The star rating system takes into account that these are "Acquisitions Of The Year". Therefore * represents 50-60%, ** is 60-70%, *** is 70-80%, **** is 80-90% and ***** is 90-99.9% (we're talking Pet Sounds or Forever Changes here). The retail price, actual price paid, packaging etc. are not relevant to the rating
BBC Sessions 1964-1977 (49.46/53.22)*** R 1964-1977, P 2001
This 2CD trawls through what has survived of the 24 sessions that the Kinks recorded for the BBC between 1964 and 1977, providing an alternative view of the Kinks. Due to the time constraints and lack of overdubbing facilities, the results are probably far closer to their live sound of the times than the sound produced on their albums and singles. On their early Pye studio recordings, session men such as Bobby Graham (drums), Jimmy Page (rhythm guitar) and Jon Lord (organ) were drafted in by Shel Talmy to flesh out the sound, but here are the band proving more than capable of cutting it live. They are augmented in the early sessions only by the occasional background vocals of Rasa, Ray Davies' girlfriend and later wife, who also sang on the records, and from 1967 to 1968 by keyboardist extraordinaire Nicky Hopkins. Many of these have survived only thanks to the BBC Transcription Services that sent World Service programmes to broadcasters around the world in disc form for subsequent transmission, as the original British programmes for which the sessions were recorded, and the session tapes themselves, have been long lost. This means that some have the over-enthusiastic and embarrassingly attempting to be "hip" voice-overs of Brian Matthew (born 1928, and currently to be heard presenting Radio 2's Sounds Of The Sixties on a Saturday morning in a rather more muted style), as well as his fatherly chats with the band about the length of their hair. Dave Davies is the featured vocalist on six of the songs up to 1970, all but one on disc one. One of these is his version of Spider Koerner's Good Luck Child, an otherwise unreleased adaptation.
Of particular interest on disc one are their version of Cadillac, the only recording on this set from their very first session for the BBC, and barely a month newer than the studio version on their first album (it was also a single in Germany); Ev'rybodys Gonna Be Happy, considerably changed from the then newly-learnt single version; This Strange Effect, a Ray Davies song only previously known in the hit version by Dave Berry since the Kinks never recorded it or performed it live; and The Village Green Preservation City, also reworked from the album version, but still claiming Disney's Donald Duck as a peculiarly British phenomenon.
The second disc dashes from 1970 to 1977 in just ten tracks including a lengthy excerpt from a 1974 In Concert recording, before backtracking to 1968-1969 for a couple of recordings for BBC-TV and ending with John Peel session versions of songs featured earlier in the In Concert segment of the disc. Though perhaps less essential than the first disc, it nevertheless ably demonstrates the bands' ability to reflect the times whilst remaining uniquely individual, largely due to Ray Davies' ambitious and deft songwriting abilities.
The booklet is annotated with admirably full radio session details and comprehensive notes, but some numbering errors cause confusion for the second disc, so for clarification track 1 is from Dave Lee Travis Show, broadcast 31 May 1970; 2 and 13 are from John Peel, 16 May 1972; 3 and 14 are from John Peel, 11 July 1974; 4 to 9 from In Concert, 27 July 1974; 10 for Old Grey Whistle Test/Sight And Sound In Concert, 24 December 1977; 11 for BBC-1's At The Eleventh Hour, 1968; and 12 for BBC-2's Where Was Spring, 1969.
(review filed 25 March 2007)
The RPM Hits 1951-1957 (75.56)** P 1951-1957, P 1999
Those good people at Ace are still making available more and more gems from BB King's extensive back catalogue, and continually finding better quality masters and using more sophisticated techniques for improving the sound. Inevitably this means some duplication between compilations; for example some of the titles here also appear on other Ace compilations such as My Sweet Little Angel and He's Dynamite.
The title of this collection is self-explanatory, with 20 A-sides and 6 B-sides or AA-sides, some of which made the US R&B charts in their own right, from a period in BB King's lengthy career when he was at a creative peak, continually touring and recording along the way, in Memphis, Houston, Little Rock, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Chicago. Record-keeping of these sessions was lax, but the sleeve notes show that every effort has been made to track down whatever information still exists.
