The Bert Berns Story Volume 1: Twist & Shout 1960-1964
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Berns is regarded as a musical visionary and this 26 track set compiles the best of his studio productions from 1960-64. Highlights include such classic favorites as "Twist and Shout" by the Isley Brothers, "If I Didn't Have a Dime (To Play the Jukebox)" by Gene Pitney, "One Way Love" by the Drifters, "Cry to Me" by Solomon Burke and many more.
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At one time operating out of the famous Brill Building, and known variously as Bert Russell and Russell Byrd, his compositions (some of them co-written with others) began to turn up on a wide variety of labels starting in late 1960 when Push Push became a very minor # 90 Billboard Hot 100 hit for Austin (aka Ted) Taylor on the Laurie label. And in May 1961 he recorded his only charted hit as a performer when You'd Better Come Home made it to # 50 H100 on the Wand label, billed to "Russell Byrd." Of course, not all his tunes were charted hits. In fact, 15 of the 26 tracks included here were not hits for the artists concerned, but some among these eight that are included (besides Push Push and You'd Better Come Home) are the most memorable from that time period:
A Little Bit Of Soap, the only hit for The Jarmels which reached # 12 H100 in the summer of 1961, again on Laurie; Cry To Me, a # 5 R&B/# 44 H100 for Solomon Burke in March 1962 on Atlantic (where Berns would replace Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller as staff producer); Twist And Shout, a # 2 R&B/# 17 H100 for The Isley Brothers in summer 1962 on Wand, and first recorded in 1961 by The Top Notes for Atlantic and later covered by The Beatles in 1964 (# 2 H100 on Tollie); If I Didn't Have A Dime (To Play The Juke Box) by Gene Pitney, which became a # 58 H100 in September 1962 on Musicor; I'll Be A Liar by Betty Harris and the uncharted flip of her fall 1963 hit version of Cry To Me on Jubilee; Killer Joe by The Rocky Fellers (# 16 H100 in May 1963 on Scepter); My Girl Sloopy by The Vibrations, which peaked at # 26 H100 in April 1964 on Atlantic and which would be covered in 1965 by Little Caesar & The Consuls (# 50 H100 on Mala) and as Hang On Sloopy by The McCoys (# 1 H100 on Bang) and The Ramsey Lewis Trio (# 6 R&B/# 11 H100 on Cadet); One Way Love by The Drifters, a # 56 H100 in May 1964 on Atlantic; and Look Away by Garnet Mimms, a # 73 H100 in October 1964 on United Artists note that Billboard had suspended the R&B charts from late 1963 and all of 1964).
As a producer he can claim Baby I'm Yours and Make Me Your Baby by Barbara Lewis, Under the Boardwalk and Saturday Night At The Movies by The Drifters, Solomon Burke's Cry To Me and Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, and Hello Walls by Little Esther Phillips, among many more, including a stint in the U.K. where he produced Here Comes the Night, Baby Please Don't Go and Gloria by the Northern Ireland group Them, which featured Van Morrison, and several offerings by Lulu (Marie Lawrie). For his labels Bang and Shout (more or less offshoots of Atlantic), he featured, in addition to The McCoys mentioned above, Neil Diamond (Solitary Man and Cherry Cherry), Van Morrison (Brown Eyed Girl), Erma Franklin (Piece of My Heart, later covered by Big Brother And The Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin), The Strangeloves (I Want Candy) and Freddie Scott (Are You Lonely For Me Baby?).
A piece of musical history brought to you by Ace Records of London, one of the best in the business (see their fabulous Golden Age Of American Rock `n' Roll and Teen Beat series), complete with voluminous liner notes, discography of the contents, and perfect sound quality. Encouraging, too, is that they have labeled this Volume 1, which probably means a second release is being compiled.