Bobby Darin - That's All
Mar 20, 2020
The History of the Albums - n° 102

While there is a gap between the pop stars of the 50s and those who would become pop stars in the 60s, especially with the British invasion, Bobby Darin embodies these last very popular artists in the vocal/jazz genre, which would "close" an era to open new doors. Even if he showed that he juggled and used several musical genres, he remains mainly a vocal/jazz singer. However, Bobby had managed to break away from his influences by trying to explore uncommon things in a pop way that his peers didn't do. He was a member of the Brill Building and had a big impact between 1958 and 1961. Afterwards he mainly got into film and television. To be honest, he's not the kind of artist that I find interesting in a career, however, in addition to having made a significant impact, he released That's All in 1959, which is a great album. So, action!

Born in 1936 in New York, Bobby didn't have an atypical childhood and family life. He never knew his father, who died in prison a few months before he was born and his mother was only 17 years old so she lied to him for almost 30 years, making him believe that she was his big sister and that his grandmother was his mother. I'll give you 10 seconds to get over it... In short, he became passionate about music at a very young age, his grandmother was actually a singer, he first learned to play several instruments including guitar, piano and drums. He was looking for himself when he was a teenager, abandoning science for art, to give up art to become an actor, however he never managed to do so at that time. It is finally in music that he will direct his career in the middle of the 50s. Accompanied by the Jaybirds and Don Kirshner, his first recordings with Decca were released in 1956 but without success. At the same time he became a member of the Brill Building, a mythical site in Manhattan where several songwriters and composers worked together and for other pop artists. Moreover this place gave rise to a pop sub style (clearly that I consider unofficial and inadmissible), making it a more sophisticated pop music for the time oriented towards teenage and romantic lyrics for an essentially very young audience. For me, Bobby Darin is one of the few people who, although affiliated with "this comma", made very good "Brill Building Pop" music.

After the Decca failure, Bobby Darin tried his luck at Atlantic and got a contract in their sub branch Acto Records. It took him a long year to finally find success, however he was writing for several artists such as LaVern Baker, Gene Vincent or Buddy Holly. In May 1958, he releases the single Splish Splash in a totally Rock n Roll register which will become his first success, and not just any success since he will be 2nd in Billboard R&B and 3rd in the whole US Billboard. Now his career is truly launched, Acto Records will release his first eponymous album which will be a success, musically it remains very forgettable. So when we try to put it in context, we could imagine that at that moment that Bobby Darin's career wasn't really going to last and that we didn't see much potential in it. Yet Bobby Darin was a smart man who had adapted and shone. In December 1958 he went into the studio for the very first recording session of the album That's All, in between sessions he continued to release hit singles, including Dream Lover a delicious doo-wop/rock n roll song, but no one really knew that he was going to make a big hit. Taking advantage of the success of Dream Lover, That's All was released in March 1959, it was not until August that the first single Mack the Knife included in the album was released, followed in October by Beyond the Sea. To this day these are his 2 most famous songs, and the following year his album won a grammy. That's All is a romantic and elegant album, and is perfect to recommend to anyone who wants to discover it and loves the very popular vocal/jazz genre. Although he is very oriented towards a young and often feminine audience, Bobby Darin is capable of very catchy melodies and his diversity becomes a real asset here, allowing the listener to never get bored during the listening. This is the album that best represents him, as it shows that his two-faced pop album, like an intermediary, is between traditional pop and early pop rock

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