Just found this article review on Rick's album The Memphis Sessions recorded 1977/78 but was cancelled and never released until following his tragic death:Rick Nelson`s `Memphis Sessions` Dusted Off And Polished With
Rick Nelson, a Hollywood rockabilly relic whose recording career was moribund, flew into Memphis in late 1978 to try to make new hits by returning to the basics of seminal rock and roll.
Nelson`s ``Memphis Sessions,`` title of a new album containing most of his Memphis work, represented the only time he recorded outside Los Angeles, and the fruits of the Memphis interlude belong in the front rank of his musical legacy.
The album contains:
-- Sometimes sizzling, sometimes intimate renditions of such notable oldies as Presley`s ``That`s All Right, Mama,`` the Rolling Stones` ``It`s All Over Now,`` Buddy Holly`s ``Rave On`` and ``True Love Ways,`` and the project`s first single, a just re-released version of Bobby Darin`s ``Dream Lover.``
-- Similarly memorable work on such more contemporary material as ``Sleep Tight Good Night Man,`` ``Send Me Somebody To Love`` and ``Almost Saturday Night.``
-- And seeds of a controversy over (1) why CBS Records executives shelved the album after it was made, (2) why they handed the job of posthumously updating it to talented staff producer Steve Buckingham instead of its original supervisor, Larry Rogers, and (3) whether the final product, which is excellent, is something the hard-to-please Nelson would have allowed to be released had he not died in an airplane crash last New Year`s Eve.
``The original album was never released because it was a project of
(CBS`) Epic Records office in Los Angeles, and they felt it just wasn`t right for the pop market in 1979,`` says Bonnie Garner, vice president of artists and repertoire at CBS-Nashville. ``And it wasn`t offered to CBS-Nashville.``
``Rick didn`t like Nashville at all,`` recalls John Beland, formerly half of the Burrito Brothers duo and Nelson`s guitarist not only on the Memphis album but for a few years on the road.
``He was offered a chance to come to Nashville and record an album, and he totally refused it. I don`t know exactly why, except maybe that his roots were in rock and roll, whether it was Los Angeles or Memphis, and he didn`t want to come down here and do bland country records. When the idea of Memphis was brought up, I remember him saying, `You`re getting pretty close to Nashville there.`
``I`ll tell you right from the outset Rick wouldn`t have wanted anybody touching those tapes. Rick and Larry and I mixed that album--it was finished
--and no matter how good this album that Steve Buckingham did is, it`s another case of people feeling they have to take a pioneer artist like Rick or Hank Williams and always update them. I think the album should have been left the way Rick intended it to come out.``
Buckingham, who came to Nashville from Atlanta and Los Angeles a couple of years ago after having produced such pop artists as Dionne Warwick and Melissa Manchester, removed much of Beland`s electric guitar work from the LP and did not include the one song Beland and Nelson co-wrote for it.
Buckingham says his changes didn`t update Nelson as much as they restored him to the type of musical background in which he made his greatest hits. He replaced the original drums and some of Beland`s original guitar with hotter drum work, more classic rockabilly-sounding guitar licks and state-of-the-art digital cleanness of sound.
The result transforms inspired work that no doubt would have excited Nelson fans into a package that should delight anybody who enjoys classic rock and roll, heartfelt vocal work and good music-making. Buckingham`s technique brings Nelson`s voice out front as never before.
Beland--who grants that Buckingham is one of Nashville`s best producers and says he`s glad CBS handed the project to him if it had to be given to somebody else at all--says he called CBS executives after Nelson died and let them know they owned the Memphis tapes.
Beland says he would have volunteered to ``re-produce`` them for nothing and concedes he would have done one of the things Buckingham did: ``I would have beefed up the drums a little.``
Buckingham says CBS executives wanted the project to be of the highest possible quality, noting that they could have merely taken the original tapes and shoved them into the marketplace as they were, without going to the considerable expense of the reconstruction process.
``What I didn`t want to do was rush out something and have everybody say, `They`re capitalizing on a tragedy,` `` Buckingham says. ``Pains were taken with everything, including the artwork. We wanted it to be something CBS could be proud of.
``I knew it was a delicate line. I didn`t want to intrude on the things that already had been done, but we couldn`t leave it like it was. They wouldn`t have put it out because of the condition the tape had gotten in from lying around so long and things like that. The fidelity of the tape would have been pretty poor.``
Buckingham had a fine set of lead vocals to work with. Beland says that Nelson, after having been no more than ``furniture`` on some Los Angeles sessions in the mid-1970s, was an ``excited`` fountain of input in Memphis.
Nelson went there with ``about five songs that we--Rick, his manager Greg McDonald and I--had joked among ourselves that it would be fun to cut,``
``Songs like `Dream Lover` and `It`s All Over Now.` And in Memphis Larry came up with a couple of tunes, such as `Sleep Tight Goodnight Man` and `Send Me Somebody To Love.` We tried to cross the old rock and roll of Bobby Darin and Buddy Holly with, say, James Taylor. We were trying to think, `How would those people have done these tunes?` ``
The sessions` first crucial moment came, Beland says, when Nelson
``picked up his guitar and started messing around with `That`s All Right, Mama,` `` which wasn`t one of the songs they originally had planned to record. ``He did it first more like a joke, because we were talking about being in Memphis and Presley`s place being just down the road, but we just kind of kicked into gear from that.``
Beland says Nelson departed Memphis thinking he had laid the groundwork for his own resurrection, and events immediately thereafter supported that opinion.
He went to New York to do the ``Saturday Night Live`` TV show and wowed it with four of his oldies and ``Dream Lover,`` which was then being released as a single. ``Dream Lover`` became his first significant record since
``Garden Party`` several years earlier, and Beland says that on the road it was received as if it were No. 1.
But suddenly everything stopped. Beland theorizes CBS wasn`t sufficiently interested in the record and let it die. Anyway, no more of the Memphis material came out at the time, and Nelson moved on to Capitol Records.
A couple of years later, CBS did release a four-song EP containing
``That`s All Right Mama,`` ``It`s Almost Saturday Night,`` ``Rave On`` and
``It`s All Over Now,`` but they had been overdubbed with slide and fuzz-style guitars and a crowd noise that Buckingham describes as sounding ``like the Super Bowl.``
``Everything kind of went downhill after `Dream Lover,` and I think CBS really lost the ball,`` says Beland, who soon moved on into a starring role of his own in the Burrito Brothers duo.
``I think if they had released some of the tracks on that album and followed up `Dream Lover,` they could`ve had a second career with him. They could have made him like an Eddie Rabbitt or Kenny Rogers. He could have had a revival the way the Everly Brothers are having today.``
By Jack Hurst - June 08, 1986http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1986 ... ick-nelson
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