If, like me, you assumed that almost every chart hit from the mid-60's through to the end of the 70's, was original - with barely a cover-version in sight from the Beatles onwards - this excellent compilation will put you right. And given the eclectic nature of the music contained within, it will delight and surprise you too.
We all knew, of course, that certain rock supergroups plundered the back catalogues of various blues singers, and that early British rock'n'rollers made note-for-note copies of original American hits (with certain honourable exceptions such as Johnny Kidd, Billy Fury, and Cliff -no less - with 'Move It'). But surely that was it? Wrong!
From the recorded legacies of Presley to Sinatra, Bill Haley to Jimi Hendrix, Dusty Springfield to Soft Cell, and Brook Benton to James Brown, cover versions abound. But interesting though that is, what is infinitely more fascinating, and in its way heartbreaking, is that a litany of performers - many of whom have never been heard of again - had the performing skill, foresight, and eye-for-a-hit, that could have made them superstars. Or at least major one-hit-wonders with a decent meal-ticket and an honourable slot on the oldies circuit for years to come. If only someone had bought their record!
So, belatedly, stand up and take a bow, Mark James (Suspicious Minds), The Leaves (Hey Joe), Sunny Dae (Rock around the Clock) The Wild Ones (Wild Thing) and Carson & Gaile (Somethin' Stupid), to mention just a few of the 26 performers gathered on this CD. And it must be said emphatically that almost every one of these performances is easily the equal of, if not superior to, the hit versions by their altogether more illustrious performers, most of whom copied both performances and arrangements, note-for-note.
As ever, Ace Records must be congratulated on another marvellous concept, which deserves further exploration and hopefully a couple of follow-up volumes. Needless to say the audio restoration & mastering is state-of-the-art, and the accompanying booklet with liner notes by Tony Rounce and Rob Finnis is, as always, quite superb.
You heard it here first? Absolutely!
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Although I enjoyed this album it is obvious why most of these tracks failed to be more than a local hit. They lack the "X Factor". Either the vocals or the arrangements must have been to blame as someone saw the potential of these flawed offerings. However, it is these flaws that make the album intriguing and endearing. Some of the tracks must have been the victims of "wrong place wrong time" eg Bessie Banks' Go Now, whilst others like "Wild Thing" . . . well I'll leave the listener to decide. There are some personal faves here - Louie Louie, Go Now, Little Red Rooster, Tainted Love, Suspicious Minds - which I think give the hit versions a run for their money. Not so sure that Hoagy Lands version of Baby Let me hold your hand was the inspiration for the Animals. I was always under the impression they got it from Bob Dylan's album together with House of the Rising sun. I'm sure someone will enlighten us. All in all worth buying.
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This is a fascinating look at pop history with the usual recording quality and informative booklet that one comes to expect from Ace Records.
The songs are all familiar by the artists who took them to chart success. This CD contains the tracks in their original pre hit versions. Some are performed by the writers showing how they intended the song to sound. Some of the hit covers completely change the tempo or arrangement while others remain close to the original.
In some cases the hit potential of the song is quite obvious whereas others are testament to the genius of whoever spotted how the song could be transformed. This CD will appeal most of all to pop aficionados but can be recommended to anyone with a love of early pop.
For pure listening pleasure I prefer other Ace releases such as the Golden Age of American Rock and Roll. This CD is what it is but several of the tracks sound better to me than the subsequent hit cover version. There's plenty of room for discussion and musical quiz questions galore contained within. Enjoy!