Saturday, 6 August 2016

"Johnny Burnette And The Rock 'n' Roll Trio + Dreamin': The Definitive Edition"by JOHNNY BURNETTE and the ROCK 'N' ROLL TRIO (2012 Hoodoo CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Lonesome Train (On A Railroad Track)..."

Forgotten hero and wild-cat howler - a 22-year old Johnny Burnette saw his mercurial journey explode in the autumn of 1956 with his self-titled 'Rock 'n' Roll Trio' debut LP - a slab of no-nonsense bop that's entered both Rock 'n' Roll and Rockabilly legend.

Just prior to that - and along with Chess artists The Moonglows, The Flamingos and especially Chuck Berry - Burnette had also seen his "Lonesome Train (On A Lonesome Track)" song featured in the Alan Freed movie "Rock, Rock, Rock!" that was literally tearing up seats in late 1955 all over American and then the rest of the World in the spring of 1956. But by 1964 - victim of a tragic boating accident - the Memphis lad was already gone – a career that promised much but was curtailed too soon (Hell they say him and his brother Dorsey even attended Humes High School where a certain Elvis Presley had curled his lips). And that's where this clever CD reissue comes in...

Burnette's stunning 1956 debut LP on Coral Records is paired with his more poppy Liberty Records 2nd platter "Dreamin'" from 1960 on this value-for-money Hoodoo Records CD reissue that even chucks in 8 bonus tracks for good measure (mostly non-album 7" single sides in and around the albums). Most Hoodoo releases feature material outside of the 50-year copyright law - but I've found that their CD reissues are done with style (fan-pleasing booklets) and sport great audio into the bargain - never mind making available again vinyl rarities that might cost you more than a second mortgage. Here are the lonesome trains that you wish had kept on Rollin'...

UK released May 2012 - "Johnny Burnette And The Rock 'n' Roll Trio + Dreamin': The Definitive Edition" by JOHNNY BURNETTE AND THE ROCK 'N' ROLL TRIO on Hoodoo Records 263414 (Barcode 8436542010481) offers up his first 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD with Eight Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (72:56 minutes):

1. Honey Hush
2. Lonesome Train
3. Sweet Love On My Mind
4. Rock Billy Boogie
5. Lonesome Tears In My Eyes
6. All By Myself
7. The Train Kept A-Rollin' [Side 2]
8.  I Just Found Out
9. Your Baby Blue Eyes
10. Chains Of Love
11. I Love You So
12. Drinking Wine (Spo-Dee-O-Dee)
Tracks 1 to 12 are his debut album "Johnny Burnette and the Rock 'n' Roll Trio" – released October 1956 in the USA on Coral CRL 57080 in Mono.

13. Dreamin'
14. Lovesick Blues
15. Please Help Me, I'm Falling
16. Haul Off And Love Me One More Time
17. Love Me
18. Kaw-Liga
19. Settin' The Woods On Fire
20. I Want To Be With You Always
21. Cincinnati Fireball
22. My Special Angel
23. Finders Keepers
24. I Really Don't Want To Know
Tracks 13 and 24 are his 2nd studio album "Dreamin'" - released August 1960 in the USA on Liberty LRP-3179 in Mono (credited to JOHNNY BURNETTE only)

25. Tear It Up - non-album A-side of a May 1956 US 7" single on Coral 9-61651
26. Rock Therapy - first appeared on the 1993 CD reissue of the "Johnny Burnette And The Rock 'n' Roll Trio"
27. Oh Baby Babe - non-album A-side of a July 1956 US 7" single on Coral 9-61675
28. You're Sixteen - non-album A-side of an October 1960 US 7" single on Liberty F-55285
29. Touch Me - non-album B-side to "Eager Beaver Baby" - a May 1957 US 7" single on Coral 9-61829
30. Please Don't Leave Me - Fats Domino cover that first appeared on the 1993 CD reissue of the "Johnny Burnette And The Rock 'n' Roll Trio"
31. Little Boy Sad - non-album A-side of a January 1961 US 7" single on Liberty F-55298
32. Sweet Baby Doll - non-album B-side to "I'll Never Love Again" - a July 1959 US 7" single on Freedom F-44017

The 16-page booklet features February 2012 fact-filled liner notes from GARY BLAILOCK as well as six jam-packed full-page memorabilia-spreads - Coral and Liberty 7" singles, rare US and UK picture sleeves, Gold London Label Tri-Centers, rare EP covers in colour, publicity photos for the three boys (Johnny and Dorsey Burnette with guitarist Paul Burlison) – as well as original liner notes for both LPs and musician credits at the rear for most tracks. It’s an impressive photo layout that chronicles his transition from wild-man Bopper to a "You're Sixteen" teenage lust-bucket idol getting his shirt ripped off by frantic ladies at concerts. And though no mastering is mentioned anyway – the Audio is almost as good as my "Johnny Burnette Rocks" CD on Bear Family (see separate review).

The sheer Gene Vincent and his blue Caps visceral power of the 'Trio' debut comes at you from the get go - opening with his cover of Joe Turner's "Honey Hush" followed by Glen Moore and Milton Subotsky's "Lonesome Train..." - a July 1956 song that feels like it's spiritual home is Sun Records when the joint was jumping. The Stray Cats practically based their entire retro sound on "Sweet Love On My Mind" - Grady Martin providing that great Lead Guitar - Brian Setzer channeling his great fretboard skill decades later. Buddy Holly would have loved "Lonesome Tears In My Eyes" while Side 1 ends with one his best vocal tear-it-ups "All By Myself" (Screaming End fans will love that 'Yeow!' roar).

Side 2 opens with a monster - Grady Martin and Paul Burlison grungeing up those guitars for his early days signature tune "The Train Kept A-Rollin'" - a wild song even now. Our Johnny prays to God to send her love to him in "I Just Found Out" but I'm afraid he sounds like a sucker whose been cheated by a heartbreaker. "Your Baby Blue Eyes" is a fantastic Rockabilly bopper complete with screams, slap upright bass and cool guitar picking. The Anita Kerr Singers unfortunately grace the sappy "I Love You So" - but things are rescued by a half-decent version of Sticks McGhee's Atlantic Records hit "Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee".

After the sheer fun and vitality of the 'Trio' LP - 1960's "Dreamin'" seems eons away - the untamed yet cool Rocker replaced with a middle-of-the-road Pop crooner reaching for the lucrative 'kids' market with strings and backing singers as his weapons of choice. His Liberty Records debut LP is a different beast altogether - much of which I can't listen to except moments like his excellent cover of Presley's wonderful "Love Me". But stuff like the 'dress up in your yellow' and 'let’s hit the hops' pseudo teen bop of "Settin' The Woods On Fire" is pap I find hard to stomach. But things are rescued by a slew of great Bonus Tracks including the wicked "Tear It Up" and "Rock Therapy" outtake where the pair could easily have had pride-of-place on the 'Trio' LP. And even though its "Dreamin'" era mush - I'm partial to Burnette's original of "You're Sixteen" which good old Ringo Starr from The Beatles would chart again with a quality cover version of it on Apple Records in 1974.

The first LP is a masterpiece of the genre - but that follow-up four years later leaves me cold and itchy for the fast-forward button.

File Under 'Rock 'n' Roll' it says on the back on this excellent Hoodoo Records CD Reissue – well half of it anyway…but man what a ride…

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