Tuesday, 20 June 2017

"Hard Workin' Man: The Jack Nitzsche Story Volume 2" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (October 2006 Ace Records CD - Nick Robbins Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...


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"...Like Someone In Love..."

I worked in the rarities department of a well-known and well-respected London record shop for 20 years and music-biz insiders (for the want of better words) know the name JACK NITZSCHE well - a behind-the-scenes arranger and producer of real genius. We know him well - most others don't.

Well - England's Ace Records are determined to rectify our collective musical myopia on a musical force whose legend only grows since his way-too-early passing in 2000 at the age of 63 – Chicago's Jack Nitzsche.

Nitzsche's resume is jaw dropping in its sheer variety - initial arranging stints with visionary loon Phil Spector and the Specialty Records label in the Fifties (Crystals, Ronettes, Darlene Love and Larry Williams) - shaping the sound of Sixties luminaries like The Rolling Stones, The Monkees, The Righteous Brothers, Bob Lind, The Turtles, Neil Young - aiding and abetting The James Gang, Crazy Horse, Ry Cooder, Mink DeVille, Graham Parker and The Ramones in the Seventies – moving into soundtracks like "Head" (The Monkees), "Performance" (Mick Jagger), "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", "Blue Collar" (with Captain Beefheart) and later on in the 80s and 90s on "Hot Spot" (with John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis and actor Dennis Hopper). His final discovery in 1999 was the Willy DeVille soundalike CC Adcock from Louisiana (there's a four-page interview with Adcock at the end of the booklet that makes for revealing and affectionate reading).

Some say Jack was a direct descendent of the German classical composer Wagner and a relative to the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In fact legend has it that Jack's Mum (a renowned witch apparently) was the one responsible for dropping the 'e' in the family surname because she felt it conjured up some numerical bad vibes and dodgy voodoo jabberwocky of some kind (don't you just want that on your Facebook page). The e-less Jack even nabbed an award for co-writing "Up Where We Belong" from the 1983 global film smash "An Officer And Gentleman".

This is the second volume of three Various Artists CD compilations Ace have put out chronicling his amazing legacy - the first "Hearing Is Believing: The Jack Nitzsche Story 1962-1979" on Ace Records CDCHD 1030 (Barcode 029667008327) came out 28 March 2005 and the third installment "Night Walker: The Jack Nitzsche Story Volume 3" on Ace Records CDCHD 1430 (Barcode 029667059923) finally arrived 30 June 2014. We're going to deal with an overlooked nugget - piggy-in-the-middle – Volume 2 from 2006. Here are the Hard Workin' Men and the Teardrops At Dawn Women...

UK released 9 October 2006 - "Hard Workin' Man: The Jack Nitzsche Story Volume 2" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Ace Records CDCHD 1130 (Barcode 029667022323) is a 26-Track CD compilation stretching from 1960 to 2004 (Volume two in a series of three) that plays out as follows (76:25 minutes):

1. Hard Workin' Man - JACK NITZSCHE with vocals by CAPTAIN BEEFHEART (from the 1978 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to "Blue Collar" on MCA Records 40897) - written by Jack Nitzsche, Ry Cooder and Director Paul Schrader)
2. Surfer Finger - JACK NITZSCHE (Previously unissued 1966 Reprise Recordings instrumental recording)
3. Just Like That - THE ROBINS (1960 USA 7" single on Avree 5001, A-side)
4. I'm Gonna Be Strong - FRANKIE LAINE (1963 USA 7" single on Columbia 4-42884, A-side)
5. You Just Gotta Know My Mind - KAREN VERROS (1965 US 7" single on Dot 16780, A-side)
6. Some Of Your Lovin' - EMIL O'CONNOR (1962 US 7" single on Columbia 4-42617,A-side - Phil Spector co-write)
7. Nobody Needs Your Love More Than I Do - TAMMY GRIMES (1966 US 7" single on reprise 0487, A-side - a Randy Newman song)
8. It's In His Kiss - MERRY CLAYTON (1963 US 7" single on Capitol 4984, A-side)
9. Don't Put Your Heart In His Hand (1963 US 7" single on Reprise R-20176, A-side - written by Jackie DeShannon and Sharon Sheeley)
10. Just Once In My Life - THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS (1965 US 7" single on Philles Records 127, A-side - Spector, Goffin & King song)
11. Teardrops 'Till Dawn - TIMI YURO (1965 USA 7" single on Mercury 72478, A-side)
12. Like Someone In Love - BOBBY VEE (Previously unreleased 1965 Liberty Records recording)
13. Baby I'm So Glad It's Raining - THE SATISFACTIONS (Previously unreleased Sunset Sound Recorders 1965 recording)
14. Blow Your Mind - THE GAS CO (1965 US 7" single on Mirwood 5501, A-side)
15. Woman In Love (With You) - DONNA LOREN (Previously Unissued 1968 Capitol recording)
16. As Long As You're Here - ZALMAN YANOVSKY (1967 US 7" single on Buddah BDA 12, A-side)
17. A Man Needs Love - NOONEY RICKETT (Previously unissued 1966 recording)
18. Mr. Soul - THE EVERLY BROTHERS (a 1968 Warner Brothers recording first issued on the "Nice Guys" UK LP on Magnum Force Records MFLP 1028 in September 1984 - a Neil Young song from his days with Buffalo Springfield)
19. You Know What I Mean - THE TURTLES (1967 US 7" single on White Whale 264, A-side)
20. Porpoise Song - THE MONKEES (1968 US 7" single on Colgems 1031, A-side - Goffin & King song)
21. I Don't Want To Talk About It - CRAZY HORSE (from their February 1971 debut LP "Crazy Horse" on Reprise Records MS 6348 - Danny Whitten song later made famous by Rod Stewart)
22. I'm The Loneliest Fool - JACK NITZSCHE (1974 unreleased solo LP first issued 2004 on the "Three Piece Suite" CD album on Rhino Handmade RHM2 2287)
23. Don't Touch Me There - THE TUBES (June 1976 US 7" single on A&M 1826-S, A-side)
24. Bank Robbery - JOHN LEE HOOKER, MILES DAVIS and TAJ MAHAL (1990 US CD and LP to the Dennis Hopper Soundtrack "The Hot Spot" on Antilles 846 813-2)
25. Break Away - THE NEVILLE BROTHERS (from the 1978 US LP "The Neville Brothers" on Capitol 11675)
26. Stealin' All Day - CC ADCOCK [Charles Clinton Adcock] (from the 2004 CD album "Lafayette Marquis" on Yep Roc CD 2040)
Tracks 2, 12, 13, 15 and 17 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
Tracks 1, 10, 18, 19, 21 to 26 are in STEREO – all others are in MONO

