30 April 2009

You Heard It here First!

"The original versions of these famous songs". "26 classics from the 50s and 60s, heard here in their original, pre-hit, versions."

A journey through music history with a selection of songs that became very famous when covered by someone else. You may know examples not on this CD, you may be surprised by finding out that the version of a song wasn't the first.

Well known songs in obscure versions by obscure artists? Mostly yes. Some originals have gotten their place in the sun ('Tainted Love', 'The Red Rooster'), some artists aren't very unknown (Muddy Waters) some songs aren't immediately recognizable as the original to the famous hit ('Hey Joe'). Historically important, seeing that the break through hit for rock 'n roll was 'Rock Around The Clock' by Bill Haley & His Comets, it's interesting to hear the original to that. And well, some of the artists are very obscure, sometimes there's even doubt as to who exactly can be heard.

Fun? Mostly yes. Some songs can't stand in the shade of the famous version ('Wild Thing'), some are equal or better ('I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself'), some are completely different but still equal or better (Muddy's 'You Need Love' to Led Zep's 'Whole Lotta Love', the already mentioned 'Hey Joe, Where You Gonna Go'). And sometimes it requires a sort of mindbending: the original 'Suspicious Minds' is about as inconceivable as a cover from Elvis' version, even though the original isn't that bad in itself.

Now, review the titles I've mentioned. I haven't mentioned 'Hanky Panky', 'Something Stupid' or 'My Boy Lollipop' yet but you'd already grasped that this is a peculiar collection. The main body is from the late 50's and early 60's, music styles are all over the place with folk, beat, R&B, R&R, country, soul, etc. Overall decent quality music, very few songs disappoint on their own and you may find originals that you like to a point you'd consider them hits.

With Ace we've come to expect good documentation with their releases and this CD is no exception. Without a real theme or subject, all text is dedicated to the individual songs. Some info has a 'yeah, whatever' level, some is of pub-quiz quality but here and there the text helps to place the original, its hit version or the relation between the two. There's interesting background on persons and recordings which is sometimes really needed to understand the development of songs. A few pointers are provided for those who'd like to dive a lot deeper into the music, with info on songwriters and producers. A fairly good number of good pictures complements the text.
Ace, 2008

You Heard It here First!