on May 4, 1998
This boxed set offers a good sample of the tremendous talent of Bobby Darin, who could sing rock, pop, showtunes, lounge, folk, country, blues, and gospel in the same show without breaking a sweat or missing a beat. The first disc consists of rock songs, while the second and third focus on his pop material. The fourth disc ends with a smattering of country hits (some of which topped the country charts), a bit of gospel, a good dose of folk, and several protest selections. Darin wrote or co-wrote 164 songs over his short career (he died in 1973 at the age of 37), and this boxed set includes several of his works from all genres. This is the ideal collection for the Darin fan, although there are CDs on the market that fill the gaps that a four-disc set inevitably leaves. (You'll want Capitol's "Spotlight on Bobby Darin" disc for his knock-out performances of Sinatra/Crosby standards only a few of which come on the boxed set.) I never tire of this set because it always offers a song to match my mood (and because Darin simply was one of the most talented people to appear on the recorded media).
on September 29, 2003
Finally a box set of one of the great vocal innovators and one of the most underrated singers of the past 50 years. This will convince the casual listener that Bobby Darin was a superlatively talented artist.
What a tragedy that he died so young at 37. He is dwarfed by the huge shadow cast by Frank Sinatra. Though Darin didn't have the poignant and unmatched ability of Sinatra to phrase a lyric, his uptempo songs are nearly as good as the Chairman of the Board. He is cool, hip, has fine range and has an innate jazzy feel that infuses all of his swingier songs. The musical arrangements and musicianship displayed here is also exemplary. The orchestra that backs up Darrin is fantastic.
My personal favorite is "Beyond the Sea," one of the great swing pseudo-ballads of the 50's, recently resurrected as the backdrop of a TV commercial. Darrin proves he was the natural successor to Sinatra with his masterful vocal here. "Guys and Dolls" and "Down with Love" are nearly as good and showcases Darrin's talent. The best ballad is probably "Was There a Call for Me?" which reproduces the boozy hangover feeling of being dumped about as well as any song.
Darrin's later work was never as hip and contemporary-sounding as the music on this disc. This is an exceptional collection with many catchy, memorable tunes, and proves beyond a doubt that Darrin was an amazing talent.
on September 12, 2003
A quite legitimate argument could be proffered that Bobby Darin (born Cassotto) was the most unique and extraordinary singer in the history of American popular music. I know that in these sordid, pretentious, and intellectually-challenged times similar claims have been made about everyone from Snoop Dog to Big Head Todd. But a genuinely credible case could be made for Bobby Darin. Here's why: Darin was that rarest of performers capable of ingratiating himself to fans of all ages, races, and musical tastes. He had million-selling singles in musical categories as diverse as Jazz/Swing, Country & Western, Folk, and Rhythm and Blues. Darin was hailed as a brilliant performer from industry giants as diverse as Johnny Mercer, Perry Como and Henry Mancini on the one hand, and Neil Young, Rod Stewart and Elvis Presley on the other. He had a natural jazz feel and a sense of syncopation that eluded even Sinatra and Bennett. He had a sense of showmanship and an inborn panache that was unmatched. Sammy Davis Jr. and Wayne Newton both hailed Darin as the most connsummate cabaret performer in the world. Now, let's throw in the fact that Darin is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the American Songwriters and Composers (ASCAP) Hall of Fame. Add to all of this the fact that Darin, despite making less than a dozen films, was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor ("Captain Newman, M.D.") and was the recipient of the Golden Globe Best Actor Award ("Pressure Point"). He was nominated for four Grammies in 1959 and won two of them ("Best New Vocalist" and "Song of the Year" for "Mack the Knife"). He was nominated again in 1963 in the category of Best Rhythm and Blues vocalist ("What'd I Say"), and then was nominated still again in 1966 in the category for Best Male Ballad Singer ("If I Were A Carpenter"). And let's not forget that Darin was nominated and/or received these Grammies when the competition included Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, Vic Damone, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Tony Bennett (as opposed to Madonna, Snoop Dog, Britany Spears, Jennifer Lopez and the rest of contemporary pop culture's cookie-cutter, mass-produced pseudo-talents). Finally, throw into this mix the fact that Darin was a talented dancer, impersonator, and multi-instrumentalist, and you have arguably the most talented performer in American show business. If all of these facts aren't sufficient in convincing you that Bobby Darin was, in so many tangible ways, in a class by himself, then simply access the most persuasive evidence---his recordings. Listen to "Beyond the Sea," "You're the Reason I'm Living," "Things," "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey?" "A Nightengale Sang in Berkeley Square," or "Try To Remember." You might even want to check out "Me and Mr. Hohner," which