It is possible that this collection has now been superceded by bigger and better more recent releases and so new converts are advised to peruse Ace's latest catalogues, but at the right price this is a collection of superb performances in perfectly acceptable re-masters from the best available sources of the time
(review filed 18 November 2004)
His Definitive Greatest Hits (70.00/69.09)** P 1964-1993, P 1999
As this collection of previously-released material does not go back beyond 1964, and BB King's first single came out in 1949, the claim that this represents his definitive greatest hits is a little contentious. However, although BB King featured heavily in the R&B charts throughout his highly successful early years, it is a surprising fact that, apart from two appearances at the bottom end of the Top 100 in 1957, he had not been troubled by the hit parade before 1964.
In 1962 BB King signed with ABC and appeared thereafter on their ABC Paramount, Bluesway and ABC labels. After they were taken over by MCA, his records appeared on that label, and these recordings are all taken from these periods, the most recent being Playin' With My Friends, with Robert Cray, taken from 1993's Blues Summit album. He had released little after that at the time of this compilation's release in 1999, instead concentrating on touring and performing.
Most of the songs chosen here were A-sides of singles, although some of these are in their lengthier album format. Quite a few others are taken from live performances, thus representing some earlier material recorded for other labels as well as showcasing contemporary material in an electric live setting. BB King achieved his greatest mainstream success during this period and the price we have to pay is that alongside genuinely thrilling and innovative pieces such as The Thrill Is Gone there are a few too many bland-outs and celebrity guest appearances from Gary Moore, Leon Russell, Bobby "Blue" Bland and Dr John, which perhaps are not needed on a "best of" from the likes of BB King. The U2 collaboration When Love Comes To Town was a Top Ten single in the UK and so its inclusion was mandatory, and it is a great record.
Now nearing eighty years of age, BB King is the greatest living blues legend, and this is a fair summation of his ABC/MCA years, if such a mighty output can be reduced to just two discs (it can't), but if you enjoy this you owe it to yourself to buy at least one companion piece representing his earlier years on the RPM and Kent/Crown labels.
(review filed 18 November 2004)
Light & Magic (66.40)** P 2002
Ladytron are four keyboard players/composers based in Liverpool who formed in 1998, and comprise Mira Aroyo who is Bulgarian (one track, NuHorizons, is sung in her native tongue) and Helen Marnie, sharing vocal duties; Danny Hunt, responsible for programming and production; and co-founder Reuben Wu.
It may be that a Ladytron is a make of North Korean tractor or an extinct form of winged insect, but I first came across the name as a song on the first Roxy Music album, and I suspect this band did too. They seem to have taken their inspiration not so much from the song or the sound, but from the concept of the name, at once robotic and oestrogenic. The result is twenty-first century electro-synth pop of a high order, as post-ironic cold and disembodied female voices chant against chugging Numanesque soundscapes; the missing link between Propaganda and Add N To (X).
On this 17-track album, recorded in Liverpool and Los Angeles between 2001 and 2002, their are assisted by Michael Fitzpatrick (programming), Malibu (yet more keyboards) and Justin Meldal Johnson (electric bass).
