14 Songs, 38 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

LaVern Baker’s second full-length album compiles her early Atlantic singles, released between 1955 and 1956. “Jim Dandy,” “Tra La La," and “Tweedle Dee” introduced Baker to the world, and each song has endured as a signature. Even though Ray Charles was Atlantic's figurehead during this era, Baker’s songs equally define the label’s early aesthetic. They combine grit and urgency with a sophisticated musical outlook and a teenage sense of humor. Like Charles, Baker had a presence that lunged from her records. She was in charge and larger than life. She could turn a nonsense song like “Bop-Ting-a-Ling” into a display of pure attitude, then shift gears to capture all the dashing romance of early rock ‘n’ roll in “I Can’t Love You Enough.” It’s not difficult to see why she was a favorite of the young Elvis Presley, who covered “Harbor Lights” and “Tomorrow Night” in his first recording sessions. In many ways, Baker epitomized the blend of vulnerability and sexual potency that later defined Presley’s persona. Among all the great tunes here, “Soul on Fire” is the most essential, a mash note written in kerosene.

EDITORS’ NOTES

LaVern Baker’s second full-length album compiles her early Atlantic singles, released between 1955 and 1956. “Jim Dandy,” “Tra La La," and “Tweedle Dee” introduced Baker to the world, and each song has endured as a signature. Even though Ray Charles was Atlantic's figurehead during this era, Baker’s songs equally define the label’s early aesthetic. They combine grit and urgency with a sophisticated musical outlook and a teenage sense of humor. Like Charles, Baker had a presence that lunged from her records. She was in charge and larger than life. She could turn a nonsense song like “Bop-Ting-a-Ling” into a display of pure attitude, then shift gears to capture all the dashing romance of early rock ‘n’ roll in “I Can’t Love You Enough.” It’s not difficult to see why she was a favorite of the young Elvis Presley, who covered “Harbor Lights” and “Tomorrow Night” in his first recording sessions. In many ways, Baker epitomized the blend of vulnerability and sexual potency that later defined Presley’s persona. Among all the great tunes here, “Soul on Fire” is the most essential, a mash note written in kerosene.

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