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
'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
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
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
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.