Three of the catchiest songs have been released as singles (possibly in different versions) - Blue Jeans, Evil and Seventeen, though several others could just as well have been. Seventeen was no. 31 in the 2002 Festive Fifty, and turns up additionally as a guitar-laden remix by Soulwax on this CD. Another track, Cracked LCD, also featured on the CDS of Evil, while an earlier version of the instrumental USA Vs White Noise had appeared on their Mu-Tron EP in 2000
(review filed 2 January 2004)
Between Darkness And Wonder (45.52)** P 2003
Lamb's fifth album since their self-titled debut of 1996 also turned out to be the last, with both founding members Andy Barlow and Louise Robinson (Louise Rhodes as was, having gone on to marry Crispin Robinson) embarking on solo projects. Perhaps wisely quitting while they were still ahead, Lamb brought a level of sophistication, lyrically, musically and emotionally, almost unique in the world of drum and bass, although this is a music that cannot be wholly ascribed to any one category. In this record they have achieved a summation of their art, be it in the deceptively pastoral passages of Clouds Clear, or the attack on your loudspeakers that is Sugar 5. At times exploring the darkest corners of human relationships, while at others celebrating the joys of living, Lamb can only make one look forward to what they come up with individually in the future
(review filed 5 June 2005)
Lennon Legend - The Very Best Of John Lennon (77.39)** P 1969-1984, P 1997
It seemed those days would never end. John Lennon was the most idiosyncratic and perhaps the most musically and culturally interesting Beatle, but his solo work quickly showed how much the Beatles were greater than the sum of their parts. His serious creative decline is masked on this collection by presenting the tracks in non-chronological order, but I notice that although he died in 1980, 10 of the 20 tracks here were made between 1969 and 1971. They include the great early singles with the Plastic Ono Band - Give Peace A Chance, Cold Turkey, Instant Karma - but unfortunately without the B-sides that featured Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band, with John Lennon on guitar, and which are mostly unavailable on CD. Move Over Ms L, the uptempo non-album flipside of Stand By Me, is also missed.
Nobody Told Me, a powerful recording from 1980, released posthumously as a single in 1984, reminds us that he lived through the punk era, outliving Marc Bolan, and indicates that he might have been starting to buck the trend of his baking bread years.
(indexed 7 September 2003, last revised 1 March 2006)
Jerry Lee Lewis
Southern Roots/Boogie Woogie Country Man (78.25)*** R 1973-1974, P 2004
Two albums recorded in 1973 and 1974 are collected on this CD from the reliable Raven label, and augmented with six further tracks from both sets of sessions.
For Southern Roots Jerry Lee returned to Memphis, but to Steve Cropper's Trans-Maximus studio, rather than to his old home at the Sun Studios in Union Street, to make an album which fused soul and country much as Ray Charles had done almost a decade earlier. In this case though, the soul is of the Southern variety, with the MG's on tap to revisit standards like Hold On, I'm Coming and When A Man Loves A Woman. In the hands of Jerry Lee these become transformed into soulful country standards. Other standards include a salacious version of Just A Little Bit, Blueberry Hill, Gene Simmons' Haunted House and the unlikely choice of Sir Douglas Quintet's Revolutionary Ways with Augie Meyer in the house to add the familiar organ fills. Producer Huey P Meaux added a number of stellar guests including guitarists Carl Perkins and Tony Joe White, but I was unable to tell from listening on which tracks they appeared. Still, as Jerry Lee once replied when asked who was playing on an album, "Jerry Lee Lewis played on them - what else do you need to know?" Two covers from these sessions were not used and appear as bonus tracks: Fats Domino's Margie and Johnny Ray's Cry. Both are as good or better than tracks that made it to the final cut.
The 1975 sequel, Boogie Woogie Country Man, sees Jerry Lee back in Nashville with cruise control switched on. Even on auto-pilot, with lack-lustre material, Jerry Lee's fantastic piano playing and inimitable asides make this still more listenable than most country albums of the time and contains some memorable moments, notably his gospel-filled rendition of the standard Jesus Is On The Mainline, backed up by Millie Kirkham, Trish Williams and the Jordanaires. It may surprise some Aerosmith fans. Four of the best other tracks were held over for his next album, Odd Man In, and these complete this tracklist.
Jerry Lee Lewis was in commercial decline during this period, but these albums show that, although he rarely was, given the right song and an appropriate creative environment he could still be untouchable.
(review filed 17 February 2007)
LiLiPUT (65.39/72.05)*** R 1978-1983, P 2001
The new wave period that was concomitant with punk and largely outlived it was one of the richest, freest and most anarchic in the recent history of popular music culture. Along with the Slits, the Swiss-based girl band Kleenex were living proof that music was about creativity and originality more than it was about musicianship. The level of craft in early Kleenex was rudimentary at best, yet the explosion of noise they made was joyous.
