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music and memories


The Drugstore’s Rockin’, Volume 1
by Peter Lerner

Drugstore1

The hopes and dreams of young America in a more innocent age. The days when composers wrote songs about people called Norman and Barbara. The young kids with big guitars, floppy curls, check jackets, who are now real estate salesmen, auto dealers and ministers in the church of God. This wonderful Bear Family CD tells 26 stories about real people who cared about their music in the short period from 1956 to 1963.
There’s Billy Harlan, who neglected to sign his contract with RCA so his confident Bo Diddley-style rocker Teen Jean Jive was never released. There’s the songwriting dentist who wrote a charming but un-memorable flop for Chuck and Bill (on this CD), hits for Elvis and was last heard of as… a dentist. There’s early work by Joe South, Paul Evans, Jack Clement and Boots Randolph, names which convey a lot to people who like music of that era. There are might-have-beens or nearly-weres like Darrell McCall, whose Dear One knocks spots off composer Larry Finnegan’s hit version; or The Sprouts, two tiny guys who hung around the scene for years without selling many discs.
There are wonderful records like the Four Preps’ Big Man, a commercial radio hit in the UK in the 1960s but actually recorded in 1958; John D. Loudermilk’s laid back version of his cute song Angela Jones, and Sue Thompson’s effervescent love song to Norman - a record I loved in its day without knowing that the girlie-voiced singer was actually in her 40s. There’s hitmaker Jack Scott, Roy Orbison’s co-writer Joe Melson, and great unknowns like Ric Cartey and the Lane Brothers - so near but so far from that elusive hit status.
And then there’s one Jackie Dee, with her masterful self-composed rocker Buddy, reputedly recorded in Nashville after Brenda Lee’s My baby likes Western Guys studio session. In fact most of the songs here were recorded in Nashville, giving the lie to those who believe that New York and L.A. were the hitmaking epicentres of teen America at that time.
This is a beautifully presented CD; a credit to all involved. Including those unknown artists.


The Drugstore’s Rockin’, Volume 2
by William George

Drugstore2

Like Volume 1, this collection (available separately) features classic and obscure rockabilly and early rock and roll performances. The packaging is of the highest quality, with biographical information and photos of each artist.
There are some minor hitmakers (Curtis Lee, Floyd Robinson, John D. Loudermilk, Sonny James, Dorsey Burnette, Jack Scott), but the main attraction here are the few hot rockabilly cuts. We have two tracks from Janis Martin, one of the few successful female rockabilly artists. We have the original (and definitive) recording of Young Love, by its author Ric Cartey, taking a break from his usual seminal vocal performances. We have a great catchy track from the tragic Tommy Tucker. We have Dave Rich going crazy on Rosie Let’s Get Crazy. We have the great Jack Clement singing from The Edge of Town.
But the most exciting news here is the discovery of an unreleased track by Jackie Dee. I Need Lovin’ was recorded in 1958 in Nashville at the same session as Buddy and Strolypso Dance, but has remained unreleased and undiscovered until this time. And what a find it is! It is the hottest rockabilly cut of Jackie’s career, rivalled only by her version of Trouble for sheer sexiness and sass.
Starting with pounding, repetitive piano chords and a honking baritone sax, Jackie’s teenage voice sounds wise beyond her years as she breathlessly pleads for somebody to love. It is the musical embodiment of pure carnal lust. The greasy sax break builds the tension to a frenzy as Jackie repeats her plea on the fadeout… "I need lovin"…
The writer of the track is unknown, but even though Jackie wrote the other two songs on this recording session, it is doubtful that she composed this tune. It is unlike the rest of her original material of the period, and lacks the innocence found in her early songs. But no matter who wrote it, it ranks as one of Jackie’s greatest vocal performances.
It may have taken forty-two years to reach our ears, but it was well worth the wait.



Please click below for the index page for this issue.

Dots


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