That's All

Darin, Bobby

album cover

Oh, the Shark Bites. . .

Although he's often portrayed as a Junior Sinatra nightclub entertainer who knew how to work the celebrity game, Bobby Darin was above all a singer. Blessed with the ability to propel a big band or croon confidingly in intimate settings, Darin (1936–1973) was curious about all kinds of music, and gamely experimented with unusual material (in the mid-'60s his live show included a "folk" set). He first appeared as an upmarket teen idol; in 1958, his Top 10 hits included "Splish Splash" and "Queen of the Hop." By the release of this second album the following year, he put himself in a completely different orbit: That's All not only features his signature hit, that swaggering mob-don version of the Threepenny Opera song "Mack the Knife," but shapely, seemingly effortless versions of "It Ain't Necessarily So" and "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise."

Darin trod lightly on songs that others crushed to death, and his irreverence—which becomes distracting on the chatty Darin at the Copa, recorded shortly after this date—makes these studio renditions magnetic. He flips his way through the swinging big-band barnstormer "I'll Remember April," then turns around and sings the beautiful title track and "Beyond the Sea," another Top 10 hit, with a coy caginess. "Mack the Knife" topped the singles charts for nine consecutive weeks, won the Record of the Year Grammy, and helped Darin take home the Best New Artist trophy as well. Heard decades removed from the frenzy he created (and cultivated), it stands as the most fetching statement Darin ever made. It's a snapshot of a star just before he hits warp speed, at perhaps the last moment he can afford to play fast, loose, and casual.

Genre: Vocals
Released: 1959, Atco
Key Tracks: "Mack the Knife," "It Ain't Necessarily So," "Beyond the Sea," "I'll Remember April."
Catalog Choice: Darin at the Copa.
Next Stop: Dion: Lovers Who Wander
After That: Jamie Cullum: Twentysomething.
Book Pages: 206–207

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