Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dean Martin - Christmas With Dino

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.



dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, like thank you so much for this Dinopostin'. The biggest Dinodiff on the "newest" Christmas With Dino album is that it includes a "virtual" duet with Martina McBride of "Baby It's Cold Outside" and alternate versions of three other Dinosongs. Oh, to return to the days when Dino walked the earth.

Stephen said...

I don't care how many times "Baby, It's Cold Outside" gets sung - ever. Dean's version of that song will always be the definitive. But I've always wondered, who is it that he's singing with? Anyone?

happyfeet.dinojr said...

For some people making money is really the most important thing, but whatever they will do with Dino's name, Dino will never loose his coolness and let's say "devel may care about their crazy plans" The King of Cool will always be who he is, the coolest and greatest entertainer ever1 Dinoly yours, Nici

CaptainOT said...

Dino Martin Peters - Thanks for the comparison, chickie baby and all that lingo. I'm cool like that... on all four sides!

Stephen - I've e-mailed the Dean Martin Fan Center ( and maybe we'll get an answer!

Happy - Yes, Dino will never lose his cool but that might change when you see his image in the wrong way. Let's hope the suits handle our beloved Dean carefully.


dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie Capt, you are like most Dinowelcome...always glad to share any Dinoinfo that I know. May all our days be Dinodays!!!!

CaptainOT said...

The Dean Martin Fan Center came through:

The background singer on "Baby, It's Cold Outside" listed herself as Pamela Drake, a studio singer in the original documentation for the session recorded August 6, 1959 at the Capitol Recording Tower in Hollywood, California.


Anonymous said...

"Corporate Dino" interesting concept, and yes, in some ways, it does seem to be moving in that direction. Like anything involving a departed legend (i.e. Dean, Frank, Elvis, etc.)it has it's "pros and cons". The obvious "pros" are:
1. Keeping the artist's image and product in the public's eye.
2. Maintaining an awareness of the artist for future generations.
3. Perpetuating, and in some cases, increasing, a "revenue-stream" for the heirs and business associates of the artist. After all, in most cases, that was the artists' intent, to leave a legacy, and a finacial security, for their families and friends.
Depending on how it's handled, it can be a very good thing for all concerned.
However, the "cons" could be:
1. Exploitation of the artist and/or product for the sole purpose of just making a quick buck.
2. "Re-inventing" the artist to "update" his or her image and/or product, in an attempt to make them more "politically-correct" or "palatable" to current tastes and preceived marketability, thereby diminishing the true essence of what we originally loved about these artists in the first place.

Time and time again we have seen examples of all of the above, good and bad. And in many cases, the estates of the artists are now worth far more than they were when the artist was alive.

We, as fans, can only hope that the persons in charge of the late artists' legacy go forward with integrity and and a true respect for the wishes and aspirations of the original artist.

Just a thought anyway.

CaptainOT said...

Anon - You have eloquently explained my original thought perfectly.

Fred Astaire dancing with a Hoover vacuum in a TV commercial a few years back keeps flashing in my mind as the worst example of corporate imaging...