Louis Prima featuring Keely Smith with Sam Butera and The Witnesses - The Wildest! - Review
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critics' view

Ever since the trumpeter / singer / songwriter began away back in the mid-1930s he had been re-inventing himself, moving with the times and was always on the lookout for something new and interesting. In 1954 Prima was offered to stay at The Sahara in Las Vegas to open his new act with Keely Smith, his new wife. He called up New Orleans saxophonist, Sam Butera. With Butera came his background musicians, “The Witnesses”. They were talented musicians who Prima tweaked to his liking. On vocal duets, Keely would play it straight while Louis would act up as a bit of a wild-cat. The act was visually appealing – and the band were smoking hot. Capitol Records came calling in 1955 – they could smell success. “The Wildest!” was recorded in April 1956. There were two back album reworks – “The Lip” (Play Pretty For The People, 1947) and “Oh Marie” (An Hour Of Italian American Songs, 1952). As well as these, there was a remake for one of his old 1950 singles, “Buona Sera”. It was only right that he did so – they were great tracks and merited the “Butera” treatment. In every case, definitive versions were laid down right here in this set. Who can resist getting wrapped up in Louis Prima’s craziness? From beginning to end, this is some well-serious kick-ass swing knowingly delivered with an assured wry grin…

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