The Real Thing tells the story of Wayne Newton's early years through a collection of demos, acetates, independent label recordings and Capitol sides that, in many cases, are rare beyond belief. Newton's transformation -- from one-half of a kiddie hillbilly act to the archetypal Las Vegas showman -- is so extreme that many of his early recordings may appeal to '50s rock & roll and country fans who never gave Newton's music a moment's thought. For those who admire Newton's far-ranging talents as an entertainer, though, The Real Thing is a revelation. Wayne Newton and his brother Jerry, billed as the Newton Brothers or the Newton Rascals, began as a pure hillbilly duo with matching cowboy outfits, country and western songs, and a steel guitar played by Wayne himself. Their earliest demos and singles, made when Wayne was only 12-years-old, include up-tempo novelties and boogies comparable to the Collins Kids' first recordings. From there, they evolved into a rock & roll brother duo similar to the Everly Brothers with songs such as "Baby, Baby, Baby" and "Rock 'n' Roll Lullaby." Three recordings from a 1959 Capitol session are a highlight as one is previously unreleased, and the other two -- "I Spy" and "The Real Thing" -- comprised Newton's most collectable single. When the brothers moved to George and Lama Records in the early '60s, Wayne's vocals dominated and the material moved into the teen idol realm with novelties such as "Calorie Date" and mild rockers like "Little Jukebox." A cover of Johnny Ray's "The Little White Cloud That Cried" appears in two versions: the original George label recording and an overdub that Challenge issued to minor chart success in 1964. The final seven cuts on the collection are early highlights from Newton's second go-around with Capitol, where he worked with Bobby Darin and produced the hits "Heart," "Danke Schoen," and "Shirl Girl." All of the latter recordings are available on Newton's installment in the Capitol Collectors Series and will be familiar to his fans -- it is the early recordings that make The Real Thing such a rare treat.
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