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20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Sammy Davis, Jr.

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Album Review

Nearly all of the Universal Music Group's releases under its discount-priced reissue series 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection are given the generic title "The Best of...," including this one on Sammy Davis, Jr. Although several of Davis' many label affiliations are now to be found in the Universal vaults, including Decca and Motown, this collection selects only from Davis' recordings for the MGM Records label in 1972 and 1973. As it happens, that brief tenure marked a commercial comeback on records for him, including his biggest single hit, the gold-selling, chart-topping "The Candy Man." But the early '70s was a confusing time for pre-rock pop singers like Davis, and that confusion is reflected in the diversity of styles found here. Davis essays familiar-sounding material like "I'll Begin Again" and "I'm Not Anyone," the sort of self-dramatizing ballads at which he excels. But there are also country-styled numbers ("Have a Little Talk with Myself," "[I'd Be] A Legend in My Time"), the folk-pop standard "Mr. Bojangles" (which Davis turned into something of a signature song), and a version of Isaac Hayes' "Theme from Shaft" retitled "John Shaft" and produced by Hayes himself. A live segment at the end including a "Porgy & Bess Medley" gives a sense of Davis' impressive on-stage skills. Although it was often atypical stylistically, the MGM period was an interesting one in Davis' long career, and fans will welcome the CD reissue of some of these tracks.

Biography

Born: December 08, 1925 in Harlem, New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Recognized throughout much of his career as "the world's greatest living entertainer," Sammy Davis, Jr. was a remarkably popular and versatile performer equally adept at acting, singing, dancing, and impersonations — in short, a variety artist in the classic tradition. A member of the famed Rat Pack, he was among the very first African-American talents to find favor with audiences on both sides of the color barrier, and remains a perennial icon of cool. Born in Harlem on December 8, 1925, Davis...
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