Robert S. Ensler Presents

A Tribute To Bobby Darin

Albums on CD


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Robert as Bobby
Albums on CD
30th Anniversary




Live at Flamingo

Capital Unreleased


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Live at Flamingo 





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Twist with Bobby Darin

Though the songs on it were recorded over a four-year period, and despite the fact that this 1961 album of hits, b-sides and early up-tempo numbers was hastily assembled by Atco as an answer to the twist craze then sweeping the nation, 'Twist with Bobby Darin' is probably the single best collection of Bobby’s rockin’ sides ever released. Includes 'Bullmoose; Early in the Morning' (which Atco originally released under the name “The Rinky Dinks!”); 'Mighty Mighty Man; You Know How; Somebody to Love; Multiplication; Irresistible You; Queen of the Hop; You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby; Keep A Walkin’; Pity Miss Kitty', and 'I Ain’t Sharin’ Sharon'. The man could do it all and he proves it here for all posterity.


Bobby Darin "Sings Ray Charles"

Bobby’s last recording project for Atco (three other albums of material recorded earlier were released subsequently, see below) was his homage to his hero Ray Charles, made with ace arranger Jimmie Haskell and sidemen Red Callender, Plas Johnson, Nino Tempo and Earl Palmer—no wonder Bobby said “Making this album was one of the biggest kicks of my life!” Indeed, Bobby takes to the R&B material like the natural he was, and his sheer joy in performing these songs really shines through on these 1962 record. Includes 'What’d I Say; I Got a Woman; Tell All the World About You; Tell Me How Do You Feel; My Bonnie; The Right Time' (a duet with Darlene Love); 'Hallelujah I Love Her So; Leave My Woman Alone; Ain’t That Love; Drown in My Own Tears', and 'That’s Enough'. Some nice quotes from Jimmie Haskell in the notes, too!


Bobby Darin "Love Swings"

One of Bobby’s best! This 1961 album took 12 tunes from the Great American Songbook to tell the story of a doomed romance, with side one being the blossoming and side two the break-up. If that sounds Sinatra-esque, you’re right; this is probably Bobby’s most overt attempt at the concept album format Frank pioneered, and it’s a triumph, with excellent arranging by Torrie Zito. A bunch of songs here haven’t even shown up on Darin compilations, either, so count this as a must! Includes 'Long Ago; I Didn’t Know What Time It Was; How About You; The More I See You; It Had to Be You; No Greater Love; In Love in Vain; Just Friends; Something to Remember You By; Skylark; Spring Is Here', and 'I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan'.


Bobby Darin "Things & Other Things"

Atco had a hit with Bobby’s country-ish 'Things' in the summer of ’62, but he had already left the label, so they had no album to go with it! So, like on 'Twist with Bobby Darin', they put together a collection of odds ’n’ ends from the vaults, and, like on 'Twist', they ended up with a fine album despite themselves! Which, of course, is just a testament to Bobby’s greatness; in fact, this album may be the single most definitive demonstration of his amazing versatility, boasting country, folk, jazz, pop, rock and even tropical stylings with all but two songs written by the man himself. Includes 'Things; I’ll Be There; Lost Love; Look for My True Love; Beachcomber; Now We’re One; Oo-Ee-Train; Jailer Bring Me Water; Nature Boy; Theme from “Come September,”' and 'Sorrow Tomorrow'.


Bobby Darin "It's You Or No One" 

Though Bobby recorded this record back in 1960, Atco didn’t release it until 1963. The problem was that he had just emerged from teen idol-dom with his hit version of 'Mack the Knife', and if the label didn’t quite know if they had a teenybopper heartthrob or a tuxedo-clad hipster on their hands, they SURE didn’t know what to do with this, probably the most ambitious album of Bobby’s career. Side one presents Bobby with string (!) arrangements by Torrie Zito, while side two is Bobby at his all-time moodiest, with arrangements by jazz pianist Bobby Scott. This came and went pretty quietly, but, with almost none of these songs otherwise available, for Darin aficionados the release of this concept album on CD is BIG news. Includes 'It’s You or No One; I Hadn’t Anyone ‘Til You; Not Mine; I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me; I’ve Never Been in Love Before; All or Nothing at All; Only One Little Item; Don’t Get Around Much Anymore; I’ll Be Around; All I Do Is Cry', and 'I Guess I’m Good for Nothing'.


