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Reviews of Eddie Cochran record releases
 
ROCKSTAR RSRCD 016 - UK, 1999
The Town Hall Party TV Shows
Starring Eddie Cochran & Gene Vincent
ROCKSTAR RSRCD 016
 
'The Town Hall party TV shows' review by Phil Davies.
 

EDDIE COCHRAN (with Dick D'Agostin & the Swingers) - February 7th 1959 

GENE VINCENT & THE BLUECAPS - 25th Oct 1958 

GENE VINCENT & Town Hall Party Musicians - 7th November 1959 

What else do ya need to know? Buy it now! Back in the mid 1970's UA said that the well was dry, there was no more Eddie material to release. Undaunted life long fan and Rockstar label supremo Tony Barrett has made it his mission to disprove UA's glib dismissal. With a fine pedigree from the vinyl eps through this absolute gem of a release, Rockstar has a superb catalogue of Cochran/ Vincent releases. Darrel Higham's amazing Cochran Connection cd was my pick of 1998 and this will be the pick of 1999 (and of any other year). As well as the Cochran catalogue Rockstar also was responsible for the legendary Jerry Mercer and Narvel Felts Radio Rockabillies release.  

A recent media course I attended said that commentators/reviewers should be impartial and balanced but hell, did Eddie Cochran change their lives back in 1964?? When the postie delivered this goodie today from Mr Hot Rod Pyke I felt the same excitement as I did back in running home from the local record emporium in 74 frantically devouring the sleeve notes of Eddie Cochran "On The Air" lp. 

There's a superbly detailed and richly illustrated booklet with all the gen in Rockstar tradition. Tasters of California's seminal Town Hall Party Tv Show  have featured on other cds in the past. The interesting history of the show is covered in the booklet. This cd however, answers the prayers of many of us by giving a glimpse of what our heroes sounded like blasting through the ether to those lucky young westerners plonked in front of a black n white tv set. Tv didn't reach the Davies household in North Wales until November 63, the week of JFK's assassination! 

First up is Eddie, four days after the death of his friend Buddy Holly, in February 1959. Introduction to the spot is by Jay Stewart and Dick D'Agostin & the Swingers zip through an instrumental before Dick introduces Eddie. The boys storm through C'Mon Everybody with Connie Guybo Smith's bass well to the fore, Dick's piano adds a new dimension to the song. Catering to the country audience Eddie performs a heartfelt Have I Told You Lately That I Love You featuring the band on backing vocals, Eddie`s husky sensual performance draws good applause at the end. 

Interesting to compare these performances with Eddie's UK Tv shows from a year later. The backing is more sympathetic and the bonus of no Vernon Girls screeching in the background!  Rockstar have again confirmed that Eddie was a great fan of New Orleans r&b, by previously giving us his version of Chris Kenner's great Sick 'n Tired (recorded by Eddie before Fats' cover) and  here with Eddie's romp through Fat's Don't Blame It On Me. Great growly vocal on this mover with plenty of piano and hard riffing guitar. Paul Coffman takes a good brief sax solo too. A real find this one. 

Finishing up his first spot Eddie closes with the now anthemic Summertime Blues, Guybo's bass and the boss' Gretsch in fine unison, Dick providing the deep asides. Enthusiastic applause brings that part to a close. Part two starts with a brief interview of Eddie by Johnny Bond, where they talk about the Cochran Brothers previous appearances on the show. Rockstar are already looking for those shows from April 27 and 28th 1956, which also featured Lefty Frizzel! Some of the band are also interviewed with Eddie singing their praises. A fine articulate and sympathetic interview not at all like Marty Wilde's embarrassing ramblings on the Uk shows. This interview delves as far back as Jimmie Rodgers bluesier sides and lasts around 7 minutes. 

Part two starts with Jay Stewart introducing Dick & the Swingers on the instrumental Night Walk with fine rasping sax and atmospheric guitar lick. Eddie opens with Schoolday, with fine guitar and piano, more uptempo and tighter  than Berry's original, unfortunately most of the first verse's vocal is off mike but nevertheless the rest is clear and rocks along. Pity Eddie never did a Berry song in the studio. Nice spoken intro by Eddie leads into Gene Autry's Be Honest With Me. Good sax solo here too and Eddie turns in a typical classy ballad vocal. 

With a doff of the hat to Elvis, the Drifters Money Honey is next, though Eddie's rasping version is far bluesier than both the other cuts. Eddie closes in fine style with his then current chart hit C'Mon Everybody, down to 51 in Billboard that week (11 weeks in the charts then). A driving rendition which leaves the kids wanting more. 

Alas, 14 brief months later it all ended on an English roadway in the early hours of that dark day, but thanks to Rockstar's team we can lift the curtain one more time and glimpse Eddie's talents once more. As excited as this cd will get you, think what the possible video release of this material will do to you if it comes out. I'm off to buy spare boxer shorts now! Top marks to Alan Stoker the audio engineer at the Country Music Foundation who transferred the sound from the original aged kinescope soundtrack, and also Adam Skeaping who mastered the cd. Messres Barrett and Glenister and all involved in this worthy project deserve a place in rock n roll Valhalla. 

Suppose I'd better keep Rod happy by mentioning the Vincent shows included here! On October 25th 1958 Jay Stewart introduces Eddie's compadre the immortal Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps. Whilst Steve Aynsley and the fan club have kept Gene's fans ticking over  with the Magnum label live/studio recordings this is a taste of prime Capitol era Mr Craddock. Gene n Caps stalk their way through the sublimal (Eat yer heart out Cleveland's alleged hall Of Fame!!) Be-Bop-A-Lula, Caps here are the great Johnny Meek on guitar, Cliff Simmons on 88s, Grady Owen on bass and Clyde Pennington on drums. New Orleans r&b to the fore on Huey Smith's classic High Blood Pressure, with the Caps "Oh Yeah"ing in fine style, nice piano on this lengthy cut. Storming take on Rip It Up follows, Gene`s frantic vocalising accentuated by Meek`s stinging guitar cutting loose, think I prefer this to the issued Capitol cut. 

Second part of the show features the wild cat on Dance To The Bop, the on set photos hint at the frantic but controlled energy on stage with Gene in classic mike leaning mode, clad in black with a light jacket, with his Caps closely clustered around him. Tony where's that video? Man we need it now! Then a nice intro to Hank's immortal You Win Again performed as Gene says in the intro in "Jerry Lee Lewis style". A nice tribute to the Killer who was experiencing the sudden fall from fame's fickle hand that would also bedevil Norfolk's finest. From out of left field Gene springs the unexpected, Jerry Butler's great For Your Precious Love, rippling piano and clear guitar intro. Gene's skill as a balladeer is what places him in the pantheon of all time great vocalists in my opinion. Fantastic rendition, you gotta hear this. Gene prefaced the song with the news that he was heading north to hospital and would be parting from the Caps for a while (little did we know!). Another leg operation as we now know failed to cure the abuse he'd given the leg night after night on stage. The song encapsulates the sadness that seemed to follow Gene around his all too brief life. 

November 7th 1959 saw Gene return to the show "Caps"less alas, though he did have Jerry Merritt on guitar, they'd played in Alaska and Japan before Gene tried to escape personal and business woes by crossing the Atlantic soon afterwards. Just like Eddie he storms through a Chuck Berry classic, Roll Over Beethoven. Even though Jimmy Pruett on piano does his best you feel that the Caps would've turned this into a barnstormer. Gene's melancholic side appears in a most worthy attempt  at Over The Rainbow, with Jerry's poignant guitar helping out. The next song is prefaced with the comment "going to do one now, if Capitol records ever catch me they'll probably kill me!!!". Jerry's guitar picks up the beat after a plodding start to She She Little Sheila.  Great photos of high school sweater clad Gene on stage here too. If only Gene and the caps could've stayed together or achieved another hit in 1958.

There we have it, nearly one hour of prime time fifties music in this hot little cd. Both artists captured in their final blaze of American glory before crossing the big pond and changing many of our lives over here and sadly hastening the end of their brief time with us. As we approach the millennium we can raise a glass to the many dedicated fans involved here and this fine small but highly worthy label for enabling us to sample what Californian teens took for granted back then. Gene and Eddie, rockers through and through. 

Phil Davies

July 1999
 
Phil Davies would appreciate any feedback on his reviews. You can contact Phil via: philip.davies87@ntlworld.com.

EMI 7243 5 21715 2 1 - UK, 1999
Legends Of The 20th Century
Original Recordings
EMI 7243 5 21715 2 1
Deluxe digipack with extensive linernotes by Joel Selvin
 
'Legends Of The 20th Century' review by Phil Davies.
 
There, 25 reasons why you're reading this. Nicely compiled by Alan Warner who did such sterling work back on UA in the early 70s. Part of a wide ranging millennium celebrating series by EMI featuring artists as diverse as Fats Domino and Peter Sellers. Ideal for a first time buyer or a general rock n roll fan. Also ideal for sending to the Mancunian pratts who did the execrable hatchet job documentary on Eddie on the government's so called BBC Radio 1 recently.

This collection has most of the classics in standard format, Slacks and Jim ala Cherished memories Liberty lp of 62. Be warned that 20 Flight Rock is the US 45 version with backing vocals, off Eddie's debut lp sessions. Credited to Ned Fairchild only by the way. Nice to hear (Ah) Pretty Girl again, in stereo too methinks. Top sound on all the tracks.

The notes rather carelessly refer to "certain stereo versions " being included, that info would've been more useful than lists of who covered these songs (er Showaddywaddy anyone??). The cd US EMI Legendary Masters had that info and better artwork than this package. Whatever happened to the volume 2 by the way? Ricky had one with alternate takes etc. The other minus point is, lets be kind and assume they were badly edited, the notes by US rock writer Joel Selvin, author of a so-so Ricky biog and a hippy book. Nothing new, recycled tales from previous releases.

Package for the series feature solid book type shell with an inside pocket for the cd. A lot of wasted space on the arty coppery wash pages, just give us more pics of Eddie man. Simple really. Just look at Rockstar for instance.

Which brings me nicely to the main course and pudding of this review, another cracker from our rocking dynamic duo Derek and Tony's Rockstar label. This label is a veritable national treasure and shows the major labels that quality not quantity is what counts. Painstakingly put together by fans for fans, totally deserving our support and even parting with your hard earned crust for the good guys.
 
Phil Davies would appreciate any feedback on his reviews. You can contact Phil via: philip.davies87@ntlworld.com.
 

ROCKSTAR RSRCD 018 - 2000
Rock 'n' Roll Memories
Eddie Cochran & Gene Vincent
ROCKSTAR RSRCD 018
Eddie & Gene's UK TV-appearances
 
'Rock 'n' Roll Memories' review by Phil Davies.
 
Following from the glorious Rockstar Town Hall Party cd we return again to the live radio/tv sound of the brothers in rock.

Two BBC Saturday Club radio shows from 5th and 12th of march 1960, Four ITV Boy Meets Girls January 16th & 23rd, February 20th & 27th 1960. As a bonus 3 back stage tour members interviews from Mr "Microphone" Monty Lister backstage at the Liverpool Empire theatre March 1960, and a 1995 interview with Monty himself from 1995. Add a brilliant colour NME Poll Winners concert cover, a detailed booklet fine intro by Big jim Sullivan and lotsa rare pics and you're sorted matey. Stop reading this and rush to your nearest record emporium and acquire forthwith.

Ok so you may have the 1981 Rockstar lp with the Saturday Club cuts BUT these are from the BBC master tapes and sound absolutely awesome. Tiptop ticketyboo chaps, jolly well done that boy Duncan Cowell in the sound dept! The quaint Brian Matthews dj bits and the star struck girl fan interviewees all add to the impact when the Americans let rip, coaxing their UK band members to unthought of heights of competency. Great stuff and fantastic to hear in this high quality depth of sound. C'Mon Everybody wasn't on the original album but its here in all its glory.

The Boy Meets Girl tracks first surfaced on the old much beloved and now very worn On Air UA lp from 1972. Even though they've been on cd previously (EC Box set etc) they sound really crisp hear thanks to Duncan's knob twiddlings. Love the closing announcement on one show where marty Wilde says that Ronnie Hawkins will be on the show next week and OTIS BLACKWELL (what!!!!!) performing as well. Cue voodoo doll intermission for curses to be laid on the blinkered TV executive plonker who gave the go ahead to wipe the film/video of these epic performances way back when.

Just think of film of Eddie ripping up Sweet Little 16 or the lads closing on White Lightning. The aural memories expertly conserved here will suffice. One day though will our intrepid Indiana Jones' Tone n Del achieve mission impossible finding this long lost footage? International finger crossing day starts now. Look what a surprise the Town Hall Party footage turned out to be.

