Tuesday, 25 October 2011

“TEENAGE – Teenagers & Youth In Music 1951-1960 (Compiled by JON SAVAGE)” by VARIOUS ARTISTS. A Review Of The Nov 2011 CD Compilation on Bear Family.

"…She's A Boogie Woogie Teenage…Boogie Woogie All Night Long…"

Released November 2011, Bear Family BCD 17242 AH breaks down as follows (I’ve added US 45 release dates and catalogue numbers – except where noted):

1. Too Young - NAT 'KING' COLE (1951, Capitol 1448)
2. Wild, Wild Young Women - RUTH BROWN (1953, Atlantic 993)
3. Seventeen – BOYD BENNETT & HIS ROCKETS (1955, King 1470)
4. A Teenage Prayer – GALE STORM (1955, Dot 15436)
5. Boogie Woogie Teenager – DON JULIAN & THE MEADOWLARKS
(1956, Dootone 405 [B-side of "I'm A Believer"]
6. Teenage Mambo – THE GAYLARKS (1956, Music City 805)
7. Teenage Partner – GENE VINCENT
(1957 USA LP, "Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps" LP on Capitol T 811,
1958 UK LP "A Gene Vincent Record Date" on Capitol T 1059)
8. Teenage Crush – TOMMY SANDS (1957, Capitol 3639)
9. I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent – FRANKIE LYMON & THE TEENAGERS (1957, Gee 1026)
10. Teenage Party – TOMMY STEELE
(1957 UK 7" on Decca F 10849, B-side of "Knee Deep In The Blues")
11. A Teenager’s Romance – RICKY NELSON (1957, Verve V 10047)
12. Young Blood – THE COASTERS (1957, Atco 6087)
13. The Eighteen Year Old Blues – STEVE CARL with THE JAGS (1958, Meteor 5046)
(1957, Surf SR 5018-45)
15. Sweet Little Sixteen – CHUCK BERRY (1958, Chess 1683)
16. Teenage Cutie – EDDIE COCHRAN
(1972 UK 2LP set "The Legendary Masters Series" on United Artists UAD 60017/18)
17. Ballad Of A Teenage Queen – JOHNNY CASH (1958, Sun 283)
18. School Of Rock 'n' Roll – GENE SUMMERS (1958, Jan 11-100)
19. (Got The) Teen-Age Blues – AL CASEY and THE BATS (1958, Highland 1002)
20. High School Confidential – JERRY LEE LEWIS (1958, Sun 296)
21. A Teenager Sings The Blues – DEAN EDWARDS (1959, Hanover 4501)
22. Teenage Love – THE FIVE CHESTERNUTS (1958 UK 7" on Columbia DB 4165)
23. I Was A Teenage Creature – LORD LUTHER (1958, Frantic F-107)
24. Sixteen Candles – THE CRESTS (1958, Coed 506)
25. A Teenager’s Letter Of Promises –
JUANITA ROGERS & LYN HOLLINGS with MR. V’S FIVE JOYS (1959, Pink Clouds 333)
26. High School U.S.A. – TOMMY FACENDA (1958, Legrand 1001/Atlantic 51-78)
27. A Teenager In Love – DION and THE BELMONTS (1959, Laurie 3027)
28. The Beat Generation – BOB McFADDEN and DOR [DOR is Rod McKuen]
(1959, Brunswick 9-55140)
29. Teen Beat – SANDY NELSON (1959, Original Sound 5)
30. High School Caesar – REGGIE PERKINS (1959, Ray Note S-9)
31. Ballad Of A Juvenile Delinquent – PHIL JOHNS and THE LONELY ONES (1960, River 2012)
32. Because They’re Young – DUANE EDDY and THE REBELS (1960, Jamie 1156)
33. Teen Street – JANIS MARTIN (1961, Palette PZ 5071)
34. Teen Angel – MARK DINNING (1960, MGM K 12845)

"Teenage…" is housed in Bear's now standard packaging – a 3-way foldout card digipak with an attached booklet. In this case we get 66 stunning pages worth of liner notes by compiler and music-lover JON SAVAGE. I've reviewed a compilation he did a few years back called "Meridian 1970" which was brilliant too. Like Bill Dahl, his paragraphs on each song are full of facts, wit and personal opinions. There’s a warmth and affection here that's just so enjoyable. The booklet is a joy - peppered with colour photos of US Teen magazines like "Dig", "Teen" and "Records Magazine", full-page colour covers of lurid paperbacks like "The Young Punks", "Savage Streets" and "Teenage Gangs" which we're reliably told are full of 'shocking stories' and 'frightening portraits' - yum yum! In fact as you sit there and ogle the superbly evocative presentation and listen to track-after-track of how 'teenagers' eventually took over the world – you’re struck by the deliciousness of it all – the possibility and the hope. The music sounds 'boss' too…

