CD All the Way/Sincerely, Brenda Lee (CD 114901),
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All the Way/Sincerely, Brenda Lee
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 1060
2 LPs on 1CD: ALL THE WAY (1961)/ SINCERELY (1962).
Liner Note Author: Rob Finnis.
The stereo versions of Brenda Lee's fifth and sixth albums are combined onto one CD on this reissue, with the addition of historical liner notes. Both of them were commercially successful, yet both, like many albums of their time, were a little thin on outstanding non-45 material. On the earlier of the pair, All the Way, a number of covers of recent rock and pop songs ("Kansas City," "Tragedy," and Ray Charles' "Talkin' Bout You") filled out an album spearheaded by a big hit single, the organ-grinding groover "Dum Dum." Within its limitations, however, it was a pretty good record, and certainly very well produced and well sung. Ronnie Self, who'd written or co-written a couple of her big earlier hits, co-penned what was probably the most outstanding cut other than "Dum Dum," the arching orchestrated ballad "Eventually" -- one of several dramatic orchestrated ballads here, actually. Lee also showed some good tough rock chops on "Talkin' Bout You," and while (again like many albums of the period) the LP seemed programmed to showcase versatility, she sang each and every number -- even the less imaginative selections, like "On the Sunny Side of the Street" -- with nothing less than utter panache. It seems a little strange to apply the adjective "overlooked" to a singer as popular as Lee was at this time, but the album, like so much of her early-'60s work, is further evidence of her underrated skills as a rock and pop singer. And it was appreciated by listeners at the time, the album making the Top 20, even if most of the songs are unfamiliar today even to many Brenda Lee fans.
Lee's 1962 album (known both as Sincerely and Sincerely, Brenda Lee), however, did not so much add to her versatility as tilt the LP away from the strengths that had made her so popular in the first place. She had made popular standards a part of her recorded repertoire almost from the time she started making records, and it wasn't unknown for rock singers to make albums dominated by adult-oriented material in an attempt to broaden their appeal. But while Lee could sing this kind of stuff well, the problem was that the record featured almost nothing but these kind of songs, most of them taken at a slow tempo, and none of them rock & rollers (or hit singles, for that matter). As a result, it's one of the more forgettable albums from her prime, of value only to big fans and completists. All that stated, it's not a terrible record, benefiting from Owen Bradley's typically lush-yet-tasteful orchestral production and characteristically committed Lee vocal performances. None of the tracks are outstanding, however, though none are embarrassing and a few are decent, particularly the one up-tempo number, "Fools Rush In." "Hold Me" is also of note, as it's the same song that P.J. Proby would make into a huge British rock hit in 1964, though it's done in a much more conventional slower romantic fashion here. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Ace (Label) 1060
E1 Distribution (USA)
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