Rick's Rarities 64-74 - Ace 2004
I never cared very much for his early Decca albums ( up till his formation of the Stone Canyon Band - the two country albums are okay), and most of the songs from that period that are included here, are in fact better than a great deal of what was originally released.
The opening track, Sonny Curtis' "I've Been Lookin'" is among these positive surprises. Recorded in 1964 with great guitarist James Burton, it's a track that comes pretty close to the sound of his great Imperial recordings.
"I Need You" is not the same song that was released as a single on Imperial, but the song is almost as fine, which says quite a lot, since "I Need You" is one of my all-time Rick Nelson favourites.
Most of the non-album singles which are also included are pretty good, though not outstanding.
Next positive surprise for me was the unreleased song "Freedom and Liberty" which Rick wrote himself. A beautiful song with a tasteful sparse arrangement showing that Rick as early as 1965 was beginning to develop the sound that would eventually blossom with the Stone Canyon Band. The lyrics may sound a little naive today, but there is an innocent charm to them too. The re-recorded version in a more country-flavoured style from 1967 is equally good; both versions are included here.
A previously unreleased Jerry Fuller song can also be found here. Fuller wrote a lot of Rick best songs for Imperial, and "Peddler Man" is a song which reminds me a lot of "Travellin' Man", and it's almost as great. Interesting that it features the great Byrds guitarist Clarence White.
Rick's self-penned single "I'm Called Lonely" was also "new" for me; a fine song from his country-period. "Moonshine" is song untypical of the material Rick usually chose; recorded just before the formation of his own band. The previously unreleased "Lady From Baltimore" which though it sounds like a demo-recording is great performance, showing the early incarnation of the Stone Canyon Band, featuring Allen Kemp, Randy Meisner and Shanahan. Same band gives a fine performance of "I Think It's Going to Rain Today".
"Promises", the B-side to "She Belongs to Me", is another Nelson original which is CD released here for the first time. The song was also a highlight on the fine Live album from 1969, "Rick Nelson in Concert - The Troubador 1969".
Last track is another Stone Canyon Band recording, featuring the Dennis Larden line-up. "California Free" would have fitted nicely onto the "Windfall" album; yet another Nelson original.