The fourth and final disc reissuing the complete recordings of Ricky Nelson on Imperial Records (1957-1962) contains his final newly recorded album for the label, Album Seven by Rick, four non-LP singles originally released in 1961 and 1962, and, to round things out, a long out of print four-song gospel EP, Ricky Sings Spirituals. The bulk of the material comes from the point in Nelson's career when he had re-established himself with "Travelin' Man" after the fade-out of his early teen idol success. Not surprisingly, he turned again to "Travelin' Man" songwriter Jerry Fuller, who provides a full third of the tracks on this disc, among them the hits "A Wonder Like You," "Young World," and "It's Up to You." Other frequently heard songwriters are Dave Burgess (five cuts, three of them with Fuller), Baker Knight (four cuts), and Dorsey Burnette (two cuts). Having such writers shape material for him was a boon to Nelson, and if nothing here quite rises to the level of his biggest hits, there is much good early-'60s pop/rock. The covers of "Summertime" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" are effective, and Nelson and his band turn in believable renditions of some original gospel songs. There's even "Teenage Idol," which comments on his early career and became yet another hit. The recordings he was making in the early '60s suggested Nelson had made the transition from the earnest, derivative music he performed at the start of his career to a stream of high-quality material that would seem to assure him a place near the top of the pop heap, which is probably why at this point Decca made him an unprecedented offer and spirited him away from Imperial. Who could have known that his hitmaking days were just about over?
Share this page
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann