Rat Pack - Boys Night Out

2006-03-29 20:53

At first glance, this compilation may appear to be just another yearly money spinner, issued to capitalise on the enormous popularity of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Frank Sinatra - their macho cheese-ball swinging style is a sure hit at weddings, 60th birthday parties and such.

But Boys Night Out is really a lot more than that. The compilers have made a real effort, for a start, to seek out lesser known tracks and versions of these three distinctive interpreters. It includes a weird Sinatra spoof of Old McDonald (he had a chick, and the other animals don't feature) as well as a duet from Guys and Dolls featuring both Sinatra and Martin and "We open in Venice", which features all three singers.

The inclusion of Sammy Davis singing the dated but funny "There's nothing like a dame" works without being tasteful, mainly because of his spot on interpretation. The seductive voiced Dean Martin once said to him "Roses are red, carnations are pink, if I had your talent, I wouldn't drink" and this indicates how much promise - and bourbon - Jr probably had in him.

The "rat pack" was the nickname given to a trendy Hollywood social set, a famous group of associated personalities, performers, gangsters and socialites with Frank, Dean and Sammy, as well as Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop (the only current survivor) at its core. The men partied, seduced women and occasionally worked on projects together.

But Sammy Davis Jr, the only black man in the inner circle, was excluded professionally. He suffered serious racial discrimination from both venue owners and audiences at the time and was often excluded because of live shows as a result. So what's special about this CD is that he's included, on "the same stage" as Frank and Dean. Through song selection and production, Capitol Records have produced an album that sounds (apart from two mono tracks) as though it's actually a live set featuring the three men together. It's an evocation of what could have been, and not just collection of silly but fun performances.

The main disappointment on Boys Night Out is the packaging. This is big a pity, since this CD is designed to appeal to Rat Pack fans who want more than well known material, and real fans adore reading liner notes. Inside the fold-out there are quotes from the three men talking about each other, and some cool blue-washed photos. Flimsy but fun, it doesn't give any real info about the artists, or about where or why each song was recorded.

- Jean Barker


This compilation has it all, the legendary Ratpack 'swagger', great musical arrangements, and three of the world's greatest interpreters of song.
- anonymous post on reviewcentre.com

Boys Night Out suggests the accompaniment to a PG-13-rated bachelor party, with an implied narrative arc and a stack of appreciative tunes about, er, dames. Frank, Dean and Sammy are heard mostly in solo settings, but the upbeat mood and brassy arrangements make for a cohesive Three Musketeers atmosphere.
- Rickey Wright on amazon.com

If you're after sensitive treatment of gender issues, a mature view of relationships, original songs or a fresh new musical style, forget buying this album. If you want cheese and you like it a little old and furry, Boys Night Out is made for you.

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