12 Songs, 31 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

If there were ever any doubting Dean Martin’s ability as interpreter of song, one need only listen to this wonderful, Nelson Riddle–arranged set from 1960. It’s packed with classically poignant and witty songs about romance and regret, and Martin owns them all. His version of Cole Porter’s “True Love,” for example, sounds so bathrobe-and-tobacco-pipe effortless that you sense Martin, behind his nightclub “ladies' man” persona, felt as much a part of the tune as Porter himself. The songs rise out of him as if he’s engaging you in a casual three-martini conversation. Lerner/Loewe’s My Fair Lady classic “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” just warms Martin’s cool, and DeLange/Van Heusen’s “Heaven Can Wait” becomes a song you’ve never heard before, at least not with this much sexy sway. Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald all recorded “Mean to Me,” but none match Martin’s graceful, easy élan. It never sounds like Riddle’s strings are stroking Martin’s ego either; they’re only stroking the song that the singer is so in love with. That difference is what made Martin a great crooner.

EDITORS’ NOTES

If there were ever any doubting Dean Martin’s ability as interpreter of song, one need only listen to this wonderful, Nelson Riddle–arranged set from 1960. It’s packed with classically poignant and witty songs about romance and regret, and Martin owns them all. His version of Cole Porter’s “True Love,” for example, sounds so bathrobe-and-tobacco-pipe effortless that you sense Martin, behind his nightclub “ladies' man” persona, felt as much a part of the tune as Porter himself. The songs rise out of him as if he’s engaging you in a casual three-martini conversation. Lerner/Loewe’s My Fair Lady classic “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” just warms Martin’s cool, and DeLange/Van Heusen’s “Heaven Can Wait” becomes a song you’ve never heard before, at least not with this much sexy sway. Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald all recorded “Mean to Me,” but none match Martin’s graceful, easy élan. It never sounds like Riddle’s strings are stroking Martin’s ego either; they’re only stroking the song that the singer is so in love with. That difference is what made Martin a great crooner.

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