Reissues (February 22): On The Detroit Beat, The Byrds and Reggie Young

Reissues (February 22): On The Detroit Beat, The Byrds and Reggie Young

Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases, including On The Detroit Beat, The Byrds and Reggie Young…

On The Detroit Beat
(Ace CDTOP 1539)

More than 50 years after the fact, we take Motown’s success in the 1960s and beyond for granted and it is a little known fact that they had released upwards of 40 singles in The UK before Mary Wells delivered Motown's first hit with My Guy in 1964. Before and after that event, British musicians were enthusiastic about Motown, and this new compilation finds 24 songs from the Motown catalogue given a British spin. Recorded between 1963 and 1967, some of them work much better than others but all are sufficiently well-performed not to besmirch Motown’s good name. Among the best, The Spencer Davis Group’s version of Every Little Bit Hurts draws a soulful vocal from the extremely juvenile (17 years old) Steve Winwood; Dusty Springfield – one of Motown’s early champions – takes on Holland/Dozier/Holland’s When The Lovelight Shines Through His Eyes, and almost matches the Supremes’ original thanks to her pipes and a fine Ivor Raymonde arrangement that doesn’t stray far from the original; and the much-underrated Truly Smith (who deserves a compilation of her own, by the way) at least matches Carolyn Crawford’s original version of My Smile Is Just A Frown (Turned Upside Down). Cilla Black’s version of Junior Walker’s Shotgun is perhaps one of the weaker tracks, with her harsher vocal tone employed, whereas fellow Liverpudlians  Billy J. Kramer, Beryl Marsden and Bill Kenwright – future Coronation Street star, theatrical impresario and Everton chairman – do well with their renditions of I’ll Be Doggone, Let’s Go Somewhere and I Want To Go Back There Again, respectively. Extensive and informative liner notes underline how influential the label was to UK acts, especially those from Merseyside. It’s also worth tracking down the long-deleted 2000 Sequel album Just Walk In My Shoes, a 29 song compilation which pursues the same theme with similar success, with only The Undertakers’ version of Money (That’s What I Want) being duplicated from this release.      

(Esoteric WECLEC 2658)

The 12th and final studio album by The Byrds, who more or less invented the country rock genre, this 1973 release surpassed its nine immediate predecessors to deliver their third and last Top 20 entry. It did so largely because it was the first album by the band to feature its classic line-up of Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, David Crosby, Roger McGuinn and Michael Clarke since 1966. Back together for one last, eagerly-anticipated, hurrah – Clarke was by now a Flying Burrito Brother and Crosby a member of CSN&Y – they failed to quite live up to the high expectations of fans. Although they gelled fairly well, their trademark jangly guitar sound was absent, and the songs were a tad laboured at times, although they showed brief flashes of their former brilliance, not least in their musicianship on tracks like Full Circle, a Gene Clark composition which opens proceedings here, and was almost a hit single. Neil Young’s (See The Sky) About To Rain is excellent but much more like his solo output of the time, while a cover of Joni Mitchell’s Ladies Of The Canyon track For Free has a vibrant poignancy. Out of print for some time, the album now returns in this edition, digitally remastered, and with an informative and illustrated booklet.

Reggie Young – Session Guitar Star
(Ace CDCHD 1537)

Distinguished session player Reggie Young was, among other things, the lead guitarist in the American Sound Studio house band The Memphis Boys, and was in great demand in Memphis and Nashville for six decades. This first ever tribute to Young, which lovingly illustrates his talent across 24 diverse sides, arrives just months after his very first solo album, Forever Young but - alas - eight days after his death at the age of 82, although he was very much involved in its preparation. A distinctive guitarist able to inject melody and rhythm into his playing, Young played countless sessions over the years providing unobtrusive but complementary support to hundreds of artists. This representative sample succeeds as an enjoyable compilation in its own right, with heavyweight acts like Elvis Presley (Stranger In My Own Town), Bobby Bland (A Touch Of The Blues), Waylon Jennings (Where Do We Go From Here) and Dusty Springfield – whose terrific version of Don’t Forget About Me, from the legendary Dusty In Memphis album, finds Young and the rest of The Memphis Boys lending sterling support, with his fluid fills punctuating without intruding on proceedings. Classic cuts Drift Away (Dobie Gray), Morning Glory (James & Bobby Purify) and Cocaine (JJ Cale) offer further evidence of Young’s vital role, and the album should, albeit posthumously, raise Young’s profile. A chunky 36 page booklet offers further elucidation and illustration of Young’s career with insights, quotes and anecdotes from the man himself – provided shortly before his death – completing a poignant and worthy package.     



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