Before being forced to change their name, Kleenex completed 10 tracks, four of which are released here for the first time. Their first UK single in 1978 was the exuberant Ain't You, which was backed by the equally eccentric Hedi's Head. Their grasp of English was less than perfect but they chose to sing in the language for that very reason - hoping that the unintentional meanings and juxtapositions thrown up in the process would create new subtexts and approaches, and express additional freedoms. Often their lyrics would be augmented liberally by squawks and squeaks (a rodent motif runs through their work) and indeed Hedi's Head has not so much a lyric as a series of chord changes in German notation (H/E/Dis H/E/A/D). Rough Trade brought them over to London to record their second single, the classic You/Ü.
Slightly after this point their singer Regula Sing left to join the Mo-Dettes (of White Mice fame) and was replaced by Chrigle Freund. Saxophonist Angie Barrack also joined briefly and following the unwelcome attentions of a certain paper tissue manufacturer, they decided a change of name might be in order and became LiLiPUT. This line-up delivered the almighty 1980 single Split/Die Matrosen, augmented here by two unreleased tracks from the session, Hitch-hike and DC-10. A radio concert for Schweitzer Radio DRS, recorded at the Gaskessel in Biel, gives a unique opportunity to hear what they sounded like out of the studio. By 1981 they were down to a three-piece of Chrigle (now doubling on drums with the loss of Lislot Ha) and founders Marlene Marder and Klau Schiff on guitar and bass. This line up produced Eisiger Wind, possibly their most fully realized recording, and its bizarre flip, When The Cat's Away (The Mice Will Play) with accordion accompaniment, but led to the departure of Chrigle. Disc one ends with three previously unheard recordings with new singer and violinist Astrid Spirit and the temporary recruitment of two guys on sax and drums. It was particularly good to hear the unreleased material on this most essential first disc after all these years.
The second disc contains their debut LP, Liliput, from 1982, and their second and final album Some Songs, from 1983. Sandwiched in between is their final single You Did It/The Jatz. It shows the band somewhat overstretched here and there and as they became musically more proficient the trade-off of primal energy didn't always work to their advantage, though as they moved more into Raincoats/Essential Logic territory there are several highpoints such as A Silver Key Can Open An Iron Lock Somewhere.
When they disbanded in 1984, Marlene formed a band called Danger Mice. Klau became the respected artist Klaudia Schifferle. I wonder if she paints mice at all?
(review filed 20 October 2005)
L L L L Little Eva! (73.32)** P 1962-1965, P 1997
The Loco-Motion bookends this compilation, first in the huge hit by Little Eva, who also devised the dance that became such a craze, and finally in the name of the band who provide the only selection not by Little Eva, The Locomotions, a Philadelphia group featuring Leon Huff. They provide the song inspired by the dance and which was named Little Eva in her honour. Midway we also get the throw-away cash-in Old Smokey Loco-Motion.
Subtitled The Complete Dimension Recordings, it lives up to its name well, the only omission I could spot being the single Heigh-Ho which was a duet with Big Dee Irwin and therefore technically doesn't count, although room has been found for four other collaborations with Big Dee, including the hit Swinging On A Star.
This album is valuable in three ways: first, as a collection of Little Eva's best solo recordings (she was also sang with the Cookies, and they in turn sing on a number of her records) between 1962 and 1965; secondly as a representation of some of the best recordings on the short-lived Dimension "girl group" label which Don Kirshner formed in 1962; and thirdly as a veritable Goffin and King songbook. They were staff writers for the label and their names appear on all but ten of its 29 tracks.
Little Eva was the only artist to have an album released on Dimension. Produced by Gerry Goffin it was called L L L L Loco-Motion and included Loco-Motion and the hit follow-up Keep Your Hands off My Baby (added to the album's second pressing). It also had her versions of Goffin and King songs originally given to the Drifters, Ben E King, Bobby Vee and the Shirelles, as well as covers of Breaking Up Is Hard To Do and the Crystals' Uptown (both Brill Building songs). One oddity was the West Side Story number I Have A Love. The album came out in mono and ghastly electronically-channeled stereo - the complete album is here in mono.
