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George O'Leary (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)

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Everybody Digs
Everybody Digs
Price: CDN$ 17.97
16 used & new from CDN$ 7.53

3.0 out of 5 stars Non-Descript Would-Be Rockabilly Artist, July 19 2004
This review is from: Everybody Digs (Audio CD)
Perhaps a better title for this CD would have been "Does ANYONE Dig Sammy Masters." I mean, it's been around in CD format for over six years and no one has taken the time to comment on it yet.
Sammy Masters, a Korean War veteran, was born Samuel Lawmaster in Saskawa, Oklahoma on July 18, 1930 and, from 1959 to 1972, was a regular on TV's Cal's Corral. In terms of hit records, he recorded for several labels, including Cormac, Four-Star, and Lode, but had just the one lonely hit in early 1960 when his rockabilly version of the old tune Red Wing reached # 60 on the Billboard Pop Hot 100 b/w Lonely Weekend, on the Lode label.
Neither side is in this package which, judging from track 1 [a big hit for Country Charlie Pride in 1970] was recorded sometime in that period. Masters also wrote several tunes, including Turn The Cards Slowly and Who Can I Turn To? both of which were recorded by the great Patsy Cline, the latter as the flipside of Crazy.
He really was non-descript in both his stage appearance and singing ability, but the cuts offered here are decent enough. It's just a question of why was it released on CD in the first place as I can't imagine the original vinyl LP selling all that well. If you want a good quality copy of Rockin' Red Wing seek out Ace Records' The Golden Age Of American Rock & Roll - Volume 10.

Vol 10-Golden Age of American
Vol 10-Golden Age of American
Price: CDN$ 22.46
18 used & new from CDN$ 13.04

5.0 out of 5 stars The Last One? A Dismal Prospect For Oldies Fans, July 18 2004
I don't know what I like best about this series from Ace of London. The golden oldies music, of course, with its flawless sound reproduction, is terrific, and if you have all ten volumes you have 300 of some of the best that age had to offer.
But I also love the insert with its vintage poster and record cover reproductions, photographs [including one of a "derelict Sun studio" front door taken in the 1970s] and, most of all, the track-by-track liner notes, here written once again by Rob Finnis. Qith all ten volumes you will also have close to 300 pages which, collectively, put most historical book accounts of that era to shame.
For example, I had always been under the assumption that Dedicated To The One I Love had been recorded by The Shirelles first, in 1959 when it was a minor hit, before breaking out in 1961 in a re-release to become a smash following the runaway success of Will You Love Me Tomorrow? Now, thanks to Mr. Finnis [who I think should publish a book along the lines of his notes], we learn that The "5" Royales had actually recorded it in the summer of 1957 and that, withheld from being released by King until late in the year, it failed to chart at that time.
Just how meticulous they are when it comes to sound is best exemplified by the notes on Sammy Masters' Rockin' Red Wing and Jerry Butler & The Impressions' For Your Precious Love. For the former Mr. Finnis states "the version heard here is the Lode release without the distorting echo that mars the Warner pressings and is taken directly from the master tape." For the Butler cut, he says "All previous digital re-issues ... feaure a "stereo" version with a drum overdub and added reverb that went on at some point in the late 1960s when stereo re-issues were all the rage ... Ace Records have located a pristine mono master without the overdub ..." The Curtis Lee "Under The Moon Of Love" is also the cleanest I have ever heard, and I have it on several other compilations.
I won't go into the music too much - the other reviewers have already covered that aspect very well - but I must mention the driving, pounding You Can Have Her by Roy Hamilton, backed by the Sammy Lowe orchestra. Known more for his ballads such as Unchained Melody and Pledging My Love, on this one he demonstrates that he could handle Rock 'N Roll with the best of them and that, had he chosen that route instead, he would be remembered today as one of the very best artists of that genre.
Ace Records Ltd., meanwhile, stands alone at the top of the heap when it comes to the oldies. With the possible exception of Eric Records, no one else even comes close when you take into account all aspects of a CD. Give yourself a treat and check out their site on the web where they list their entire catalogue. Then, after you have found some you think you might like, look them up on Amazon and place your orders. You will NOT be disappointed.

