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Archive for the ‘Brenda Lee’ Category

Ace’s “Girls with Guitars 3” Features Guitar Rock From Jackie DeShannon, Brenda Lee, Goldie and the Gingerbreads, More

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Girls with Guitars 3Ace Records began its Girls with Guitars CD series in 2004.  That first volume took its inspiration from a 1989 LP issued by the label and featured 24 tracks from lesser-known American girl groups worthy of attention from garage-rock fans.  The music of Girls with Guitars was diverse, encompassing a variety of sixties sounds from garage to pop and soul.  A second volume, Destroy That Boy: More Girls with Guitars, followed in 2009 ramping up the star wattage with a couple of mind-blowing cuts by Ann-Margret.  Now, Volume 3 – entitled The Rebel Kind after Lee Hazlewood’s song famously recorded by Dino, Desi and Billy and surveyed here by New Zealand’s The Chicks – collects 24 more rockin’ girl rarities from the U.S., the U.K., Italy, Japan and beyond.

The most famous names on The Rebel Kind belong to Jackie DeShannon and Brenda Lee.  Jackie has been a fixture on the Ace scene, with the label offering volumes of her complete Liberty and Imperial singles as well as a collection of her work as a songwriter.  (A second such volume is on the way.)  Girls with Guitars naturally indulges the more rocking side of the “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” and “What the World Needs Now is Love” chanteuse, featuring her 1964 recording of “Dream Boy,” recording during the same London trip that yielded her folk-rock gem “Don’t Turn Your Back on Me.”  Jimmy Page, then a hot session guitar slinger, joins Jackie on the track.  Nashville queen and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” gal Brenda Lee also found herself in London in 1964 with Jimmy Page at her side and on fire.  With producer Mickie Most (The Animals, Donovan), Lee recorded the version of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” heard here.

Donovan himself is represented with “You Just Gotta Know My Mind” from actress, singer and future David Bowie pal and collaborator Dana Gillespie.  The Donovan tune was Gillespie’s first single for Decca Records, and yup, featured the ubiquitous Page!    Donovan isn’t the only famous name here in the songwriting department.  Bob Dylan’s “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” is heard via a 1966 single by The Honeybeats – in Italian!  Brill Building stalwarts Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s “Chico’s Girl” was cut in Los Angeles by producer and Wrecking Crew sax man Steve Douglas for a 1966 single reprised here.  L.A. band The Turtles served as the backing group for The Chymes on another sound of ’66 –the Chattahoochee Records single “He’s Not There Anymore,” written and produced by Nita Garfield and her boyfriend, The Turtles’ Howard Kaylan.

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Written by Joe Marchese

July 25, 2014 at 10:49

Presley’s Jukebox: Bob Dylan, Bobby Darin, Rick Nelson, Jerry Butler Shine on “Elvis Heard Them Here First”

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Though Elvis Presley rose through the ranks of Sun Records alongside artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins (his fellow members of the “Million Dollar Quartet,” if you will), Elvis and Jerry Lee differed from Johnny and Carl in that they primarily leaned upon the songs of others.  Cash and Perkins predated the pop-rock singer/songwriter revolution of the next decade, and in fact, harkened back to an older tradition in country and blues of performing your own material.

Yet by the time the King of Rock and Roll came out of the army, returned from Hollywood and reinvented himself on the concert stage, much had changed.  Armed with their guitars, Bob Dylan and The Beatles had proved that singers didn’t need a cadre of professional writers to craft their songs, whether from New York’s Brill Building or Nashville’s Music Row.  Soon, “singer/songwriter” would enter the lexicon, upping the emotional ante for these “confessional” writers.  “Covers” of existing hits were largely the province of adult-aimed “MOR” singers like Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis.  Where did this leave Elvis Presley?  Ace Records makes a compelling case with the new compilation Elvis Heard Them Here First that Presley simply continued to do what he had done all along: synthesize strains from a wide range of genres and songs into material that was always uniquely “Elvis.”

The 24-track compilation is based on Ace’s You Heard It Here First series, which presents original versions of songs made famous by other interpretive singers.  Producer Tony Rounce acknowledges in his introductory essay that the playing field was rather wide.  Even during those early Sun years, all but three of Elvis’ recordings on the label were of previously-performed songs.  Rather than limiting himself to one era, Rounce collects songs recorded by Elvis between his 1959 return from the Army and his death in 1977.  The disc avoids the overly familiar (Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes,” Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog,” etc.) and offers up a fascinating journey through the records that just might have inspired Elvis to turn in some of his best vocals.

What songs will you hear?  Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 24, 2012 at 15:12