Rick’s third and fourth Decca albums emerged in 1964. With his well-honed team behind him, it was easy to maintain the quality of the first two, although the records came at a time when the music business was undergoing a seismic shake-up following the arrival of the Beatles. ‘The Very Thought Of You’ was recorded in March 1964 when the charts were under British domination, reaching #26 on the Hot 100. The anticipated tie-in album was held back until August, missing the momentum that had been built up. Decca also failed to issue any other singles from what was a classy collection, all of which caused some consternation within Rick’s fan club at the time. In truth there were a number of factors at play. In addition to the British Invasion, Rick’s strong fan base of teen girls were getting older and the whole concept of the early 60s teen idol had passed its peak, plus Rick was on the road a lot less following the arrival of his first child, although he was still featured heavily on the Nelson family TV show.
Decca chose to wait for the “Spotlight On Rick” album to provide his next single. ‘Don’t Breathe A Word’ / ‘A Happy Guy’ climbed to a lowly #82 and neither of the 1964 albums troubled the charts, marking a dip in fortunes for Rick. Fans at the time, and critics since, were more satisfied with “Spotlight On Rick”, which contained more commercial sounding tracks. ‘I’m A Fool’ was a very strong opener and Rick’s cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘I’m Talking About You’ was a confident rocker with James Burton providing a blistering guitar break, while ‘Stop, Look And Listen’ was a loose mid-tempo song enhanced by vocal interjections.
Rick’s band of James Burton, Joe Osborne, Roy Johnson and Ritchie Frost provided the classy backing that kept him well above the pack, although Rick had begun to augment them with guitarists Billy Strange and Jerry Kolbrak. Despite the obvious quality evident on these two albums, Rick was later to review the 1964 period as lacking cohesive direction, so when James Burton pushed for more of a country direction, the suggestions fell on fertile ground. But that was still a couple of years off.