Millennium Collection-20th Century Masters
Millennium Collection-20th Century Masters
Price: CDN$ 8.67
22 used & new from CDN$ 4.75

3.0 out of 5 stars Can't ANYONE Release A Proper Roger Williams Best Of?, July 18 2004
To answer my own captioned question - apparently not. We get either shoddy re-makes of his hits, or compilations like this one which mix legitimate hits [this IS labelled "The Best Of Roger Williams" after all] with a number that were never counted among his best by any definition of the word.
To get those out of the way first, they are tracks 5 [a failed single] and 7, 8, and 12 [each culled from one of his many LPs]. That's one quarter of the album. Of the eight legitimate hits included, the best, of course, was his first for Kapp back in 1955, Autumn Leaves, which was to be his only # 1 Billboard Pop Hot 100. The other seven are a mix of big and mediocre hits.
In early 1957, Almost Paradise reached # 15, followed late that year by Till [# 22] - both solid hits by any standard, expecially coming, as they did, right in the midst of the birth of Rock 'N Roll. He continued that trend in late summer 1958 with a cover of the Francis Craig 1947 smash, Near You, which peaked at # 10.
After that his best until 1966 was Maria, from West Side Story, which topped out at # 48 in January 1962. But in late summer 1966 he returned to the Top 10 when Born Free, the title song from the film of the same name, reached # 7. Both Lara's Theme from "Dr. Zhivago" [# 65 in summer 1966] and The Impossible Dream [# 55 in August 1968 from Man Of La Mancha], were minor entries which could have been left in IF those other four mentioned above had been left out in favour of some that indeed count among his best.
For example, his second hit from late 1955/early 1956, Wanting You, a tune based upon the French song Les Feuilles Mortes which reached # 38. Or La Mer [Beyond The Sea] which hit # 37 in May 1956. Or Arrivederci Roma, a # 55 from 1958. Or Temptation, a # 56 from 1960].
Is there some mental cramp that hits producers when putting together a truly definitive Rogers Williams "best of?" On the other hand, you do get quality sound with this 20th Century Masters series, and for this volume there are three pages of quite interesting liner notes written by Scott Schinder in 2003, and which he sums up with a quote from Roger: "I'm a lousy golfer, but I do play pretty good piano, so there's not much reason for me to stop ... I'll be 80 on my next birthday [October 1], and I am so amazed that people still want to come out and hear me ... as long as they keep coming, I'll keep playing."
And Roger, we also want to see someone put together a decent 30-track compilation of your greatest pop and Adult Contemporary hits.