Bobby Darin "Winners" 

When Atco had a surprise hit in 1964 with Bobby’s version of Edith Piaf’s 'Milord', they once again reached into the vaults for an album to follow up the single. This time, though, there was a complete album session from 1960 just sitting there begging to be released, a small jazz combo session that Bobby Scott had arranged. And, once again, the vaunted Darin versatility surfaces, for this is the jazziest album of his career, a mixture of uptempo and ballad numbers handled with equal aplomb by the legend. Includes 'Milord; Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea; Anything Goes; Do Nothin’ ’Til You Hear from Me; Golden Earrings; When Day Is Done; I Found a New Baby; What a Difference a Day Made; What Can I Say after I Say I’m Sorry; Hard Hearted Woman; Easy Living', and 'They All Laughed.'

Title: Live At The Flamingo
Artist: Bobby Darin

On November 9, 1963, Bobby Darin performed and recorded four separate shows at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. Now, with the help of our friends at Capitol Records, we have pieced together the best moments of those four shows to bring you one complete Bobby Darin concert, one fabulous unreleased performance after another.





Live At The Flamingo


Intro/Hello Young Lover


Ace In The Hole


You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You


Hits Medley: Splish Splash/Beyond The Sea/Artificial Flowers/Clementine


My Funny Valentine


I Walk The Line (Parody)


Yellow Roses


Mack The Knife


Comedy Routine


Work Song


Michael (Row The Boat Ashore)


Mary Don't You Weep


I'm On My Way Great God


The Curtain Falls



Unreleased Capitol Sides


I Got Rhythm


Alabamy Bound


I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now


When My Baby Smiles At Me


Beautiful Dreamer


When You Were Sweet Sixteen


I Ain't Got Nobody


My Melancholy Baby


You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You


What Kind Of Fool Am I?


Moon River


This Nearly Was Mine


Tall Hope


The Sweetest Sounds


Standing On The Corner


Stop The World (And Let Me Off)




Somebody Stole My Gal


Two Tickets


Love Letters


Gyp, The Cat


Just Bummin' Around


On The Street Where You Live


Red Roses For A Blue Lady


If I Ruled The World





"From Hello, Dolly To Goodbye, Charlie/Venice Blue"

Classic collections of popular standards released in 1964 and 1965, respectively. A return to the big band swagger of "Mack The Knife," but with an enriched, more mature vocal style. From uptempo swingers like "Hello, Dolly" and "Charade" to sensitive ballads like "Days Of Wine And Roses" and "Dear Heart," Darin makes these tunes his own, with arrangements by Richard Wess and Ernie Freeman.

From Hello Dolly to Goodbye Charlie

Venice Blue


 1. Hello, Dolly!
 2. Call Me Irresponsible
 3. The Days Of Wine And Roses
 4. More
 5. The End Of Never
 6. Charade
 7. Once In A Lifetime
 8. Sunday In New York
 9. Where Love Has Gone
10. Look At Me
11. Goodbye, Charlie

12. Venice Blue
13. I Wanna Be Around
14. Somewhere
15. The Good Life
16. Dear Heart
17. Softly, As I Leave You
18. You Just Don't Know
19. There Ain't No Sweet Gal That's Worth The Salt Of My Tears
20. Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)
21. A Taste Of Honey
22. In A World Without You

Total Time: 56:31


"You're The Reason I'm Living/18 Yellow Roses"

This CD contains two very different albums, recorded within months of each other in 1963, born of similar circumstances - a hit single precipitating a swiftly recorded album. That each was commercially and artistically successful is proof positive that Bobby Darin possessed a talent unlike any other entertainer of the day. You're The Reason I'm Living is Darin's country-influenced album, with classic countrypolitan arrangements by Gerald Wilson. Never one to stick with convention, Darin commissioned another jazz veteran, Shorty Rogers, to write charts that blur the distinction between country and big band jazz. Classics like Hank Williams' "Lonesome Whistle" and Buck Owens' "Under Your Spell Again" are cloaked in jazzy, beat-driven vestments, foreshadowing a sound that would later be popularized by the Stax record label. Darin and Rogers take the Nashville sound one or two steps further than it had ever previously been taken, and they succeed brilliantly.

