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JOHN LEYTON
COMPLETE WESTERN ALL-STARS SESSIONS
(2005-2010)

CD REVIEW – Trevor Simpson – Author & Broadcaster. www.smalltownsaturdaynight.co.uk

When John Leyton met Joe Meek and they created the atmospheric Johnny Remember Me along with Wild Wind, Son This Is She and the others, it made a definite statement of hit record intent from both parties. Joe’s undoubted genius ended in tragedy but John, whilst not intending to steal Cliff’s moniker of Peter Pan of Pop is right up there with him in terms of youthful creativity if this new CD is anything to go by. How do the folks at Lone Rider Records manage to put together such a great value issue containing 32 tracks with a running time of over 75 minutes for such a competitive price? Colonel Tom will be turning in his grave at such a give away!

John still has the sort of voice which seems to get better with age but of course Joe Meek is long gone. Enter Alan Wilson the producer from Western Star Studios who managed to create a sound very akin to that of Joe on a 2004 CD tribute called Joe Meek Shall Inherit The Earth. There was a version of Johnny Remember Me on that CD which totally impressed John and it resulted in their meeting and the forging of a new relationship and the creation of a sound and production that John was looking for. The highly colourful and informative sleeve notes not only expand on that new partnership but detail every session date and musician from 2005 to 2010. John’s vocals recreate the glorious days of the sixties and are further enhanced by the exquisite backing musicianship and harmony vocals. Is it me, or are musicians getting better with age? The Western All-Stars crew along with guests, Colin Pryce-Jones, Suzi Jari and drumming legend Clem Cattini really cut the mustard. Great!

Looking at the tracks in some detail – all the ones that you would associate with John Leyton are there. That in itself is good news, but they are accompanied with additional tracks that John has not issued on CD before including seven bonus tracks of collectors dream first mixes and the backing track for Johnny Remember Me. The rock ‘n’ roll greats are remembered as John creates beautiful versions of Eddie Cochran’s Three Steps To Heaven, The Everly Brothers’ Bye Bye Love, and Elvis’ When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again and Return To Sender. The Sonny Curtis song I Fought The Law, Leiber and Stoller’s Kansas City and Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen showcase the fact that John can rock with the best of them whilst the Hank Williams song Hey Good Lookin’ tips a Stetson to a country great. You would expect the Joe Meek connection to be strongly represented and fans of the great man will not be disappointed as there are ten tracks written by Geoff Goddard and performed by John in a true tribute to his original producer. I think Joe would have approved of what’s to be heard on this CD and whilst there are arguments that his production techniques could not be bettered, we are now in another century of sound and all the creative improvements that go with it. You can judge that for yourself and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

My only slight concern with any retro-rocker issuing recordings of songs from their youth is the inclusion of the track Goodbye To Teenage Love. Ok, I hear you say, but this was a song that is associated with John. Well, perhaps it’s me, but it just doesn’t stand up when a fella of a certain bus pass age sings about teenage times! Teenager In Love must scare the pants of Marty Wilde and that won’t be a pretty sight! That’s my rant over and I have to say that the bottom line is that this is not only a good CD it’s a great CD in every way. The layout and design, the musicianship and production along with the timeless voice of John Leyton make this a worthwhile investment to all fans of sixties music. My recommendation is to go out and invest your hard earned, feet up and relax with the headphones on, a tipple of malt in a favourite glass and soak up the timeless sounds on this CD. Rock ‘n’ roll heaven!!

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