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BUSH, Ray & CARL SONNY LEYLAND - At Home With The Blues: RCCD 60
BUSH, Ray & CARL SONNY LEYLAND - At Home With The Blues: RCCD 60
£12.00
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2012 Catalogue
BERRY, Mike & The Crickets - ABOUT TIME TOO! - RCCD 3059
[RCCD 3059]
£12.00
by Colin Davies Date Added: Thursday 15 September, 2005
This CD is good – really good. Of course the title says it all: Mike Berry has been singing and recording Buddy Holly and the Crickets’ songs since the early 60s (remember his show on Radio Luxembourg?), and even performed on stage with the Crickets back in 1962. His version of ‘Stay Close To Me’, the song that Holly wrote (but as far as we know never recorded) was one of the highlights of the 1992 ‘Buddy’s Buddys’ compilation. And now Chas Hodges (with some help from John Beecher?) finally got Mike and the Crickets (Sonny Curtis on guitar, J.I. Allison on drums, and Joe B. Mauldin on bass) into the studio, in Nashville last year to record this very interesting collection of songs. Chas plays piano on most tracks, and guitar on some, and he and Sonny add some tasty backing vocals.
They could have taken the easy road, and gone through the Holly songbook, but they have included just two of the Texan’s lesser-known songs – ‘I’m Gonna Set My Foot Right Down’, written by Holly and recorded by him (with Sonny and J.I.) back in 1956, and ‘Fool’s Paradise’, one of the great Crickets recording that was stuck away on a B-side. This is a slightly different arrangement, with some great harmonies. The rest of the tracks cover the gamut, going right back to the 1932 classic ‘The Clouds Will Soon Roll By’: this was a risky choice, but it works. The same can be said of ‘Cozumel’ – a Jimmy Buffett-type of song, written and originally recorded by Don White, that I was all ready to hate - but I enjoyed all 4 minutes and 29 seconds of it!
Apart from Holly, only one other singer has two songs included, and that – surprise! – is Bobby Darin. ‘Queen Of The Hop’ is given a straight-ahead treatment, and the CD kicks off with the lesser-known B-side ‘Bullmoose’. This is followed by one of the greatest mid-tempo countryish ballads ‘Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache’. Nobody has a voice like Warren Smith, but Mike’s version works well. And of course he can rock with the best of them, as he demonstrates on Larry Williams’s ‘Slow Down’, that also features some great piano from Chas: all those tours backing Jerry Lee certainly taught him a lot.
And talking of Mr. Lewis, this collection includes a great version of that old Sun track ‘I’m Feeling Sorry’ penned by Jack Clement (whose huge contribution to the success of that label is still being recognized). And naturally one of Sonny Curtis’s songs is included, in this case the timeless ‘Walk Right Back’ (with the verse that hadn’t been written when the Everlies went into the studio). Sonny has one track all to himself – ‘Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right – with some great fingerpicking guitar, though it must be said that this track does seem a little out of place in this collection of well-known and lesser-known rock’n’roll classics. Speaking of which, Jerry Allison takes the lead (with Joe B doing the deep voice) on the version of ‘Summertime Blues’ that is always one of the highlights of the Crickets’ live shows. Some powerful drumming on this track, too.
And finally there is one track that is an absolute masterpiece, Bobby Charles’s ‘Before I Grow Too Old’. Fats Domino and Tommy McLain (and Bobby himself) did great versions of the song, and the Berry/Crickets version is right up there with them. I don’t know how long they worked on this – it includes some very effective guitar from Chas – but it totally works. This is a track to play over and over, and to regret the fact that it doesn’t last longer. I used to think that ‘Stay Close To Me’ was the best thing Mike has done over his 40-year career, but this surpasses even that!
Mike and the Crickets could easily have coasted through some of the old standard rock’n’roll songs, and would have produced a very listenable collection. But they and Chas Hodges have done much more than that, and produced 18 really strong tracks – including one absolute gem that I cannot get out of my head - that stand the test of repeated listening.

Colin Davies is a disk jockey broadcasting out of Fairfax, Viriginia. His show can be heard through his website: www.theprofessorrocks.com

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
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BERRY, Mike & The Crickets - ABOUT TIME TOO! - RCCD 3059
Finally we get the collaboration everyone has been eager to ..
5 of 5 Stars!
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