Friday, October 2, 2020

Sammy Davis Jr "In Person Australia '77"


(RCA, 1977) This is an epic, long-as-hell-for-a-single-LP concert recording in Sydney Opera House, and only released in Australia. While there is not, despite the title,  a lot of Oz references here (not even doing a bit with an accent like he would do in London, and it was too early for a "Dingo ate my baby " bit) there is a fair amount of the other part of the title, "'77" going on here, as he covers Manilow, does his seventies hits ( "Candy Man," and more importantly, the Barretta theme complete with squawking bird impressions) and during his classic "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby (with a Dixie Melody)" impression montage he adds Brando's Godfather to his usual "you dirty rat"-era repertoire. Yet this still has plenty of his early 50s Decca-era material intact, and possibly was not an international release because so many of these numbers were on past live albums. He even goes back to his 20s child star days and does some tap dancing (on a live record, always a Sammy treat). There's a very long tribute to Sinatra, which is not as much of a genuflection as you might think, because he uses it to tell a lot of his own story (though singing about his daughter, Nancy, seems weird). I suppose in the 70s Sammy was not as powerful as earlier in his career, but as a showman, as a performer balancing cool delivery and desperate desire to please, and as a pure delivery system for Great American Songbook gems (especially "The Lady Is A Tramp" and "I've Got You Under My Skin") this dandy man could!

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