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Printable Version
Reviewed by -
Matt Rowe
The Rat Pack
Live at the Villa Venice
Released: October 28, 2003
Origination Year: 1962
Time: N/A
Tracks: 27
Produced by: Robert Finkelstein, Charles Pignone, & Elliot Mazer
Style: Live
Format: DVD-Audio
Enhancement: MLP / 5.1 Surround
Label:Reprise Records

Track Listing
  1. Fanfare & Introduction
  2. Medley (Martin)
  3. My Kind of Girl
  4. I Left My Heart in SF
  5. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
  6. Medley (Martin)
  7. Goody Goody
  8. Chicago
  9. When Your Lover Has Gone
  10. Monologue
  11. Please Be Kind
  12. Angel Eyes
  13. You're Nobody Until Somebody Loves You
  14. What Kind of Fool Am I?
  15. Out of This World
  16. She's Funny That Way
  17. Hey There
  18. Comedy
  19. Medley 1
  20. Medley 2
  21. Impressions
  22. Birth of the Blues
  23. Danny Thomas Intro
  24. Nancy (with the Laughing Face)
  25. Me and My Shadow
  26. Sam's Song
  27. Birth of the Blues (Reprise)

The Rat Pack

Frank Sinatra:

Dean Martin:

Sammy Davis Jr:

Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, and Frank Sinatra or The Rat Pack as they were known, fill this DVD-Audio offering to the brim with song, monologue, and comedy. Filmed at their stint at the Villa Venice, as a favour to Sam Giancana, this concert details a delightful buddy routine that is unmatched, even now. Try as you might, you may not find any three popular singers, in such close confines of their talent, merging and becoming a singular act, worthy of this treatment.

Reprise's interest in their library of Sinatra recordings is bringing to light some of the great material and thus creating not only a new market for hungry fans that want the old classics converted to the highest clarity possible but also providing a window for potential new fans to check out and find what many of us loved in these guys.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rat Pack, Live at the Villa Venice.

This album provides some 22 songs interspersed with comedy monologue with some of the songs broken up by funny interjections especially during Sammy Davis Jr's set. But they all got their jabs in on each other providing a balanced ribbing that indicated a comfortable love between this group of fellas, the kind that only close friends can initiate and get away with.

Each singer gets their top billing, singing a collection of songs and heavily packed medleys. Dean Martin sings his set in his signature and highly recognizeable voice including a satisfying turn on Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". The Martin show is turned over to Frank Sinatra who belts out 6 songs before turning it over to Sammy Davis Jr, who's first song, "What Kind of Fool Am I?" gets spectacular delivery thus showcasing Sammy Davis Jr's fine voice. His "She's Funny That Way" gets pelted out of the gate with vocal hilarity provided by Martin and Sinatra.

The sets become amplified when the guys combine to offer up unique renditions of songs that will never hold as true to the mystique or persona of The Rat Pack as these moments reveal. Frank and Dean combine to sing several medleys. Everyone get together to create a brand of magic that are found only on this disc. Admittedly, some fans might be irritated by the continual interruption of some songs so that true fans might be the only tolerant audience however, this rare recording offers a look into not only the personalities of the fellas but also their ability to mix fun with work, a trait that was inherent with Dean Martin and who was probably the impetus that spurred the contagious comedy.

But don't let the comedy throw you off of a good time. It's all done in respect of the music that these guys can produce and that line of sight is never lost. There's even a "hidden" or "unannounced" track that is found at the end of "Birth of the Blues (Reprise)".

The offered 5.1 surround sound provided on this disc is a nice add to this collection but it pales to the quality of the Stereo tracks. Given better quality, a stated 192kHz/24bit, the stereo tracks simply provide the clearest, most fulfilling presentation of the music and monlogue. The band and their instrumental offerings are nice sounding; rich without becoming an overshadowy force. A Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround is supplied for DVD video players without DVD-A capability. The DD 5.1 soundtrack still does an admirable job so no one, absolutely no one, gets left out in the cold.

The Advanced Resolution Surround Sound is offered at 96kHz at 24 bits and does a great job of plunking you right in the middle of the stage. Given the age of the analogue tape, the mix is done reasonably well. You won't be disappointed.

The album offers up a gallery of pictures that can be accessed via the extras menu along with credits and a video of one of the audio tracks. The video is "Impressions" and shows a clowning around by the three singers as they continually work to do impressions of actors, largely attempted by Sammy Davis Jr but effected by Sinatra and Martin as they team to prevent Davis from performing.

The booklet is full with b/w photos, an essay, full crediting of the album as well as the DVD-Audio authoring team and a breakdown of the songs.

The Rat Pack: Live & Swingin'/The Ultimate Rat Pack Collection is here for your enjoyment. You may not be all excited over the 5.1 mix or you may be overjoyed. What remains is that this collection receives a deserving preservation and update particularly in the stereo department. But whatever your flavour is, this album brings the booze to the party and the three best showmen that you'll ever know into the livingroom of your house. And that rocks.

Copyright © 2002-2003 Matthew Rowe. All rights reserved.
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Disclaimer: various news pieces may state a specific media publication or program as a source. All other news is considered 'rumour' only. That goes double for release dates.

212 Frech

"Even though most of the people I knew in my youth are gone, I still reach out to them..."
Norman Maclean - Paraphrase

"...we should enjoy every sandwich." -- Warren Zevon, 2003