Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps (1:a Albumet US 1957)

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Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps is an album by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps. It was originally released in 1957, four months after its predecessor, Bluejean Bop. It was released on the Capitol label.

Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps, cut in October 1956, only four months after its predecessor, came about under slightly less favorable circumstances than the Bluejean Bop album. Cliff Gallup, whose lead guitar had been so central to the group's original sound, and rhythm guitarist Willie Williams, who was only somewhat less important to their sound, had been gone from the band for nearly two months when producer Ken Nelson decided it was time to cut material for more singles and a second album. 

Gallup was persuaded to rejoin temporarily for the sessions that yielded this album, and with him he brought not only a hot-sounding instrument but one first-rate original song, "You Better Believe," alongside a few other notable band originals ("Cruisin'," "Hold Me, Hug Me, Rock Me") that are among the best songs Vincent and his band ever recorded. 

The sound ends up similar to the Bluejean Bop album, with a little more depth in places and Vincent showing more maturity and confidence, which is how he gets away with "Unchained Melody," the most challenging ballad he'd cut up to that time -- Gallup's trilled, mandolin-like playing (which turns up on "I Sure Miss You" as well) also serves to make this one of the more unusual and memorable of the many good versions of this song. Vincent's singing also stands out on his dark, moody, ominous rendition of the Delmore Brothers' "Blues Stay Away From Me." And the band runs circles around virtually every other white rock & roll outfit of the period. 

Unfortunately, Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps would also be the last time that this version of the band would turn up on record with Vincent -- Gallup soon left again, and in less than three months, every member of the group except drummer Dickie Harrell would be gone. In 1998, Collectables Records reissued this album, paired with Bluejean Bop, on Bluejean Bop/Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps.

Biography by AMG:
Gene Vincent only had one really big hit, "Be-Bop-a-Lula," which epitomized rockabilly at its prime in 1956 with its sharp guitar breaks, spare snare drums, fluttering echo, and Vincent's breathless, sexy vocals. Yet his place as one of the great early rock & roll singers is secure, backed up by a wealth of fine smaller hits and non-hits that rate among the best rockabilly of all time. The leather-clad, limping, greasy-haired singer was also one of rock's original bad boys, lionized by romanticists of past and present generations attracted to his primitive, sometimes savage style and indomitable spirit.

Vincent was bucking the odds by entering professional music in the first place. As a 20-year-old in the Navy, he suffered a severe motorcycle accident that almost resulted in the amputation of his leg, and left him with a permanent limp and considerable chronic pain for the rest of his life. After the accident he began to concentrate on building a musical career, playing with country bands around the Norfolk, VA, area. Demos cut at a local radio station, fronting a band assembled around Gene by his management, landed Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps a contract at Capitol, which hoped they'd found competition for Elvis Presley.

Indeed it had, as by this time Vincent had plunged into all-out rockabilly, capable of both fast-paced exuberance and whispery, almost sensitive ballads. The Blue Caps were one of the greatest rock bands of the '50s, anchored at first by the stunning silvery, faster-than-light guitar leads of Cliff Gallup. The slap-back echo of "Be-Bop-a-Lula," combined with Gene's swooping vocals, led many to mistake the singer for Elvis when the record first hit the airwaves in mid-1956, on its way to the Top Ten. The Elvis comparison wasn't entirely fair; Vincent had a gentler, less melodramatic style, capable of both whipping up a storm or winding down to a hush.

Brilliant follow-ups like "Race With the Devil," "Bluejean Bop," and "B-I-Bickey, Bi, Bo-Bo-Go" failed to click in nearly as big a way, although these too are emblematic of rockabilly at its most exuberant and powerful. By the end of 1956, The Blue Caps were beginning to undergo the first of constant personnel changes that would continue throughout the '50s, the most crucial loss being the departure of Gallup. The 35 or so tracks he cut with the band -- many of which showed up only on albums or b-sides -- were unquestionably Vincent's greatest work, as his subsequent recordings would never again capture their pristine clarity and uninhibited spontaneity.

Vincent had his second and final Top Twenty hit in 1957 with "Lotta Lovin'," which reflected his increasingly tamer approach to production and vocals, the wildness and live atmosphere toned down in favor of poppier material, more subdued guitars, and conventional-sounding backup singers. He recorded often for Capitol throughout the rest of the '50s, and it's unfair to dismiss those sides out of hand; they were respectable, occasionally exciting rockabilly, only a marked disappointment in comparison with his earliest work. His act was captured for posterity in one of the best scenes of one of the first Hollywood films to feature rock & roll stars, The Girl Can't Help It.

Live, Vincent continued to rock the house with reckless intensity and showmanship, and he became particularly popular overseas. A 1960 tour of Britain, though, brought tragedy when his friend Eddie Cochran, who shared the bill on Vincent's U.K. shows, died in a car accident that he was also involved in, though Vincent survived. By the early '60s, his recordings had become much more sporadic and lower in quality, and his chief audience was in Europe, particularly in England (where he lived for a while) and France.

His Capitol contract expired in 1963, and he spent the rest of his life recording for several other labels, none of which got him close to that comeback hit. Vincent never stopped trying to resurrect his career, appearing at a 1969 Toronto rock festival on the same bill as John Lennon, though his medical, drinking, and marital problems were making his life a mess, and diminishing his stage presence as well. He died at the age of 36 from a ruptured stomach ulcer, one of rock's first mythic figures.

01. "Red Blue Jeans and a Ponytail" (Bill Davis, Jack Rhodes) - 2:14
02. "Hold Me, Hug Me, Rock Me" (Vincent, Tex Davis) - 2:15
03. "Unchained Melody" (Alex North, Hy Zaret) - 2:37
04. "You Told a Fib" (Vincent, Cliff Gallup) - 2:21
05. "Cat Man" (Vincent, Tex Davis) - 2:18
06. "You Better Believe" (Cliff Gallup) - 2:01
07. "Cruisin'" (Vincent, Bill Davis) - 2:12
08. "Double Talkin' Baby" (Danny Wolfe) - 2:12
09. "Blues Stay Away from Me" (Henry Glover, Wayne Raney, Alton Delmore, Rabon Delmore) - 2:16
10. "Pink Thunderbird" (Bill Davis, Paul Peek) - 2:32
11. "I Sure Miss You" (Charles Matthews) - 2:38
12. "Pretty, Pretty Baby" (Danny Wolfe) - 2:27

Bonus Tracks:
13. "Be-Bop-A-Lula" (Capitol F3450 US) (6/4/56) (Capitol 45-CL 14599 UK)
14. "Blue Jean Bop" (Capitol F3558 US) (10/56) (Capitol 45-CL 14637 UK)
15. "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" (From Album "CRAZY TIMES" CAPITOL T1342 & ST1342 1960)
16. "Vincent's Blues" (From Album "SOUNDS LIKE GENE VINCENT" CAPITOL T1207 1960)

1. Gene Vincent
2. Gene Vincent


DoKtor Alphonzo said...

great to hear this again - often overlooked
many thanks for posting Chris

DaveF said...

A pure classic. Thank you.

Farrrock said...

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