Susie Darlin'
Susie Darlin'
Offered by Uncover Treasures
Price: CDN$ 68.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Bit Of Bear Family Overkill, July 18 2004
This review is from: Susie Darlin' (Audio CD)
Bear couldn't very well have called this Robin Luke's Greatest Hits since, having just the one, that would have been a misnomer. And to call it Robin Luke's Greatest Hit would have been ludicrous for a 31-track compilation. Indeed, I'm surprised they were even able to FIND 31 tracks to release.
Luke, born on March 20, 1942 in Los Angeles, but whose family moved to Hawaii when he was 11 years old, became proficient on both guitar and ukelele and was discovered by a local entertainer by the name of Kimo McVay who thought he sounded a lot like Ricky Nelson [he did]. He, in turn, convinced friend Bob Bertram to give him a shot at his small Bertram International recording studio.
The rockabilly tune that appeared as Bertram International 206 in 1958 - Susie Darlin' b/w Living's Loving You - was named in honour of Robin's younger sister, and, acording to Betram, it took something like 75 takes to get it right as it involved echo effects, background vocal by Bertram, and the unique sound created by clacking two pens in a box.
Part way through distribution, and following considerable local attention, it was grabbed by Dot Records and before it ran its course it had reached # 5 on the Billboard Pop Hot 100 by early fall, as well as crossing over to the R&B charts at # 6. Hoping to capitalize on its success, Bertram also released three more singles, each of which was picked up by Dot in progress. These were Chicka Chicka Honey/My Girl in 1958 and, in 1959, You Can't Stop Me From Dreaming/Strollin' Blues and Who's Gonna Hold Your Hand/Five Minutes More. None could crack the charts.
That didn't stop Dot from trying, however, and they attempted to boost sales by releasing an EP containing his hit along with Bad Boy, Won't You Please Be Mine, and Chicka Chicka Honey. But that did nothing to push his singles back into hit status, although they persisted right through to 1962. Failed singles in this period include Walkin' In The Moonlight/Make Me A Dreamer, Bad Boy/School Bus Love Affair, a cover of Ricky Nelson's Everlovin'/Well Oh Well Oh (Don't You Know), So Alone/All Because Of You, Part Of A Fool/Poor Little Rich Boy, and Foggin' Up The Windows/Time. Only that last side is not in this compilation.
As mentioned above, Robin sounded a lot like Nelson and perhaps that was part of the problem. Ricky was much better. I find it hard to believe that Bear Family can find markets for the many multi-track CDs they release covering one- or two-hit wonders. The thing is, you can never find fault with the quality.

They Rock! They Roll! They Swing!
They Rock! They Roll! They Swing!
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 40.77
4 used & new from CDN$ 40.77

5.0 out of 5 stars An Act That Had To Be Seen In Person, July 18 2004
If you're searching about for a singing group which can be best summed up as THE pioneer for some of the wilder R&R vocal groups that began to form up late in the 1950s and then throughout the 1960s and 1970s, look no further. The Treniers were it.
If you recall Michael J. Fox doing his guitar routine before a stunned 1955 high-school audience in the film Back To The Future, that more or less gives you an idea as to how these guys - twin brothers Claude and Cliff Trenier [who had once sung with the Jimmie Lunceford band in the 1940s], along with other brothers Buddy and Milt from Mobile, Alabama - were greeted several years earlier than that. The wildest R&B acts one might have seen at the time was Wild Bill Moore and, for the white audiences, the early Bill Haley, who was admittedly influenced by The Treniers.
But they were on a whole different plateau with their absolutely stunning stage act, featuring wailing sax solos which would soon become an integral part of many bands as well as those backing individual artists. And although it did not translate into huge record sales [they had just the one charted hit - Go! Go! Go! - a # 10 R&B in 1951 b/w Plenty Of Money for Columbia's Okeh subsidiary - both included here], they did establish a faithful following that carried on well into the 1950s.
That included appearances in the movies Don't Knock The Rock [1956 with Haley and Little Richard, among others], The Girl Can't Help It [1956 with Little Richard, Fats Domino, The Platters, Gene Vincent, and others] and Calypso Heat Wave [1957 with The Tarriers, which then included actor Alan Arkin, and The Hi-Lo's]. Each film is memorable now only for the music and it would be nice if someone could release a DVD containing ONLY those moments because the acts by The Treniers have to be seen to be believed.
This is a compilation you must have if your interest includes acts that most influenced what was to become Rock 'N Roll.

Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits
Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits
Price: CDN$ 11.48
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Godfather Of Shock Rock And The Bizarre Stage Act, July 16 2004
This Warner Brothers CD release of a 1974 vinyl LP purports to present the greatest hits of the band known as Alice Cooper, from their first for Warner in 1971, Eighteen [# 21 in April 1971], to their last in January 1974, Teenage Lament '74 [# 48].
And, for the most part, they do just that in a compilation with flawless sound reproduction and, a rarity for major label releases at that time, one page of liner notes. But where is Caught In A Dream [# 94 in July 1971]. Granted, it barely made the definition of "hit" - but at least it charted. You can't say the same for Is It My Body [the uncharted B-side to Eighteen], Desperado [which backed Under My Wheels], and Muscle Of Love - which wasn't even the flipside of any hit, although it did appear on the charted album of the same name in 1973.
In putting together the CD they might have added a few "bonus tracks" to bring it up to 14 or 16 selections by including the omitted hit, and maybe some of the missing B-sides like Gutter Cat [b/o School's Out], Luney Tune [b/o Elected], and Hard Hearted Alice [b/o Teenage Lament '74]. That would have brought it to 5 stars in my estimation.
After 1973, of course, Vincent Furnier [born February 2, 1948 in Detroit and the real name of the lead vocalist who, after the band split up in 1974, assumed the "Alice Cooper" personae, based upon a 17th Century witch] would go on to register three more hits on the Atlantic label in 1975, return to Warner in 1976 and add four more to 1980, and then finish off his chart career with Epic from 1989 to 1991 where he chalked up another four.
The best in that period were Only Women [# 12 with Atlantic in 1975], I Never Cry [# 12 with Warner in 1976], You And Me [# 9 with Warner in 1977], How You Gonna See Me Now [# 12 with Warner in 1978], and Poison [# 7 with Epic in 1989].
Other band members up to 1973 were guitarist Glen Buxton [who passed away on October 19, 1997 at age 49], keyboardist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith.

The Best of Warren Zevon
The Best of Warren Zevon
Price: CDN$ 15.00
50 used & new from CDN$ 2.16

3.0 out of 5 stars Too Skimpy, July 16 2004
One reviewer asserts that this covers only his best with Asylum Records. In fact, in terms of charted hits [he had exactly two] this covers just 50%. Thankfully, Werewolves Of London is here, his 1978 # 21 which, featuring Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on guitar, was produced by Jackson Browne. So too is the flipside, the wonderfully quirky Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner.
But where is A Certain Girl which, with Jackson Browne providing background vocals, reached # 57 in 1980, and its B-side, Empty-Handed Heart? I realize this 1986 compilation probably repeated an earlier vinyl LP, but could they have not added "bonus" tracks as so many others have done? The liner notes are virtually non-existant as well, offering one page listing the musicians involved with each track.
It might have been interesting for buyers to know that Warren had had a charted hit way back in 1966 as one half of the duet known as Lyme And Cybelle. Paired with Tule Livingston their Follow Me made it to # 65 for White Whale b/w Like The Seasons. Or that he had once worked as the keyboardist/bandleader for The Everly Brothers just before their celebrated breakup. Or that he was the composer of the Linda Rondstadt 1978 hit Poor, Poor Pitiful Me. Or that he also recorded in 1990 as part of The Hindu Love Gods along with three members of R.E.M.
Just one more in a long list of early CDs that have become obsolete by today's standards. Retire it - or expand it.

Greatest Hits (W/3 New Tracks)
Greatest Hits (W/3 New Tracks)
Offered by Rainy Day Games
Price: CDN$ 13.99
30 used & new from CDN$ 1.66

