Monday, February 07, 2005

That's Entertainment...or it used to be

I gave up on Paul McCartney during the Super Bowl halftime show in favor of a friend's DVD of the Rat Pack live in concert from 1965. God, it was good.

The late, great Johnny Carson hosted the program, cracking jokes and making one remember how much fun the old "Tonight Show" used to be. After a few wisecracks, suddenly there was Dino Martin, looking suave as usual, singing Roger Miller's "King of the Road."

Martin told a few jokes and crooned awhile, treating the audience to "Everybody Loves Somebody" and "Volare." He was such an underrated talent. Although he played second bananna to the whirling dervish that was Jerry Lewis (and often to Sinatra, too), Martin was a star in his own right. Watch him for a few moments and you'll see what I mean.

Switching back to see if the game was on, Sir Paul was lip-syncing to "Baby You Can Drive My Car." Puke.

After Dino came Sammy Davis, with his friendly smile, belting out showtunes. The other day, TV Land was airing his last TV appearance, when he tapped danced for the last time. He was a treasure. Here's hoping Mr. Bojangles is dancing for God somewhere up in Heaven.

Being short on time, we fast forwarded to the Chairman of the Board. Nobody could sing a pop song like Frankie. His phrasing was priceless.

We then fast forwarded to the three of them performing together, with Carson standing by offering an occasional joke and even part of a song.

"Imagine what it was like being in that audience," a friend remarked. "What an all-star cast."

Indeed. Popular music has never been as good as it was during that era. For all of their splash, the Beatles couldn't polish the Rat Pack's cocktail glasses. Sorry, Sir Paul.

Perhaps Dudley Moore said it best. His character George Webber, in Blake Edwards' 1979 hit "10", laments over the worthlessness of pop music.

"Can you imagine anyone sitting around nostalgically in 20 years singing 'Why Don't We Do It in the Road?'" Webber askes at one point.

Not hardly.

Night and day, Frankie, you are still the one....

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