18 Yellow Roses is an homage to Darin's Brill Building roots. A collection of hit songs of the day, it emphasizes material made popular by teen acts and written by tunesmiths associated with the New York-based hit factory. Ace arrangements by Jack Nitzsche, Bert Keyes, Bobby Scott, and Walter Raim enhance Darin's performance of teen classics like "Our Day Will Come" and "The End Of The World." Darin's own composition, "Not For Me," stands as an undiscovered classic youth pop song.

You're The Reason I'm Living

18 Yellow Roses

 1. Sally Was A Good Old Girl
 2. Be Honest With Me
 3. Oh, Lonesome Me
 4. (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle
 5. It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'
 6. You're The Reason I'm Living
 7. Please Help Me, I'm Falling
 8. Under Your Spell Again
 9. Here I Am
10. Who Can I Count On
11. Now You're Gone
12. Release Me

13. 18 Yellow Roses
14. On Broadway
15. Ruby Baby
16. Reverend Mr. Black
17. The End Of The World
18. Not For Me
19. Walk Right In
20. From A Jack To A King
21. I Will Follow Her
22. Our Day Will Come
23. Can't Get Used To Losing You
24. Rhythm Of The Rain

Total Time: 60:47



"Earthy!/Golden Folk Hits"

Darin's undiscovered folk masterpieces will amaze and delight even the most casual fan. While many are familiar with Darin's big band style of singing, few know of his work in the folk genre. A labor of love, reflecting Darin's desire to provide more popular exposure to traditional, or roots, music, Earthy is a survey of music of many cultures. Latin American tunes, spirituals, chain gang blues, even a Haitian lullaby receive a highly effective reading. Includes Darin's definitive rendition of Nat Adderley and Oscar Brown, Jr.'s "Work Song."

Golden Folk Hits is a collection of popular folk songs of the early 1960's, with an emphasis on folk protest numbers. Modern classics such as "The Hammer Song" and "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" accompany spirited renditions of "Greenback Dollar" and "Train To The Sky." An early champion of Bob Dylan, Darin covers two classics, "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" and "Blowin In The Wind." If you haven't heard these recordings, you haven't experienced the true range of Bobby Darin's talents as an interpreter of popular song.


Golden Folk Hits

 1. Long Time Man
 2. Work Song
 3. La Bamba
 4. I'm On My Way Great God
 5. The Sermon Of Samson
 6. Strange Rain
 7. Why Don't You Swing Down
 8. Everything's Okay
 9. Guantanamera
10. When Their Mama Is Gone
11. Fay-O
12. The ER-I-EE Was A'Rising

13. Mary Don't You Weep
14. Where Have All The Flowers Gone?
15. If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song)
16. Don't Think Twice, It's Alright
17. Greenback Dollar
18. Why, Daddy, Why
19. Michael Row The Boat Ashore
20. Abilene
21. Green, Green
22. Settle Down (Goin' Down That Highway)
23. Blowin' In The Wind
24. Train To The Sky

Total Time: 68:27



Duke Ellington once commented that there are two kinds of music: good music – and the other kind. Bobby Darin lived his life in accordance with this sage observation. Throughout his brief but brilliant career he embraced a multitude of styles from rock-n-roll to swing, rhythm and blues to country, spirituals to folk. He was equally adept in all genres, and yet his folk recordings are perhaps the least understood and certainly the most underrated. This compact disc rectifies that undervaluation, serving as evidence that Darin was ahead of his time in his appreciation for and interpretation of folk music.

At the time these recordings were made, Darin had already established himself as a musical chameleon. His initial success with “Splish Splash” and “Dream Lover” was quickly followed by the triumph of “Mack the Knife” and the transition to so-called “adult music.” From teenybopper to Vegas headliner in literally months, Darin proved equally adept at Vaudeville-era material, holding his own in performance with show business veterans such as Jimmy Durante, George Burns, and Johnny Mercer.

In 1962, Capitol Records lured Darin away from Atco, the label with which he had first achieved success, with a contract that at the time was the richest ever for a recording artist. Capitol was intent on filling the void left by the departure of Frank Sinatra in 1961. In keeping with this implicit assumption of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ mantle, Darin’s first session for his new label was a Billy May-arranged collection of standards, Oh! Look At Me Now.