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Sony Greatest Hits With Significant Omissions, July 16 2004
Maybe I'm flogging a dead horse - but once again I reiterate what I have said time and time before when it comes to oldies compilations [and, like it or not, Boston now qualifies as part of the oldies group]. If a company is going to issue such a collection under the title "Greatest Hits" they had better make sure that all the hits are there - especially when the artist concerned only HAD a handful to begin with.
Boston - consisting of MIT mechanical engineer graduate Tom Sholz on guitar and keyboard, vocalist Brad Delp, guitarist Barry Goudreau, Fran Sheehan on bass, and drummer Sib Hashian - had exactly six hits for Epic from 1976 to 1979 - and one of those is left out of this compilation - 1977's Long Time which reached # 22 in March and, as such, was a "greater" hit than any of Peace Of Mind [# 38 in June 1977], A Man I'll Never Be [# 31 in January 1979], and Feelin' Satisfied [# 46 in May 1978].
Each of those are here, along with their first, More Than A Feeling, which peaked at # 5 in November 1976, and their best for Epic, 1978's Don't Look Back, which topped out at # 4 that October. But why leave out one of their better Epic offerings? Also, Feelin' Satisfied was their last hit as a multi-artist group as the band broke up at this point, with Goudreau later forming Orion The Hunter in 1982 [one minor hit in 1984].
In 1986 Scholz and Delp got back together as a duo with MCA and, still calling themselves Boston, had a smash # 1 with Amanda, but this really had no connection to the larger band sound of the 1970s. They also had a # 9 in early 1987 with We're Ready and a # 20 that May with the Can'tcha Say (You Believe In Me)/Still In Love medley.
In 1991 Delp and Goudreau helped form RTZ which had two minor hits and one # 20 in 1991/92, and in 1994 Scholz put together another multi-member Boston along with Fran Cosmo [ex of Orion The Hunter], vocalist Tommy Funderbunk, guitarist Gary Pihl, bassist David Sikes, and drummer Doug Huffman. Their lone hit for MCA was I Need Your Love [# 51 in August 1994].
While I can understand the exclusion of two of the duets and that last one from this album, I cannot go along with omitting one very good hit from their glory days, not to mention NOT ONE of their Epic hit single B-sides, or even My Destination which backed Amanda. The sound quality is excellent, but while the insert contains the lyrics for each selection, along with the musicians involved with each track, there are no background notes of the type I just provided here.
I really think fans appreciate having such information when looking back at artists from their past and, as mentioned above, these guys DO go back over a quarter of a century. To put that into some perspective, 28 years prior to their appearance on the scene you were looking at 1948 - and for anyone who became a fan of Boston in 1976, 1948 was ancient history.

Golden Classics
Golden Classics
Price: CDN$ 20.62
23 used & new from CDN$ 12.36

4.0 out of 5 stars Could Not Break Out Of The Small Label Curse, July 15 2004
This review is from: Golden Classics (Audio CD)
Here was a group practically made for the R&B charts but, in ultimately becoming a member of the dreaded one-hit wonder club, that one hit not only did not make the R&B Top 100, it took two cracks to even make a dent in the Billboard Pop Hot 100. Furthermore, it needed an extra push to do that.
Like many such artists in those days, they were talented but, unfortunately, had to rely on a small, independent label to promote their music. So, unless the song was exceptional [such as Book Of Love by The Monotones on Argo or Get A Job by The Silhouettes on Ember - two very prominent one-hit wonders], or certain palms were greased [the infamous payola scandal], the artist didn't stand much of a chance at seeing his/her/their song featured on radio and, consequently, in record sales.
Led by Nate "Little Nat" Bouknight [who sounded very similar to Frankie Lymon], The Shells consisted of baritone Gus Geter, tenors Bobby Nurse and Randy "Shade" Alston, and bass Danny Small. They recorded Baby Oh Baby for the small Johnson label in 1957 b/w Angel Eyes and, not being exceptional in the same vein as those mentioned above, it quickly faded from sight.
Nothing else they did worked either, although Sippin' Soda in 1958 [track 13] and She Wasn't Meant For Me in 1959 [not here] were decent enough cuts which could have fared better with better backing, and so by late 1960 they were virtually forgotten. Until, that is, two re-issue artists named Don Fileti and Wayne Stierle began pushing new prints of Baby Oh Baby, this time with the B-side amended to read What's In An Angel's Eyes? And, thanks to their influence in getting it played, it made it to # 21 on the Pop Hot 100 early in 1961.
As they had long since gone their separate ways, a hasty re-assembly was arranged and the group cut several more sides - both soul-oriented and pure pop - but once again they just could not receive sufficient promotion to get them back onto the charts. Some of their better work in this period includes Explain It to Me [track 10], Happy Holiday [track 7], on which newcomer Ray Lamont Jones sang lead, as well as Be Sure My Love and So Fine, neither of which are included here.
In 1963 Josie Records took a chance on two struggling groups - The Shells and The Dubs - when they issued the LP The Dubs Meet the Shells, and while it did all right in terms of sales it did nothing to resurrect either group's singles careers.
This Collectables compilation gives you both sides of their lone hit plus a few of their failed singles in a neat package with quality sound and decent liner notes.

