Two Of A Kind By Bobby Darin And Johnny Mercer

October 2, 2017

Bobby Darin, (1936-1973), packed a lot into his 37 years of life. He was a teen idol who produced such hits as “Splish Slash” and “Queen Of The Hop” that led to his 1990 induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. He was an actor who won a Golden Globe Award and he actually married actress Sandra Dee of Grease song fame.

At the height of his commercial appeal, he changed musical directions. He always wanted to be a Sinatra-type singer and recorded “Mack The Knife” from Three Penny Opera. It became one of the most popular singles in music history, topping the Billboard Pop Chart for nine weeks.

In 1961 he joined with orchestra leader/arranger Billy May and recorded the album Two Of A Kind. That album has now been reissued with seven bonus songs.

I find it interesting that this album was picked for reissue. While it is representative of the second part of his career, it just disappears into his catalogue of releases. It is a smooth and pleasant album but probably not among his best works.

He was touring with Johnny Mercer at the time, and the material reflects that relationship. It is an album of standards, highlighted by two Darin/Mercer compositions and four more Mercer songs.

“Ace In The Hole” is an old jazz song from 1909. Darin gives it a more Big Band/pop feel in a swinging version. The lightweight “Who Takes Care Of The Caretakers Daughter” is a pun-fill journey. On the other hand he gets to cute with “My Cutey’s Due At Two-To-Two.” It is representative of a number of songs that appeared dated over 50 years ago and today fall into the quaint category today.

The seven bonus songs are more of the same except for an interesting take on the Dave Dreyer/Ruby Herman song “Cecelia.”

This reissue of Two Of A Kind” will no doubt please Bobby Darin fans but if you want an introduction to Darin at his best, there a a number og Greatest Hits albums available.


Another Song On My Mind: The Motown Years By Bobby Darin

December 13, 2016

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When Bobby Darin signed with the Motown label in 1970, his career and his life were coming to an end. Due to a bout of rheumatic fever as a child, he lived with a damaged heart all of his life. He passed away December 20, 1973, at the age of 37, following heart surgery.

Today Bobby Darin is best remembered for his series of pop/rock hits during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Songs such as “Mack The Knife,” “Dream Lover,” “Splish Slash,” and “Queen Of The Hop” propelled him into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990.

When he signed with Motown in 1970, he was moving in a new direction. Leaving behind his teen pop and rock past, he was becoming an interpreter of songs. His voice had matured and his ability to adapt to a broad range of material was making him a Las Vegas favorite.

Unfortunately his Motown releases were not commercially successful and have long been out of print. Now Real Gone Music has gathered his last studio album and the one released after his death along with his single releases and some alternate takes and combined them under the title Another Song On My Mind: The Motown Years.

His Motown material was an eclectic mix of sounds and styles, which resulted in some hits and misses. He seemed most comfortable with what can be called singer/songwriter material. Randy Newman’s “Sail Away,” his own “Simple Song Of Freedom,” Tim Hardin’s “If I Were A Carpenter,” and Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” and “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” are laidback and understated and fit his early 1970’s style well.

On the other hand, when he tackles such hits of the day such as “I Won’t Last A Day Without You,” “The Letter,” and “Someday We’ll Be Together” the results are less successful.

As with all the Real Gone releases the sound is clean and the enclosed booklet gives a nice history of Darin and the music.

Darin’s Motown years were a work in progress that was cut short. What is left is a glimpse into the music and mind of an artist in transition. It is music that should appeal to any fan of Darin.


The 25th Of December by Bobby Darin

December 15, 2013

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While Bobby Darin, 1936-1973, remained popular until his premature death in 1973 at the age of 37 from chronic heart problems; he was a superstar during the pre-Beatles era. Hit songs such as “Splish Splash,”  “Beyond The Sea,” “Dream Lover,” and his huge number one hit “Mack The Knife” propelled him into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. He was a crooner whose smooth style crossed over into pop and rock and roll. He was also an actor who won a Golden Globe Award for his performance in Come September and in 1963 was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for Captain Newman M.D. He was also the guy who actually married Sandra Dee of Grease fame; “Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee.”

Right in the middle of all his popularity, (1960), he released the only Christmas album of his career. The 25th Of December has now been reissued by Real Gone Music.

He created a thematic album combining Christmas hymns and American Spirituals that all dealt with the birth of Jesus. Up until this point in his career he has been strictly a solo artist but given the material he used the Bobby Scott Chorale as his backing vocalists.

Today the album sounds a little dated but it was a leap of faith for Darin as he moves the material in a number of directions. He gives “Poor Little Jesus” a bluesy treatment. “Child Of God” and “Baby Born Today” are right out of a southern revival tent meeting with the latter being a shout and answer presentation with the backing choir. On the other hand, “Silent Night,” “While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks,” and “Holy Holy Holy” are given a traditional treatment.

“Jehovah Hallelujah” is another fundamentalist revival piece. The most unusual song is Dona Nobis Pacem from the Catholic Mass. The only bonus track is “Christmas Auld Lang Syne,” which was recorded at the same time but only released as a single.

While the original album was released in mono and stereo, all future reissues were mono as for 50 years it was presumed the original stereo masters had been lost. That proved not the case as they were recently discovered in The Warner vaults. Now the album has returned in pristine stereo condition.

Much of Darin’s material was playful but this Christmas album is very serious. It remains a very different approach when compared to his other releases. It may not be the best Christmas release of its era but represents the time Bobby Darin took a chance.

 


Mack The Knife 45 by Bobby Darin

January 20, 2012

During the pre-Beatles era, Bobby Darin had a nice career going with such top ten hits as “Splish Splash,” “Queen Of The Hop,” and “Dream Lover.”

When he told Dick Clark he was going to release a single of the old 1928 “Theme From A Threepenny Opera,” Clark thought he was out of his mind.

Darin renamed the song “Mack The Knife.” It was not only the biggest hit of his career but one of the biggest single releases of all time as it topped the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Cart for nine weeks. It was the sixth biggest hit of the decade.


Clementine 45 by Bobby Darin

December 6, 2011

Bobby Darin, (Walden Robert Cossotto), was born May 14, 1936. He developed rheumatic fever at the age of seven, which left him with a severly weakened heart. He realized from a young age that his life would be short.

He placed 41 singles on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart during the course of his career. He was also a Las Vegas headliner and actor.

He picked some unusal songs to release as singles. One of the oddest was the 1884 composition, “Oh My Darling Clementine,” which he shortened to just “Clementine.” Released March 21, 1960, it reached number 21.

His heart problems would catch up to him during 1973 and he would die at the age of 37. He was elected to The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990.