presaged rap and hip-hop by twenty-five years. Try and think of a more versatile singer---assuming of course that he or she, like Darin, had a genuinely pleasant voice. Try this on for size: Could Sinatra sing "Dream Lover?" Could Neil Young sing "Clementine?" Could Marvin Gaye sing "Artificial Flowers?" How about Michael Feinstein singing "You're the Reason I'm Living?" Such pairings of singers and songs would be ridiculous at best. Yet Bobby Darin sang'm all, and sang'm well. While Marvin Gaye is considerd a "soul singer," Neil Young a "rock singer" and Sinatra a "big band singer," Darin mastered all three of these genres and many more as well. So why isn't Bobby Darin an American icon? Sadly, Darin is underappreciated for two critical reasons: First, he died at the tragically young age of 37. Because he knew he would die so young, Darin ventured into all musical genres and, although he mastered them all, he didn't remain in any one long enough to become identified with it. Unlike Sinatra and Bennett who are identified soley as big band swing and ballad singers, Darin mastered that category but he was also a folk, rock and roll, and Country-Western singer. Ironically, his own masterful versatility was detrimental to his legacy: it was virtually impossible for a man who had only so many years to live and perform to become firmly ensconced in the American psyche. The second reason for Darin's being underappreciated is the fact that he had the misfortune of appearing on the show-biz scene contemporaneously with a swarm of limited-talents who were also of Italian-American lineage like Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Rydel, Dion DiMucci, Freddie Cannon, Lou Christie, etc. Hence, lots of WWII generation folks hastily and unfairly categorized Darin with these far lesser lights. They heard "Splish Splash" and walked away from their phonographs believing Darin was just another teenybopper. Only in retrospect is Bobby Darin beginning to receive the credit he has long been overdue. The apex of this deserved Darin renaissance might well be the forthcoming Darin biopic starring the talented Kevin Spacey. This film might well be the final, ultimate catalyst necessary to open the eyes of those who heretofore were hesitent to mention Bobby Darin in the same sentence as Sinatra and Bennett. Hopefully the Darin biopic will induce viewers to exit movie theatres with an inclination to learn more about the late, great Bobby Darin. Perhaps then whatever remnant of class, taste and sophistication still existent in the oxymoron known as "contemporary pop culture" will manifest to sing the praises of a genuinely brilliant performer who was every bit as talented, if not more so, than Mr. Sinatra and Mr. Bennett.
on June 25, 2003
The Bobby Darin box set, "As Long As I'm Singing," is a showcase of Mr. Darin's unique ability to sing jazz, rock, folk, country-western, gospel, and standard Tin Pan Alley as no other vocalist in the history of popular music. He was naturally gifted with innate rhythm, timing, and musicality. Yet, Bobby Darin does not receive the respect and recognition that he has long deserved. I believe the reason for such an incongruity and injustice is the fact that Darin dabbled successfully in so many musical genres, that the "purists" in each one refused to fully accept him---since he did not focus his entire energy on any one musical subfield in particular. Thus, the rockers didn't fully accept the swinging, finger-popping cabaret singer in Darin because "genuine rock singers" must look filthy, take drugs (or at least act like they do) and sing exclusively loud, three chord, twelve barre songs. The middle-of-the-road lovers of popular standards only partially embraced Darin because Bobby didn't wear his tuxedo and sing Tin Pan Alley classics one hundred percent of the time. The jazz world only partially accepted Darin because "true jazz singers" surely don't sing meticulously arranged, structured ballads like Bobby. In truth, Bobby mastered all of these musical genres, whether or not the alleged "purists" in each one is sufficiently intelligent or honest to acknowledge that fact. Darin was indeed an anamoly---he sang all musical forms as though he were born to do so. This fact didn't sit well with the pretentious, full-of-themselves critics who guard their respective musical genres from incursion by those who just might be more talented than they are. Could you picture Eric Clapton singing "Beyond the Sea?" Or, conversely, could you imagine Tony Bennet singing "Splish Splash?" How about Johnny Cash doing "Artificial Flowers?" Or The Rolling Stones doing "If I Were A Carpenter?" You see, Darin did them all, and he did them all magnificently. Alas, time wasn't on his side. Any vocalist who attempts to master all popular musical genres and, subsequently, be accepted by the snobbish guardians of their respective gates, requires at least a normal life span to overcome such simplemindedness and become universally accepted and acknowledged. Because of his heart affliction, Darin was not afforded such longevity. But in this sensational retrospective collection, the listener can hear why Bobby Darin is now being hailed as a great jazz singer, pop singer, rythm and blues singer, etc. Perhaps now he will begin receiving the praise his enormous talents warranted, but never received, while he was still with us.
