NOTE:  Is there any other period as distinctive and socially recognizable as Sinatra's affiliation with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop?  Together they were as potent and delirious as any mixed drink available in Vegas.  Their on-stage antics, ribald, occasionally racist jokes, affiliations with organized crime, and sheer collective mania has become one of the hallmarks of Sinatra's image, and as the years pass, more and more attention is given to this one-of-a-kind cabal of swingers and the free-living bachelor style they created single-handedly.  They are the one, the only, Rat Pack.

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. 
at Villa Venice, Chicago - Live 1962 Vol. I & II 
Jazz Hour Compact Classics JH-1033, 1034 [CD];
Released 1993

Disc 1:
1. Parody on "When You're Smiling"  -  The Lady Is A Tramp  2:14
2. Comedy Monologue  5:06
3. I Left My Heart In San Francisco  2:48
4. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter  1:44
5. Medley: Volare/On An Evening In Roma  2:36

6. Goody Goody  1:20
7. Chicago  2:18
8. When Your Lover Has Gone  2:54
9. Comedy Monologue  4:00
10. Please Be Kind  2:52
11. You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You  4:00
12. What Kind Of Fool Am I?  3:20
13. Out Of This World  3:50
14. She's Funny That Way  2:30
15. Hey There 1:10

Disc 2:
16. Sammy Doing Impersonations
17. Comedy By All Three 20:53
18. I Can't Give You Anything But Love v.Dean :56
19. Too Marvelous For Words v. Frank :48
20. Pennies From Heaven v. Dean :48
21. A Foggy Day v. Frank 1:30
22. Comedy 1:26
23. Embraceable You v. Dean 1:56
24. The Lady Is A Tramp v. Frank 1:46
25. Where Or When v. Dean 1:16
26. Impressions by All Three 4:12
27. Brith of the Blues v. Sammy 2:20
28. Nancy v. Frank 2:52
29. Me and My Shadow v. Frank & Sammy 2:52
30. Sam's Song v. Frank & Sammy
31. Birth Of The Blues v. closing by all three 2:50

REVIEW:  This legitimate (?) release is one of the first full concerts of the Rat Pack that ever made it to CD.  A trimmed-down version was released by Artanis Entertainment, but this is the only set that contains the full, nearly 104 minute show.  Currently available as part of a CD/DVD combo Live and Swingin', this pair of CD's is nonetheless an important document of the Rat Pack in action.  First off, if you've never heard a show by the Rat Pack, then it's an experience where you leave feeling like you had to be there.  Some of the jokes are purely physical, so that the laughs of the audience and the stars are incomprehensible to the listener.  Also, the humor is very topical, from Sinatra: "Shut up, Sam, and sit in the back of the bus!" Davis: "Jewish people don't sit in the back of the bus!" Sinatra: "Jewish people own the bus!" - to Dean's trademark drunken humor, much of the time the audience is laughing only because they're drunk themselves.  Nevertheless, the affection that these three friends have for one another is palpable, and even if the skits aren't as off-the-cuff as they seem, it still sounds like they're having a great time.  Vocally, Sammy comes off the best, with burn-down-the-house renditions of "What Kind Of Fool Am I?" and "Birth Of The Blues" - Frank on the other hand, seems much more casual in his numbers, almost throwing away songs like "Goody Goody" and "Please Be Kind."   Not that it's a bad performance, but it sounds uninvolved.  Dean is also very funny, slurring his words, and letting loose with cunning malapropisms every chance he gets.  We also get to hear Sammy's infamous impersonations, although again, the sketch suffers from not being able to see his performance.  If you can find these discs, I consider them superior to the Summit recording due to their completness and perfectly clear sound.


