It seems like every three or four years, there is a brand new Dean Martin Christmas album.
The last release came two years ago when Collectors Choice released "A Winter Romance". I grant you that this is not a full Christmas album but this was Dean's only holiday release during his entire time at Capitol Records in the 1950s.
Three years ago, we got ANOTHER Christmas album entitled "Christmas With Dino" strangely enough! That CD takes the best tracks from "A Winter Romance" and "The Dean Martin Christmas Album" from 1966.
I never purchased that version because I already owned the 1998 Capitol release "Making Spirits Bright" and thought I owned it all - how wrong I was!
This is why I broke down and purchased this new release from last Christmas (it didn't hurt Wal-Mart lowered its prices on holiday music about two weeks before Christmas). I then learned that this "new" CD has pretty much the same lineup from the first "Christmas With Dino" album (with a few exceptions).
First, a quick history lesson: Dino Paul Crocetti was born in Steubenville, Ohio. Most of his juvenile life was one step ahead of the law. Worked as a blackjack dealer in his teens. Went to New York to become a singer.
Was under contract to many different people (including Lou Costello) in his early singing career. Met a kid named Jerry Lewis. For ten years, Martin & Lewis reigned supreme as the Kings of Comedy on radio, television, and movies.
Dean's solo singing career gets some boosts late in the partnership ("Memories Are Made Of This" and "That's Amore"). Dean gets tired of playing organ grinder to Jerry's monkey. End of duet.
Dean gets several good movie roles ("The Young Lions", "Rio Bravo", "Some Came Running"). Teams up with Sinatra, Davis, Bishop, and Lawford to form the Rat Pack. In 1964, at the height of Beatlemania, Martin knocks the Beatles off the top of the charts with "Everybody Loves Somebody".
NBC offers Dean his own TV variety series. "Only if I can work one day a week," Dean counters. His show debuts in 1965 and is an immediate hit. Two years later, Martin makes the Guinness Book Of World Records by signing the richest TV contract in history - 3 years, $34 million.
Dean's magic touch begins to wear down in the early 1970s. His movies and records slowly die off while he transforms his variety show into his "celebrity roasts". He limits himself to club dates, mainly in Las Vegas. In 1976, Dean reunites with Jerry on his Labor Day Telethon.
In the 1980s, Dean acts in the two "Cannonball Run" movies (why, Dean, why?) and loses his beloved son Dino Jr. to a plane crash. Sinatra tries to shake Dean out of the doldrums by reuniting with Sammy for a 1988 Rat Pack tour. Dean is bored and leaves the tour early.
In 1989, Jerry appears on stage with Dean for the final time to present him a birthday cake (around 3:50 YouTube). Martin's health begins to go south, gives his final appearance on stage in 1991, and he becomes a virtual recluse. On Christmas Day, 1995, Dean dies in his sleep at his home.
On the day of the funeral, the entire Las Vegas strip dims its lights for 10 minutes in his memory.
So what gives? Why the over saturation with the Dean Christmas? It seems late last year, EMI Music entered into a worldwide exclusive partnership with the Dean Martin Trust to act as agent for licensing Martin’s name, image, and likeness. EMI will continue to market Martin’s expansive Capitol Records and Reprise Records recording catalogs on a worldwide basis.
This was their first big release under this new arrangement - Corporate Dino. We might see more of the obscure Dean Martin stuff be reissued... but there's that chance we'll see Dino in a computer morphed TV commercial for some stupid product - the thought makes me nauseous.
What I want to know is what's the difference between the two "Christmas With Dino" albums? Can someone help me with a comparison?
As for the Christmas album pictured above... it's Dean singing Christmas classics. Need I say more?
UP NEXT: Four old fitzgeralds, three rob roys, two cutty sarks, and a surrey with the fringe on top.