The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Friday, November 07, 2008

Rat Pack

11-7-08 Great ‘Rat Pack’ Recordings

As requested by reader Jim D.

Actually timed very well – My GF & I are on our way to Las Vegas this weekend! “To check out the lounges, pull a few handles and drink a few beers…” (to paraphrase “Billy The Mountain”). I’ve been to Vegas many times – miraculously starting when I turned 21, in 1979. For most of the 80’s, I wore a suit whenever I got to LV – I wanted to be proper, not attract any attention etc. It got weird when people started coming up to my in casinos, tugging on my jacket, “Sir, there’s a machine over there that isn’t working right!” – (incredulous pause) – “Sorry, mam. I am not an employee of this facility”.

Whaddya mean there aren’t any great legit ‘rat pack’ recordings? Yeah, yeah – I know. It’s not technically a bootleg, it’s…unauthorized. Yeah, that’s it. They are swearing? Telling dirty jokes? Singing and dancing up a storm?

I always wanted ‘in’ on the Sammy Davis Jr. action. I had the good fortune to see Sammy play live 2 or 3 times, while he still walked the Earth; both (all 3?) times in L.A., not Vegas. I had a Beta video from Japan that was a whole Sammy show, from Las Vegas – with the band lead by George Rhodes etc. Sammy’s the sole ‘rat packer’ present, but it rock – or, rather, didn’t ‘rock’. It swung!

I only ever saw Mr. Sinatra once – Greek Theatre, with Sam. Late 80’s? Sammy did his schtick, the ‘chairman’ swaggered a bit, sang his stuff – where’s the zip, the zang? Oh, he’s an old guy now. I get it. Groovy & snotty as a powerful middle-ager, not mellow’d out as an old guy, but…Thank God Don Rickles is still walkin’ around!

And poor old Dino (Dean Martin). So the drunk act wasn’t always an act? What a mellow singer – hard to imagine him ever partnering with Jerry Lewis! He always could pull a great face, whenever something ‘off’ was going on.

Sammy’s got live albums – but they’re not definitive. The “Frank Sinatra At The Sands” is pretty good, the CD even has a bonus track. Good sound, right time – but he’s solo, man. And I’m not sure about anything other than a latter day “Greatest Hits” CD for Dino. And my parents had some Louis Prima & Keely Smith albums, but I never got the joke.

Funny, I have several different CD’s themed as “Las Vegas” on Capitol:





As well as the series of “Live From Las Vegas” Capitol CD’s by Wayne Newton, Bobby Darin, Nancy Wilson etc.



Blogger dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie Ron, thanks for sharin' some disrespect, but our great man was never "poor or old"...always the coolest, the hippest, and the ever randiest of 'em all...never was, never will be anyone as cool as the King of Cool...oh, to return to the days when Dino walked the earth...

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Actually, Ron, you hit the nail on the head! I wasn't implying recordings of the entire "Rat Pack;" rather I was interested in FDS albums as a whole! Although I do have a CD/DVD of their Chicago "command performance" in 1962 at Villa Venice. Yeah, when Sam Giancana sez "jump" you reply "how high?"

And LIKE it.

Say Ron... any photos of the suit?

10:24 AM  
Blogger hesslei said...

The name "Rat Pack" was first used to refer to a group of friends in Hollywood informally organized around Humphrey Bogart and including the young Frank Sinatra. Several explanations have been offered for the famous name over the years. According to one version, the group's original "Den Mother," Lauren Bacall, after seeing her husband and his friends return from a night in Las Vegas, said words to the effect of "You look like a goddamn rat pack".


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9:52 PM  
Blogger chas_m said...

While I was never as big a fan of the individuals that made up the Rat Pack as, say, Jim, I remember how mesmerised I was when watching a one-time-only PBS broadcast of the "lost" 1965 Sands Show with Johnny Carson filling in for Joey Bishop.

To this day I still can't figure out what's the deal with Peter Lawson. :)

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank Sinatra Spectacular (Dean Martin,Sammy Davis Jr & Frank Sinatra,An Evening With The Rat Pack, Kiel Opera House, St Louis 1965)........

4:40 AM  

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