Dean Martin Sings –
It’s been a while since I dusted off a Dean Martin record here in the reviews’ section. Dean Martin Sings is just a swell dip into the pool of a singer everybody knows about, but still may be limited to a Christmas album, or a couple hits on a Rat Pack collection or a greatest hits package. This record is a bit more than just a smattering of Martin hits; this one is a great one to own if you don’t have any Dean Martin records, or just want a classic in your Saturday night arsenal to switch on as solid background for your martinis and manhattan cocktails. More than just a couple of classic Martin hits, Martin Sings carries a jewel-box full of Deano diamonds along with it. I have more than a few tried-n-true classic crooner offerings on our music picks because, let’s face it, they’re “classic” for a reason. You’ll find Martin songs on here that are actually quite rare in terms of what most folks have in their collection, and that will come in rather handy when hosting a few folks over for cocktails, bridge, or just chili & cornbread. If you ever come close to forgetting just how darned important Dean Martin once was to listen to with cocktails, let this one remind you.
Boss Guitar, Wes Montgomery – Wes is really what I love in cocktail jazz – upbeat, challenging, grown-up in its optimism, and old-school cool. Montgomery’s guitar-jazz was never meant for everyone, like so much of today’s pop music. I find his Hammond organ, heavy snare, guitar-rich odes to cool, dark bars just that – a complex reason for pouring something tall and cold, inviting a few lads & lassies on over, and having a little fun post 9 p.m. His version of The Days of Wine and Roses is as nocturnal as a jazz ballad gets. Never would you listen to this song before deep dark and candlelit. It drips with the type of innovation and pacing that calls for a sport jacket and more than just a cold beer. I reviewed a lot of horn-based and piano-based jazz, but this, my first foray into guitar-jazz, is an obvious and smoky choice. Wes Montgomery influenced so many guitarists to come after, one can really hear his groundbreaking instrumental choices with this one. Soft is an adjective I’ll use in my description. There’s a hip, 60’s softness found here that will truly compliment your next night in. A version of Canadian Sunset that is so night-and-day different than vocal renditions, it’ll be like hearing it for the very first time for many listeners. Mel Rhyne’s Hammond organ- accompanied licks and leads will carry you in and out of Wes’ guitar melodies on songs both familiar and not. This is 1960’s jazz in all its glory. Songs like The Breeze & I, For Heaven’s Sake, and others should really compliment a nice evening.
In Like Flint & Our Man Flint Soundtrack Album, Jerry Goldsmith – Where to start with this two-fer? How ’bout “ode to coolness.” That semi-sums it up. Composer and conductor, Jerry Goldsmith, knew what he was doing when scoring the American answer to Britain’s James Bond film series. The composer of Planet of the Apes, The Sand Pebbles, Twilight Zone episodes and countless other classic scores, infused a tongue-in-cheek American 60’s mentality right along with a brilliantly themed cloak-and-dagger swagger that Actor, James Coburn, carried so coolly in the two films. Sure, it’s a soundtrack, so you do, on occasion, get bogged down with filler, but that’s easily overlooked with this one, especially if you’re playing it during cocktails. The main theme, and the one you’re probably most familiar with, is called Your Zowie Face, and is only actually called that on a 60’s-dripping, vocal rendition which comes eleven tracks into the record’s twenty-eight. An investment in time, sure, but I tell ya, when that brilliant Flint-theme sneaks its way into the lion’s share of most cuts, you will feel like a spy just listening to it. They just don’t write them like this anymore, and you will be reminded of that fact while enjoying this soundtrack(s). As sexist, sexy, suave, silly, and intentionally self-important as this film is … so is the music, and I love it for that! White shoes, belts, short skirts and tucked-in tees, right along with the Harvey Wallbanger bar are practically musts. Find the theme on YouTube, and, if you at all like it, dive into this soundtrack. Fun is what this one’s about.
Love Is Blue, Paul Mauriat – I have the impossible-to-find Blooming Hits of Paul Mauriat on vinyl and do actually play this incredibly dated, 1968 French ode to sex, love and affairs when cocktail appropriate. The Blooming CD, which came out just 7 years ago, is impossible to find and costs over a hundred bucks if you can afford it. This is why the more affordable Love Is Blue collection is the one to add to your cocktail music stable. With The Pink Panther movies and others like Two For The Road, and Doctor Zhivago providing swinging Americans with a taste for swank European spiced music, Paul Mauriat waltzed into our stereos, sportin’ a beret, and lit up our sunken living rooms with soothing sounds dripping with exotic flare. Love Is Blue is the most popular hit here. You’ve heard it, and will most likely groove to its slow 60’s organ build up which ends in an almost harpsichordy hep finish. The song even reached number one here in 1968. Other groovy hits on the album are Summer Knows and Love Story. There are a fair share of clunkers on this one – Ebony & Ivory, Feel Like Making Love and Don’t Cry For Me Argentina could sink the party ship … but, if you are quick with a forward-button or have guests with a sense of humor and a little patience, this Mauriat album really sets a strong 60’s mood and leisure-and-pants suit statement. I dig this one on occasion and feel it’s list worthy. Check out Love Is Blue on a mp3 download. If you like and get it, dive deeper into the sophisticated, French stylings of Monsieur Mauriat.