Don Julian was one of a small group of 1950s trailblazers whose career did not end with the onset of the 60s but continued with later chart success, recording and performing up to his death in 1998. Don had talents as a singer, musician, writer, arranger, producer and performer, giving him longevity in the business far beyond that of most of his peers.
He gained his early musical education in high school in L.A., took piano lessons and thence was "kinda self taught...[going] from piano to guitar". He led one of the first integrated R&B vocal groups, the Meadowlarks, on Modern Records before Dootone provided West Coast success (see Ace CDCHD 552). Where others gave up, he continued to record and perform, sometimes with unexpected results - "for a long time they thought I was Hispanic... my last name sounded Spanish" - but always with determination, building extensive studio experience.
With the Larks he scored a Top 10 pop dance hit in 1965 with The Jerk on Ruth Dolphin's Money Records. Don had spotted his niece doing the dance (her words, "If you don't know how to do it, I'll teach it to you", gave him the basis for the song), he cut a dub and being played on Ruth's nightly radio show had an immediate effect: "Your record is a hit! Everybody wants it!" Nationwide tours followed and they "made money", as Don put it, having "no place to spend it...[stuck] on the bus for 30 days!"
This release, provides a welcome insight into Don's 60s career, focusing on The Jerk, his "Jerk" album, various Money 45s, plus 'Philly Jerk', a release from his own Jerk label (an experience which taught him "it's a lot more difficult to get played on your own label"). Most of the songs were self-penned and although many are fun R&B dance items - from Keep On Jerkin' and Do The Jerk to Slauson Shuffle, Skate, Philly Dog and Can You Do The Duck - these are interspersed with other contrasting pieces - Heavenly Father, Forget Me, Heaven Only Knows, I Want You (Back) etc. There's also evidence of inspiration sought beyond L.A., with Curtis Mayfield's You Must Believe Me and Sad Sad (Girl And) Boy.
Long overdue, this provides a suitable memorial to his 60s work, focusing on a key part of his career and achievements, closing an important gap in re-releasing his material. One to get you out there - and doing 'The Jerk'.