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Gene Pitney Is “Looking Through the Eyes of Love” On New RPM Two-Fers

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Gene Pitney - Blue Gene Two-FerAfter a long hiatus, Cherry Red’s RPM label is continuing its series of reissues dedicated to the late Gene Pitney (“Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa,” “Town Without Pity,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”).  The singer’s long out-of-print albums for Aaron Schroeder’s Musicor label were reissued on CD in a series of two-fers by Sequel Records in the late 1990s, but upon their deletion from the catalogue, they began commanding high prices on the second-hand market. Since then, the Pitney discography has been marked by an inordinate number of budget releases, making it difficult for a new fan or even a longtime collector to know where to start. RPM stepped in and began reissuing the Sequel two-fers in new editions featuring updated liner notes by Roger Dopson as well as redesigned artwork. 2010 brought Pitney’s first two albums, The Many Sides of Gene Pitney and Only Love Can Break a Heart, as RETRO 881, and in 2011, RPM delivered Sings Just for You and Sings World-Wide Winners as RETRO 887.  After a hiatus, the series returns with Blue Gene and Meets the Fair Young Ladies of Folkland (RETRO 926) as well as I’m Gonna Be Strong and Looking Through the Eyes of Love (RETRO 927).

The punningly-named Blue Gene (Musicor 3006/United Artists 1061) continued a busy 1963 for the singer.  Its opening track was also its indisputable highlight.  Pitney delivered a soaring vocal for Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa,” one of the duo’s most truly cinematic story songs.  Pitney perfectly captured the unfaithful character swept away by a beautiful stranger in a roadside café just one day of travel away from his “dearest, darling” girl back home.  Pitney, Bacharach and David had taken listeners on a sly and seductive journey culminating in the singer’s (rueful?) realization that he could “never, never, never go home again.”  But “Twenty-Four Hours,” a No. 5 U.K./No. 17 U.S. hit, was just one of 12 persuasive tracks on Blue Gene.  Chip Taylor played on Pitney’s image as the heartbroken (or heartbreaking) balladeer with his title song.  Ellie Greenwich teamed with Tony Powers and Elmo Glick for “Keep Tellin’ Yourself,” and Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were tapped for “Take It Like a Man.”  Pitney even tackled a couple of standards via “Autumn Leaves” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.”  In the U.S., the album included Lee Pockriss and Fred Tobias’ “House Without Windows.”  Though it was dropped for the U.K. release (replaced by the Leiber/Stoller song), it’s included as a bonus track.

Blue Gene is joined on one CD by Meets the Fair Young Ladies of Folkland (Musicor 3007/United Artists 1063).  This unusual album was issued just one month after Blue Gene, and rather than building on Pitney’s pop successes, it consisted of banjo-strummed, folk-flavored songs dedicated to young ladies: “Those Eyes of Liza Jane,” “Brandy is My True Love’s Name,” “Little Nell,” “The Ballad of Aura Mae,” et cetera.  Though it was soon repackaged as Dedicated to My Teen Queens, with a hipper cover than the original image of Gene and his girls on a bale of hay, the low-key, acoustic album remained destined for obscurity.  Pitney’s commercial fortunes were still riding high thanks to Blue Gene, though, as well as a new single released in January 1964.  “That Girl Belongs to Yesterday” was a Mick Jagger/Keith Richards song shaped by Gene as he hung out with the Rolling Stones in England.  Though it didn’t fare well in the U.S., “Yesterday” hit No. 7 in the U.K., and its original single version has been appended here as a bonus track.  A re-recording of the song appeared on Pitney’s next album, which kicks off the second of RPM’s new two-fers.

After the jump, we’ll explore the next two-fer!  Plus, you’ll find order links and full track listings with discography!

Gene Pitney - I'm Gonna Be Strong Two-FerLate 1964’s It Hurts to Be in Love (Musicor 3019/Stateside SL 10120), named for the U.S. Top 10 hit by Neil Sedaka’s writing partner Howard Greenfield teamed with Helen Miller, was retitled I’m Gonna Be Strong in the U.K. after an even bigger hit: Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s No. 9 U.S./No. 2 U.K. song.  A strong pop collection, it boasted “It Hurts to Be in Love,” “I’m Gonna Be Strong” and a new version of “That Girl Belongs to Yesterday” along with nine other big productions befitting Pitney’s robust voice.  Gary Geld and Peter Udell (“Hurting Each Other,” the musical Shenandoah) supplied “Follow the Sun,” Van McCoy wrote “I Love You More Today,” and the team of Al Kooper, Bob Brass and Irwin Levine (“This Diamond Ring”) gave Pitney “The Last Two People on Earth” and the tropical “Hawaii.”  Miller and Greenfield also contributed “Walk,” similarly arranged to “It Hurts to Be in Love,” and iconic British producer Joe Meek’s songbook yielded “Lips Are Redder on You.”  As if all of these eclectic songs from top-tier songwriters wasn’t enough, Pitney even sang in Italian for “E Se Domani (If Tomorrow).”

