Of the numerous Dino retrospectives that have surfaced in recent years, the Collectors' Choice series an exhausting offering of Capitol releases spanning a nine-year period gives the consummate picture of Martin's early recording career. Beginning with the slightly lackluster 1953 debut, Dean Martin Sings we hear him become Dino relaxed, ice cold, definitively cavalier by the time we reach 1957's Pretty Baby. Martin emerges as an album artist with Sleep Warm, under the baton of Sinatra himself. Like most of the series, Sleep Warm is made by the mismatched bonus material: here a quartet of never-before collected singles including the bawdy "Sailor's Polka." The 1964 B-sides comp Hey, Brother, Pour the Wine is augmented by sassy parings with Peggy Lee, Helen O'Connell and Margaret Whiting. The dazzling Latin-themed Cha Cha de Amor, conducted by the matchless Nelson Riddle, features bongo-banging versions of "My One and Only Love" and "... Sentimental Reasons," and is topped with an early Dixieland outtake of "Wham! Bam! Thank You, Ma'am!" When the series reaches the collections of the late '60s some eight hours later Martin's velveteen delivery is unusually raspy, demanding us to "play me that tune one more time ... it makes me cry every time." We're hard-pressed to deny him.
Nate Cavalieri writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.