By the time Rick Nelson recorded the two country albums that make up this 2-on-1 reissue, he already had a decade of experience behind him. He enjoyed phenomenal success after signing a five year recording deal with Imperial Records back in 1957. The majority of his early hits-.-Be Bop Baby, Stood Up, Believe What You Say and the like were to become classic hits in the field of rock'n'roll. When hard-driving rock began to soften towards the early 1960s, Rick turned his hand to beat ballads and continued his success with the Decca Record company after signing a lucrative 20 year contract in 1962.
During the first couple of years with Decca, Rick's string of successes continued-.-part of Decca's investment was returned as String Along, Fools Rush In, For You and The Very Thought Of You hit the charts...but then, suddenly, the hits dried up.
Rick had always enjoyed country music and although he was never regarded as a country singer, much of his early success had strong country connections. Both BRIGHT LIGHTS and COUNTRY FEVER were recorded in Decca's west coast studios and sometime after the 1966 release of the BRIGHT LIGHTS album, Rick said: "When I first decided to cut those records, I wanted to prove the point that good country music could be recorded here in the west, without having to go to Nashville"...and on listening to these two albums you will realise that he was right!
Rick augmented his regular four piece band by adding Glen D Hardin, Clarence White and Glen Campbell to the country sessions. It was, however, the superb musicianship of James Burton, who put down his guitar in favour of slide dobro, that gave each and every one of these tracks its cutting edge. Many of the songs on the BRIGHT LIGHTS album had already enjoyed chart success and, by the time Rick's versions reached the airwaves, the fans were already aware of the material. Consequently, Bright Lights & Country Music, Louisiana Man, Truck Driving Man, and Hello Walls were soon to be regarded as important steps in Nelson's career.
The COUNTRY FEVER album, recorded in 1967, continued in the same vein. Again, the songs of established country songwriters were used to great effect-.-the songs of Merle Travis, Willie Nelson and the legendary Hank Williams helped put COUNTRY FEVER in the Country charts...and Rick Nelson once again became one of the most sought after artists in America.
by John Stafford