Mastered by JURGEN CRASSER, I’ve raved about his great transfers before – the 16 "Blowing The Fuse" CDs from 1945 to 1960 and the 10 "Sweet Soul Music" compilations from 1961 to 1970 (see reviews for nearly all of them). Given the hugely differing sources, the sound quality is uniformly SUPERB – and in some cases I'd swear it's better than what went before.

It opens badly. Whether it was Number 1 or not in 1951, few will say that the soothing vocals of Nat 'King' Cole had anything to do with teenagers and rebellion. But it improves immeasurably with the irrepressible "Wild, Wild Young Men" by Ruth Brown - you can literally 'feel' the sex and danger emanating from her every saucy line.

Genius comes in the shape of "Boogie Woogie Teenage" by Don Julian and The Meadowlarks – a sensational dancing rocker relegated to a 1956 B-side on Dootone (lyrics above) and the stark exciting rockabilly vibe of "Teenage Cutie" by Eddie Cochran – an outtake that finally saw the light of day on the 1972 2LP retrospective set "The Legendary Masters Series" – absolute winners both of them and very clever choices. Speaking of the wonderful Eddie – "(Got The) The Teen-Age Blues" by Al Casey & The Bats could easily be a re-run of "Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie" by Cochran and the "…don’t know what to do with my future…" misery of "The Eighteen Year Old Blues" by Steve Carl vocalized the thoughts of so many. The utterly bizarre comes in the shape of the 'werewolf' lyrics of "I Was A Teenage Creature" and the spookily spoken "A Teenager's Letter Of Promises" sounding not unlike Screaming Jay Hawkins meets Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & The Crypt Kickers (it sounds a little rough, but has been included for rarity value).

Then there are the 'themes' - the classroom in "High School Confidential" by Jerry Lee Lewis and the superb "School Of Rock 'n' Roll" by Gene Summers (both imbibed with genuine wildness and parent-filling fear) - "Teenage Crush" by Tommy Sands and "High School Caesar" by Reggie Perkins cover TV and films - while bullish behaviour and its consequences is everywhere in the constant pairing of the words 'teenagers' and 'delinquents'. Longing, necking and romance is handled by Gael Storm in "A Teenage Prayer", "A Teenager Sings The Blues" by Dean Edwards and Ricky Nelson's sappy "A Teenage Romance". Much more fun though is the naughty cockiness of "Young Blood" by The Coasters and the pre-surf instrumentals of Sandy Nelson's wonderful "Teen Beat" and Duane Eddy’s biggest hit "Because You're Young". There’s drive-in doo-wop and melodrama - George Lucas featured the extraordinarily evocative "Sixteen Candles" by The Crests in his 1973 masterpiece "American Graffiti" while the morbid "Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning hit the collective nerve and went to No. 1. Young lust and angst are covered by Boyd Bennett and his "Seventeen" with happier thoughts in "Teenage Party" by Tommy Steele. Perhaps conspicuous by his absence - is the biggest corrupter of them all and surely a close relative of Beelzebub – Elvis Presley. I bet he’s giggling at this compilation right now…and admiring his female counterpart – Janis Martin as she rock’n’roll’s "Teen Street".

Niggles - while Savage’s brief is to chronicle the youth phenomenon that swept the USA and then the world in the mid to late Fifties - long-time Collectors will probably sigh at the overly familiar here – Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Dion & The Belmonts and Frankie Lymon – tracks they probably have two or three times over. But looking deeper into the generous 34 tracks (and its huge playing time of 83:04 minutes), there are rarities and first-time-on-CD gems here well worth the purchase. "Ballad Of A Juvenile Delinquent" by Phil Johns is a musical find with lyrics that go from the Malls to the Jailhouse in 2 minutes 50. Tommy Facenda's "High School U.S.A." is said to have had 28 versions recorded by Atlantic – each name-checking specific high-schools in different States - a trick that worked because it garnished a No. 28 placing on the National charts in 1959.

This CD is fun and beautifully presented. And best of all it captures what it was like to be young in the Fifties and poppin' coins into a jukebox to hear the soundtrack to your life…

Great stuff.

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc