Young Emotions 45 by Rick Nelson

May 19, 2012

Ricky Nelson was second only to Elvis when it came to rock ‘n’ roll idols of the 1950s. His exposure on his parents television show, OZZIE & HARRIET, gave him a huge fan base and his singing his new songs at the end of the shows introduced his music to millions.

Many times he would issue a rock song on one side of his singles and a ballad on the other and then wait to see which would receive the most radio airplay and become the bigger hit.

“Young Enotions/Right By My Side” was issued during the early spring of 1960. “Young Emotions” reached number 12 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart and “Right By My Side” peaked at number 59.

The A side was a smooth slower song that was typical of many of his releases at the time.

He would chart 54 singles, 1954-1973, and sell tens of millions of albums. He was inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987, two years after his death in a plane crash.

The Complete Epic Recordings by Rick Nelson

March 29, 2012

During the late 1950s and early ’60s, first and foremost there was Elvis Presley. Then there was Ricky Nelson. He was the embodiment of the teen idols that ruled the American music scene during the pre-Beatles era.

His career traveled through several stages. In his early career with the Imperial label, he was a rock ‘n’ roll singer trading up-tempo rockabilly songs with smooth ballads. During his stay with the Decca/MCA label, he changed from a pure pop singer to producing some the earliest fusions of country and rock. Later bands like Poco and The Eagles would refine this genre, taking it in different directions. During his time with these labels he sold close 100 million records and produced dozens of hits. It was his time with the Epic label that is the great lost period of his musical life.

Real Gone Records has now gathered all his recordings from his short, late-1970s stay with the label, issuing them on a two-CD set titled The Complete Epic Recordings. He recorded three albums worth of material for the label, but only 1977’s Intakes was released during his lifetime. The next album, the Al Kooper-produced Back To Vienna was never released. The third album, Rockabilly Renaissance, a return to his rockabilly roots, was issued after his death in heavily overdubbed form under the title Memphis Sessions. The Real Gone compilation marks the first time the three albums have been released in CD form in the U.S. It also marks the debut of 11 of the 41 tracks.

My only complaint is that the sound quality varies, which may be due to the quality of the original masters. Other than that issue the material is a fine addition to the Rick Nelson catalogue and legacy.

The rockabilly material has been issued in the original and overdubbed formats. While there is repetition, it was a good idea to include the originals. Songs such as “That’s All Right Mama,” “Almost Saturday Night,” “Dream Lover,” “True Love Ways,” “Rave On,” and others are a welcome throwback to his early rock ‘n’ roll days. Add in such undiscovered gems as “Call Of The Jungle,” “New Delhi Freight Train,” “Mama You Been On My Mind,” and “Conversation” and you have an album that will please any fan.

The Complete Epic Recordings shows that Rick Nelson was producing high quality creative music toward the end of his life. This new compilation fills in a lot of holes in his discography and is well worth a listen.

Article first published as Music Review: Rick Nelson – The Complete Epic Recordings on Blogcritics.

Old Enough To Love/If You Can’t Rock Me 45 by Rick Nelson

March 9, 2012

“Old Enough To Love/If You Can’t Rock Me” by Rick Nelson was a single released during early spring, 1963. Both sides made the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart but made be the lowest, (or at least one of the lowest), charting two sides in rock ‘n’ roll history.

“Old Enough To Love” peaked at number 93 in its three weeks on the chart and “If You Can’t Rock Me” checked in at number 100 for one week.

“If You Can’t Rock Me” deserved better as it was actually a nice rocker from Nelson. Musical tastes were changing and this single got lost in the shuffle.

I guess you can’t really call it a two-sided hit.

Never Be Anyone Else But You/It’s Late 45 by Rick Nelson

December 11, 2011

During the early part of his career, Ricky Nelson released a number of double-sided hit singles. Many of them had a ballad side and a rock side.

“Never Be Anyone Else But You/It’s Late” was released during late February of 1959. The A side reached number six and the B side number nine on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

“Never Be Anyone Else But You” was a gentle ballad that appeled to his large female fan base at the time. “It’s Late” was the rocker and looked back to his rockabilly roots; a style that would disappear as his career progressed.

The single received an award for over one million copies sold.

A Happy Guy 45 by Rick Nelson

October 24, 2011

The Beatles era was in full flower during 1964 and the face of popular music was changing. Ricky Nelson’s brand of rock ‘n’ roll was becoming antiquated and his commercial success was coming to an end, until a comback during the early 1970s when his sound went in a country/rock direction.

