Dean Martin is a bit of a hero to the Bluesbunny. Blessed with style, usually surrounded by a bevy of fit birds and always with a drink in his hand, he was everything that a growing Bluesbunny would want to be. Of course, he could sing a bit too. Hence the desire to dig out one of his albums from the Vinyl Vault.
Presented in glorious mono, you are immediately impressed by the sound. Dean sounds like he is right there in the room singing just for you. With Eddie Bracket engineering and Jimmy Bowen producing, you would perhaps expect this. The point, however, is that very few albums sound as good as that nowadays. Digital stereo perfection cannot compensate for cloth eared engineers and producers. Whilst I remember, I had the misfortune of having to listen to a Harry Connick Jr album recently (borrowed car and could not find a way to get it out of the damn CD player thing…) and was stunned to discover that it is indeed possible to polish a turd if you have enough cash. You can't get rid of the smell however. Even tried to feed it to the dog who dutifully took it outside and buried it in the garden.
Digression over, time to take a listen to the tunes. The choice of songs are populist country songs of the time for the most part ("King of the Road", "Take These Chains From My Heart") but Ernie Freeman's arrangements give proceedings a bit of a swing. Dean makes it all sound easy, handling the well worn lyrics with all the poise and balance of an ice skater. "Bumming Around" is the star turn here as Dean strolls through it at about a 45 degree angle. Laidback but right on the money. "My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You" has just the right feeling of regret even it is more downtown bar than interstate diner. Overall, this album is perhaps not premium Dino but is more than enough to keep your ears happy.
On reflection, the key thing here is that Dean Martin had his own style. There were plenty of crooners about in those days but you knew who was singing when Dean Martin was in front of the microphone. Nowadays, the musical world is replete with cloned fame seekers or earnest singer songwriters and it is tough to remember who is who. Maybe having that glass in his hand was more than just a trademark? Think I'll pour myself another one. Just in case.