A blog about the things I find accidentally on Spotify while looking for something else

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Singles Collection - Bobby Vee

Bobby Vee is an artist I previously had very little interest in indeed.  I perceived him as very much a second division pop 'n' roller, the 1950s' pre-emptive answer to Harry Stiles.  And in a way he was.  But this collection of his As and Bs from the late '50s to the early '70s shows that he was so much more.
  Starting off with a quality home-brewed rock 'n' roll number 'Suzie Baby', a favourite of Bob Dylan, you then get the songs you know - 'Rubber Ball', 'Take Good Care of My Baby', 'The Night Has a Thousand Eyes'.  There is a weird emotional S&M streak running through this period, with Bobby seriously getting off on the idea of being cheated on and cheating in return whilst being watched in 'The Night...' as well as a song simply called 'Punish Her'.  Bobby then has the good fortune to hook up with Burt Bacharach for a few numbers, just as the Burtster's star is about to rise, probably out of his price range.  The best of these is 'Anonymous Phone Call,' with a great meander of a melody tied to a beautifully precise Hal David lyric.
   The Beatles rendered Bobby yesterday's news, but he kept on going, bothering the lower reaches of the charts with shameless exercises in bandwagon-jumping.  Beatlesesque whoos turn up for a couple of tracks, while by the mid-'60s Bobby is laying down a credible cover of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds track 'Here Today' along with the brooding psych of 'I May Be Gone'.  The '70s bring an embracing of country rock in a similar vein to that of his contemporary Ricky Nelson.  A lot of this, such as 'No Obligations' is well worth listening to, although fake hippy anthem 'Signs' is unintentionally hilarious as Bobby rages against pretty much any type of sign he can find.
   Three CDs of Bobby is more than most sane people would want, but the excess is necessary in order to present Vee's career for what it was.  A mirror of the pop mainstream, with little innovation, but with many developments seized on and emulated, with honesty, charm and some very decent songs along the way.  Bobby Vee is ok with me.


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