When Dean Martin signed with Reprise Records in 1961 after a long tenure with Capitol, his old label may not have thought it was losing much, with rock & roll on the rise and old-school vocalists like Martin fading in popularity. But to the surprise of many, Martin became even more popular through the 1960s, and "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime" managed to nudge the Beatles from the top of the singles chart in 1964. As Dino's star continued to rise, Capitol kept his old albums for the label in print and between 1965 and 1967 put together four LPs of rare singles and unreleased tracks that were quietly released through its affiliated label Tower Records. Those four albums have become coveted collector's items among Martin fans, and Collectors Choice has finally given them their CD debut on a pair of two-fer reissues. Happy in Love is, as you'd expect, a collection of love songs, and while Martin is game on all ten tunes, the songs are not always up to his usual standards, though fans will be pleasantly surprised to find one track, "Rue de Mon Amour (Street of Love)," which was co-written by Dino, and "I'm Gonna Paper All My Walls With Your Love Letters" closes out the album on a rollicking note. And Dino -- Like Never Before features ten songs cut between 1950 and 1954, when Martin was still teamed up with Jerry Lewis, and most of these selection were initially written or recorded for their movies together. While Martin would gain strength and confidence as a singer with time, these recordings of the younger Martin are strong and playful, with Martin's easygoing manner already firmly in place. The other two-fer from Collectors Choice, The Lush Years/Relaxin', is a more satisfying collection than this one, but Happy in Love/Dino -- Like Never Before still has more than its share of pearly moments, and Martin's loyal fans will certainly be happy to see this material available again at last. ~ Mark Deming
13024GDean Martin - Happy In Love / Like Never Before (CD)http://oldies.scdn5.secure.raxcdn.com/i/boxart/large/06/08/617742060829.jpg?v=513.9814.38USDOutOfStockCollector's ChoiceCDVocals-MusicDean-Martin2006-10-11
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