Little Eva also devised another popular dance, the Turkey Trot, and there are a number of turkey references in the songs including, of course, on the big hit Let's Turkey Trot (farmyard noises by the Cookies). Other A-sides were the excellent The Trouble With Boys, Let's Start The Party Again, which gets into Lesley Gore territory, and Wake Up John (written by Chip Taylor). Get Him, recorded at the same sessions as Wake Up John, remained unreleased until 1988. These records have an infectious charm and innocence that derive from their ephemeral intent but that can still be fully enjoyed today.
(review filed 5 October 2005)
The Explosive Little Richard (32.37)* R 1966-1967, P 1997
In 1966 Little Richard signed to OKeh Records who teamed him up with Larry Williams in an attempt to reposition Little Richard as a mainstream soul proposition. The first single, Poor Dog, featuring Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, and its follow up, The Commandments Of Love, lived up to their hopes, updating his musical sound and putting him back in the R&B Top 50. A third US single, I Don't Want To Discuss It, later covered by Delaney And Bonnie and Rod Stewart, was less successful as Little Richard was touring in the UK when it came out.
The Explosive Little Richard was Little Richard's first album for OKeh and was released in 1967. As well as original material it featured a number of popular contemporary soul standards such as Wilson Pickett's revival of Land Of A Thousand Dances and the Motown hits Function At The Junction and Money (That's What I Want), as well as oldies Well (Sam Cooke) and Don't Deceive Me (Chuck Willis). The results are uniformly atmospheric and commanding, showing that Little Richard had the potential to be a major player in the sixties and seventies.
While touring in the UK he also recorded the fine Get Down With It at Abbey Road, released as a single here on Columbia. It is added here as a bonus track, but despite the implied claim of the generally helpful liner notes, it is sadly not the original studio recording but an extended live version.
A lack of sales and general unhappiness with the new direction led Little Richard to resort once again to live re-recordings of past hits, with predictable long term results, making this possibly in his case a final glimpse of an artist with the prospect of future glories ahead
(review filed 9 December 2004)
Lord Sitar (40.42)* P 1968, P 1999
The Lord Sitar project was conceived, produced, directed and arranged by John Hawkins for Zonophone/EMI in 1968 and infused western pop music with the eastern flavour of the sitar. It is really a pop album but has come to classed as psych/freakbeat by a new generation of musical explorers, and that suits the music fine, especially on the songs that fall most naturally into that category, such as the splendid I Can See For Miles, once heard never forgotten.
Some of the album is filler composed by John Hawkins or from obscure sources, and Emerald City is puzzling as the tune sounds like Beethoven's Ode To Joy from Symphony No. 9 and therefore recalls A Clockwork Orange rather than The Wizard Of Oz. Apparently this was a hit for the Seekers. Other pieces, though, such as If I Were A Rich Man and Daydream Believer (which may have been the single at the time) work wonderfully well.
The previous year Big Jim Sullivan had made a more serious album called Sitar Beat that had delved more deeply into the jazz possibilities of such a fusion on some tracks and had included John McLaughlin on guitar; and the same year John Mayer and Joe Harriott had released their landmark Indo Jazz Fusions sessions. The sitar became a fashionable instrument for the hipper groups to use to add coloration to their records, and so as the novelty eventually wore off the sitar largely disappeared from popular culture until Kula Shaker came along.
Jim Sullivan was one of the few to study the instrument in depth and could play with the genuine tonality the instrument demanded for the music to stay in tune. Another was George Harrison, whose composition Blue Jay Way is included here. John Hawkins' sleeve notes end with the question, "Who is Lord Sitar?", and previously hint that he may in fact be George Harrison, but it actually was Jim Sullivan, anonymous as he was contracted to Polydor at the time. Supporting musicians included Chriss Karen (tabla) and Ronnie Verel. When asked about the theory that the sitar was George Harrison playing, Sullivan enigmatically replied, probably tongue in cheek, "Perhaps it was on some tracks?"
