This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.
This is number thirty two in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my personal collection.
The series is called, “Cream of The Crate”, and they represent vinyl albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.
As time passes it becomes more and more important not only to continue to acknowledge the early pioneers of Rock and Roll, but to keep their music alive.
There are many singers who rightly wear the mantle of “Pioneer of Rock and Roll“, and recently I featured the King of them all – Elvis.
In this retro-review I have chosen a piece of vinyl that is, in relative terms to when he died, not that old, although it was released forty years ago.
The artist is Eddy Cochran and the album is the 1979 release – “The Eddy Cochran Singles Album“. Originally released on Liberty Records, it was licensed to E.M.I (Australia) – MID 166016.
Sadly, he died so tragically young, but more on that later in this review.
Eddie Cochran not only had the talent he had the personality in spades and, he had the good looks.
Born October 3, 1938, it was his older brother Bill that taught Eddie his first guitar chords. In 1951 Eddie is enrolled in Bell Gardens Junior High – Los Angeles.
He becomes friends with Connie ‘Guybo’ Smith, who plays bass, steel guitar and mandolin. Connie and Eddie start rehearsing together and have a performance at school. Guybo will become Eddie’s bass player and he is heard on most records from Eddie’s professional career.
In 1954 Eddie meets country singer Hank Cochran – no relation and Hank offers Eddie a job as his guitar accompanist.
Eddie leaves school and for the next 18 months Hank and Eddie will be playing and recording together as The Cochran Brothers.
Then, in 1956 Eddie is asked by producer Boris Petroff, to sing a part in ‘Do-Re-Mi’ (later titled ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’) and he records ”Twenty Flight Rock” and “Dark Lonely Street”, at Gold Star Studio in Hollywood.
In August 1956 his classic performance of “Twenty Flight Rock” for the movie, “A Girl Can’t Help It” is filmed at Fox Studios in Hollywood.
In September 1956 he signs a one year contract with Liberty records.
In May 1957 Eddie records the tracks for his debut album, “Singin’ To My Baby”. It will be the only album issued in his lifetime.
Songs recorded include: “One Kiss” (also released as a single), ”Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” and “Completely Sweet”. “Drive-In Show” and “Am I Blue” were also recorded at these sessions and released as Eddie’s third Liberty single, which reached number 82 in the charts.
This is the first American Rock and Roll show to come to Australia. Every single date was sold out!
In January 1959 Eddie can be seen in the movie “Go, Johnny, Go!” performing “Teenage Heaven”. Chuck Berry, Jackie Wilson and Richie Valens were also in the movie.
In late 1959/early 1960, “Something Else” gets to number 58 in the Billboard Charts. It is his seventh and last hit in the Billboard Chart.
On his last session for Liberty, Eddie records “Three Steps To Heaven”, “Cherished Memories” and “Cut Across Shorty” with the remaining Crickets (the then late Buddy Holly’s band), as his back up group.
Cut Across Shorty
In April 1960 Eddie was performing in England in a show titled, ‘Boy Meets Girl‘.
Picture from “Boy Meets Girl”
Then on April 17 1960 whilst on route to the airport the taxi, which is carrying Eddie, his fiancée Sharon Sheeley and Gene Vincent, is involved in an accident near Chippenham.
Eddie and his great friend Gene Vincent had been touring the UK since mid-January, on a package tour that had created a sensation amongst UK rock n roll fans.
Sheeley and Vincent are only slightly hurt, but Eddie dies of sever head injuries later that night.
May 1960 – “Three Steps To Heaven” is released posthumously in the UK and is an immediate number 1 hit! Sadly, this is in contrast with the US, where it doesn’t even chart in the top 100.
Three Steps To Heaven
In January 1987, Eddie Cochran is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the second annual induction dinner.
So, to this album.
It contains twenty singles released by Eddie. Sadly it doesn’t include his first two singles he released. However, it does just about cover all the tracks recorded by Eddie Cochran that you might know, and some you don’t.
Here is the track listing.
|A2||Three Steps To Heaven||2:21|
|A3||Cut Across Shorty||1:48|
|A4||Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie||2:19|
|A5||Twenty Flight Rock||1:42|
|A7||Sittin’ In The Balcony||1:57|
|A8||Hallelujah, I Love Her So||2:16|
|B5||Drive In Show||2:03|
|B9||Rock And Roll Blues||2:11|
Twenty Flight Rock
It’s full of party/dance music, such as “Cut Across Shorty“, “Twenty Flight Rock“, “Summertime Blues“, “Nervous Breakdown“, “Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie“, and, “Skinny Jim” (why this wasn’t a hit for him, is beyond me!).
There are the ballads such as the memorable, and simply beautiful “Three Steps To Heaven” and “Cherished Memories” (which could have been written about him), not overlooking “Three Stars“, the song he recorded in tribute to the death of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens.
This one is a real ‘tear jerker’.
“Look up in the sky, up towards the north
There are three new stars, brightly shining forth
They’re shining oh so bright, from heaven above
Gee we’re gonna miss you, everybody sends their love….”
His death was a tragedy!
Yet, there is no way we can be certain that he would have become a major recording and performing artist.
Certainly it was only 3 years after he died that music took a severe ‘right hand turn’ with the establishment of the English Music Scene becoming the dominant scene for a considerable number of years.
In many ways he and his music has been frozen in time and space with his death at such an early stage of his career.
Look, in many ways to own an Eddie Cochran album is to own one of the most classic Rock albums ever recorded.
Frankly, if you are looking to build your collection from this era up, you simply cannot go wrong with any of his albums – but if you want to have an all round collection of his material, this IS the album to have.
Best of all, it is still readily available. Copies on Ebay can be purchased for between $15.00 and $30.00 – and if you aren’t collecting vinyl, it’s also available on CD – so you can’t go wrong.
We are fortunate that some of Eddie’s television performances were recorded and have been archived on Youtube. Here are three of them for your enjoyment.
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
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