Frank, Sammy & Dean: The Summit In Concert
Artanis Entertainment Group 102 [CD];
Released February 23, 1999

1. Fanfare & Introduction - Frank Sinatra
2. Medley: When You're Smiling/The Lady Is a Tramp - Dean Martin
3. I Left My Heart in San Francisco - Dean Martin
4. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself a Letter) - Dean Martin
5. Medley: Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)/On an Evening in Roma - Dean Martin 
6. Goody Goody - Frank Sinatra
7. Chicago - Frank Sinatra
8. When Your Lover Has Gone - Frank Sinatra
9. Monologue - Frank Sinatra
10. You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You - Frank Sinatra
11. Out of This World
12. What Kind of Fool Am I?
13. Medley: She's Funny That Way/Hey There
14. Impressions of Singers/All the Way
15. Toast/Movie Routine
16. Medley: I Can't Give You Anything But Love/Too Marvelous for Words/Penn
17. Impressions of Actors
18. Birth of the Blues
19. Me and My Shadow         
20. Sam's Song/The Birth of the Blues (Reprise)

REVIEW:  A trimmed-down 78-minute version of the Chicago Villa Venice concert, this gold disc is currently out of print, although copies can still be found used and at small dealers.  To trim the disc down by almost 25 minutes, much of the chatter was excised, including Dean Martin's comedy monologue, and a 20-minute back-and-forth banter including Sam's impersonation of various singers.  Oh well.  It's actually a much tighter set with the omissions, and leaves the listener with the good stuff: the songs.  Identical to the above set, I'm still amazed by how Sammy Davis Jr. basically steals the show with the power and versatility of his voice.  It's a little sad to say, but he blows Frank right out of the water with the force of his personality and the commitment to the songs he's performing.  By comparison, Frank seems to be coasting along, a powerful presence, but it's obvious that at this date he's not putting much work into it - he's simply showing up, being Frank Siantra, and letting that be that.  Dean Martin is his swoozy best, with razor-sharp quips showing that he's not nearly as soused as he's acting.  It's a part he plays brilliantly.  The songs are unfortunately marred by the incessant "drop-in's" by the Pack offstage.  Frank especially barely lets Sammy Davis Jr. get an entire line of lyric out before butting in with an inappropriate aside.  Maybe it's funny, but I guess you had to be there.


The Rat Pack Live At The Sands
Capitol 36615 [CD];
Released November 20, 2001

1. Fanfare and Introduction
2. DEAN MARTIN: Medley: Drink to ME Only etc.
3. Monologue
4. June in January
5. Monologue
6. Via Veneto
7. Medley: Volare etc.
8. FRANK SINATRA: Ring-A-Ding-Ding
9. I Only Have Eyes for You
10. Call Me Irresponsible
11. My Heart Stood Still
12. Please Be Kind
13. I Have Dreamed
14. Luck Be A Lady
15. FRANK and DEAN: Dialogue
16. Medley: Marianne, etc.
17. SAMMY DAVIS JR.: The Lady Is a Tramp
18. All the Way
19. FRANK, DEAN, and SAMMY: Dialogue
20. FRANK and DEAN: Guys and Dolls
21. The Oldest Established
22. FRANK, DEAN, and SAMMY: Introductions
23. The Oldest Established
24. Closing: Ring-A-Ding-Ding (instrumental)

REVIEW:  Well, here they are, the Rat Pack in their natural environment: Las Vegas.  Recorded shortly after their all-together-now cast albums of the Reprise Repertory Theater, so while the names are the same, the song list is much different than the above Chicago dates, with an extended section of music from their recently recorded Guys And Dolls album.  It also incorporates other songs, such as "June In January," Ring-a-Ding Ding," "My Heart Stood Still," and the aforementioned Guys And Dolls section.  So if you're into the whole Rat Pack experience, this fine sounding 70-minute disc is a great compliment to the earlier Summit.  It's a smoother experience also, with the gang having their between-song patter down to a "t," and their individual performances stronger and tighter.  The Rat Pack may be having fun, but they're hard at work too; entertaining the audience with a mix of humor and artistry.  My only qualm with this set is that Sammy gets the short shrift here, with Frank constantly butting into his songs, and Sammy finally having to give up a straight reading of "All The Way" in order to do his impressions of different artists.  I'm glad it's there, since it was ommitted from the Summit recording, but didn't Sam do more songs than what's here?  Other than that, it's more of the same lunacy, with men acting like boys, and the audience absolutely eating it up.


