Though he was regarded as one of the best singers of his generation, Dean Martin initially rose to fame as part of a comedy act. In 1946, Martin teamed up with funnyman Jerry Lewis, and the two were soon a sensation, headlining at nightclubs and starring in movies and TV shows built around the duo's anarchic humor. Many people believed Martin was just the straight man who belted out a tune occasionally until he landed a recording contract with Capitol Records in 1953 and launched a series of hits that showed off his rich, supple baritone and his strong but playful, devil-may-care phrasing. Martin's popularity as a vocalist only grew after he and Lewis split up the act in 1956, and despite the rise of rock & roll, Martin's grown-up pop music retained its audience; Martin's signature hit, "Everybody Loves Somebody," even nudged the Beatles
' "A Hard Day's Night" off the top of the Billboard Singles Charts in August 1964. The Essential Dean Martin
is a two-disc set featuring 40 tracks from Martin's recorded catalog, and includes hits and fan favorites from his years with Capitol (1953-1963) as well as his later tenure with Reprise Records (1963-1978). Those looking for an introduction to Martin's work or an overview of his best-known recordings will find what they're looking for with this set.