Happy 60th: Bobby Darin, THIS IS DARIN
60 years ago today, a real happenin’ cat – a fella who was born with the name Walden Robert Cassotto but came to be better known by his stage moniker – released a jazzy little full-length number which turned out to be the second top-10 album of his career.
THIS IS DARIN was actually Darin’s third album, but his self-titled debut LP never actually charted, although it did provide the world with a classic single in the form of “Splish Splash.” Between that initial LP and his second album, THAT’S ALL, Darin also struck paydirt with his version of Woody Harris’s “Queen of the Hop” as well as “Dream Lover,” which was ultimately a far more important hit in the long run, as Darin wrote all by his lonesome. Both tracks were top-10 hits, and as a result of these singles increasing his name recognition, Darin released That’s All to tremendous acclaim, winning Grammys for Record of the Year and Best New Singer, providing him with career-defining singles like “Mack the Knife” – his first #1 hit – and “Beyond the Sea” (#6), and achieving a level of success which effectively ensured that all eyes and ears would be on whatever he might decide to do next.
Unsurprisingly, THIS IS DARIN proved to be a bigger out-of-the-gate success than its predecessor, with the album hitting #6 on the Billboard Top 200. The success of its singles, however, was decidedly more muted, with only one track – a cover of “Clementine” (yes, the song Huckleberry Hound always used to croon) – making the charts, and even that only made it to #21.
The idea behind THIS IS DARIN, which contained nary a song actually composed by Darin, was reportedly to cement Bobby as the go-to guy for interpreting standards, and it’s been said that he felt obliged to prove that, unlike the typical teen idols and rock ‘n’ rollers of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, he had some serious pipes and knew how to use ‘em. Listening to the material now, there’s no question that he achieved that goal, at least, tackling material by Johnny Mercer (“Have You Got Any Castles, Baby”), Duke Ellington (“Caravan”), Frank Loesser (“Guys and Dolls”), Sammy Cahn (“Pete Kelly’s Blues”), Ira Gershwin (“The Gal That Got Away”), and Dorothy Fields’ and Jimmy McHugh’s classic “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.”
In the end, THIS IS DARIN may not have set the charts alight for the long haul, but one thing’s for sure: it still swings, baby!
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