Various artists – Legacy: A Tribute To Rick Nelson, Volume 1 (2013)

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Born in 1940, Rick Nelson came from a renowned show biz family. From 1949 to 1966, he starred with his parents and older brother David on radio and television in “The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet.” He was also a musician, and between the years 1957 and 1964 he gleaned more than a dozen Top 30 hit singles.

Attaining such commercial acceptance is indeed a lofty achievement. But unlike a lot of performers branded teen dream machines, as Rick was, his music carried artistic weight. A pioneer of sorts, considering he was the first second-generation rocker to seize widespread success, he had an earnest understanding of the music, matched by a catchy voice and above average guitar skills. A cream of the crop band of session players, led by six-string slinger James Burton, further supplied Rick’s pop-salted rockabilly tunes with depth and credibility.

Equipped with a wonderful introduction written by Rick’s bass player James Kirkland, Legacy: A Tribute To Rick Nelson (Pop Garden Radio) features a nice mix of familiar songs and not so familiar songs. In most cases, the fine folks contributing to the disc add their own unique perspectives to the soup, but still manage to cover Rick’s handiwork with respect and insight.

A winning combination of fun and creativity abounds on “Poor Little Fool” by the Popdudes, which contains strains of Led Zeppelin’s reggae flavored “Dyer Maker” throughout the proceedings, and both Luzer’s “Teenage Idol” and “Fools Rush In” from the Waking Hours radiate with high energy power popping pulsations.

If there was ever a perfect band to pay homage to Rick Nelson, it’s Walter Clevenger and the Dairy Kings, whose roots-rock tenor is amplified to shining effects on “Loser Babe Is You,” while Marjorie Cardwell’s treatment of “Stars Fell On Alabama” sparkles and purrs to a ravishing showcase of cool jazz arrangements, Gary Pig Gold’s “Garden Party” drips with a carefree intimacy and Jeremy’s “Are You Really Real?” favors a delicate and gentle pitch.

Marty Rudnick’s “Legacy,” Brian Ray’s “Lonesome Town,” Phil Solem’s “Just A Little Too Much,” DC Cardwell’s “Life” and “Stood Up” by Ed James hold steady as subsequent crown jewels to be admired. But every submission is superb, resulting in a thoughtfully conceived collection of songs that make a difference.

Although Rick Nelson is no longer with us, as he tragically perished in a plane crash December 31, 1985, his influence remains strong and his music transcends the ages. Kudos to the singers and bands included on Legacy: A Tribute To Rick Nelson Volume 1 for taking the time to remember the great man and render his tunes with spirited expressions.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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