28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Strictly for Lee Hazlewood completists only.....,
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This review is from: Califia: The Songs Of Lee Hazlewood (Audio CD)
As a Lee Hazlewood devotee and a big fan of the superb Ace label (and in particular their ongoing Songwriter series) I had been eagerly awaiting this release but unfortunately it is somewhat of a disappointment. I would especially dispute the claim on the reverse of the CD that it includes 'fan favourites and rarities'. Rarities certainly - and one previously unreleased track - but favourites most definitely not! Or rather with one exception, the teaser opening-track 'Lady Bird', one of the most charming 45s of the sixties and arguably Nancy Sinatra's greatest-ever vocal performance. But most of the remainder of these tracks are nothing like 'Lady Bird'. They could just as well be from another planet, let alone another songwriter. Do not expect to find any undiscovered Summer Wines or Some Velvet Mornings here...
In fact there are only a couple of further highlights. One is track 2, an upbeat recording by another Lee protégé and his girlfriend at the time, Suzi Jane Hokom. The other is the title track 'Califia' (also featuring Hokom) which hasn't surfaced on a Lee compilation for many years. But the remaining 22 tracks are a mixture of the plain average and the downright horrible - of interest only as a chronicle of how Lee developed his songwriting craft. There are five of his earliest songs from 1956-58, all wholly unremarkable, lots of syrupy strings and a couple of tunes featuring twangy guitarist collaborator Duane Eddy. Only with a few songs from the mid-sixties do signs of Lee's unique and brilliant writing style begin to emerge. And as for the previously unreleased track (18), it is immediately apparent why it was never released: it is three minutes of unspeakable cack - a truly atrocious version of 'These Boots'.
The best thing about this CD is the accompanying 24-page booklet, thoroughly researched, well written and imaginatively illustrated. But the music is forgettable. You will probably play most of the tracks just once and never again. If you don't have 'Lady Bird' in your collection you would do better to dig it out on another compilation or, better still, on the all-time classic LP 'Nancy & Lee' (1968, Reprise) if you can find a copy. But my advice is to give this CD a swerve. Definitely for Lee completists only.