Darin intended his sophomore release for Capitol to be entirely different. As a forward-looking artist, he was constantly searching for new sounds and talent. His vision of popular music was broad, and he was a champion of diversity and multiculturalism before such terms became part of the American vocabulary.

In May 1962, Darin began experimenting with a folk music interlude during his live performances. On tour with the Count Basie Orchestra, the band would lay out while Darin, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, performed Leadbelly’s “Cottonfields.” The Tarriers, a folk group that had scored a hit with “The Banana Boat Song,” accompanied Darin on other songs during part of this segment. These performances were the beginning of the album that would become Earthy.

Earthy was conceived as a presentation of folk music from a variety of cultures. American prison and chain gang songs are presented along with spirituals, Latin-American tunes, talking blues, and even a song of Haitian origin. Such a collection is markedly different from the more common folk material of the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul, and Mary. In fact, the repertoire has more in common with the material of Harry Belafonte, who contributed an arrangement of “La Bamba” to the album.

Darin enlisted an old high school friend, Walter Raim, to develop arrangements for the rest of the album. When contacted by Darin, Raim had most recently been working with Belafonte. Raim later recalled that “He (Darin) saw in folk music a sophistication of some kind, a higher calling. He had in his mind that he was doing something more important than singing Las Vegas standards. He was attracted to the realness, the down-to-earth thing.”

Raim’s arrangements are suitably sparse. For the most part, guitar, bass, percussion, and vocal chorus are the only accompaniment. The feeling is one of intimacy, pulling the listener in and drawing attention to the lyric.

The album opens with two prison songs – “Long Time Man” and “Work Song”. Both effectively convey the pathos of the individual who has lost control of his destiny. Additionally, both songs include nonverbal vocalizations (whistles, shouts, grunts) that reflect the influence of WPA-era recordings of field hollers that Darin listened to with his friend/producer Nik Venet. On “Long Time Man,” an imaginary mule train is coaxed along with Darin’s whistles and shouts of “Yah!” On “Work Song,” the impact of the sledgehammer is punctuated by the protagonist’s grunt of exertion. These added features make the tunes more evocative and therefore more effective.

“Work Song” is a masterpiece. The Nat Adderley-Oscar Brown composition offers a bleak portrayal of despair driven by poverty and poor choices. Backed only by bass and drums, Darin’s vocal nuances mesmerize the listener from beginning to end. The jazz undertone, created by the syncopated bass line and an unexpected modulation to a higher key create a driving, tension-filled performance. (For an interesting contrast, listen to Sammy Davis, Jr.’s version on his collaboration with Count Basie, Our Shining Hour.)

On “La Bamba” and “Guantanamera,” additional percussion and Bud Shank’s flute augment the musical accompaniment. Of particular note are the rhythmic handclaps on “La Bamba” and Darin’s impish interjection of “Play, Mr. Shank” at the onset of the flute solo. Although Raim maintains in the original liner notes that both Latin tunes are sung entirely in Spanish, Darin can clearly be heard repeating “I hear you now” during a customary call-and-response refrain on “La Bamba.”

The American spiritual tradition is represented by “The Sermon of Samson” (later covered by the Grateful Dead as “Samson and Delilah”), “Why Don’t You Swing Down,” and “I’m On My Way Great God.” This last number was frequently included in Darin’s live sets, including his appearance on Judy Garland’s variety show shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. A particularly stirring version can be heard on the Collector’s Choice CD Bobby Darin: The Curtain Falls – Live at the Flamingo. Darin later paid tribute to Robert Kennedy by resuming its performance after his death in 1968.

Comic relief is provided in the form of Hank Williams’ “Everything’s Okay” and “The ER-I-EE Was A’Rising.” Despite these tracks, Earthy as a whole is permeated with a sense of fatalism, a recognition of the limitations of the human condition.

Although recorded only days after Oh! Look At Me Now, Earthy sat in Capitol’s vaults for nearly a year. “You’re the Reason I’m Living,” a country-flavored single, was released in December of 1962 and became an instant hit. As was common practice during the era, Darin went into the studio to record an album of material in support of the single. The LP, You’re the Reason I’m Living, was released in February 1963, and the release of Earthy was pushed back to mid 1963.