Hard to believe we want more after the long hard effort its taken to put this gem of a cd together. Steve Aynsley and Roger Nunn have annotated a superb telling of the last tour by the tunesome twosome. 10 out of 10 and a gold star (or even Goldstar) all round. Buy with confidence as they used to say. The last 2 cds and Darrel/Julie's book means that the 40th anniversary year of Eddie's passing has been acknowledged in a most fitting and memorable manner. Yah boo sucks to Radio 1, you deserve the music you play daily. This stuff is immortal.

Now where's them lil' Town hall Party videos boisbach?

PHIL DAVIES
AUGUST 2000
 
Phil Davies would appreciate any feedback on his reviews. You can contact Phil via: philip.davies87@ntlworld.com.

 
ROCKSTAR RSRCD 026 - 2005
Portrait of A Legend
Eddie Cochran
ROCKSTAR RSRCD 026
The 'Stereo' Recordings & The 'Mono' Recordings

This review of the Rockstar CD 'Portrait Of A Legend' was published first in the Eddie Cochran magazine 'The Cochran Connection' and is used here with kind permission of Phil Davies. 

 
Whilst EMI continue their policy of endless Very Best of Eddie type albums (ala 1970) the Batman and Robin of  the Cochran world (aka the Rockstar “Brothers” Derek and Tony)continue to offer up well thought out and tempting albums like this latest gem. Easily slotting into my top 5 albums of 2005 and indeed any other year. The dream team have sensibly got the UK’s finest writer ,nowadays a Nashville resident, Stu Colman to pen the detailed notes and also a special nod to the superlative sound obtained by knob twiddler  Adam Skeaping who does Eddie proud sonically, the digital mastering is extremely impressive the best of the recordings sound as fresh and crisp as a mint Liberty/London 45.
 
The original Rockstar 25th Anniversary Portrait lp from 1985 was a personal fav, especially as I recall winning it in a Now Dig This competition. There are of course 19 (count `em!!) bonus tracks on this long awaited cd issue and that’s not including the four stabs at the epic Teenage Cutie where we can study Eddie’s style and technique for over 250 seconds of bliss, just one of the magnificent seven previously unreleased cuts on this shiny gem including two backing tracks for you to singalonga in your bestest Darrel style ;-)). Of course it also includes the mighty eight gems, which were brand new to the old vinyl version of this album). Some of the blander ballads never did it for me the first time I heard them and time has not been kinder to them, I put it down to Liberty’s pop leanings, but that’s just personal taste talking. However the stereo Weekend, 3 Steps, Shorty, Jeannie, Ah, Pretty Girl and Pretty Girl really cut the mustard. Amongst the Mono sides I Almost Lost My Mind`s  hypnotic piano riff and Eddie’s Elvis styled vocals still appeals, the dubbed piano on a blistering Skinny Jim gets a nod from this lifelong Lewisophile. Summertime Blues is the UK London issued versions sans fade and reverb. Stu’s spot on description of Somethin’ Else’s “macho swagger” sums it up in a nutshell, likewise My Way (roll over Francis Albert as it were!!), both songs prompted the hard driving power chords of later UK bands like The Who etc  

Rockstar RSR-LP 1008

Rockstar RSR-LP 1008 (1985)

 
After a count, in we zip into C’Mon Everybody without Ed’s final overdubbed acoustic. Nervous Breakdown is raw and minus the later familiar handclaps and drums and stands as a fine showcase of the vocal and guitar technique of our hero. The whole package works as a brilliant testament as to why we’re still listening to a very young American music and film star, who blazed briefly across the starry skies, but who’s musical legacy has stood the test of time and not vanished from our hearts and minds. Eddie would be proud of this album, nuff said.
 

Phil Davies

Ps Rockstar have also reissued their fine Vincent album of alternate takes and rarities, Important Words, well worth checking out as well especially as there’s a host of extras on the cd. There’s a  great pic of the two chums on the epic 60 tour in a mock hoodlum stand off (ala those evocative 50s pulp fiction paperbacks) in the new Eddie cd, the colour pic on the cover is a cracker too.

Phil Davies would appreciate any feedback on his reviews. You can contact Phil via: philip.davies87@ntlworld.com.