The Complete Epic Recordings - Real Gone Music 2012
The first "Back to Vienna" is a very ambitious project produced by Al Kooper. Stylistically, the music is pretty far away from what Nelson had recorded earlier with his Stone Canyon Band, although the predecessor, "Intakes" which is also are included in this 2 CD release, has numbers that turned Nelson in new directions.
Many different musicians and songwriters were involved with "Back to Vienna" and when it finally was ready for release Epic Records dared not put it out. When in 1993 on the CD “Stay Young " you could hear four tracks from the cancelled project, you could only wonder what could have made Epic hesitate to release it. Especially "Mama You've Been on My Mind" and "Carl of the Jungle" are beautiful recordings with Nelson at his very best. Also "Conversation" and "New Delhi Freight Train" seemed convincing, so desire to hear the album as a whole grew even further.
Now, all ten tracks can be found on this "Epic Compilation" and it’s quite obvious that the company made a big mistake by not releasing the album in 1978. True, the four previously released tracks are among the best, but all 10 tracks are nicely and originally produced in interesting arrangements, and with "Every Day I Have to Cry Some" and "What is Success" I have certainly found two new Nelson favorites.
The following year Nelson went to Memphis to record again; this time with Larry Rogers as producer and with the intention to record a more basic and simple album. Despite the fact that Nelson sounds really inspired and the recording sessions were very successful, only the single release of "Dream Lover", which even became a minor hit, were originally released. Nelson left Epic for Capitol Records and the album was shelved. However, Epic did release an EP with four of the tracks a few years later, with new overdubs.
A few months after Nelson's death most of the tracks from the unreleased "Rockabilly Renaissance" were released as "The Memphis Sessions"; an album which I obviously was soon to buy. Producer Steve Buckingham, had remixed and overdubbed many of the tracks, which many people thought was a big mistake. Personally, I must admit that I was quite satisfied, although one could argue that there was a little too much1980’s sound on the drums. All songs showed a Nelson at his very best, and the choice of songs was both varied and successful. It can be difficult to highlight individual, as all are actually top-notch. Nelson's ability to convey both the pure rock and melodic ballads characterize the entire album, and I won’t hesitate to call the performances of "Stuck in the Middle," "Lay Back in the Arms of Someone," "True Love Ways," "Sleep Tight Good Night Man”, and of course "Dream Lover”, classics.
Two fine ballads were inexplicably not included on "Memphis Sessions", so there were for me also two entirely "new" songs from "Rockabilly Renaissance" this CD release. Both "It Shall Remain" and "In My Heart" hold the high level of the rest the album.
Together with "Intakes", which was released in 1977, this is one of the finest releases with Rick Nelson, documenting that he was far from finished aa a creative artist during the last years of his career. Very nice and informative notes in the booklet and most importantly - the music sounds great.