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With A Little Help From His Friends: James Burton Anthology Features Everlys, Nelson, Hazlewood and Buffalo Springfield

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When James Burton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, no less a legend than Keith Richards delivered his induction speech.  Richards was just one of the many guitarists influenced over the years by Burton, a talent whose C.V. boasts names like Rick Nelson, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Elvis Costello, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joni Mitchell, John Denver, and oh yeah, Elvis Presley.  Burton’s talent has transcended genre and classification, and at the age of 72, he continues to contribute musically to selected projects.  U.K. compilation experts Ace Records have turned the spotlight on this longtime sideman and occasional solo artist with the October 4 release of James Burton: The Early Years 1957-1969, the first of two volumes showcasing the guitarist’s titanic body of work.

A mainstay of Elvis Presley’s TCB Band and the lead guitarist on nearly all of Ricky Nelson’s classic recordings, Burton first appeared on record in 1956 on the small Ram label, backing Carol Williams on “Just For a While,” and that track appears on The Early Years.  It wasn’t long before Burton was an in-demand session musician, playing the famous and influential solo on Dale Hawkins’ “Susie Q” in 1957.  Within a year, Burton had taken his place alongside Ricky Nelson, building up a body of work that still endures; of his Nelson collaborations, “My Babe,” “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” “Stop Sneakin’ Around” and “Blood from a Stone” all appear.  His association with Nelson lasted until 1967; two years later, he would take the stage in Las Vegas with Elvis Presley, where “Play it, James” became a familiar catchphrase of The King’s.

Burton’s recordings of “Fireball Mail” and “Daisy Mae” as Jim and Joe (with fellow session stalwart Joe Osborn of the L.A. “Wrecking Crew”) have been included, as well as other solo tracks including “Cannonball Rag” and “Jimmy’s Blues.”  He appears as “Jimmy Dobro” on both sides of a 1963 single, “Swamp Surfer” b/w “Everybody Listen to the Dobro.”  Other familiar names making an appearance on the compilation include Lee Hazlewood, The Everly Brothers, Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard and the recently-reunited band Buffalo Springfield.  Even David Gates, later of Bread, is represented with the 1962 single by “David and Lee,” “Tryin’ to Be Someone.”

While touring with Presley in the 1970s, Burton found time to play with Emmylou Harris as a member of her “Hot Band,” and also began to work with John Denver that lasted 16 years and produced 12 albums.  A promised Volume 2 will collect Burton’s later years, including his work with Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons and others.

Hit the jump for the complete track listing with discographical annotation, plus a pre-order link, for James Burton: The Early Years 1957-1969, which is due on October 4 from Ace Records!

Various Artists, James Burton, The Early Years 1957-1969 (Ace, 2011)

  1. Susie-Q – Dale Hawkins (Checker 863, 1957)
  2. Red Hot – Bob Luman  (Imperial 8313, 1957)
  3. Shirley Lee – Bobby Lee Trammel (ABC-Paramount 9890, 1958)
  4. My Babe – Ricky Nelson (Imperial LP 9050, 1958)
  5. Cannonball Rag – James Burton (Town Hall Party 1958-1961, Country Routes CD RFD-15, 1997)
  6. Don’t Leave Me This Way – Ricky Nelson (Imperial X 5528, 1958)
  7. The Creep – The Shadows (That’ll Flat Git It! Volume 8, Bear Family CD, 1996)
  8. Stop Sneakin’ Around – Ricky Nelson (Imperial LP 9167, 1962)
  9. Swamp Surfer – Jimmy Dobro (Philips single 40167, 1963)
  10. Make Up Your Mind Baby – Bob Luman (Imperial 8315, 1957)
  11. Fireball Mail – Jim & Joe (Fabor 124, 1963)
  12. Blood From A Stone – Ricky Nelson (Imperial LP 9082, 1959)
  13. Real Live Fool – Lee Hazlewood (Reprise LP RS-6163, 1966)
  14. Daisy Mae – Jim & Joe (Fabor 124, 1963)
  15. Everybody Listen To The Dobro – Jimmy Dobro (Philips single 40167, 1963)
  16. Guitar Player – Buddy Cagle (Imperial 66407, 1969)
  17. Jimmy’s Blues – Jimmy Burton (Miramar 108, 1965)
  18. Poor Boy Looking For A Home – The Green River Boys Feat. Glen Campbell  (Big Bluegrass Special, Capitol LP ST-1810, 1962)
  19. See See Rider – The Everly Brothers (Beat ‘n’ Soul, Warner Bros. LP WS-1605, 1965)
  20. Love Lost – Jimmy Burton (Miramar 108, 1965)
  21. A Child’s Claim To Fame – Buffalo Springfield (Buffalo Springfield Again, Atco LP 33-226, 1967)
  22. If You Want To Be My Woman – Merle Haggard (I’m A Lonesome Fugitive, Capitol LP 2702, 1967)
  23. Moonshine – James Burton & Ralph Mooney (Corn Pickin’ and Slick Slidin’, Capitol LP 2822, 1968)
  24. Corn Pickin’ – James Burton & Ralph Mooney (Capitol 2140, 1967)
  25. Someday, Someday – The Shindogs (with Delaney Bramlett) Warner Bros. 5665, 1965)
  26. Why – The Shindogs (Warner Bros. 5665, 1965)
  27. Just For A While – Carol Williams (Ram single 100, rec. 1956)
  28. Tryin’ To Be Someone – David & Lee (GSP single 1, 1962)

Written by Joe Marchese

August 31, 2011 at 10:29

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  1. […] a new CD from Ace Records compiling over two dozen James Burton songs, covering his pre-Elvis work (“With A Little Help From His Friends: James Burton Anthology Features Everlys, Nelson, Hazlewo…). Burton first appeared on record in 1956 on the small Ram label, backing Carol Williams on […]

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