I've Gotta Be Me: The Best of Sammy Davis Jr. On Reprise
Today, Sammy Davis Jr. may be best remembered as a charter member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack. But the diminutive showman was very much his own man, possessing a deeply resonant voice and a dynamic stage presence. I’ve Gotta Be Me: The Best of Sammy Davis Jr. dispels some of the Vegas mythology surrounding his career to reveal a performer of sensitivity and substance. These tracks are culled from Davis’ 1960s output for Reprise, a period when he tempered his jazz and theater music-rooted sound with contemporary pop touches. The ballads here are truly golden — “What Kind of Fool Am I,” “As Long as She Needs Me,” and “The Shelter of Your Arms” are perfect vehicles for his clear phrasing and aching intonation. Davis excelled at songs celebrating self-empowerment, as the buoyant “Once in a Lifetime,” “Yes I Can,” and the title track show. “Gonna Build a Mountain” reveals a surprising gospel influence. Davis’ recordings aren’t always well served by their overly busy, kitschy arrangements, but beneath the casino lounge glitz are some truly soulful and self-assured performances delivered by an artist who earned his place in the Pack.