The Definitive Collection Best of, Original recording remastered
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In the dazzling history of our popular culture, no figure is more compelling than Sammy Davis, Jr. No figure is more crucial to understanding the changes in American entertainment from the forties through the seventies. No figure is more charismatic. A multi-talented performer, Davis recorded forty albums and made countless film, television and Las Vegas appearances in his lifetime. Beyond his complexities and contradictions, Sammy never failed to entertain on a spectacularly high level. This compilation lives up to that level. This Collection has Sammy singing at the apex of his powers singing joyfully, passionately, brilliantly and swinging like there's no tomorrow. First-ever career-spanning, single disc, multi-label retrospective of one the world's greatest entertainers. Features Sammy's #1 hit 'Candy Man' as well as signature songs he made famous: 'I've Gotta Be Me,' 'What Kind Of Fool Am I?,' 'Mr. Bojangles,' 'Birth Of The Blues,' 'Hey There' and many more.
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What I like about this collection is that it tries to cover as much ground as it possibly can in its short time space, and in chronological order according to release dates. The chronological aspect is what kind of messes up the collection for me. The tracks don't always flow into the next one, and we're left with the last track being a pretty poor representation of Sammy in music (the "Baretta" theme). I'd only change the track order so that it can start/end on strong songs, and mix things up a little. This complaint is not enough to knock down my rating, however.
That said, as previously mentioned, this collection sports an excellent track list and excellent sound quality to boot. My favorite part is the inclusion of a track from his album with Count Basie, a track from his absolutely legendary album with Laurindo Almeida, tracks from two of his Broadway shows, and his very well remembered song from the film "Sweet Charity". Whoever compiled the album did an excellent job trying to compile...well..."everything" he could in the truest sense so you get the full range of Sammy and his vocal/record talents. It limits his 70s output to just the bigger selling, or more iconic hits which, while it still gives us a couple questionable selections, helps trim the fat so to speak.
Also, for people like me who enjoy this: the CD comes with an excellent, lengthy essay in the liner notes by David Ritz which will indeed make the physical copy more worth purchasing, instead of just buying the digital copy. The physical CD looks very thoughtfully put together and well designed, with great images and artwork which is an excellent change of pace from other compilations...
Overall, this is a mostly excellent starting point for anyone new to Sammy, and great for the lukewarm fan. I'd say its on-par with the recent "I've Gotta Be Me - The Very Best Of Sammy Davis Jr." CD from Charly CDs in the UK, but sports better transfers and a little wider range of materials.
What to get next?
-"I've Gotta Be Me: The Best of Sammy on Reprise" (Reprise Archives 1996)
-"Sammy Davis Jr. Sings, Laurindo Almeida Plays" (DCC Jazz 1991/Collector's Choice 2005)
-"Starring Sammy Davis Jr." (Collector's Choice 2007)
On "The Definitive Collection," Sammy succeeds in reminding the listener what all the fuss was about. Whether you're listening to "Hey There," "Something's Gotta Give," "What Kind of Fool Am I," "The Shelter of Your Arms," and many more, you can hear the humor, charm, and polished, unbridled talent that thrilled audiences for fifty-odd years.
Remember the genius, remember the talent, remember the man. Nothing else should matter to a grateful audience.
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