Monday, 4 February 2008

Previously released recordings waiting a digital makeover

Between 1989 and 1996, many of Proby's previously released recordings made for Liberty Records were given a digital makeover. We were treated to an abundance of CD releases that included a lavish 2CD boxset from EMI Records "Rough Velvet" (1992) plus various original album re-issues and compilations from the now defunct labels C5 Records & See-For-Miles.

You may be asking yourself though "are there many single or album recordings now waiting for their CD debut?". Well below is the list as it stands when I post this blog. Touch wood some of these may form part of my "70th Birthday" CD project.


  • There Stands The One
    (Dick Glasser)
    [This was the
    B-side for the 1961 single "Try To Forget Her" which was Proby's US debut for Liberty Records. There is a real country twang to Proby's voice here. The backing also sounding very reminiscent of what you'd expect from a Jim Reeves record. Both sides of this single were accompanied by the Johnny Mann singers (who later went on to host the popular US TV series Stand Up and Cheer) with Glen Campbell on guitar, Leon Russell on keyboards, David Gates on bass and Hal Blane on drums/string section. This track was later used by the UK as the B-side to 1964 single "Try to Forget Her".]

  • Watch Me Walk Away
    (Dick Glasser)
    [An upbeat pop song (very Gene Pitney-esque) which Proby defiantly belts out to great effect! It's got passion and lots of gusto, quite surprising therefore it only featured as a B-side to the 1962 US single "The Other Side of Town". ]

  • So Do I
    (Donna Kohler)
    ["So Do I" could easily have been penned for the late and great country star Johnny Cash. Proby adopts a very gritty Cash sound to his voice. The song was the A-side to a 1963 US only single.]

  • I Can't Take It Like You Can
    (Justin Tubb/Teddy Wilburn)
    [B-side to 1963 US only single "So Do I". It is a very mellow song and performance that runs in parallel to the Jim Reeves' hit "He'll Have To Go". At times Proby's voice even exudes a velvet smooth tone often found in Marty Robbins' voice.]

  • Darlin'
    (James Marcus Smith aka P.J. Proby)
    [This rock 'n' roll number was released by Proby under the alias of "Orville Woods" and issued as an A-side to a 1963 US only single. It's only a 2-minite affair but doesn't fail to grab your attention as Proby screeches out the chorus line on a par with Little Richard.]

  • Wicked Woman (Alternate Take)
    (James Marcus Smith aka P.J. Proby)
    [Flip side to the 1963 US only single "Darlin'". It's another Proby-penned Rock 'n' Roll number but the take which has eluded a CD release is the alternate "slower" version.]

  • Sweet and Tender Romance (Alternate Take)
    (John Carter/Ken Lewis/Johnny Powell)
    [It's amazing to think this song went under the radar of sixties pop pundits as it is a good beat-pop song. Proby's rendition is also a mighty fine one at that. However, the only act to have a real hit with it was the Australian vocal duo Bobby & Laurie who charted it downunder. Although the standard version of this song was released on CD a more obscure take exists that was an exclusive B-side to Proby's 1964 Dutch single of "Together".]

  • Just Like Him
    (Jackie DeShannon)
    [If ever there was a song that has taken on a genuine "cult" status then it is this one which was written specially for Proby by his long-time friend Jackie DeShannon. This beautiful ballad truly deserved more than to be demoted to just a B-side on his 1964 single "Somewhere". It is one of Proby's finest recording moments from the 1960s. There are NO gimmicks just Proby doing what Proby does best and that is being himself! ]

  • What's On Your Mind
    (Nick de Carro)
    [This B-side to the 1965 single "I Apologise" was the yin to this single's yang. The lead song was a firey, passionate ballad and this was laid back and intimately sung with rich full-on vocals. A classic!]

  • I Don't Want To Hear it Anymore
    (Randy Newman)
    [This dramatic story ballad was one of the earliest songs penned by American tunesmith Randy Newman. Newman was in fact just starting out as a songwriter at the time of writing this song having signed his very first publishing deal with Metric (the L.A-based publishing company of Liberty Records). Although critics rank Dusty Springfield's 1969 interpretation in poll position no one should overlook the mighty fine performance given by the great Texan. Proby's version deserved more respectful treatment than being used as just a B-side to his 1965 single "Let The Water Run Down". Yet another gem!]

