Various Artists – Avid, The Rat Pack – The Early Years

Kurt B. Reighley

By Kurt B. Reighley

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The "early" in the title of this collection should be interpreted quite literally. Although these 27 selections are performed by four out of the five members of Frank Sinatra's iconic clique of hard-drinking swingers (only comedian Joey Bishop is absent), they don't actually represent the Rat Pack's '60s heyday. The big band arrangements, youthful vocal timbres and straightforward phrasing suggest they date from Frank, Sammy and Dino's pre-Vegas years; Sinatra's "You Do Something to Me" might easily be an outtake from his '40s stint with Tommy Dorsey. That said, this is still a fun listen. Dean Martin's "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" swings harder than Sinatra's better known rendition, and even actor Peter Lawford's sole contribution (a duet with Judy Garland) is an endearing novelty. Rat Pack diehards might be happier just watching Ocean's Eleven again, but fans of vintage vocal pop or the individual artists will find much to enjoy.