Bobby Darin - The Curtain Falls - Live At The Flamingo
This important new CD reviewed by Gerry Stonestreet
Intro - Hello young lovers / Ace in the hole / You're nobody 'til somebody loves you / Hits medley: Splish splash, Beyond the sea, Artificial flowers, Clementine / My funny valentine / I walk the line (parody) / 18 yellow roses / Mack the knife / Comedy routine / Work song / Michael row the boat ashore / Mary don't you weep / I'm on my way / The curtain falls
Collectors' Choice CCM 171 2 TPT 52 19
A live recording from the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas on November 9, 1963, this historic performance has been lying in the vaults for 37 years, so three cheers to Collectors' Choice Music for finally making it available.
1963 was a turbulent year for the 27 year old Darin, even by his standards. As the extensive and informative liner notes by James Ritz explain, earlier in the year Darin had purchased a music publishing company as an investment against the possible pending financial disaster of his falling marriage to the actress Sandra Dee. In July an open air performance in the pouring rain had resulted in his collapse and an oxygen tank had to be used.
This signalled his intention to cut down on live appearances to concentrate on films (his performance in 'Captain Newman MD' that year would result in a best supporting actor Academy Award nomination) and his business interests. The engagement at the Flamingo was therefore to be his last appearance there which gives this performance a special flavour.
Having left Atco for the prestigious Capitol label in 1962 great things were expected of Bobby Darin on record. Certainly, he recorded prolifically at Capitol releasing three new albums and numerous singles, but perhaps the diverse nature of his output was not exactly what was expected. Whilst the superb album, 'Oh Look At Me Now' with Billy May, lived up to expectations, there were plenty of raised eyebrows at 'Earthy' and 'You're The reason I'm Living'. Not that there should have been, for throughout his short career Bobby had always been full of surprises. I recall seeing him on a tour of the UK at the turn of the Sixties when in a package with Duane Eddy and Clyde McPhatter, he had confounded the expectations of a predominately teenage audience expecting to see the rock 'n' roller of 'Dream Lover' and 'Splish Splash' by appearing in a tuxedo and treating them to finger snapping, hip swingers like 'Beyond The Sea'!
This performance then captures Darin at a stellar moment of change. This time it is the Sinatra type swingers that are in for a surprise. Although the first part of the show, beginning with a typically Vegas-type opening number, a swingy 'Hello Young Lovers' leads into a solo version of the song so familiar from his duet with Johnny Mercer on their memorable 'Two of A Kind' collaboration and the conventional swing of 'You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You' hold no surprises, following a fairly perfunctory hits medley and a lovely, heartfelt 'Funny Valentine' Darin starts to ring the changes.
From a short parody of the Johnny Cash number 'I Walk The Line' we then hear the folk like 'Eighteen Yellow Roses' which had been a top ten hit a few months earlier.
It's a very quiet and effective treatment with Darin's voice acquiring the attractive 'burnt out' timbre he was to use so effectively on 'If I Were A Carpenter' in the future. The inevitable 'Mack The Knife' follows, which never falls to generate excitement. The next item, billed modestly as 'comedy routine' is in fact a masterly series of film star and singer impressions lasting 9 minutes or so, based on 'One For My Baby'. All of these are uncannily accurate, and those of Clark Gable, Marlon Brando and Walter Brennan are particularly amusing. Yet another aspect of Darin's versatility.
After this, we're into less familiar territory with a very convincing 'Work Song' from the LP 'Earthy', followed by two songs heard on the 'Golden Folk Hits' LP and then back to 'Earthy' for 'I'm On My Way'. Bobby then introduces 'The Curtain Falls' which given the circumstances is an entirely appropriate closer, and as he says, he had been waiting for the right time to introduce it. The audience reaction throughout is warmly enthusiastic, and it must have been quite an evening as this most comfortably versatile of performers shows off the full range of his talents on a varied range of material.
As we know from the previous Collectors' Choice CD, 'The Unreleased Capitol Sides' there was a lot of unissued material in the vaults and this one was apparently the victim of a reshuffle when Darin wanted out of his Capitol contract early in 1964 and then extended it for two more albums before signing for Atlantic. I understand that there are more Bobby Darin reissues pending (3 two on ones comprising Bobby Darin / Two Of A Kind, Love Swings / Twist With and That's All / Love Is).
Hopefully, we will eventually see all his output issued on CD. In the meantime, this admirable, if excessively overdue release fills a gap and will be snapped up by his many admirers. Article taken from In Tune International March 2001, issue 110