Ratpack: From Vegas To St. Louis
Recall Records 360 [CD];
January 1, 2002

Disc: 1
1. Dean's Vegas Melody - Dean Martin
2. Monologue - Dean Martin
3. June in January - Dean Martin
4. Via Veneto - Dean Martin
5. Volare - Dean Martin
6. On an Evening With Roma - Dean Martin
7. I Only Have Eyes for You - Frank Sinatra
8. My Heart Stood Still - Frank Sinatra
9. Please Be Kind - Frank Sinatra
10. Monologue - Frank Sinatra
11. Call Me Irresponsible - Frank Sinatra

12. Luck Be a Lady - Frank Sinatra
13. At the 'Salad Bar' - Dean Martin
14. Kiddie Album Medley - Dean Martin
15. Sammy Davis Jr. - Sammy Davis, Jr.
16. Lady Is a Tramp - Sammy Davis, Jr.
17. Rock-A-Bye Your Baby - Sammy Davis, Jr.
18. Sammy's March - Sammy Davis, Jr.
19. Guys and Dolls - Dean Martin
20. Crap Game in New York
21. Encore
22. Instrumental

Disc: 2
1. Johnny Carson Introduces Dean Martin
2. Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On - Dean Martin
3. King of the Road - Dean Martin
4. Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime - Dean Martin
5. Medley: Volare/On an Evening With Roma - Dean Martin
6. Johnny Carson Introduces Sammy Davis Jr.
7. My Shining Hour - Sammy Davis, Jr.
8. Monologue - Sammy Davis, Jr.
9. Who Can I Turn To - Sammy Davis, Jr.
10. Medley: I've Got You Under My Skin/You Are My Sunshine - Sammy Davis, Jr.
11. One for My Baby - Sammy Davis, Jr.
12. Johnny Carson Introduces Frank Sinatra
13. Get Me to the Church on Time - Frank Sinatra
14. Fly Me to the Moon - Frank Sinatra
15. Luck Be a Lady - Frank Sinatra
16. I Only Have Eyes for You - Frank Sinatra
17. I've Got You Under My Skin - Frank Sinatra
18. Monologue - Frank Sinatra
19. Please Be Kind - Frank Sinatra
20. You Make Me Feel So Young - Frank Sinatra
21. My Kind of Town - Frank Sinatra       
22. Ratpack Monlogue - Sammy Davis, Jr.
23. Birth of the Blues/Closing Tune - Sammy Davis, Jr.

REVIEW:  An interesting set for completists,Rat Pack: From Vegas to St. Louis a budget 2-disc collection, gathers an alternate show from the Las Vegas Sands Casino on disc one (different than the one recorded above), while the second show is an audio recording of the June 20, 1965 St. Louis show with the Count Basie band which is captured live on DVD on the Live and Swingin' set below.  The Sands disc is virtually identical in both track list and comedy bits from the above CD, with the omisson of Sinatra's song "I Have Dreamed" - but otherwise there are only slight differences between the two sets.  The second disc is curious for a single item: the producers of the set have spliced a 1977 performance of Sammy Davis Jr. singing "Lady Is A Tramp" from the Sydney Opera House into the running order, replacing the original song!  Why they did this, I'll never know, but it's a curious insert in what is otherwise a fantastic concert, with Johnny Carson providing introductions and between song banter, and the rest of the Pack giving a swinging concert, with Frank in especially fine form on "Get Me To the Church On Time," "Fly Me To The Moon," and "Luck Be A Lady."  Sammy is also on fire during this concert, with his muscular renditions of "My Shining Hour" and "Who Can I Turn To?" showing how the "WHAM!" of Sam is in full force tonight.  Overall an interesting double set, and a fine addition to any fan's collection.


