Hearing Is Believing - The Jack Nitzsche Story CD - Site Review

Bop With A Winner

Jack Nitzsche On CD

Much of Jack's work as a producer or arranger is fairly easy to find on CD but his name is not, usually tucked away in the small print. There are other releases but check out Yahoo Shopping for over 150 CD's currently available. Recent releases include, "Everything Under The Sun" by The Paris Sisters and Judy Henske's "The Death Defying". Sets credited to Nitzsche are far harder to find. The first compilation of Jack's work was the Japanese CD release, "His Restless Days", on the Real Music Company label. Due to the copy write laws in the country at the time this was a legal release. Difficult to find when first pressed, copies rarely turn up at all now. Compiled by Yoshinori Ohtake the set is 60s based with tracks from Jack's "Chopin '66" LP, Gary Crosby, Ramona King and Davey Summers etc. Get a copy...if you can find one! Two fairly recent collections are more readily available. Rhino HandMade's, excellent, "Three Piece Suite" and Collectors' Choice Music's, "The Lonely Surfer" these concentrate on particular periods in Jack's life. New listeners attracted by "Hearing Is Believing" should check these out. But first, buy "Hearing Is Believing - The Jack Nitzsche Story", tell all your friends to do the same and hopefully there will be a volume two.

Eagerly anticipated and now in the shops, how does "The Jack Nitzsche Story - Hearing Is Believing" live up to expectations? SPLENDIDLY!! The set is the perfect antidote to your pals when they ask, "Jack Nitzsche? He's that easy-listening guy, isn't he?" Well, Jack DID do easy listening, and rock'n'roll, and pop, and surf, and blues, and rock, and soul, and movies and, and...And most styles are represented on this compilation. Loosely chronological it's a musical time line of many of Jack's magical moments. Very much a 'greatest hits' package, "The Lonely Surfer", "Needles And Pins", "Move Over Darling", "Hung On You", "Mixed-Up Shook Up Girl", and many more. If the tracks weren't hits, then mainly they feature 'hit' artists; Frankie Laine, Bobby Darin, 'Little' Stevie Wonder, Lesley Gore, Bob Lind, P.J. Proby, Buffy St. Marie, Graham Parker and the list goes on. In their 'wish list' the compilers, Mick Patrick and Tony Rounce, mention other big name artists and songs they would have liked to include. Perhaps if they'd been more successful in licensing these tracks the set could have been the double it warrants. One CD can only scratch the surface of one of the most diverse and creative music makers of the twentieth century but as a good taste of, rather than a feast of Jack's all-star talent, it is an excellent start.

The booklet with rare and unseen photos, mainly supplied by Nitzsche's son Jack Jr., is a delight. The front cover picture of Jack is alone worth the price of admission. The family snaps of Jack at home playing his piano or posing in band uniform with his saxophone, to the later photos shot in the studio, add a visual reference to the 'shadowy' Nitzsche that has been rarely shown. The pages Jack Jr. supplied from the diary, of the 'hardest working (white) man in the business' are a joy: 2pm Paris Sisters, 8pm Lou Christie, 10.30pm Bob Lind. As is his 'little black (actually maroon) book' containing the names, phone numbers and address' of all the great and good (and not so great and down right bad) in the industry. Also included are personal remembrances from Jack Jr., Lou Christie, Alan Gordon, Bob Lind and others, which add more flesh to the bones. The sleeve notes written by Mick Patrick run through Jack's life and musical achievements whilst the inclusion of acetate scans, picture covers and record labels add the 'visual copy'. Until Jimmy McDonough's 'autobiography' is published this booklet is the best 'paper' record of Jack to be had.

Many music fans will recognise the name, 'Nitzsche' via his work with Phil Spector or the Rolling Stones or Neil Young or his film scores. Hopefully they will checkout this set, if so they're in for a treat. As is the serious collector, who will revel in the booklet, the superb sound quality and the inclusion of tracks that only the most avid record hound will have heard. Judy Henske, "Road To Nowhere", Eddie Hodges, "Seein' Is Believin'", The Paris Sisters, "Always Waitin'" (Mike Curb is credited on the label; Rob Santos informed the site that Jack Nitzsche arranged it.) and The James Gang, "Ashes The Rain And I".

All the tracks on this set bear Jack Nitzsche's magic but nonetheless fit snuggly into each artists' own repertoire. One-reason Jack was in constant demand by artists - and their managers and producers - as seemingly diverse as Bobby Darin and Graham Parker or Doris Day and Bob Lind was Jack's capacity to create for the artist and song. His own importance 'Hey listen, it's me, Jack Nitzsche, I'm the producer!' always secondary to the performance. Bobby Darin wrote, "Not For Me" but I'm sure even he never envisaged the melancholic menace with which Jack imbues the track. Doris Day's "Move Over Darling", another memorable sound but still quintessentially Doris. Bob Lind's, "Cheryl's Goin' Home", good song, cool lyrics and a full, rich production that adds to, not subverts the record. For Graham Parker's, "You Can't Be Too Strong" instead of adding to the sound Jack strips it down, the sparseness accentuating the depth and passion. Nitzsche could 'feel' a song and make a record sound...well almost perfect. Link Wray's "Rumble" could never be heard (or played) the same way after Nitzsche recorded his version. Take Lou Christie's, "Wild Life's In Season", is it possible to imagine the record sounding any more like 'Lou Christie'? (Or more like Jack Nitzsche?!) "Hearing Is Believing", showcases Jack's skills in creating what the song or vocal delivery needs. At the time this skill, while respected by his peers was not always recognized by the record buying public. Let's hope this compilation will redress the balance AND remind his peers what a great musical talent we've lost.

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