on January 12, 2003
Bobby Darin could sing any kind of song and make it sound like he was born to sing it---rock, jazz, standards, folk, gospel---you name it. On swing numbers ("Beyond the Sea," "A Nightengale Sang in Berkeley Square," "Mack the Knife,") he swung with far more groove and syncopation than Sinatra at his best. In fact, whereas Sinatra often sounded like a square attempting certain jazzy uptempo tunes---straining to keep in tempo-- Darin is a natural. Darin was also a live performer of unmatched ability (as no less than Sammy Davis, Jr. and Wayne Newton attested)----he did tremendous impersonations, played a dozen instruments, and had the wit of a Vaudeville genius. He won Golden Globes and Fench Film Critic's awards for his intense acting, and was nominated for an Academy Award (which he should have won). I sometimes listen to the rather square and uncharismatic Tony Bennett scream songs in his "veins popping in his neck" style and realize how he has nonetheless become popular with the youngsters, and I really feel bad for Darin. He had a thousand times the magnestism, stage presence, and singing style that Bennett possesses. He was also cool without trying to be so. In all honesty, if one were to objectively assess twentieth century entertainers, Bobby Darin may well have been the greatest natural talent of them all. Yeah, I know---we're all conditioned to believe Sinatra was the best. But if you open your mind and ears, Darin outswung Sinatra like nobody's business. Man, it's not even close! Buy this CD---it a remarkable collection of a brilliant vocalist who bridged the generations long before it became fashionable. Darin swings, man!
on August 9, 2002
It really does take a 4 disc nearly 100 song box set-- or something even bigger-- to capture the amazing versatility of Bobby Darin. So if you're into rock, swing, country, folk or just about any kind of music, treat yourself to a fascinating journey through the career of this unique pop icon. Disc One covers rock, Two and Three take care of the swing and torch song area, and Four displays Darin's talents in the genres of country and folk. Nat King Cole and maybe Perry Como could also sing it all, but they pretty much kept the same vocal style in any type of music, kind of like Jimmy Stewart playing Glenn Miller or Charles Lindbergh. Bobby Darin, on the other hand, transforms himself with each type of music-- he can rock with the best of them in "Splish Splash" and "If A Man Answers," and after challenging Elvis he can take on Sinatra in "Mack the Knife," of course, but especially in standards like "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square." Then hear his voice suddenly become genuine country in "Things" and "18 Yellow Roses." In folk Darin once again transforms his voice and delivers the definitive "If I Were A Carpenter" plus a convincing "Blowin' In The Wind." Total commitment had a lot to do with it: Darin was known for being one of the most honest, emotionally raw singers out there. Another reason for Darin's versatility was his understanding of popular song, in any genre. He was a great songwriter himself, someone who could come up with a great lyric and melody in just fifteen minutes-- this spontaneity and nervousness, the finger-snapping race against the clock is part of his appeal. He wrote famous rock songs like "Dream Lover," country songs like "Things" and "18 Yellow Roses," the protest song "Simple Song of Freedom," and a number of swingin' standard Cole Porter-type songs that are very underrated ("That's the Way Love Is" being one). I love his rock song "Multiplication" that he sings in such a cool way in the movie "Come September" with Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida. "Rainin'" is quite simply one of the most haunting and moving ballads I've ever heard. So Darin got inside a song, many of them originating in his own heart and head, and seemed to sing beyond his abilities-- no great voice like Frank or Bing, but supreme courage to hold notes longer than we think he can, or climb up and grab a high note with gutsy security. I especially admire Bobby Darin because he's the only singer I know of who truly carried on the Sinatra style of singing. Of course, he brought his own rocker mentality to "Mack the Knife," but Frank had the edge of a rocker himself that set him apart (according to U2's Bono anyway). Darin really jumps inside, out, over and around the beat the way Frank did, and is supremely cool and confident, tossing aside lines, inserting his own lyrics, but not doing it like a cheesy lounge singer. Many singers-- like Dean and Perry-- carried on the Bing style, but Frank pretty much just has Bobby Darin who could tackle a song like "Beyond The Sea" with that same fresh, direct, subtle swinging style. Of course Bobby had his own style and personality (imitated nicely by actor Kevin Spacey), and this box set does a great job in introducing the many sides of Darin's legacy, with excellent photos and a nice essay (though the author does take a few unnecessary shots at Sinatra). You might like to hear more of Darin's swing efforts-- the album "That's All" is as essential as they get, but a lot of Darin's albums on Capitol like "Oh! Look At Me Now" with great arranger Billy May are hard to live without too. And you've got to hear Darin doing "More"-- has anyone ever sounded so cool?
on February 2, 2002
The title says it all he was excellent! Here is my opinion on the set:
This box set contains the three stages of Bobby Darin: The first CD is "The Rock N' Roll Years." It contains songs like the classic "Splish Splash" and "Queen Of The Hop." These songs you just want to get up dance to. It also contains his song Dream Lover (personally I don't think it is a rock song.) It has a "Dream Lover Demo" in which Bobby Darin Is practicing backstage. (Although they are not as popular as the others I enjoy the songs Bullmoose, Plain Jane, You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby, and All The Way Home. I recommend them.