Live And Swingin' : The Ultimate Rat Pack Collection
Reprise 73922 [CD];
Released October 14, 2003

1. Medley: Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes/When You're Smiling/The Lady I
2. I Left My Heart in San Francisco
3. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
4. Medley: Volare/On an Evening in Roma
5. Goody Goody
6. Chicago
7. When Your Lover Has Gone
8. Monologue
9. Please Be Kind
10. You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You
11. What Kind of Fool Am I
12. Out of This World
13. She's Funny That Way
14. Hey There
15. Comedy
16. Medley: Brazil/You Are Too Beautiful...
17. Medley: I Can't Give You Anything But Love...
18. Impressions
19. Birth of the Blues
20. Danny Thomas Introduction
21. Nancy (With the Laughing Face)
22. Me and My Shadow
23. Sam's Song
24. Birth of the Blues (Reprise)

REVIEW:  Well, here we haveThe Ultimate Rat Pack Collection: Live & Swingin (CD & DVD), a CD/DVD combo set, with disc one with yet another release of the 1962 Villa Venice concert, with most of the comedy sequences cut out (again, not a bad thing), and the rest of the track list on par with other sets, nicely remastered by Jen Wyler.  But the real find here for fans is the first-ever release of an entire filmed set by the Rat Pack.  Captured as a television satellite feed broadcast live in 1965 from the Keil Opera House in St. Louis Missouri, this show is hosted by a very young Johnny Carson, who seems to be scared out of his wits to be in the presence of the Rat Pack.  But he's up to the task, and even joins in for a song at the end of the concert.  The show is actually very little of the three of the gang together; Frank, Dino and Sammy seem to be on their best behavior here, (which still isn't perfect, but it's less raucous than other shows) so we have the concert split up into three parts, with Dean Martin leading off with "Send Me The Pillow You Dream On" before swaggering into "King Of The Road," and the rest of his five-song set. Sammy follows up, with a powerhouse set that's occasionally interupted by Frank and Dean, as usual. Frank is introduced last, with Carson nearly prostrating himself in his introduction. Frank is very fine and loose here, with his eight-song set the lengthiest of the bunch. Recorded on his daughter Tina's seventeenth birthday, she also makes an appearance at the end where the entire group lead the crowd in "Happy Birthday" and finally a big blowout ending of "Birth Of The Blues." Running about 90 minutes, this concert is an indispensible time-capsule of the times.


Christmas with the Rat Pack
Capitol 42210 [CD];
Released October 22, 2002

1. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow - Dean Martin
2. Mistletoe And Holly - Frank Sinatra
3. Christmas Time All Over The World - Sammy Davis, Jr.
4. The First Noel - Frank Sinatra
5. Baby, It's Cold Outside - Dean Martin
6. I Believe - Frank Sinatra
7. Silver Bells - Dean Martin
8. The Christmas Song - Sammy Davis, Jr.
9. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Frank Sinatra
10. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer - Dean Martin
11. The Christmas Waltz - Frank Sinatra
12. I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm - Dean Martin)
13. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Frank Sinatra)
14. Peace On Earth/Silent Night - Dean Martin
15. Jingle Bells - Sammy Davis, Jr.
16. White Christmas (Reprise) - Dean Martin
17. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - Frank Sinatra
18. Winter Wonderland - Dean Martin
19. I'll Be Home for Christmas - Frank Sinatra
20. Marshmallow World - Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin
21. Auld Lang Syne - Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin

