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The Best Of The Rest Of The Fireballs' Vocals, CD (£11.50)
During the early 1990s, Ace Records negotiated a long-term contract with the Norman Petty Estate. The goal for Ace was to begin releasing material recorded by the Fireballs and Jimmy Gilmer on CD format and if the first release project proved to be successful, other Fireballs CDs would follow. Now, as we look back to 1993, eight Gilmer-Fireballs CDs have been digitally remastered and released on CD. Along the way, there have been many highlights for me while working on these Fireballs-Ace projects. Ace has maintained an excellent reputation for putting out quality products and they always go the extra mile to find the best master tapes available. This made my involvement much more pleasurable, to say the least, especially since I've always tried to be a perfectionist with any Norman Petty endeavour I take on!
This latest CD, The Best Of The Rest Of The Fireballs' Vocals Featuring Jimmy Gilmer is another example of just how talented the Fireballs were. Much of the material on this CD is taken from the B-sides of their 45 hit singles. What is odd is the fact that most of these tracks never made it to any of their original album releases. So, after a lot of work sorting out this track selection, we present these songs to you for the first time on CD.
To begin this CD, we start with a rare musical bonus, Jimmy Gilmer's first 45 release, dating back to 1959 before he was a Fireball. Look Alive and Because I Need You were recorded at Norman Petty's studios, while Gilmer was struggling to start a recording career of his own. Also accompanying Gilmer on that very first trip to Clovis was his friend, the late Gary Swafford, a very well-respected drummer.
Another rare track on this album is Gilmer's recording of I'm Gonna Go Walkin', which was written by country artist Johnny Duncan. The original 45 was released on the very obscure Hamilton label, a subsidiary of Dot Records. Today the original single is just about impossible to find, but fortunately, we had access to the original Petty master tapes.
While under contract to Dot Records, Norman Petty was able to release a lot of the Gilmer-Fireballs material under different names, trying to increase the boys' chances for a hit record. This concept worked well for Buddy Holly & the Crickets, but remember that in 1964 the US was dealing with the British invasion, so many American artists were struggling just to get airplay on radio stations during that time.
Most of the Fireballs' Dot material can be broken down into four different categories. The early Dot vocal recordings were credited to Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, with Jimmy singing lead vocals. The early instrumental singles on Dot were credited to the Fireballs. In 1964, '65 and early '66, there were a few Dot releases crediting the Fireballs as a vocal group without Gilmer on lead vocals. These songs include Baby What's Wrong, Yummie Yama Papa, More Than I Can Say, Beating Of My Heart, Ja-Da and Say I Am. All of these tracks were originally released as 45s and were never included on any of the Fireballs albums during the 1960s. All tracks are included on this CD. Last but not least, there were several Jimmy Gilmer releases on Dot credited under his own name without a mention of the Fireballs. All of the single releases that featured Gilmer as a solo artist but never made it to an album release are included on this CD. They include Cinnamon Cindy, Break His Heart For Me, a slow version of Buddy Holly's Lonesome Tears (originally only released as a single), Born To Be With You and Somebody Stole My Watermelon.
The remaining seven tracks on this CD were originally contracted and released through Atco Records. Norman Petty and the Fireballs were not happy with Dot during their later years, so Petty decided to shop around and market the group to other record labels. Eventually, he sparked some interest at Atlantic Records through two of its top executives, Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler. Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs signed with Atlantic in 1967-.-all of the boys' recordings would be released on one of Atlantic's subsidiary labels, Atco Records. The Atco tracks included on this CD were never issued in album form back in the 60s, so it was a natural decision to include them here.
This CD brings us to a close in some ways, as this release includes all of the remaining Gilmer-Fireballs issued material that was released from 1959-1969. We sincerely hope that you have enjoyed all of the Jimmy Gilmer and Fireballs albums that Ace have released and finally we also want you to know that we have found more unissued material, both instrumental and vocal which we expect to be released through Ace Records in the near future. Watch for them!
By Jerry MacNeish