(review filed 21 January 2005)
Four Sail (50.07)*** P 1969, P 2002
Arthur Lee toured over here promoting this album in 1969 and 1970 and I saw them at least a couple of times with this line-up more or less, including a gig promoted by Mothers at Birmingham Town Hall, and played this album constantly at the time. It is now available on CD in the UK for the first time, remastered and with extra tracks
(indexed 20 March 2003)
False Start (29.57)** P 1970, P 1991
This album was a follow-up to Out Here and was recorded mostly in Hollywood in 1970, though a couple of tracks, including one fantastic work-out with Jimi Hendrix, The Everlasting First, were recorded in London. The songs are simplistic when compared to the majesty of Forever Changes, but then what isn't? I suspect Arthur Lee was undergoing something of a writer's block while simultaneously exploring more closely the black music of the day, and the album as a whole is short and somewhat patchy by his standards. More funky than melodic, but still eminently worthwhile
(review filed 19 September 2003, revised 11 January 2004)
The Best Of Darlene Love (76.43)*** R 1961-1975, P 1997
A 15-track CD entitled The Best Of Darlene Love appeared in 1992 on Phil Spector International/ABKCO, and had a mauve-tinted photo of Darlene Love on the front cover, with liner notes and track details in the 8-page booklet. This Marginal label CD of the same title (although the spine reads The Story Of "Darlene Love") appears to be an expanded re-issue containing all the tracks in mostly the same running order. The cover has the same photograph, now tinted blue, and the CD adds a further fourteen titles, bringing the playing time up to a fulsome 76.43. Mastering of the mono masters is clearer thanks to the Cedar noise reduction system employed (and as with the earlier edition, one track, Lord, If You're A Woman, from 1975, is stereo). There are no liner notes, though, and track information is very sparse.
Darlene Love was Phil Spector's secret weapon in his world domination plans, singing lead on records by the Crystals, Bob B Soxx and the Blue Jeans and a few in her own name, as well as backing up countless others with her group the Blossoms, but was poorly treated by the svengali producer. These perfect sixties girl group gems, including all the big hits, were mainly arranged by the great Jack Nitzsche, whose wife Grazia was a member of the Blossoms on most of the Spector productions (replacing Gloria Jones).
The extra tracks include her four solo contributions to A Christmas Gift For You, featuring of course Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), and an earlier version of the song that was not released at the time called Johnny (Baby Please Come Home). This has no Christmas references, and would have been an undoubted smash if released when recorded in the summer of 1963. Strange Love was a 1964 recording that surfaced in 1976 on the UK album Phil Spector Wall Of Sound Vol. 5: Rare Masters, Vol. 1.
Volume 2 from the same series included Johnny (Baby Please Come Home) plus the marvellous bluesy Playing For Keeps and the unreleased Take It From Me, neither of which have been found room for on this, or any other CD as far as i know.
Too Late To Say You're Sorry is the Bobby Goldsboro hit of 1966, written by Brian Thomas Henderson of Summer Nights fame. This version does not sound like a Spector production and is of unknown vintage.
The remaining seven tracks are by the Blossoms. Hard To Get, I Gotta Tell It, Big Talkin' Jim and Son-in-Law feature Darlene Love, Fanita James and Gloria Jones and were released by Challenge on A and B sides between and 1961 and 1962, providing a fascinating glimpse of their pre-Spector vocal sound. By 1967 the group featured Darlene Love, Fanita James and Jeanie King and were in the charts with Good Good Lovin'/That's When The Tears Start on Reprise. Good Good Lovin' is a striking Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil song with a sophisticated production (not by Spector), very good to find on CD, even though it appears to have been mastered from vinyl. The final track, though, What Makes Love, from 1963, is by another unconnected girl group called the Blossoms who recorded for OKeh and does not therefore belong here.
(review filed 1 August 2006)
So Much Love - A Darlene Love Anthology 1958-1998 (63.45)**
Darlene Love is probably not as well known as she should despite her familiar and instantly recognizable voice, but she was widely used by Phil Spector during his legendary hit making era, along with the rest of her group The Blossoms. She sang lead on some of the biggest hits by the Crystals, and also beside Bobby Sheen in Bob B Soxx and the Blue Jeans, but had few releases under her own name (a stage name incidentally given to her by Phil Spector, as she was born Darlene Wright). She is probably best known for Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), extracted from the album Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift For You, on which she was the most used contributor, but this now legendary album, coinciding with the Kennedy assassination, did not sell well at the time, and was probably responsible for the start of Spector's gradual withdrawal from the music industry.