Ultimate Collection
Ultimate Collection
Price: CDN$ 11.16
27 used & new from CDN$ 7.12

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite Ultimate - But A Pretty Good Compilation Even So, July 15 2004
This review is from: Ultimate Collection (Audio CD)
You're at a party and someone says "name me the greatest male vocal groups of the 1970s to come out of Detroit." The first responses will be predictable - The Miracles, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Spinners. I would wager that few would come up with The Dramatics, and yet, when you look at their record closely you will see that, from 1971 to 1989, they had 34 selections make the Billboard R&B charts, with 12 crossing over to the Pop Hot 100 [and two more which "bubbled under."
After starting out in high school as The Dynamics, they became The Dramatics in 1965, undergoing several changes in personnel by the time they cut their first record for the tiny Wingate label, Inky Dinky Wang Dan Doo, which, predictably considering the small label curse, went nowhere on a national scale.
In 1967, now consisting of Ron Banks, Larry Demps, Elbert Wilkins, Willie Ford, and William Howard, the group scored their initial national hit for the equally-small Sport label when All Because Of You reached # 43 R&B b/w If You Haven't Got Love. In 1968, however, they flopped again with Toy Soldier b/w Hello Summer which was released by both Bell and Crackerjack.
In 1969 they joined the larger Stax/Volt operation where their first Volt release, Your Love Has Changed b/w Since I've Been Gone also failed. In fact, it wasn't until the summer of 1971 that they really hit it big with Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get [based upon a Flip Wilson TV schtick], which rose to # 3 R&B and # 9 on the Billboard Pop Hot 100.
After that, although their pop success was modest at best, they were rarely off the R&B charts for the next nine years. This collection, in addition to the hit just mentioned, offers up 20 of their biggest hits, five of the seven they had for Volt from 1971 to 1974, two of the five with the Cadet label in 1974/75 [two records there were double-sided hits], nine of the eleven registered for ABC Records from 1975 to 1978, and four of the six with MCA in 1979/80.
They also had one minor R&B hit hit with Mainstream in 1975 [No Rebate On Love - # 26], two for Capitol in 1982 [Live It Up - # 40, and Treat Me Right - # 62], one for Fantasy in 1986 [One Love Ago - # 61], one for Volt again in 1989 [a cover of the Simon & Garfunkel hit, Bridge Over Troubled Water, which reached # 93 R&B], and, finally, their last in 1996 for Hyped Int'l, Try Love Again [# 82].
In 1973 Howard [who would record solo as Wee Gee in 1978] and Wilkins had been replaced by L.J. Reynolds [formerly with Chocolate Syrup] and Lenny Mayes, and in 1981 Reynolds left to pursue a solo career, followed by Banks in 1983.
As mentioned above, their pop success was nowhere near as good as the other Detroit groups, with only two making the Top 40 - their first for Volt mentioned above and In The Rain, their best hit ever which reached # 1 R&B [and stayed there for four weeks] and # 5 pop. After that their best pop entries were Hey You! Get Off My Mountain [# 5 R&B/# 43 pop in late spring 1973], Fell For You [# 12 R&B and # 45 pop in the fall of 1973], and their cover of the Billy Paul 1972 smash, Me And Mrs. Jones [# 4 R&B/# 47 pop].
As for this being the "ultimate" Dramatics collection, it certainly comes close, although by omitting Toast To The Fool [# 18 R&B/# 67 pop in 1972] and the Mainstream entry mentioned earlier, they overlooked two that were bigger hits than [or just as good as] tracks 7, 8, 12, 16, and 19.
However, that's a minor quibble. This is ultimate enough.

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