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The 40th Anniversary Anthology (Box Set)

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Album Review

The idea behind this ultimately very persuasive two-CD, 63-song anthology is a good one, and short of a Billy Fury box set, it was probably the way to go, albeit with a few flaws — the producers admit that they were unable to include any tracks off of what they describe as his most representative album, the live We Want Billy. All of the singles, however — even the very attractive flop records — are here, along with the better B-sides, which are augmented by album, EP, and movie tracks and four previously unissued songs from 1963 to 1966. All have been transferred from the original session tapes, which is the first stereo appearance of some songs, and the first CD appearance of the original mono versions of others. Even the softer pop-type numbers stay within a certain range of softer rock acceptability, and some of it is first-rate hard rock & roll, on which Fury and the backing group the Four Jays sound like nothing less than Buddy Holly. His subsequent material, from the early '60s, does veer into teen-pop, though he's a good enough singer to keep most of it interesting amid the swirling strings and soaring female choruses. By the end of 1963, Fury was again toughening up his sound, getting bluesy, and trying to come to terms with the Liverpool sound embodied by the Beatles. Still, the record label found it easier to sell Fury as a pop/rock crooner, and the public found him easier to hear in that vein. The second disc in this collection shows Fury trying to balance his repertory between that brand of pop/rock and blues. His last chart records of the 1960s show him stepping away completely from rock & roll, although he still cut decent (and better than decent) tracks in a rock vein around them. The set closes with two very good ballads which were buried so deeply in the vaults that they didn't even have songwriting credits attached to them. (British import)


Born: 17 April 1940 in Liverpool, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

In the early days of British rock & roll, there were dozens of contenders for stardom: Tommy Steele, Cliff Richard, and Marty Wilde were among the players who rose to the challenge for at least a few years. Billy Fury, by contrast, was the real article from day one, and never really surrendered the title. He was also the most prodigiously talented of his generation of British rock 'n roll singers, a songwriter of considerable ability, and a decent actor as well. He was born Ronald Wycherley, in...
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The 40th Anniversary Anthology (Box Set), Billy Fury
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