CD In the Key of Heartbreak * (CD 15836446),
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In the Key of Heartbreak *

  • 0. DISC 1:
    1. Woman's Gotta Have Her Way, A
    2. Please Mr. Sandman
    3. Honey Stop Twistin'
    4. Hello Remember Me
    5. Think It Over
    6. Forever Lillie Mae
    7. Santa, Don't Pass Me By!
    8. Baby, Heaven Sent Me You
    9. Loving Cajun Style
    10. You're Why I'm So Lonely
    11. Let Me Told You
    12. Just a Game
    13. I Really Got the Blues
    14. Forget the Past
    15. I'm Lonesome Without the Blues
    16. I'm To Blame
    17. Love Bug
    18. Strange, Strange Feeling
    19. My Forbidden Love
    20. Santa's Alley
    21. Forget the Past
    22. I'm Lonesome Without the Blues
    23. I'm To Blame
    24. Love Bug
    25. I Still Care
    26. Two Sides to the Story of Love
    0. DISC 2:
    1. Message To Huey/A Woman's Gotta Have Her Way - (featuring Pee Wee Maddux)
    2. Please Mr. Sandman
    3. Honey Stop Twistin'
    4. Santa! Don't Pass Me By
    5. Think It Over
    6. Forever Lillie Mae
    7. Loving Cajun Style
    8. Let Me Told You
    9. Just a Game
    10. I Really Got the Blues
    11. What a Price
    12. Stop the Clock
    13. Spare Me the Details
    14. Mathilda
    15. Rockin' Bicycle
    16. If That's the Way You Want It
    17. Little Cajun
    18. Domino Twist, The
    19. Rose Mary
    20. It's You I'm Missing
    21. Our Last Goodbye
    22. Don't Fall in Love
    23. Don't You Know I Love You
    24. I Need You
    25. I Still Care
    26. If I Knew You Didn't Know Better
    27. Two Sides To the Story of Love
    28. You're Lonely Too
    29. It's Time To Say Goodbye
    30. I'll Keep On Movin'

    Code: QZZQ

  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): CDTOP2 1324

  • Credits

    Jimmy Donley might be most well known -- to those collectors who are familiar with him at all -- for the tracks he cut for Decca in the late '50s and early '60s, if only because that label was so much bigger than the others for which he recorded. The Decca material is represented well by Bear Family's The Shape You Left Me In compilation. This two-CD collection, however, focuses on his early-'60s recordings for the Tear Drop label. It includes not just the five singles issued by the company prior to his January 1963 suicide, but also ten more tracks the label put out between 1963 and 1966; about a couple dozen previously unreleased demos; yet a few more demos that came out on a 1999 CD; and a cut that appeared on a 1972 single. The early 45s (including a 1962 single issued under the name Kenny James) hold the most interest, Donley sounding rather like a white Fats Domino, an uncoincidental resemblance considering that some of Donley's material was covered by Fats. Donley's rich, bluesy, teary voice and the relaxed-yet-funky New Orleans-tinged arrangements (directed by a young Dr. John) produced some superior swamp pop on these sides, especially "Forever Lillie Mae." While it's not up to the very best of the genre, it's easy to see how some fans of the style might flip over it. The posthumous 1963-1966 singles were taken from demos, and while they're not as a whole up to the standard of the Tear Drop 45s that came out while Donley was alive (particularly as some were embellished by slightly awkward overdubs), they're basically OK to reasonably good. As for the many demos that fill out this collection, it's arguable as to whether they justify the size of a double CD, as the sound is pretty dry, usually featuring just Donley's voice and a piano or acoustic guitar. These do include Donley's version of "What a Price" (covered for a midsize 1961 hit by Fats Domino), some of the songs that appeared on his Tear Drop singles, and others that did not. Certainly they do help make this almost as comprehensive a summary of his post-Decca career as could be hoped for (though it doesn't have the four songs he recorded for Ace between his stints with Decca and Tear Drop). The thorough liner notes include reproductions of lyrics to ten Donley songs in his own handwriting, as well as annotator Tony Rounce's blunt assessment of the singer's character: "He was a poor excuse for a human being, if truth be told." ~ Richie Unterberger

  • Critic Reviews
    Living Blues (p.67) - "Particularly compelling are a tortured country blues titled 'I'm Lonesome Without the Blues' and the heart-wrenching country ballad 'I'm to Blame'..."
    Uncut (magazine) (p.82) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "This two-disc set offers up 56 tear-jerking testaments, marking out musical territory later explored to more acclaim by the likes of Lee Dorsey and Ernie K Doe."
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