LaVern Baker may have been overshadowed by Ruth Brown, her label mate on Atlantic Records for much of the time, but both were excellent singers that did much to establish that label as a potent force in the music business until its absorption by a major label (Warner) in 1967. Limited to her fifties recordings, this compilation contains all her American R+B and pop hits up to and including Shake a hand, which track was recorded in 1959 but reached its peak chart position early in 1960. That song was originally an American R+B and pop hit for Faye Adams in 1953, but should be familiar to Elvis Presley fans via his 1975 recording. In the sixties, LaVern's most important successful recordings were Saved and See see rider, but perhaps they will give Jasmine an excuse to provide at least a single CD of her sixties recordings eventually. Meanwhile, those tracks can be found elsewhere.
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.
10 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
Absolutely fabulous cd. I love Laverne Baker, definitely one of the all time greats.My favourites on this double cd are, Play It Fair, Still, Thats all I Need, My Happiness Forever. But there all good. Recommend this set to everyone.
2 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?