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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sixties Merseybeat group, 20 July 2005
By 
Peter Durward Harris "Pete the music fan" (Leicester England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Very Best Of Billy J Kramer (Audio CD)
Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas were one of several Liverpool groups to achieve a measure of pop success in the early sixties. Like the Beatles, they were managed by Brian Epstein. The Dakotas really wanted to be an instrumental group, following the example of the Shadows in Britain and the Ventures in America. It was agreed that they would get to record their own music (included on this compilation) in return for backing Billy J Kramer. The lead guitarist of the Dakotas is the brother of Elkie Brooks, a singer who failed to make it in the sixties but eventually achieved success in the late seventies with Pearl's a singer and some other great songs. To be honest, the Dakotas' musicianship was better than Billy's singing, which was good but not great. However, it doesn't really matter - the songs and the music compensate for any limitation in the vocal department.
The first single by Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas was Do you want to know a secret, a song that the Beatles had already included on their debut album, Please please me. It made number two in the British charts. Next came two more Lennon-McCartney songs, Bad to me, which topped the UK chart, and I'll keep you satisfied, which made number four. Perhaps the best song they ever did was Little children, an American song that gave them their second and last British number one. This was recorded in preference to another Lennon-McCartney song (title unknown to me) that Brian Epstein and George Martin wanted to go with. However, they returned to the Lennon-McCartney songbook for From a window, which just made the UK top ten. After that there was only one more significant hit, a cover of the Bacharach-David classic, Trains and boats and planes, which didn't quite make the UK top ten - it peaked at twelve. It's gonna last forever and Neon city both failed to chart.
Without Billy J Kramer, the Dakotas had a minor UK hit with The cruel sea (titled The cruel surf in America). Two other singles, Magic carpet and Oyeh, missed the charts. One of the B-sides, My girl Josephine, features vocals from one of the Dakotas and is included here.
This collection includes all the hits and misses, several B-sides and album tracks and a few recordings from Billy's comeback attempts (without the Dakotas) in the seventies and eighties.
While not by any means the most essential Merseybeat group, they are worth a listen if you are into this kind of music. But go for Gerry and the pacemakers first if you haven't already got some of their music.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The man who turned down Yesterday, 18 Nov 2006
This review is from: The Very Best Of Billy J Kramer (Audio CD)
Yes it wasn't just Decca who dropped a clanger-sometimes the artists did as well and Billy J Kramer did just that when Paul McCartney played him a dub of his new song Yesterday. In hindsight though it depends how he heard it-certainly nor the way it turned out.

However he took a risk by favoring the American song Little Children but it turned out his biggest hit!

Having established himself with a batch of Lennon/McCartney songs it was obvious he'd score well in the States where he would have been seen as High School Pop similar to Gary Lewis & the Playboys whose first hit This Diamond Ring had been modelled on Kramer's Bad to me.

The first group Kramer had appeared with were strangely known as the Coasters-not a name they could have kept for long as the real Coasters were not only a big influence on Liverpool groups but still active.He was paired up by Brian Epstein with a Manchester group called the Dakotas-still in the business with lineup changes along the way.

Kramer is a big enough name to have sustained a career when the hits ran out later in the 60s and plays revival circuits.

Never noted fo a strong voice and never a writer he made some interesting covers such as Dee Dee Warwick's We're doing fine and was taken to the States by Brian Epstein before the Beatles
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfied, 6 Nov 2008
By 
D. J. H. Thorn "davethorn13" (Hull, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Very Best Of Billy J Kramer (Audio CD)
I wasn't expecting too much from this CD. BJK had a pleasing voice, if limited, as his attempt to reach the higher notes at the end of 'Bad To Me' suggest. He also had the good fortune to enjoy substantial support from The Beatles' camp. Ultimately though, the true stars of this album are The Dakotas, who reveal themselves to be one of the best bands of the so-called 'beat' era.

This isn't especially evident on the big, early hits which are better known for being Lennon/McCartney songs. On the first non-Beatle track, however, 'Sneakin' Around', you discover how slick and vibrant The Dakotas were. This is confirmed by the sprinkling of instrumental numbers as well. I was already familiar with the superb 'Cruel Sea', but 'Magic Carpet', 'Oyeh' and 'Humdinger' are also impressive, as well as offering something different. Other band highlights are 'That's The Way I Feel', 'The Millionaire' and the brilliant 'Forgive Me', on which they almost get heavy.

As for Kramer, he does a decent job with a remarkably strong collection of songs, some of which are band compositions. I have a particular fondness for the no. 1 hit, 'Little Children', a single much-played on our record player when I was small. The CD finishes with three songs from the late 1970s which suggest Tony Christie and Gene Pitney territory rather than rock and roll, but which are good, polished performances. This is a CD of considerable quality
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is not "Bad To Me"..., 1 Oct 2007
By 
M. H. Ibbotson (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Very Best Of Billy J Kramer (Audio CD)
"Bad to Me" was the first single that I bought, so I remember it well and the rendering on this CD is as true to the orignal as any CD track can be. I was surprise just how close this CD is in sound quality to the original vinyl pressing.

You won't be disappointed with the album - it is worth buying, even if you've never been a fan of Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas. I can't recommend it enough....

Martin
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5.0 out of 5 stars oldy but goody, 13 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Very Best Of Billy J Kramer (Audio CD)
this album takes me back to my youth I love it the songs I can sing a long to .
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4.0 out of 5 stars NICE ALBUM, 2 April 2014
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This review is from: The Very Best Of Billy J Kramer (Audio CD)
Some remote tracks,but what you would expect for the money.I found all the tracks i wanted though.great delivery,great service,Many thanks
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4.0 out of 5 stars Do you want to know a secret !, 25 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Very Best Of Billy J Kramer (Audio CD)
A comprehensive collection of all the hits and more from sixties legends, Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas ! Worth a listen !
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5.0 out of 5 stars It SHOULD be 6 *!!!, 21 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Very Best Of Billy J Kramer (Audio CD)
THIS is a brill CD. I chanced buying it as it was so cheap. I love ALL 60s music.I chanced well, Billy J was born William Howard Ashton in 1943. (he wanted to sound more American. They had only SIX Top20 hits from May 63 and two were No 1!
A lot of the songs on here are Lennon and McCartney song s THATs how good it is!!
Track 26 is MY fav Track Its a beautiful love song It REALLY good!!!= " Take My Hand"

"Do you want to know a secret?" May 63 No2....(Lennon and McCartney)
"Bad To Me" Aug 63 No1 (Lennon and McCartney)
"I' ll keep you satisfied" Nov 63 No4 ( Lennon and McCartney)
"Little Children" Feb 64 No1
"From a Window" July 64 No10 (Lennon and McCartney)
"Trains Boats and Planes" May 1965...No12
"Call Your Name (Lennon and McCartney)
"I'll be on my way".....(Lennon and McCartney
This EXCELLENT CD contains 30 tracks EVERY one could have been a single in MY eyes...they were THAT good!!!
If you dont buy it then you dont like good quality music.....Period lol
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Best of Billy J Kramer, 21 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Very Best Of Billy J Kramer (Audio CD)
got this for my husbands birthday he is very happy with the cd and loves all the songs that are on the cd, it takes him back to the sixties. He likes to sing along to all of the hits that Billy J Kramer sang.
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5.0 out of 5 stars memories!!, 16 Nov 2013
By 
Helena Gray "fun lady" (U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Very Best Of Billy J Kramer (Audio CD)
I am trying to get all my vinyl into cd form and this seems the best way to do it at a price I can afford
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