Buy ‘Dino: The Essential Dean Martin’ if you want to own the most complete compilation of his hits in a single source. This collection was released in 2004 by Capitol Records, and has been released since 2005 as a Special Platinum Edition. The 2004 release features 30 digitally remastered songs. Among these are the obvious hits like ‘That’s Amore’ and ‘Volare’ and forgotten hits or dean that the dean himself loved, like ‘Send me the pillow you dream of.’
Platinum Edition includes a second CD of a live performance Martin recorded in Lake Tahoe in 1962, with an introduction by Sinatra. It was a rare gem. Martin was under contract with Sinatra’s Reprise Records and the Rat Pack was on its popularity.
Buy some important albums if you want to compile a more complete discography. Martin signed with Capitol Records from 1953 to 1964, overlapping his time with Reprise, from 1962 to 1978. (Capitol continues to release and re-release Martin’s recordings.) His first album, ‘Dean Martin Sings’, was released at the height of his partnership with Jerry Lewis, largely as a novelty. It contains none of Martin’s recognizable hits but is crucial for collectors.
‘This Time I’m’ Swingin ” (Capitol, 1960) is considered one of his best albums. It includes the hits ‘You are nobody, until someone loves you’ and ‘Just in Time’ and a very romantic but rare recording of ‘I have grown to her face.’ ‘Hello brother, pour the wine’ (Capitol, 1964) has the ebullient ‘Memories Are Made of This’, the romantic ‘Sway’ and ‘Standing on the Corner’, plus some fun if not very well known songs.
Buy some albums from the Rat Pack era, when Martin had the most artistic control over his records and his voice was at its most mature.
Martin was proud of his Italian heritage and recorded ‘Dino: Italian Love Songs’ for Capitol Records in 1962. This includes such significant songs as ‘Ritorna Me’, ‘Arrivederci, Roma’ and ‘Non Dimenticar.’ It also includes a recording of ‘I Only Have A Heart’, which became known a decade later as the wedding song in ‘The Godfather’.
One gem is ‘Sleep Warm’ (Capitol, 1959), which was orchestrated by Sinatra. This concept album had a bed theme with such recordings as ‘Cuddle a Little Closer’ and ‘Good Night Sweetheart’. ‘Rat Pack Live at the Sands’ captures a performance from 1963, with Martin hosting performances by Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. It was not released until 2001 by the Capitol.
If you like country music, download some of Martin’s country albums. His country music recording career began with Country Style (Reprise, 1963). He was named Country Music Association Man of the Year in 1965, both for his recordings and for presenting country musicians on his TV series.
His three best-selling country albums were ‘Dean’ Tex ‘Martin’ (Reprise, 1963), ‘Welcome to My World’ (Reprise, 1967) and ‘Gentle on My Mind’ (1968). After Warner Bros. Records bought Reprise, it released an excellent Dean Martin country collection in 1983, ‘The Nashville Sessions.’
Tips and warnings
Dean Martin recorded 44 studio albums and two live albums, and appears on several compilation albums, such as ‘The Rat Pack Live at the Sands.’ Since his death in 1995, nine significant boxed sets have been released. Still, he was not as productive as his close friend Frank Sinatra (who recorded more than 1,000 songs in his career) and Martin did not have many hits. If you want to collect the best of the dean, start with a good boxed set or some of his best albums.