Forgotten series: Gene Vincent – Am I That Easy To Forget? (1966)

Frequently compared to a scruffier version of Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent experienced a brief burst of commercial success in the late 50s with cool-cat rockers such as “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” “Race With The Devil, “Blue Jean Bop,” and “Crazy Legs.”

Despite the fact the Virginia-born singer greatly inspired the next generation of musicians, especially the British boys, like most rock and roll pioneers, he struggled to get arrested in the 60s, considering kids craved the new sounds and were not all that interested in what went before.

Recruiting members of the Champs of “Tequila” fame and Glen Campbell, who had been paying the bills as a hot-shot studio musician and moonlighting with the Beach Boys, Gene aimed to return to the public eye with Am I That Easy To Forget? (Challenge Records), an album which capably combined his roots with contemporary touches.

Sounding like the Byrds on a soul trip, “Hurtin’ For You Baby” and “Born To Be A Rolling Stone” incorporate chiming folk rock guitar flourishes with brass arrangements with winning results, and “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” sits on the country side of the field. Gene’s hip-swinging rockabilly influences surface on “Poor Man’s Prison” and “Ain’t That Too Much,” where “Lonely Street” and the title track of the disc are pleading ballads. A gruff and gritty garage rock edge wheels “Bird Doggin,’” and “Love Is A Bird,” (also recorded by the Knickerbockers) radiates to the tuneful tone of a pert pop presence.

Gene’s earthy vocals, accompanied by compact instrumentation and songs scripted of tasty hooks, allow Am I That Easy To Forget? to be a mighty pleasurable listen. But sales were bleak, and the album title proved prophetic, as it was easily forgotten.

A tragic figure, Gene was injured in a motorcycle accident in 1955 that permanently damaged his left shinbone. To lessen the pain, he became heavily dependent on alcohol, and developed a serious drinking problem. In October 1971, he perished from a stomach ulcer. Although highly respected, Gene remains sorely underrated. For the talent and drive he possessed, his life was cut short far too soon. Not his best effort but an honest attempt at regaining visibility, Am I That Easy To Forget? is appealing in many ways.

[amazon_enhanced asin="B000S572ZS" container="" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /] [amazon_enhanced asin="B0056BMV1E" container="" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /] [amazon_enhanced asin="B0006VBH6O" container="" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /] [amazon_enhanced asin="B00BWS4T5G" container="" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /] [amazon_enhanced asin="B004LTB5IC" container="" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /]

Beverly Paterson

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

Here's where you talk back ...