Hard Workin' Man - The Jack Nitzsche Story Vol. 2 - Site Review

You know it makes sense, treat yourself and a friend to a copy!

Jack Nitzsche On ACE

Compiling 26 great Nitzsche tracks on a CD ain't that hard, but... what makes the second part of The Jack Nitzsche Story, "Hard Workin' Man", as special as the first, "Hearing Is Believing", is the obvious love the ACE Records family and Mick Patrick, and Tony Rounce in particular, have for Nitzsche's music. There's no sign of a "the first one sold well, quick, time for Volume 2". On the contrary, the care lavished on this volume equals and, in certain key areas, surpasses that of the first. As a way of introducing and showcasing the depth and breadth of Jack's talent, The Jack Nitzsche Story concept is ideal. Certainly, there is enough material for the series to continue for the foreseeable future.
ACE are actively using Nitzsche's tracks on other releases from the company. Mick Patrick includes Nitzsche tracks on many of his compilations for the label. There is even a chance that the next Phil's Spectre collection, Volume 3, will delve further into Nitzsche's unreleased productions. Tony's recent Mariachi Brass CD made a big play on Nitzsche's arranging.
Licensing recordings from a variety of sources presents severe problems. It's not as easy as compiling your own greatest hits comps at home, but wouldn't it be great to get genre collections? Jack Nitzsche's 'Wall Of Sound', an instrumental package 'Just The Music', 'Uptight With Jack' soul, 'All The Girls' girl group, etc. etc. There's no reason it couldn't be done if you continue to buy the Nitzsche material offered to you, and ACE would seem the best label to deliver them.

Tracing a similar line to Volume One, "Hard Workin' Man" is a rich, mixed bag of delights covering Jack's career over 5 decades. Sandwiched between the earliest known Nitzsche label credit on The Robins - "Just Like That" to his last session, C.C. Adcock's - "Stealin' All Day", are obscure tracks, big hits (even more that should have been), movie themes, solo sides and, for the first time, unreleased recordings. The Adcock side shows that to the end, given the right artist and material to inspire him, the Nitzsche magic was as strong as ever. Many of the musical highlights are listed below.
Scarce 45s recorded by relative unknowns, Emil O'Connor - "Some Of Your Lovin", Karen Verros - "You Just Gotta Know My Mind" (A right rocking ride this one, this poor record collector is still looking for a 45), Tammy Grimes - "Nobody Needs Your Love More Than I Do" amongst them.
Well known artists with tracks that either hadn't made it to or aren't easy/cheap to acquire on CD, The Everly Brothers - "Mr. Soul", Ral Donner - "Don't Put Your Heart In His Hand" (a fab two-sider), Merry Clayton - "It's In His Kiss", Timi Yuro - "Teardrops Til Dawn" (superb, one of my favourites) and Frankie Laine - "I'm Gonna Be Strong".
There are big tracks/artists, stuff you should have - and now's your chance: The Righteous Brothers - "Just Once In My Life", The Turtles - "You Know What I Mean", The Monkees - "Porpoise Song", Crazy Horse - "I Don't Want To Talk About It", The Tubes - "Don't Touch Me There", Jack Nitzsche - "I'm The Loneliest Fool".
Nitzsche's movie scores attract a whole different breed of music fan. Requests for information on the evocative themes from "9½ Weeks", "Cutters Way", "Windy City" etc. fill my post bag. But no fan with a love of music can fail to be exhilarated by "Hard Workin' Man" and "Bank Robbery". Now, if the above treasures aren't enough to tempt you into a purchase, what about the five unreleased sides?

Bob Celli and the championing of his music hero helped unearth Bobby Vee's - "Like Someone In Love". Interviewing Marty Cooper for the site led to the discovery of "Surf Finger" aka "The Blow Up". The support of Jack Nitzsche, Jr. for the project and the opening of his dad's archives, with his journals, diaries and photos, is priceless. The first fruits of exploring the music have surfaced on this volume.
The UK "P.S.I. Records" in the mid-seventies unleashed a host of previously unreleased gems from Phil Spector's vault, including "I'm A Woman In Love". Why the wait of ten or more years? Why weren't they released at the time? Perhaps the question is even more pertinent in regards to Donna Loren's version. Although Donna told me she worked with Jack at Challenge Records but couldn't recall titles, just the one released side is credited to the pair. As a follow-up to Nitzsche's soul flavoured arrangement of "Call Me", the full sounding, stomping beat of "Woman In Love" would have seemed ideal. Nitzsche arranged a number of Spector sides sans Spector but only after his master had released them first. Maybe Nitzsche himself was wary of a release that might, ala Greenwich and Barry, upset his special relationship. Considering the longevity of his career as a major live act with his band The Nooney Rickett Four and celluloid roles in a couple of beach movies, it's surprising how few records Rickett had released. "A Man Needs Love", a superb blue-eyed soul number written by Fischoff and Powers, shows what might have been. A confession, as much as I know I should love "Daddy You Just Gotta Let Him In", it's okay and I do like it but somehow it just doesn't ring my bells. On the other hand, the Satisfactions' "Baby I'm So Glad It's Raining" sets the klaxons blaring. It's a mature girl-group classic - blissful perfection.

The CD is wrapped up in a great booklet, cool photos and sleeve notes by Mick Patrick. Short, interesting essays accompany each track, while of even greater interest are the interviews he conducted with many of the featured artists. Marty Cooper elaborates further on recording "The Blow Up"/"Surf Finger". Not doubting the honesty of his recollections here and on Jack Nitzsche's site but the timeline of the recording still doesn't seem right to me. Mick also tracked down Nooney Rickett who notes that "My friend Joni Lyman - who sang with my band, the Nooney Rickett Four - recorded a really great single that Jack produced and arranged, so I'd imagine that's how my session with him came about". Great stuff! Prairie Prince, drummer for The Tubes, recalls the sessions for "Don't Touch Me There". If The Satisfactions - "Baby I'm So Glad It's Raining" is the icing on the cake then CC Adcock's reminiscenses on getting to know and working with Nitzsche is the cherry. There's over five pages with just one photo of CC that brings the later years of Jack Nitzsche to life. Adcock's obvious love for the man shines through in his warts-and-all description of the way Jack worked and behaved, illuminating the many facets of this bewildering and bewildered soul. Not since Bob Lind's recollections on the site has so much dark and light been revealed to go someway to explaining a personality that made some of the most beautiful and also unsettling music of the last fifty years.

A few of the notes in the booklet raised an eyebrow. I was surprised to see Nitzsche credited as arranger for The Robins. Mick's comment that Gracia Nitzsche recorded not only as Sammi Lynn but also as Kari Lynn nearly made me choke on my coffee! I dived into my record boxes to play the two Kari 45s I have and, blow me down, I think he's right! "Summer Day" was released in a picture sleeve in Belgium - it may confirm Mick's judgement. Certainly, he has a finer pair of ears than I! As for Crazy Horse, their second LP was the rather lack lustre "Loose" and "At Crooked Lake" was a studio recording.

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