Help Us Keep Reporting. Donate to Detroit Metro Times.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Christmas With the Rat Pack

Posted By on Wed, Dec 11, 2002 at 12:00 AM

It’s a ring-a-ding-ding Christmas with Ol’ Blue Eyes, Dino and Sammy. And much of this material is super-rare; included are a number of tunes originally found on promotional-only releases and out-of-print holiday LPs, not to mention a pair of cuts featuring duets by Ol’ Blue Eyes and Dino from two of Dean’s annual (1967 and 1970) Christmas TV specials. Cynics may scoff at the inherent kitsch factor here, but it’s impossible not to be won over by the sleek musical arrangements and silky-smooth vocals adorning such emotionally rich holiday classics as “The First Noel” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (Sinatra), “Silver Bells” and “White Christmas” (Martin) and “The Christmas Song” (aka “Chestnuts Roasting”) and “Jingle Bells” (Davis).

Davis, in fact, while generally getting the Scrooge treatment on the collection (always the second-class citizen of the Rat Packers — the nim-nam Negro to Frank’s bim-bam baby, one supposes — he has a miserly three out of 21 cuts) really delivers the goods on the latter, jiving and jazzing his way through the number, at one point even exhorting an imaginary audience to join in: “Everybody — Jingle Bells!” There’s also something fascinating, in a non-pc/pre-date rape era kind of way, about hearing Martin’s vocal come-ons in “Baby it’s Cold Outside.” None-too-subtly he argues against his gal heading home in the snow (“it’s up to your knees out there … listen to the fireplace roar!”) and, significantly, she opts to linger (“maybe just a cigarette more … say, what’s in this drink?”). Ho-ho-ho; score one for Dino, the original booze-guzzling red-nosed reindeer!

By comparison, Sinatra is generally restrained, focusing more on ballad-oriented tracks, but there’s a least one number (“I Believe”) that finds him at his big band-fronting, finger-snapping, extemporaneous best.

So pour a stiff shot (or seven) of eggnog and cuddle up by the fire, ’cos baby, these chestnuts are definitely well-roasted.

E-mail Fred Mills at letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Fred Mills

Read the Digital Print Issue

May 27, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2020 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation