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Commitment / Rare Darin

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Album Review

Edsel Records' two-fer CD reissue of Bobby Darin's albums Commitment and Rare Darin brings together his recordings of 1969 onto a single disc. Commitment, originally released by Darin's own Direction Records label in July 1969, was his second album as a socially conscious folk-rock singer/songwriter following 1968's Born Walden Robert Cassotto, which had been a serious change of direction for a performer previously known for teen rock & roll hits like "Splish Splash" and the swing treatment of "Mack the Knife." For personal and political reasons, the chameleonic Darin, still only in his early thirties, had turned to a more contemporary musical approach that found him tossing away his toupee, trading in his tuxedo for denim, and playing acoustic guitar and harmonica to accompany self-written songs reflecting on himself and the world around him. Commitment was credited to Bob, not Bobby, Darin, and the evocation of Bob Dylan seemed deliberate. The album doesn't have anything as politically enraged as his 1968 chart single "Long Line Rider," but it does express hippie sentiments in folk-pop arrangements, with Darin singing in a nearly unrecognizable soft tenor. Rare Darin adds both sides of a couple of one-off singles released after Commitment, notably "Baby May," which has something of an Otis Redding-like Memphis R&B feel. Two tracks unreleased at the time include "Route 58," in which Darin, over a rock arrangement, suggests that he went astray after his early work, adding, "I guess I'm just a rock ‘n' roll singer tryin' to find my way." The four concluding tracks come from an appearance at the singer/songwriter-oriented Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles in May 1969, where Darin gets a warm reception while explaining his change of style and singing "Long Line Rider" and the hit he wrote for Tim Hardin, "Simple Song of Freedom." The "Bob Darin" phase of his career didn't go much beyond the recordings heard here, but it clearly had validity for the artist at the time, even if he wasn't ultimately able to find an audience outside the Troubadour to appreciate his new approach.


Born: 14 May 1936 in The Bronx, New York, NY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

There's been considerable discussion about whether Bobby Darin should be classified as a rock & roll singer, a Vegas hipster cat, an interpreter of popular standards, or even a folk-rocker. He was all of these and none of these. Throughout his career he made a point of not becoming committed to any one style at the exclusion of others; at the height of his nightclub fame he incorporated a folk set into his act. When it appeared he could have gone on indefinitely as a sort of junior version of Frank...
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Commitment / Rare Darin, Bobby Darin
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