As freelance session singers, the Blossoms did not benefit from royalties from the Spector hits and were not under contract to him. They needed to make a living, but he was very unhappy about the girls singing for other labels and they were obliged to use a number of pseudonyms to hide their identities.
This collection contains nothing produced by Phil Spector, collected elsewhere, but concentrates both on their earlier and later work as the Blossoms on a number of labels, and the recordings they did make in various guises during the Spector era, with label billing crediting names such as Al Casey and the K-C-Ettes, Dick Dale and the Del Tones, the Wildcats, Moose and the Pelicans or Duane Eddy and the Rebelettes. Sometimes, as on TV Commercials by Barney Kessel, they had no billing at all. Although they made records on their own, the Blossoms were essentially session singers, backing artists on their records, on the TV show Shindig! and on the road with singers such as Jackie DeShannon, so were not too concerned over billing, though often it was the Blossoms' contribution that was the selling point of the song, especially on the novelty items such as Boss Guitar, and many of the singles on here were big hits. Three of the sixties Blossoms recordings here are previously unreleased and include a beautiful 1963 demo made for Jack Nitzsche on a song he wrote with Jackie DeShannon, Let Him Walk Away.
Darlene Love continued to be highly successful after the sixties, in Broadway musicals, Hollywood films and on record, and there are seven examples here, made between 1971 and 1997, not least a great, deliberately Spector-esque Christmas song from the film Home Alone 2 in 1993, written by Steve Van Zandt, with what sounds like the entire E Street Band on it.
Long overdue, this collection perfectly complements the Spector recordings and brings into catalogue a selection of forgotten jewels.
(review filed 20 November 2008)
Then And Now (79.31)** R 1965-1994, P 1994
Then And Now came out on Ace's Kent label in 1994 and, as the title implies, drew from Mary Love's
recording career from its beginnings in 1965 to the present, two of the tracks, Because Of You and Grace,
being tasters from a forthcoming album.
Mary Love grew up singing in churches in Los Angeles and got her start recording demos for the producer
Marc Gordon. This led to her getting signed by the Bihari brothers to the Modern label, whose select soul
roster included Ike and Tina Turner, the Ikettes and Z Z Hill. It seems they saw Mary as their answer to
Motown, who had a base in Los Angeles, and alumni whose work appeared on that label, such as Marc Gordon,
Hal Davis and Frank Wilson also wrote, produced and arranged for Mary to the same high standards. Oddly
enough, the records for which she is now best remembered, such as You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet and Lay
This Burden Down, were not hits at the time, having earned their reputation on the dance floors far more
recently, though Move A Little Closer reached number one in the US R&B charts in 1966.
Though the liner notes remark how well the 60s and 90s tracks sit well side by side, they have little in
common apart from the consistently powerful vocals. For me there is no comparison between the programmed drums, synthesizers and computerized sound of the predominantly gospel material from 1987 onwards, and the fresh sounding live band playing the great arrangements of the Modern recordings between 1965 and 1967.
Ten of the twelve solo recordings she made for Modern are included but I think this would have been a far more valuable collection if room had been made for all twelve, along with her duet with Arthur K Adams, at the expense of some of the more recent material that is duplicated elsewhere, making it "the complete Modern recordings", especially as the two styles are likely to appeal to different audiences
(review filed 7 August 2006)
Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful (43.04)*** P 1966, P 2003
Unfairly overlooked in recent years but big favourites of mine in the sixties when I bought all their first 3 or 4 albums as they came out, the Lovin' Spoonful have finally received the CD makeover treatment with remastering from the original master tapes (newly rediscovered) and bonus tracks etc. This was probably their best album, highlighting John Sebastian's songwriting skill and the band's diverse musicality, from their jug band origins to their Nashville country picking explorations
(indexed 11 July 2003)