Uncut - p.844 stars out of 5
- "A tough act to trump."
Personnel: Bobby Darin (vocals).
Audio Mixer: Charles Paakkari.
Liner Note Author: Will Friedwald.
Recording information: Los Angeles, CA (11/10/1963-03/11/1973); The Flamingo, Las Vegas, NV (11/10/1963-03/11/1973).
Arrangers: Richard Wess; Richard Weiss; Donald Peake; Ernie Freeman Combo; Jack Nitzsche; Jimmie Haskell; Billy May.
In a recording career lasting 17 years, Bobby Darin spent only three of those years, 1962-1965, signed to Capitol Records. They were busy years for him in the recording studio: he released seven Capitol LPs, five of which made the charts, and 11 Capitol singles, eight of which entered the Billboard Hot 100, two of those, the self-written, country-styled "You're the Reason I'm Living" and "18 Yellow Roses," reaching the Top Ten. Still, his relatively brief Capitol sojourn was not as memorable as his two stints at Atlantic Records, 1958-1961 (on the Atco subsidiary) and 1966-1967, which accounted for his eight other Top Ten hits, including the chart-topping "Mack the Knife." Naturally, however, Capitol has re-compiled its Darin catalog several times over the years, starting with 1966's deceptively titled The Best of Bobby Darin. In 2004, with a film biography and two book biographies imminent, Capitol tried again, and The Legendary Bobby Darin is the label's longest and most comprehensive attempt at a Darin compilation yet, topping out at 70-plus minutes and covering the stylistic bases of the singer's eclectic dabbling in rock & roll (the title song from his 1962 movie If a Man Answers), country (the hits noted above), folk-rock (the Atlantic recording of the Top Ten hit "If I Were a Carpenter"), and, of course, traditional pop. The last actually dominates the collection, with Darin, employing such arrangers as Frank Sinatra stalwart Billy May, turning in his versions of early-'60s show tunes and movie themes like "Once in a Lifetime," "Moon River," and "Hello, Dolly!" To give the collection the appearance of a more complete hits set, live versions of the Atco hits "Beyond the Sea" and "Mack the Knife" have been included, and the album concludes with two previously unreleased live cuts, both recorded in Las Vegas in 1963, the first a hits medley and the other a version of "The Curtain Falls." The result is a respectable effort that still represents only a slice of Darin's recording career. ~ William Ruhlmann