Compiled by MICK PATRICK and TONY ROUNCE - the 24-page booklet is a veritable feast for the eyes and a properly in-depth read – 26-tracks expertly put together by two names synonymous with good reissues. You get rare pictures sleeves for The Righteous Brothers on Spector's Philles and Merry Clayton on Capitol, a promo photo of The Turtles in colour and an NME front cover that features the Spector Girl-Group-pastiche "Don't Touch Me There" by The Tubes. Apart from occasional forays into the late Seventies and beyond – the vast majority of the songs are Sixties and come in evenly spread dollops of hard-hitting Mono and speaker-spaced Stereo. I've never heard the Beefheart track with so much muscle and that huge soundstage that Spector got is wonderfully realized on The Righteous Brothers track (superb NICK ROBBINS remasters).

Featuring 12-tracks new to CD - the compilation starts on a very oddly-placed but still mightily catchy 1978 Stereo cut – the fantastic Muddy Waters 'I'm A Man' blues riff of the compilation's title track - "Hard Workin' Man". I mention this because much of the CD plays like a Sixties Pop and Rock fest rather than a late Seventies Johnny Winter stomper – so don’t be expecting a lot of that. The ladies bring up the melodrama Soul sides in real upbeat chest-bracing style – Tammy Grimes, Merry Clayton and a Northern Soul Scene fave – Timi Yuro. Nitzsche's own instrumental "Surf Finger" gets a CD airing for the first time too and damn good it is too. Overlooked discoveries include The Everly Brothers doing a very cool cover of the Buffalo Springfield song "Mr. Soul" penned by our favourite Canadian whinge bag Neil Young. It's a 1968 Warner Brothers out-take that would have to wait until 1984 in the UK to see release on vinyl. Loving this...

And its slightly trippy vibe makes for perfect bedfellows with The Monkees, The Gas Co and the hilarious Tubes track towards the end of the disc - "Don't Touch me There" (I'll try not to honey). Emotional wallop comes with the 1971 Danny Whitten masterpiece of heartbreak he penned for Crazy Horse and their brilliant debut album - "I Don't Want To Talk About It" – a song that would of course be made into a global smash by Rod Stewart in 1975 on his "Atlantic Crossing" LP on Riva Records. The other inclusion likely to send you running for a whole album purchase is the incredibly sexy and cool "Bank Robbery" theme from "The Hot Spot" Soundtrack of 1990. It features a truly stellar line up of groovy types - Miles Davis on Trumpet, Taj Mahal on Vocals and Guitar, John Lee Hooker on Second Guitar with Roy Rogers on Slide Guitar. And what a fantastic groove it is. The compilation ends on the Seasick Steve/Willy DeVille Blues mojo of CC Adcock bringing the production values right up to the present day.

It’s not all genius for sure (some of the Pop tracks can feel period twee) – but the best thing you can say about any CD compilation called Volume 2 is that it made me want to own Volume 1 and 3 as well. And I will admit that Jack Nitzsche Volume 4 will be welcome too.

Jack Nitzsche Volume 2 is recommended...e or no e...

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