Another top ten single, 18 Yellow Roses, nearly resulted in an additional delay. When it became clear that he had another hit single on his hands, Darin rushed into the studio to record an album of material to support another LP. Capitol released both 18 Yellow Roses and Earthy in July 1963, and focused its marketing dollars in support of 18 Yellow Roses. In truth, the label that had signed Bobby Darin as their new Sinatra probably didn’t know what to do with Earthy. No single was taken from the album, and it failed to enter the charts.

Yet Darin had already made plans to record another album of folk material. In contrast to the diversity of styles and cultures presented on Earthy, the new album would consist primarily of songs associated with the folk protest movement. Songs performed by the Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan were selected to present a modern folk sound, the sound most often associated with Greenwich Village coffeehouses.

Golden Folk Hits, as the album came to be called, differs from Earthy in several ways. Whereas Earthy is filled with percussion, Golden Folk Hits is notable for the absence of percussion – not a drum is heard. Additionally, while several tracks on Earthy have an implicit quality of despair, GFH reflects a vision of folk music as a source of enrichment and enlightenment as well as entertainment. Darin seems to be acutely aware of the power of lifting one’s voice in song, evidenced by the upbeat tempo and constant accompaniment of vocal chorus.

Darin’s involvement with the civil rights movement surely had an influence. In August of 1963, he attended the march on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. According to Nik Venet, who accompanied him to the march, “Darin thought the civil rights movement was the great revolution of the twentieth century. The man was civil rights conscious long before it became radical chic. It was a passion of his.” This passion for social justice would be in evidence throughout his life, from his participation in the 1965 Montgomery march for civil rights to his support of Robert Kennedy’s campaign for the presidency.

When recording began in September 1963, Darin enlisted the support of several musicians closely associated with the folk movement. Roger McGuinn, who had been hired away from the Chad Mitchell Trio by Darin in early 1962, participated in the sessions for both Earthy and Golden Folk Hits. He had also toured with Darin and performed during the folk segment of his concerts throughout 1962 and 1963. McGuinn later became famous as founder of the seminal folk-rock group the Byrds.

Darin also employed the Tarriers, along with ace session guitarist James Burton and a young Glen Campbell. Legend has it that Phil Ochs, a firmly established member of the Greenwich Village folk scene, attended the sessions as an observer.

The material chosen was suitably “now” in folk circles. In addition to two songs each by Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan, songs popularized by Kingston Trio and the New Christy Minstrels are included. By featuring such material, Darin hoped to bring even greater popular exposure to the genre.

While somewhat less diverse than Earthy, Golden Folk Hits is more cohesive. The instrumentation consists largely of two or three guitars and bass. Nearly every tune is taken at an up-tempo, creating a buoyant, joyous atmosphere. Aside from the ruminations of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” and “Blowin’ In The Wind,” the only true ballad on the album is the haunting “Why Daddy Why.”

Once again, spirituals play a prominent role, opening each side of the LP. “Mary Don’t You Weep” and “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” are traditional gospel tunes given an upbeat treatment. Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” is performed at a moderate tempo, followed by the exuberance of “The Hammer Song.”

Bob Dylan’s work is represented by “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and “Blowin’ In the Wind.” Darin was an early champion of Dylan’s work, featuring “Don’t Think Twice” in his shows before anyone outside of folk circles had heard of him. By selecting these particular tunes, Darin effectively demonstrates Dylan’s range as a songwriter. The good-natured humor of “Don’t Think Twice” serves as counterpoint to the poetic philosophy of “Blowin’ In The Wind.”

Other highlights include a soulful reading of  “ Abilene ,” “Settle Down,” which features a stellar James Burton guitar lead, and the uplifting “Train to the Sky.”

Golden Folk Hits was released in November 1963. It had been a busy year for Darin. In addition to the three albums released earlier that year by Capitol, Atco had released an album of material that had been recorded in 1960. As a result, GFH was the fifth release to reach market during that year. Perhaps due to market saturation, the album failed to chart and remained largely unknown until today.

Darin would revisit the folk genre with great success with “If I Were A Carpenter.” While that tune and the 1966 album of the same name are well known, listening to this CD confirms that Darin was on to something years earlier. As Bobby Darin fans know all too well, that was simply par for the course.

James Rose

May, 2002






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