Now Dig This March 2005
NOW DIG THIS Issue No 264 March 2005
What was the first Gene Vincent CD to be issued in the UK? Whose TV show did he appear on in New York on July 26th 1956? Where and when did he make a private recording of ‘Stand By Me’? Which country issued a 78 mislabelled ‘Bluejean Hop’? For which NDT contributor did he record a personal message in September 1967?
The answers to these – and just about any other query you may have about The Screaming End’s recording career – can be found in Derek Henderson’s ‘Gene Vincent – A Companion’, published to commemorate what would have been the rock n roll legend’s 70th birthday on February 11th. It’s a totally revised and updated version of Henderson’s previous self-published Vincent discographies which first appeared in 1992 (see NDT 110) and 1998 (NDT 181). This time he’s extended the book’s remit to also include several extra sections, such as a GV timeline, a selected bibliography, an A-Z of cross-referenced song titles with writer credits, chart positions, video and DVD releases and a guide for vinyl collectors. A selected Blue Caps discography and timeline are other worthy additions.
But the real meat is to be found in the comprehensive sessionography which lists every GV studio date and the musicians who played on them between 1956 – 1971. Live recordings are dealt with in a similar way and no stone is left unturned in an attempt to be as complete as possible. Locations, dates, backing group members, songs performed – it’s all here. The final entry tells us that at the Warehouse in Anaheim on June 21st 1971, Gene’s set included ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’, ‘Working On The Railroad’ and ‘Corinne Corinna’ – three songs he never recorded commercially.
Where the author has had access to full session tapes there are listings of false starts, incomplete takes and so on. In the book’s introduction he writes that although rumours of further material continue to do the rounds, he lists only known and substantiated facts. He also tells us that some of the fresh data used stems from record company files and musicians union records that he didn’t have access to before.
The sessionography is followed by a mammoth listing of every GV record and CD issued worldwide since 1956 to the present day. This almost a book in itself, spread across 89 of the 172 pages, featuring singles, EPs, LPs and CDs (with full track listings) country by country, year by year. Various artists collections and bootlegs included. The regular items mix with the weird and wonderful here – though surely there’s none more weird than a UK CD from 2000 on HMV called ‘Easy’ which is part of an Easy Listening series! A Gene Vincent ‘easy listening’ album!?!? With ‘Pink Thunderbird’, ‘Race With The Devil’, Cat Man’, ‘B-I-Bicky-Bi Bo Bo Go’ and similar barn-burners on it!?!? Excuse me while I dry off my leather trousers.
The photographic content could perhaps have been better – there are very few illustrations of the records listed – but this is first and foremost a reference book and in that respect it certainly does the business. To gripe about the lack of photos would be churlish. Most of the images that are featured were taken by the author himself, including a few snapped when Gene was on his telly guesting on ‘Boy Meets Girls’ and ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’. Two really unique photos show Gene singing and introducing Little Richard from the audience at the Bristol (sic) Hippodrome on October 14th 1962. The section headed ‘UK Memorabilia’ includes reproductions of various programmes, ticket stubs and even a Vincent autograph obtained by Henderson after the May 18th 1960 evening show in Brighton through a car window whilst driving alongside on his BSA motorcycle! Hardcore collectors will delight in pouring (sic) over the label shots of various promo releases and other oddities.
No Gene Vincent fan will fail to be impressed by this book. Once again, Derek Henderson has delivered the goods. As I said when reviewing his previous book in 1998, it’s the kind of painstaking labour of love that only a die-hard fan could produce. Long may he continue supplying us with such detailed, well-documented updates.
Oh, and regarding those queries raised at the top of this review, you’ll find the answers on pages 96, 37, 33, 47 and 142.