  • I Can't Make It Alone (Alternate "Double-Vocal" Take)
    (Gerry Goffin/Carole King)
    [An alternate take of a song featured on Proby's album "Enigma". This particular version has a unique dramatic "double-vocal" harmony by Proby that is inspired by the Righteous Brothers' #1 hit "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'". It's a top notch tune with or without the added effect. This particular take was only used as an A-side to Proby's 1966 single and also on his 1967 E.P "Proby Again".]

  • Quando Tornera
    (Gentile / Lentini)
    [During the 1960s, the international pop charts were awash with Italian power-ballads, such as Cilla Black's "You're My World" and Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me". Of norm, these tunes were translated for English artists into their native tongue but in this case the Texan delivered a convincing performance sung in Italian! This 1966 single was released in Italy and Germany for the prestigious European music festival "San Remo". It was the B-side to "Per Questo Voglio Te".]

  • And The Sun Will Shine
    (Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb & Robin Gibb)
    [There is no doubt that the Gibb brothers have penned some pretty standout pop tunes during their career. This one originates from the Bee Gees' 1968 album "Horizontal". On this occasion I actually think Proby has the edge on the group's original. This song was an exclusive track for the US edition of his "Believe it or Not" album (released stateside as "What's Wrong With My World" #LST-7561)]

  • It's Goodbye
    [Think Eurovision pop and you won't be far off the mark. This dud of a song was Proby's last single for Liberty Records. It is pale in contrast to the recordings that came before it. In my eyes the disappointing 1970 A-side single should remain a vinyl-only release. Sorry Mr. Proby!]

  • We'll Meet Again
    (Hughie Charles / Ross Parker)
    [Everyone will know this wartime tearjerker as it was the million-selling signature tune for British songbird Vera Lynn. Never in a millions years though would I have expected P.J. Proby to sing it. Give the man his dues he really does give the 1930s song a new lease of life with a very slick Las Vegas showman style makeover. The 1972 A-side single is big, bold and yet another belter!]

  • Clown Shoes
    (James Marcus Smith aka P.J. Proby)
    [Just after Proby departed EMI's "Liberty" label there was a short-lived switch to their "Columbia" label. This is the B-side to Columbia's 1972 single "We'll Meet Again" which was Proby's last release during this acclaimed era details on my site (1961-72). Ths song is a re-recording of one of Proby's own compositions which he had first cut in the early 1960s. I personally prefer the arrangement of Proby's original version which was also taken up in the hit rendition by Johnny Burnette. For me, this 1970s reprisal is overly orchestrated - too much for such a pretty ditty!]

[ Footnote: I don't believe EMI (UK) hold any of Proby's pre-1964 American A&B-sides with exception of those that made it onto a UK single. Also I have not come across the alternate takes of "Wicked Woman" and "Sweet and Tender Romance". It is not to say the original tapes don't exist somewhere around the world but I again do not believe the UK holds them. Thus, any project I am working on is unlikely to be able to include these unique versions! ]

My sincere thanks to the following Probyans who helped me compile this list: Jan Sonesson, Björn Lund, Joep Kilkens and Steve Bailey.


BearGrove said...

I got it - the other version of
" I Can't Make It Alone" with
the double voice
I remember that version very well from my youth.It was that version I used to listen to.
Now I played the Swedish release of
"I Can´t Make It Alone" with "Sweet Summer Wine" as B-side.
LIB 10250
Guess even "Sweet Summer Wine" had to be added as "waiting for a digital make over" !!

ronntenn said...

I have a rare single from New Zealand of "Together".On the flip side is the alternative version of "Sweet & Tender Romance".So it does exist!

joe1945 said...

i have a picture cover of together / sweet and tender romance,this comes from rhodesia and is the different take

BearGrove Blog said...

I had not noticed that "Sweet Summer Wine" is included on the CD
"The Legenday P.J. Proby At His Very Best Vol 2...Plus" (SEE CD 82)
Maybe it´s not a "digital remastering version" - if not, the sound can even be better.....

chelski4 said...

The other version of
" I Can't Make It Alone" with
the double voice is avalable with digital makeover. I have it on CD Title "Phil's Spectre A Wall of Soundalikes" on ACE CDCHD978.released in 2003.
The title spellng is correct.
Best regards