually watch him perform on stage, but this two-disc live recording is easily the next best thing. Sammy did much more than simply sing songs; he joked, did impersonations, told stories, generally goofed around, whatever it took to make everyone in the audience come under his spell, and it is this extraneous material that makes this recording extra special to Sammy fans. As he told the audience at one point, "if you want to hear me sing serious, you're going to have to buy my records." There are actually surprisingly few show-stoppers to be found here: Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody, The Lady is a Tramp, The Birth of the Blues, As Long As She Needs Me, What Kind of Fool Am I. Instead, you get a fascinating mix of songs hard to find elsewhere. One extraordinary medley of songs, performed to the sole accompaniment of Michael Silva's tom tom drums, includes snippets from such diverse tunes as I've Got You Under My Skin, Dang Me, Big Bad John, The Girl From Ipanema, and Hello Dolly. There's a wonderful Broadway medley consisting of songs such as Lonesome Road, Gonna Build a Mountain, I Want to Be With You (from Golden Boy), and Sammy's first recorded song Hey There.
The first CD is most notable for its humor and monologue. Sammy's monologue, in fact, lasts almost ten full minutes and is quite personal and extremely hilarious. Sammy opines on the nature of Las Vegas, engages in a lot of self-deprecating humor about his race and religion, and informs the audience, some ten or fifteen minutes into the show, that the gig is actually being recorded for release as a live album on Sinatra's Reprise records. Disc One ends with a bonus track not included on the album's initial release in the 1960s, Sammy's theme song for the ill-fated Jerry Van Dyke television show My Mother the Car. On Disc Two, Sammy gets down to the business of singing and swinging as only he could do it, but there is still a lot of humor left to unleash upon the audience. Traditionally, the most famous vehicle for Sammy's immensely dead-on impersonations is Rock-A-Bye Your Baby, and it is actually a real treat of sorts to hear him sing this song all the way through in his own voice, but on this night Sammy chose a song written for Fred Astaire but made famous by Frank Sinatra to showcase his impersonation skills. On One For My Baby (And One More For the Road), Sammy impersonates Astaire and, amazingly, Sinatra himself, as well as Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Jimmy Stewart, Carey Grant, W.C. Fields, Marlon Brando, Dean Martin, and Jerry Lewis. No one has ever done Grant, Stewart, and Dino as uncannily as Sam the Man did.
This remarkable live recording is really for all the Sammy fans out there. Those unfamiliar with Sammy's personality and unique style of swinging may not warm up to Sammy's antics and may well misinterpret Sammy's frequent jokes about race and religion, although Sammy does make clear to the audience that he is really just making jokes about himself and is in no way trying to invade the privacy of the audience. It doesn't take much of a discerning ear to clearly understand that the live audience is incredibly entertained, eating up every antic Sammy engages in. I love this CD, but it really doesn't showcase Sammy the immaculate singer as much as it does Sammy the world's greatest entertainer. A perfect example of this fact is the next to last track which features over eight minutes of a jam session with Buddy Rich on drums and Sammy on the vibraphone. With George Rhodes conducting the orchestra, the talented Michael Silva on drums, and a guest spot by the world's greatest drummer Buddy Rich, this live show gives us almost 100 minutes of Mr. Entertainment at his most entertaining best.
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That's All!
That's All! by Sammy Davis Jr. (Audio CD - 2001)
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