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What's the Story (Warning: Rory)
on 19 September 2012
Forgetting the groups of which everyone has heard, for students of Merseybeat, the best things to be released in the past decade or so is the three CD series from Viper. Of those 60 tracks, just 17 were from the pre Klondike era (that is pre-1963) and many of those were poorly recorded on rather primitive home equipment. Unfortunately, as no-one had any reason to keep anything in those days the tapes were more often than not re-used, a fate that also befell anything that was recorded on stage, which is why there's next to nothing around from this period. Many thought the well had run dry until someone recently discovered something rather exciting; a complete 45 minute live show by Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.
Taped on 5th March 1960 at the Liverpool Hall (known as the Jive Hive), Crosby, 15 live songs, top and tailed by so-brief-you'll-miss-it stage announcements, are augmented by four home recordings. What makes this find historically important is twofold; this is the only known performance of a complete show by a Merseybeat artist before Christmas 1962 to have surfaced, and it's the earliest known recording to feature one Ringo Starr. This month (September) is also the 40th Anniversary of Rory Storm's death.
Due to the archaic nature of the recordings (one mic was taped to the singer's microphone; the other hung over the stage) the vocals are far more prominent and the backing does seem rather out of time. Despite the best efforts of everyone, including Rory trying to sound as American as possible even during song introductions and failing miserably, the audience doesn't appear too enthusiastic. The Hurricanes get their turn on two instrumentals and `Bye Bye Love', complete with stressed "baibee", all three of which has the drums overpowering the guitars. Those who think Liam Gallagher was the first to use a sneering style of singing, listen to `C'Mon Everybody' and you'll know. The closing announcement thanks the group but it sounds as if the audience is otherwise engaged.
Not blessed with the best voice, and he carries over his faux American twang to the four, undated but certainly committed to tape before June of that year, front room recordings, which is really annoying, Rory was probably a better showman than singer but don't dismiss this because of that. Listening to his between song patter, you know where comedian Freddie Starr got his influence for his own on-stage accented jabber. (Thinking about it, maybe that's not the best legacy to have left.) Alvin Stardust, who was his brother-in-law, was also motivated by Rory in his appearance. This CD, along with six studio recordings, is all there is from 'Mr Showmanship' and though it might not get removed from its case all that often, it is a part of history and for students of Merseybeat it's an essential purchase.
The 12-page inlay has some nice photos, not all unseen, and is a decent read and it makes you wonder what else might be out there languishing, forgotten, in a box in someone's loft.