It's So Fine: Complete Singles A's & B's 1953-59 CD
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LaVern Baker was one of the true divas of the mid '50s rock and roll circuit, with her statuesque figure and charismatic persona plus her brashly seductive vocal delivery made LaVern a true star. This wonderful 2CD set includes all of her singles from 1953 to 1959 and features the classic hits "Jim Dandy", "Tweedle Dee" and "I Cried A Tear" along with many other memorable numbers. Her unique vocals were a major influence over the next generation of Soul performers, making this another essential addition to the Jasmine catalogue. With full sleevenotes and chart history to complete the package.
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The forty tracks presented here are most impressive, containing all her A-sides for the period covered, included the first two that missed the charts, together with their B-sides. Her breakthrough hit, Tweedle Dee, would surely have been a bigger hit had Georgia Gibbs not recorded a note-for-note cover of it. While LaVern's original reached the American pop top 20, peaking at 14, Georgia's cover went much higher, peaking at 2. LaVern was not amused, but she was unable to do anything about it. Nevertheless, LaVern's version had done enough to establish her credibility and she followed it with a long string of hits in the American R+B charts, some of which crossed over into the pop charts. The most successful among them were Jim Dandy, a song that made number one on the American R+B charts, and I cried a tear, which made number 2 on that chart but became her biggest pop hit, peaking at 6.
Most of the songs here are originals, but apart from the A-side Shake a hand, LaVern occasionally covered songs for use as B-sides. Here, you'll find That lucky old sun (original by Frankie Laine), Humpty Dumpty heart (original by Hank Thompson), Manana (Peggy Lee), If you love me (originally a French song by Edith Piaf) and the old standard St Louis Blues, which became a huge American success for Marion Harris in 1920. Another B-side cover is Harbor lights, first recorded by Vera Lynn in March 1937 and an American hit for Frances Langford (whose version remains my favorite) later that year, but an American hit for several other artists subsequently, including the Platters, whose version also charted in Britain. .
With a diverse range of material, this compilation shows that LaVern Baker could sing many different types of song within the basic R+B framework. This is by far the most in-depth compilation yet released of her music and the sound quality is excellent.
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