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The Early Years, LP (£10.99)
This historically fascinating 20-track compilation chronicles the pre-hit days of Eddie Cochran, offering ample proof that his vocal talents, guitar playing and songwriting skills were in place at an early age.
Although widely acknowledged as one of the major rock’n’roll stars of the late 50s, success for Eddie was very far from instant. Born in 1938, he arrived in Los Angeles with his family in 1949 and set about learning the guitar. Determined to make music his career, he linked up with Hank Cochran (no relation). They began performing as the Cochran Brothers on the hillbilly circuit of small clubs and country shows. Landing a contract with the small Ekko label, they released the singles ‘Mr Fiddle’ and ‘Guilty Conscience’, both in the hillbilly style of the day. In 1955 the duo caught an Elvis Presley show inDallas. Eddie in particular was immediately drawn to the new beat-driven form, as reflected in the Cochran Brothers’ next single, ‘Tired And Sleepy’ / ‘Fool’s Paradise’. These tracks are included here together with two others cut at the same session.
With help from producer/songwriter/vocalist Jerry Capehart, Eddie forged ahead, while Hank dropped out to concentrate on writing. Eddie spent much time in local studios learning his craft. A variety of singles emerged on small labels under numerous monikers. The first one under Eddie’s name, released on Crest in 1956, was the excellent ‘Skinny Jim’, which very much showed his fine vocals and guitar work. Other strong upbeat material included ‘Pink Peg Slacks’, ‘Don’t Bye Bye Baby Me’ and ‘Jelly Bean’, while slower songs such as ‘My Love To Remember’ and ‘Dark Lonely Street’ found Eddie trying out Elvis’ ballad style. There were also instrumentals such as ‘Guybo’, released as by the Kelly Four on the tiny Silver label in 1959.
One of the real delights of this collection is hearing the quality and invention of Eddie’s playing. Anyone who has ever thrilled to the guitar break in his 1958 hit ‘Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie’ will find its roots here.