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Rat Pack Revival

Capitol Releases Two Rat Pack Specials

By Daniel J. Dock

Staff Writer

The Rat Pack -- they drank on stage, smoked, and epitomized what is known today as politically incorrect, but they were loved and revered as kings of their time.

As the world awaits the release of Oceans 11, a remake of a Rat Pack classic, Capitol Records has decided to release a pair of albums featuring forty year old gems by Frank, Dean, and Sammy. The first, Eee-O-11, is a collection of already beloved classics. The second, The Rat Pack Live at the Sands, consists of a previously unreleased recording of a performance in the Copa Room at the Sands.

Eee-O-11, the title of the closing track of the album, is an anthology of eighteen already well-known and beloved classics. Including such tracks as “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” by Dean Martin, “You Make Me Feel So Young” by Frank Sinatra, and “The Birth Of The Blues” by Sammy Davis, Jr.

The duets are the gems on this album, featuring “Me And My Shadow” by Sinatra and Davis, and “Sam’s Song” by Davis and Martin. The two duets show a bit of the playful side of the Rat Pack and are beautiful in their simplicity. The album contains a nice mesh of Rat Pack classics and, unlike most Rat Pack collections, does not exclude or minimize the role of Davis.

This album is highly recommended, and would further any music collection that lacks the Rat Pack essentials. Although, if the reader already has a respectable Rat Pack collection, Eee-O-11 presents no new material -- it is merely a conglomeration of eighteen classics.

“Dean Martin. Maybe Frank. Maybe Sammy,” the message that laid prominent on the marquee of the Sands casino in Las Vegas. Bill Zehme, a well-known biographer of Frank Sinatra, wrote, “What’s playing in the Copa Room? I’ll tell you what’s playing the Copa Room: three grown boys in formal wear, with microphones, making hay and hey-hey, as only they could and would, letting us eavesdrop on their fraternal ring-a-ding congress.”

Three men on-stage with microphones and drinks talking about this and that, throw in a song here and there, and you have an act for the ages. Until now, the magic that went on at the Sands could only be heard in the memories of those in attendance. The Rat Pack Live At The Sands is a recording of a September, 1963 Rat Pack performance in the Copa Room that whisks the listener back to simpler times and into a state of pure enjoyment. The audience never leaves Frank, Dean, and Sammy’s command, from Dean’s opener “Drink to me only with thine eyes / I don’t care / The sun don’t shine / I love Vegas,” to the group’s closing “The Oldest Established (Permanent Floating Crap Game In New York)”.

The Rat Pack Live At The Sands is an unaltered recording, including everything from mixed drinks to wise cracks, dialogue and impressions. Despite the seemingly impromptu seamless performance, the show had a specific formula: Martin first, then Sinatra, then Martin out again pushing the “Lunch Cart,” then Martin would offer Sinatra a liquid salad or liquid sandwich, then some tomfoolery between Sinatra and Martin, which would be interrupted by Davis. Davis would then go solo for a while, with a reprisal from Sinatra and Martin, who return to sing a few songs. They would then introduce any dignitaries in the audience, and then the big closing song. From this simple formula came the greatest stage show in Vegas -- performed twice nightly.

The Rat Pack Live At The Sands provides the listener a glimpse forty years into the past at a different era from simply the subjects of their wisecracks to the music created. Besides old classics such as “Volare” by Martin and “Luck Be A Lady” by Sinatra, the duets and songs sung by all members of the Rat Pack offer great additions to any music collection.

Simply put, Eee-O-11 is for people who have no Rat Pack in their music collection, and The Rat Pack Live At The Sands is a must for any serious music collector.