The July 1965 U.S. album I Must Be Seeing Things (Musicor 3056), named for another tune by Kooper, Brass and Levine, followed in the footsteps of its predecessor and was retitled for the U.K. market.  It became Pitney’s second U.K. album in a row named for a Mann and Weil track, as it adopted the name Looking Thru the Eyes of Love (Stateside SL 10148).  Yet both title tracks were hits; “Seeing Things” went Top 40 in the U.S. and Top 10 in the U.K., while “Eyes of Love” (later recorded by the Partridge Family) was a No. 3 U.S. smash and a Top 20 U.K. success.  Pitney, the talented songwriter behind “He’s a Rebel,” sang two of his own songs (“Save Your Love” and “Marianne”) and revisited a number of other favorite songwriting teams on the LP.  Besides “Seeing Things,” the Kooper/Brass/Levine trio wrote “Don’t Take Candy from a Stranger.”  Kooper and Levine alone contributed “She’s Still There.”  Geld and Udell got two songs on the album, “Down in the Subway” and “If Mary’s There.”  Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman’s “One Day” was included, as was a powerful track by Randy Newman, “Just One Smile.”  (When later released as a single, it would become a U.K. Top 10.)  “There’s No Living Without Your Loving,” by Jerry Harris and Paul Kaufman, would later be covered by Peter and Gordon and Manfred Mann, but despite the song’s popularity, it wasn’t included on the U.K. LP.  It was replaced by Bacharach and David’s “If I Never Get to Love You,” introduced in 1963 by Lou Johnson.  Both songs appear on RPM’s two-fer.  Single and EP tracks “Last Chance to Turn Around” and “Rising Tide of Love” have also been added as bonus songs.

Roger Dopson provides updated liner notes for both CDs, and Simon Murphy has remastered them.  Both titles are available now and can be ordered at the links below!

Gene Pitney, Blue Gene/Meet the Fair Young Ladies of Folkland (RPM Retro 926, 2013) (Amazon U.K.)

  1. Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa
  2. Autumn Leaves
  3. Half the Laughter, Twice the Tears
  4. I’ll Be Seeing You
  5. Lonely Night Dreams (Of Faraway Arms)
  6. Answer Me, My Love
  7. Blue Gene
  8. Yesterday’s Hero
  9. Maybe You’ll Be There
  10. Keep Tellin’ Yourself
  11. I Can’t Run Away
  12. Take It Like a Man
  13. House Without Windows
  14. Those Eyes of Liza Jane
  15. Laurie
  16. Brandy is My True Love’s Name
  17. My Suli-Ram
  18. Little Nell
  19. Melissa and Me
  20. Oh, Annie, Oh
  21. Lyda Sue, Wha’Dya Do?
  22. Carrie
  23. Hey, Pretty Little Black-Eyed Suzie
  24. Song of Lorena
  25. Darlin’ Corey, Ain’t Ya Comin’ Down Town
  26. The Ballad of Aura Mae
  27. That Girl Belongs to Yesterday

Tracks 1-12 from Blue Gene, United Artists (U.K.) LP 1061, 1963
Track 13 from Stateside (U.K.) EP 1036, 1966
Tracks 14-26 from Meets the Fair Young Ladies of Folkland, United Artists (U.K.) LP 1063, 1963
Track 27 from Musicor (U.S.) single MU 1036, 1964

Gene Pitney, I’m Gonna Be Strong/Looking Through the Eyes of Love (RPM Retro 927, 2013) (Amazon U.K.)

  1. I’m Gonna Be Strong
  2. Walk
  3. I Love You More Today
  4. Who Needs It?
  5. Follow the Sun
  6. Lips Are Redder on You
  7. It Hurts to Be in Love
  8. The Last Two People on Earth
  9. That Girl Belongs to Yesterday
  10. E Se Domani (If Tomorrow)
  11. Hawaii
  12. I’m Gonna Find Myself a Girl
  13. I Must Be Seeing Things
  14. Marianne
  15. Save Your Love
  16. Down in the Subway
  17. If Mary’s There
  18. Don’t Take Candy from a Stranger
  19. One Day
  20. She’s Still There
  21. Just One Smile
  22. I Lost Tomorrow (Yesterday)
  23. If I Never Get to Love You
  24. Looking Through the Eyes of Love
  25. There’s No Living Without Your Loving
  26. Last Chance to Turn Around
  27. Rising Tide of Love

Tracks 1-12 from I’m Gonna Be Strong, Stateside (U.K.) LP SL 10120, 1964
Tracks 13-24 from Looking Thru the Eyes of Love, Stateside (U.K.) LP SL 10148, 1965
Track 25 from I Must Be Seeing Things, Musicor (U.S.) LP 3056, 1965
Track 26 from Musicor (U.S.) single MU 1093, 1965
Track 27 from Stateside (U.K.) EP 1045, 1967

Written by Joe Marchese

June 13, 2013 at 09:55

Posted in Gene Pitney, News, Reissues

3 Responses

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  1. What Gene really deserves is a Bear Family box. Bear Family was successful in licensing George Jones on Musicor, so they probably could get Gene’s.

    Gene’s Musicor LPs were like George’s: a hodge-podge of overlapping LPs and LPs with different covers.

    Gene was very good, and deserves more attention.

    Kevin

    June 13, 2013 at 11:46

    • I couldn’t agree more, Kevin. I’d sign up now for such a box set.

      Joe Marchese

      June 13, 2013 at 14:51

    • Absolutely right! There are still songs of Gene’s to be released to CD, and a box set from Bear Family is just what is needed to fill the void!! Gene is the most Underrated perfomer I can think of, and it would be nice to see that box set and a collection of Gene’s BBC recordings surface, too!!

      biggdan17

      June 22, 2013 at 03:02


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