Rick Nelson


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After releasing his first two singles, "A Teenager's Romance"/"I'm Walking" and "You're My One and Only Love," on Verve Records, Ricky Nelson switched to Imperial Records in the fall of 1957 for his third single, "Be-Bop Baby"/"Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?," and his debut album, Ricky. The result was even greater success: the single's A-side reached the top five and its B-side the Top 40, making for a gold record, and the LP topped the charts. Heard at length for the first time on the 12-track album, the 17-year-old continued to display the combination of natural pop instincts and genuine rock & roll feel that set him apart from the burgeoning pack of Elvis Presley imitators. He was derivative, to be sure, a TV star from a celebrity family who attended Hollywood High School and whose life had been scripted for public consumption since he was eight years old, making him a far cry from the Hillbilly Cat. But he also sang rhythmically in his smooth voice, negotiating the rock & roll beat with far greater ease than Pat Boone. Two songs were borrowed from Carl Perkins and one from Jerry Lee Lewis, and Nelson covered Jimmie Rodgers' recent hit "Honeycomb." All of his covers were more relaxed, less frantic than the originals, but the band, pushed way back in the mix, kept up a steady guitar combo sound. There were also several updates from what could have been the Ozzie Nelson catalog: "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" (1945), "Am I Blue?" (1929), and "I'm Confessin'" (1930), plus a version of the recent Cole Porter hit "True Love." In Nelson's hands, these songs sounded more like Elvis Presley than Bing Crosby, though the older generation was never quite forgotten, and that was the idea.

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