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Music Review: Christmas With the Rat Pack

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With a multitude of choices in regards to Christmas-themed music collections by modern artists, sometimes it is best to leave the classics to the practiced veterans. For that timeless sound consider the voices of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. on the re-released Christmas With the Rat Pack compilation. As three of the members of the Rat Pack, these guys really know how to deliver some smooth holiday tunes.

Originally recorded in the 50s and 60s, the Christmas songs on Christmas With the Rat Pack is an enjoyable throwback. Most of the songs have the sweeping musical accompaniments of violins that were customary for tunes of that age. Backing vocals are sung by a collective chorus of saccharine-voiced ladies that loftily highlight the cheery topics at hand. With every song rarely surpassing three minutes in length, each composition allows a peek into a time of nostalgia before speedily moving on to the next track.

Singing on nearly half of the songs on the compilation, Frank Sinatra is the pure voice that seems to easily deliver a sharp or soft tone whenever necessary. He is able to invoke some energy into “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” as well as slip into a soothing rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” rather easily. Regardless of volume, Sinatra’s dreamy vocals consistently swirl one into contentedness.

Dean Martin varies his presentation in a couple of ways. On “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Winter Wonderland”, Martin comes across as playful. Whether it is manufactured or not, hearing Martin sing these songs makes one get the sense that he is in a good mood and having a cheerful time singing. Martin also shows off some crooning ability in “Silent Night” and “Silver Bells” that pleasantly complement his more jovial selections.

Unfortunately, Sammy Davis, Jr only has three tracks on this record but he makes the most of it. Davis shows quite a bit of vocal power in “Jingle Bells” yet is able to sing personally in “The Christmas Song”. It is “Christmas Time All Over the World” which probably showcases his range the best, but he is constantly accompanied with children vocals that come across as a bit trite these days. Like musical show tunes and pop songs of the day, it is not entirely surprising to hear Davis have to compete for time with kids on the song. However, this collection could have used more of his excellent voice alone if only he had recorded more Christmas songs.

As mentioned before, many artists have chosen to lend their vocals to singing traditional Christmas songs like “Silver Bells” and “The First Noel”. However, the voices and production sometimes can sound superfluously lengthy and over the top. On Christmas With the Rat Pack, one can enjoy classic Christmas songs by three of the most popular artists ever recorded and feel that they have chosen a holiday soundtrack that will never truly get old.

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