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Christmas with the Rat Pack

(Capitol; US: 18 Sep 2007; UK: Available as import)

Christmas with the Rat Pack purports to be the definitive Christmas album featuring the singing segment of the Rat Pack, namely, Frank, Dean, and Sammy. Unfortunately, all the album ends up doing is pointing out just how few Christmas songs Sammy Davis Jr. actually recorded, probably due to the fact that he was, well, Jewish at that point in his life. It leads to an album that feels unbalanced, a Frank ‘n Dean album with a sprinkle of Sammy. That said, there’s plenty to like about Christmas with the Rat Pack. For one, Sinatra’s largely grounded, solemn collection of songs is far more palatable in the context of Dean Martin’s more lighthearted takes on the season. Sammy Davis Jr.‘s “Christmas Time All Over the World” is a fantastic bit of potpourri, and this is the only CD you’re going to find it on. You can also find the original version of Dean Martin’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (replaced on Christmas with Dino by the version with Martina McBride) on the album. Perhaps most intriguing, however, is the final two tracks, from TV shows hosted by Martin on which he features Sinatra. “Marshmallow World” epitomizes the goofiness that the two would exude together, while “Auld Lang Syne” is a perfect example of how brilliant they could be together even when they weren’t kidding around. But again—where’s Sammy? More appearances by Mr. Davis Jr., and Christmas with the Rat Pack would have been brilliant. As it is, though, it’s still well worth your time.

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Mike Schiller is a software engineer in Buffalo, NY who enjoys filling the free time he finds with media of any sort -- music, movies, and lately, video games. Stepping into the role of PopMatters Multimedia editor in 2006 after having written music and game reviews for two years previous, he has renewed his passion for gaming to levels not seen since his fondly-remembered college days of ethernet-enabled dorm rooms and all-night Goldeneye marathons. His three children unconditionally approve of their father's most recent set of obsessions.


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