Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lee Curtis - Its Lee (1964)

Review by Bruce Eder 
Lee Curtis (aka Peter Flannery) at his best was a credible white soul singer in the mid-1960's Liverpool mode, and might have been another Dave Berry if he'd had a little luck on the British charts. As it is, listening to almost any of his individual tracks (especially after the first couple of Decca singles), one has to wonder how he never made it outside of Germany — this album covers his work from 1964 thru 1967, when he finally called it quits, following a car crash in Germany, and it's all solid UK-style r&b-based rock 'n' roll, including a beautifully guttural performance on "Slow Down", among other highlights. One also begins to understand where his limitations manifested themselves — as time went on, Curtis tailored his sound to the tastes of the German audiences that adored him, and pop music, even in the rock 'n' roll era, always has had a fixation on (or a tolerance for) saxophones that American and British rock 'n' roll outgrew once it evolved past Bill Haley's sound; and courtesy of Dave McShane, there's lots of good reed playing here that would simply have rolled off the ears of most UK listeners, much less US audiences; Chris Dennis tries to do some impressive things on the organ, which is all well and good, but missing, amid the powerful vocals and all of their playing, is the guitar — the lead work here by Paul Pilnick (a future member of Stealer's Wheel and Deaf School) lacks presence and authority, and it all sounds "off" somehow. In fairness, Curtis and everyone else throw themselves head-first into "Wooly Bully", and he gets points for having the courage to cover "Mickey's Monkey", even if the beat is slowed down just a touch too much. Liverpool completists should own this simply as an example of one of the better offshoots of Merseybeat ever to come out of Hamburg, and a showcase for a great, too-little-known singing talent. 
1 - Shame And Scandle In The Family
2 - Um Um Um Um
3 - Stand By Me
4 - Little Egypt
5 - Stupidity
6 - Slow Down
7 - Jezebel
8 - Wooly Bully
9 - Irresistable You
10 - It's No Good For Me
11 - Mickeys Monkey
12 - Stick And Stones
13 - One Night
14 - Nobody But You

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