“A Happy Guy” was released November 28, 1964 and only reached number 82 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. It deserved better as it was a catchy, up-tempo pop/rock creation that was on a par with his best material. Even the flip side, “Don’t Breathe A Word,” is still worth a listen.

It remains among my top ten Ricky Nelson songs and is well worth seeking out among his vast catalogue of material.

Garden Party 45 by Rick Nelson

October 17, 2011

Rick Nelson played a concert at Madison Square Garden on October 15, 191 with the likes of Chuck Berry and Bobby Rydell. He began with “Hello Mary Lou” and “She Belongs To Me” but then played a verson of The Rolling Stones, “Honky Tonk Woman,” and the booing got so bad he left the stage and did not return.

It all ended well as he wrote a song about the experience. “Garden Party” was released July 29, 1972 and reached number six on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

The song started a career comeback for Nelson that continued until his death.

It’s Up To You 45 by Rick Nelson

March 29, 2010

Eric Hillard Nelson was a television and rock star. He starred in his parents show, OZZIE & HARRIET, from 1949-1966.

The TV show gave him a great advantage in his music career. When he started producing records he would sing a song at the end of each show. No other early rock star had that advantage. It would enable him to become one of the original fifties teen idols.

From 1957 through 1973 he would place 54 songs of THE BILLBOARD MAGAZINE top 100 charts. In addition his albums would sell in the millions of copies. He would be inducted into THe Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame two years afer his death in 1987.

“It’s Up To You” reached number six on the National singles charts during December of 1962. It would find Nelson at the crossroads of his career as he was changing from a fifties rocker to a more pop oriented style. It can be sonsidered a mid-tempo ballad and Nelson delivers a smooth vocal.

He would contine to produce hits for another decade including some of the first to combine rock and country.

Garden Party by Rick Nelson

March 19, 2009

In the late 1950s and early 1960s there was Elvis Presley and then there was Ricky Nelson. Elvis was a musical and cultural phenomenon but Ricky Nelson would be a solid number two and sell millions of albums and chart thirty top forty singles during the years 1957-1962.

He rose to prominence as an actor on his parents’ TV show, Ozzie and Harriet. As Ricky aged he was given a few minutes at the end of each show to sing a song. This would propel him to the status of teen idol; a term Life magazine coined to describe him in an article.

His career would come to an abrupt halt with the advent of the British invasion. Musical tastes in the United States were quickly changing and he would be regulated to the oldies bin. He would drop the Y from his name and continue to produce albums but with little success. The low point of his career came when he was booed off the stage at a Madison Square Garden oldies show for singing a few new songs.

Rick Nelson began his comeback in 1969 with the brilliant live album, In Concert At The Troubadour, 1969. Nelson had moved in a country/rock direction and surrounded himself with a first rate backing group, The Stone Canyon Band. Ricky Sings Nelson (1970) and Rudy The Fifth (1971) would follow and re-establish Nelson as a commercially successful and creative artist. his comeback would be complete with the release of Garden Party in 1972 which would reach number 32 on the national charts.

Garden Party was a brilliant foray into the country/rock idiom centered around the autobiographical title song. He would take his rejection at The Madison Square Garden concert and turn it into a personal song of redemption and peace. His smooth delivery would sell this song of him accepting his place in the musical world. “Garden Party” would become a huge single hit and reach number six on the national charts. The only non-country song was a rock ‘n’ roll cover of Chuck Berry’s “I’m Talking About You.” Nelson cut his musical teeth on songs such as this and does not disappoint here as he delivers a wonderful vocal.

Garden Party contained a large number of superior tracks. “So Long Mama” is a bouncy country tune with an almost boogie beat. “I Wanna Be With You,” written by former band member Randy Meisner, could have been an Eagles song. It finds Nelson in a group setting and features superb harmonies. “Are You Really Real” is a sparse ballad that is enhanced by a subtle use of flutes on the breaks. “A Flower Opens Gently” contains some of the most sophisticated lyrics that Rick Nelson would produce. It is a song with biting commentary. He pays tribute to our dead with the refrain; “goodbye, so long.”

Garden Party would find a mature Rick Nelson brimming with confidence. He would write six of the album’s ten songs and they would range from very good to excellent. The equally brilliant album, Windfall, would follow but after that Rick Nelson would figuratively play out the string until his death, December 31, 1985, in a plane crash. In many ways Garden Party stands as the last testament to an underrated artist.