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Stay Young: The Epic Recordings

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Album Review

There's not a lot on this CD that even longtime Rick Nelson fans are likely to recognize — not a lot of good seemed to come out of Rick Nelson's two-year stay at Epic Records, based on the evidence released at the time, and certainly there were no hits, just an uneven first album (Intakes) and an entire second LP (titled Back to Vienna) produced by Al Kooper that was never issued, plus a four-song EP that contained badly remixed versions of three songs that he'd cut in Memphis. This 18-song CD contains all of the material that audiences should have had a chance to hear from his Epic recordings, the way they were intended to be heard. It's better than anything that anyone ever heard at the time, and were some of the best sides Nelson ever recorded, running the gamut from engaging country-pop to heavily produced art rock and raw rockabilly. Reissue producer Bob Irwin distilled down the best of the songs off of Intakes, and the best four songs from the Al Kooper-produced sessions, and the original, undubbed Memphis Sessions sides from the third album. The highlights, in addition to ornate pop/rock renditions of "Mama You've Been on My Mind" and "Carl of the Jungle," from the Kooper sessions, include the raw, stripped down "That's Alright Mama," "Almost Saturday Night," and "Rave On," from Memphis Sessions, Nelson's great lost single, his touchingly introspective rendition of "Dream Lover" from the fall of 1978, and his achingly beautiful country ballad "Send Me Somebody to Love," one of the prettiest records he ever made. Most of this CD was entirely new material at the time of its release, and it has held up startlingly well over the decades, as strong as any other collection of his work that one can buy, despite the absence of any hits.


Born: 08 May 1940 in Teaneck, NJ

Genre: Pop

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

Rick Nelson was one of the very biggest of the '50s teen idols, so it took awhile for him to attain the same level of critical respectability as other early rock greats. Yet now the consensus is that he made some of the finest pop/rock recordings of his era. Sure, he had more promotional push than any other rock musician of the '50s; no, he wasn't the greatest singer; and yes, Elvis, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, and others rocked harder. But Nelson was extraordinarily consistent during the first five...
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Stay Young: The Epic Recordings, Rick Nelson
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