The definitive Bobby Day rock'n'roll album culled from his outstanding recordings for the Class and Rendezvous labels. Also includes his duets with Earl Nelson as Bob & Earl
I met and interviewed Bobby Day, and saw him perform, in 1989. Sadly he died almost exactly a year later. This CD reminds us what a huge loss that was. His personality was what you might imagine from his songs - bright, friendly, patient and humorous. Above all he was highly talented, from a church background: "I remember what I liked about it - it wasn't the preaching, it was the singing!" He was steeped in the bustling 50s Los Angeles record and club scene, writing, recording and performing within a complex weave of labels, groups and names.
This compilation focuses on Bobby's Class and Rendevous period (1957-62). There are 28 tracks - including six by Bob & Earl - that bring together those rock'n'roll sides which retained enough R&B (and doo wop) feel to make him acceptable to a wide range of tastes. Born in Texas, Bobby had formed his first vocal group, the (Hollywood) Flames, in 1948/49 in LA. By the time of the Rockin' Robin hit in 1958, the Flames had become the Satellites ("this was the Sputnik era"). Bobby recalled: "We got the Dick Clark daytime [TV] show... and [it] skyrocketed". Rockin' Robin only just failed to make the #1 spot but became a world-wide hit, leading to tours including "staging three names in Hawaii: Bobby Day, Bob & Earl and the Flames with four singers!"
Though Rockin' Robin wasn't written by Bobby Day, many of the tracks here were. There were chart hits too: Little Bitty Pretty One (a #57 hit for Bobby but a bigger success for Thurston Harris at #6 - "I wanted something that anybody will hum when they hear it")-.-Over And Over (covered furtively by Aladdin Records again with Thurston Harris - "they recorded [it] that very same day")-.-That's All I Want and Gotta New Girl. Bobby also co-wrote some early Bob & Earl recordings here: novelty-rockers You Made A Boo Boo and Sweet Pea, and the melodic-and-catchy When She Walks. The talented Earl (Nelson) was a Hollywood Flame and sang lead on their big hit Buzz Buzz Buzz. Bobby and he'd use multi-tracking together: "I would sing two parts... Earl would sing one... [like] a trio". Highly creative, Bobby 'built' songs at home with "two tape recorders... (taking) one and sing(ing) along with this into the other".
These highly enjoyable recordings feature the cream of West Coast sessioneers - Plas Johnson, Jackie Kelso, Rene Hall, Ray Johnson, Red Callender, Earl Palmer etc - plus vocal groups like the Satellites, the Hollywood Flames and the Blossoms. Stuart Colman's well-researched liner notes, based on an interview with Bobby, provide track-by-track information plus wider insights. Added to this, the booklet is lavishly illustrated with photographs and memorabilia-.-and the CD is mastered from first generation tapes, giving the best-ever sound on a Bobby Day release. It's a long-overdue retrospective, maybe all the more enjoyable for that. One to keep you out-boppin' the Bluebird, the Buzzard, the Oriole - and Rockin' Robin!
By Seamus McGarvey