Brenda Lee Rocks
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CD DigiPac with 52-page booklet. 36 tracks with a playing time of 87 minutes. The Queen of Rock 'n' Roll on an expertly chosen blend of big hits and lesser-known, blues-edged cuts all designed to appeal to listeners who like to rock. Sweet Nothin's is here of course along with all-time favourites like Let's Jump The Broomstick, Dum Dum, Here Comes That Feeling and the seasonal mega-hit, Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree. Also includes Is It True, the Mickie Most-produced UK hit which features Led Zeppelin's guitarist, Jimmy Page. Time Magazine described her voice as 'Part whiskey, part black and all woman'. John Lennon put it simply: 'The greatest voice of the rock 'n' roll era'.
Unlike most child stars, there was nothing cloying or distasteful about Brenda Lee. She had tons of credibility from the very beginning, kick-starting her long career with Bigelow 6-200 recorded in mid-1956 when she was only eleven years old. This comprehensive collection includes that rockabilly gem and the cream of her up-tempo Decca recordings, showcasing the grittiest voice of the pre-Beatles era on a leather-lunged raft of scorching rockers like Sweet Nothin's, Dynamite and Let's Jump The Broomstick. This then, is the story of Brenda Lee, rock 'n' roller in excelsis. And because it's on Bear Family, it comes with a beautiful, picture-filled booklet and a total of 36 tracks which dwarfs any other compilation on the market.
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Born in Atlanta, Georgia on December 11, 1944, Brenda was just 11 when discovered by Red Foley in 1955, and soon she was a regular on the Ozark Jubilee. In 1956 she cut the Hank Williams' hit Jambalaya (On The Bayou) b/w Bigelow 6-200 on Decca 9-30050, a regional Country favorite, and the following year had her first national hit when One Step At A Time rose to # 15 Country and # 43 Billboard Pop Top 100 in March- April on Decca 30198 b/w Fairyland, backed by the Jack Pleis orchestra (her last Country hit for 14 years).
All but Fairyland are in this 36-track entry in Bear Family's vast "Rocks" series which has excellent sound reproduction (as is usual with their products) and a 52-page insert full of vintage photos/reproductions and informative and interesting liner notes by Todd Everett. There is no attempt, however, to present the sides in any chronological order. It includes some of her best nationally-charting hit singles, non-charting B-sides, several LP cuts, three that made their first appearance on disc in 1974 (tracks 6, 18 and 29 from the Germany-issued Coral LP COPS-7292 "The Legends Of Rock, vol. 2" and one (track 35) that didn't appear until 2009 in the Ace of London CD "Queen Of Rock `N' Roll."
Non-charting singles are: Ain't That Love? b/w One Teenager To Another - Decca 9-30411 - August 1957; Rock The Bop b/w Rock-A-Bye Baby Blues - Decca 9-30535 in December 1957; Little Jonah (Rock On Your Steel Guitar) b/w Ringa-A My Phone - Decca 9-30673 in June 1958; Let's Jump The Broomstick - Decca 9-30885 in April 1959 (the flip was Some Of These Days - not included); and Hummin' The Blues Over You b/w Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home - Decca 9-30806 in January 1959.
Original LP sides are: Baby Face and Just Because - both from her 1st Decca LP DL-8873 "Grandma, What Great Songs You Sang!" in August 1959 - later re-titled "Brenda Lee Sings Songs Everybody Knows"; Heading Home, (If I'm Dreaming) Just Let Me Dream, and My Baby Likes Western Guys - all from the 1960 LP Decca DL-4039 "Brenda Lee"; When My Dreamboat Comes Home - from the 1960 LP Decca DL-4082 "This Is Brenda"; Crazy Talk - from the 1961 LP Decca DL-4104 "Emotions"; and Talkin' Bout You and Kansas City - both from the August 1961 Decca LP DL-4176 "All The Way."
Those that made the singles charts are: Dynamite - # 72 Billboard Pop Top 100 July 1957 with The Anita Kerr Singers b/w Love You Till I Die on Decca 9-30333; Sweet Nothin's - # 4 Top 100/# 12 R&B Dec 1959-Jan 1960 b/w Weep No More My Baby on Decca 9-30967; That's All You Gotta Do - # 6 Top 100 June-July 1960 on Decca 9-3109 as the B-side of the # 1 Hot 100/# 4 R&B I'm Sorry - which is not included; Just A Little - # 40 Hot 100 Oct 1960 on Decca 9-31149 as the B-side of the # 1 Hot 100/# 7 R&B I Want To Be Wanted - which is not included; Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - first released unsuccessfully in November 1958 on Decca 9-30776 b/w Papa Noel (not here) - first became a # 14 Hot 100 hit in a November 1960 re-release and then became an annual Billboard Xmas charts hit every year right into the 1990s (some with I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus as the flip - also not here); Dum Dum - # 4 Hot 100 in August 1961 on Decca 9-31272 b/w Eventually (# 56 Hot 100 but excluded here); Anybody But Me - # 33 Hot 100 Oct 1961 as the B-side of the # 1 Hot 100 Fool # 1 (not included); Here Comes That Feeling - # 89 Hot 100 May 1962 on Decca 9-31379 as the B-side of the # 6 Everybody Loves Me But You (not here); and Is It True? - # 17 Hot 100 Oct-Nov 1964 on Decca 9-31690 (the flip was the non-charting Just Behind The Rainbow - not here).
In 1971 she would return full-time to her Country roots, chalking up 33 nationally-charting singles to 1997, 18 of them Top 40.
As Brenda Lee's first ten LPs are available in five "Twofers," and have excellent sound, this could easily have omitted the LP tracks, and replaced them with singles tracks otherwise not available.
And this is not correct:
"total of 36 tracks which dwarfs any other compilation on the market."
The 1991 2-CD "Anthology" has 40 tracks.
So many of these compilations (many of them being bootlegs) repeat the same tracks over and over again. Hopefully the forthcoming "Complete US & UK Singles As and Bs 1956-1962" will actually be complete to that extent.
And I suspect "The Stroll" is actually from 1957, not 1975, as it was a dance record originally recorded by "The Diamonds". (Ace's "Queen of Rock n roll" makes the same apparent mistake.)