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The beginnings of a great career,
This review is from: Many Sides of/Only Love Can Break... (Audio CD)
This twofer includes Gene's first two albums, plus a bonus track that didn't originally appear on album.
The first album, The many sides of Gene Pitney, includes his first American top 20 hit, Town without pity, plus his very first hit, I wanna love my life away (which just made the top 40, though it later made the UK top 30) and his second hit, Every breath I take, which didn't quite make the American top 40. This album also includes Hello Mary Lou, a song that Gene wrote but which was a hit for Ricky Nelson. The bonus track is Air mail special delivery, the original B-side of Town without pity.
The second album is stronger, because the hits from Gene's first album meant that other songwriters were keen for Gene to record their songs. Bacharach and David supplied Only love can break a heart, The man who shot Liberty Valance, True love never runs smooth and Little bitty falling star. The first two were top five American hits that each sold a million copies, while the third just failed to make the top 20.
Only love can break a heart was Gene's biggest ever hit in his homeland, kept from number one by the Crystals with He's a rebel, a song written by Gene himself. I haven't come across a recording of He's a rebel by Gene himself. Another big American hit from this album was Half heaven half heartache, which peaked at 12. None of these songs did much in the UK. As ever in those days, Brits were slow to accept great American singers, but ultimately Gene's popularity is greater in the UK than the USA.
So, these are the earliest commercial recordings of the great Gene Pitney. He went on to record over twenty albums and had many more hit singles, especially in the UK, but these two albums provided him with a great start to his career. While they are not my personal favorites, they are brilliant and no self-respecting Gene Pitney fan would be without them.