REVIEW:  A re-packaged collection of swingin' Christmas songs from the ultimate lounge-lizards, This fine collection pulls together rarities from these three crooners when they were each in their top form.  I mean, where else are you going to find these three admittedly hedonistic swingers crooning about the Christ child?  It's enough to boggle the most cynical mind-set.  Some of the songs here are definitely of the rare variety - a couple of tracks swiped from a collector's dream Reprise Sampler disc: Sammy Davis' ultra-swing on "Jingle Bells," and  Dino's swoozy "Peace On Earth/Silent Night"

The Rat Pack: Boys Night Out (September 28, 2004) Capitol 36452 [CD]

Capitol continues to mine the mythos of the Rat Pack name, but with such well-chosen packages to listen to, I don't mind.  This 19-track collection is filled with mostly solo cuts from all three, including two versions of the Reprise Rep Theater "Guys and Dolls" theme.

Eee-O 11: The Best Of The Rat Pack (November 20, 2001) Capitol 36452 [CD]

Released with a slew of products in the wake of the Oceans 11 remake, this disc of studio cuts ably captures the feel of the Rat Pack era, with swinging, boozy songs, and happily closes with Sammy's film version of the title track.

The Rat Pack On Stage: Las Vegas/St. Louis (October 25, 2004) Castle/Pulse [CD]

A fat, two-disc doumentation of the same shows listed above, witha  couple of added tracks in good sound.  A good, cheap way to own these much-released shows.

The Rat Pack: 40 Tracks From The Kings Of Cool (May 5, 2005) Dove [CD]

2 CD set comprised of Rat Pack classics, including Dean Martin: 'That's Amore','Memories Are Made Of This', 'Everybody Loves Somebody', Sammy Davis Jr.: 'You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You', 'With A Song In My Heart', 'What Kind Of Fool Am I', Frank Sinatra: 'When You're Smiling', 'Young At Heart', 'I've Got A Crush On You' and many more.

The Rat Pack Christmas Album (IMPORT) (October 28, 2004) Music Club [CD]

Different track listing than the U.S. version, with some interesting choices, and a couple of head-scratchers: "Rock a Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody" & "One For My Baby"?.

The Rat Pack (Live) (May 31, 1999) Members Edition [CD]

A compilation of several different live dates, from the various available recordings.  28 tracks, UK issue.

Rat Pack Collection: Gold (Frank Siantra); The Best Of (Dean Martin; That Old Black Magic (Sammy Davis Jr.) (September 25, 1998) Madacy Records 5315 [CD]

A budget collection of three discs, one for each player, with cuts taken from different sources, and with less-than-ideal sound.  Avoid if possible.

The Best Of The Rat Pack (May 11, 1999) First Choice 4637 [CD]

An instrumental tribute album with a fine jazz combo setting an appropriately "lounge-y" atmosphere.  Puzzling that "Strangers In the Night" is here though - definitely post Rat-Pack.  Not essential, but kind've fun.

Rat Pack By Request: performed by Morpheus Music (August 15, 1999) Morpheus Music [CD]

Piano and sax easy listening muzak for the ears.  I guess if you're stuck on an elevator somewhere, this would be perfect!  Lite-jazz of mostly Sinatra covers, with "Makin' Whoopie" thrown in for a Dino moment.

A Night On The Town With The Rat Pack (August 12, 2003) Music Club [CD]

Live cuts in a double-disc package, with the Sands performance, but with noticeably poorer sound, I would stick with the live discs above instead of this UK-produced knock-off.

The Best Of The Rat Pack (October 22, 2002) Castle Music UK 624 [CD]

Similar to the disc below, with a mish-mash of studio recordings unrelated to the Rat Pack era.  20-tracks.

The Rat Pack (November 11, 2002) Castle/Pulse [CD]

Budget collection from the UK that includes cuts that weren't from the Rat Pack era, but otherwise a fine 20-track collection.

The Rat Pack (June 23, 2003) Pulse [CD]

Yet another(!) low budget 3-CD box set from the UK, this one collecting both the St. Louis show with other tracks.  So... how many Rat Pack collections does it take to fill the Thames?

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