The next two Cds are The Pop Years (My favorite part in the set.)in which is Bobby Darin does the Sinatra style of music. I think when Bobby Darin sang these songs he still has a Rock N' Roll touch to him so he jazzes up his songs and makes them jumpy and lively. They contain his signature song "Mack The Knife" which he does better than anyone and won a well deserved Grammy. It also contains his song "Beyond The Sea" (a personal favorite) which did well on the pop charts. It also contains "Two Of A Kind" which he sang with Johnny Mercer. Recommendations: Minnie The Moocher, Baby Face, As Long As I'm Singing, (which the set is named after)Hello Dolly!, and Somewhere (from The West Side Story.)
The Last is the Folk And Country Years. IT contains "Things" a song that made No.3 on the Pop Charts. It also contains the classic "If I Were A Carpenter" And The Demo and Live version of "A Simple Song Of Of Freedom." A rebelious song of the 60's. Recommendations: You're the Reason I'm Living,18 Yellow Roses, and Sally Was A Good Old Girl.
The set contains a book that tells about his life. In the back of the book it has all the songs he sang and when they were recorded and how they did on the Pop charts.
If you buy this set you will treasure it for a lifetime. I know I will!
on October 26, 2001
Bobby Darin may have only lived to the ripe old age of 37,but what a tremendous talent he was-I just purchased a CD player over a year ago & this collection was the first one I bought-Keep in mind that Bobby wasn't content on just doing rock & roll-As this anthology shows,he was capable of covering other genres of music,most notably,country,folk,& pop-True,there were those who branded Darin as a Frank Sinatra wannabe,but that's what put bread on the table-Also,it should be noted that Darin was a great intepreter of other people's work-Listen to his rendition of Ray Charles'"I've Got A Woman",Randy Newman's "Sail Away" & John Sebastian's "Darling Be Home Soon".The folk portion of his career was memorable,as well-"If I Were A Carpenter",written by Tim Hardin,was Bobby's last top 10 hit in 1966 & a great song,to boot-The achingly beautiful "Simple Song Of Freedom" is another favorite of mine-The enclosed booklet contains testamonials from people such as his son,Dodd,Dick Clark,& Roger Mc Guinn-A biopic of Darin was supposed to have been released some time ago,but unfortunately,that has been shelved for the time being-Kevin Spacey was supposedly chosen to portray Darin-Good choice-He has a decent singing voice & would do justice to Darin's material-In conclusion,if you're a major league Darin fan,buy this boxed set-It's worth every penny.
on November 15, 2000
I was a kid when Bobby Darin hit the big time. I thought this collection would probably be Ok, mostly nostalgic but nothing to get worked up about. Was I wrong! Darin is absolutely terrific on this four CD set. I wish now I had seen him in a night club show in the era he was doing them. It must have been an incredible experience. Darin had a bad heart due to bouts of rheumatic fever as a child and figured he had to get all of his artistry out with great intensity and speed. Everything he sings packs a wallop as a result, regardless of theme or style. He had incredible range, covering just about every style of singing which then existed. Sadly, he was right about his lifeline. His heart killed him at age 37. In many songs, I thought I was listening to Sinatra when Darin was doing his style, which is quite a compliment because I am rarely fooled when it comes to Frank's singing. It's hard for me to imagine how anyone could go wrong on this set. Darin sings it all spectacularly and he sounds like he recorded it today. It is that fresh sounding.
on May 20, 1999
Often dismissed as either a "teen idol" in the mold of Frankie Avalon, who, it is charged, brought about the temporary decline of rock and roll, or an opportunist simply eager to cash in on the current fad, the late Bobby Darin was, in fact, a genius, an observation once made by no less a light than Neil Young. The former Walden Robert Cossatto was a man of almost unlimited talent and a true trailblazer who refused to be boxed in by anyone's expectations, be it those of the critics or the audience. As an actor, he more than held his own opposite Sidney Poitier in the excellent "Pressure Point," then stole "Captain Newman M.D" from co-stars Gregory Peck and Tony Curtis, earning an Oscar nomination in the process. It was in music where his talent really shone, of course, and this boxed set provides a very good overview of this remarkably versatile performer's recorded output. Whether singing one of his own excellent compositions ("Dream Lover," "Simple Song of Freedom"), or delving into the songbooks of others ("Mack the Knife," Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter"), Darin was an artist of the first rank, able to tackle any genre or style with an ease and brilliance that few other artists (if any) could match. He was, very simply, one of the 20th century's greatest performers.