Ricky Nelson Summertime 45 (Imperial, 1962)
I am not quite sure when I first heard the song "Summertime" but I do remember that the first version that lead to my obsession with the song. That was the one Nina Simone did on the At Town Hall album (which I will get to posting up here some time in the next three months). Since hearing Simone's take, I've made it a point to pick up every version that I come across. Since this is one of George Gershwin's most covered songs, there are hundreds if not thousands of "Summertimes" out there. Yeah yeah I do pass up some versions. Since I very much doubt that either Celine Dion or Cher did anything interesting with it and that their yowling isn't gonna top an Ella Fitzgerald or a Sarah Vaughn, I don't waste my time. But even without the Vegas moderne schlock, I've got probably a hundred different takes of the song. I could easily fill the summer up with "Summertime" but, as great as the song is, that would be tedious. So what I am gonna do is drop a dozen or so on you, ones that are extra special, have something unusual going on or are just plain good.
Our first venture into "Summertime" is by the very underrated Ricky Nelson. Though extremely popular from the late 50s to mid 60s, Nelson had the misfortune of lurking in the historical shadow of Elvis, as well as being written off as some bubblegum, teen teevee star. And all that is true, but he also made some great records. I am very partial to his early '60s singles on Imperial. Many of them have a nice tuff sound, propelled by a strong band. Ricky's voice was never totally polished and the rough edges really lend themselves to his rawer works. Don't believe me? Track down his version of "Milk Cow Blues." Its a b-side of some poppier number and it is great. Or just click the link below and hear his rockin' version of "Summertime." The bass and drums roll in like something off a "Back from the Grave" comp. Ricky's vox are flat and restrained but that is fine. Most singers get all wacky with the song, so flat is fine. Great echo on the harmonica. Just a fine fine rock & roll version of Gershwin's baby and a stellar Ricky Nelson performance.
This version is appeared on the b-side of the "Young World" 45.
thanks a lot
also, just wanted to say that crudcrud is great! keep up the good work.
I never thought of it as a rock and roll song, but Ricky Nelson makes it work.
Thanks, Scott, for the posts.