Billy J. Kramer

At Abbey Road: 1963-1966

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AllMusic Review by

Amazing as it may seem, until the release of this CD, there had never been a proper British or European anthology on Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, apart from one stripped-down budget release (Story) issued by way of Holland. This 28-song CD doesn't have everything that was on that disc, but it does have most of it, and features excellent sound. Much more important, it draws from well beyond Kramer's official British releases -- his chart successes, along with his recording history in America, extended longer than they did in England. The producers of this disc have reached out to encompass the better songs from among his U.S. releases and outtakes, including those unearthed on EMI-America's 1991-vintage Best of Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas; not even everything from that release (deleted as of 2003) is present here, but most of the best rarities and outtakes from it are -- including some superb late-era songs featuring guitarist Mick Green in excellent form -- and the rest is made up of what are arguably the best songs from Kramer's official U.K./U.S. catalog, off of the Listen album and his various singles, B-sides, and EPs. The sheer diversity of sounds and songs may surprise those who only think of Kramer as a second- or third-tier Liverpool act -- he ultimately proved to be a better-than-decent singer despite producer George Martin's initial doubts, and when he and the Dakotas (especially with Green in the lineup) did click, they made very good, if not necessarily very important records. The only flaw is the absence of any of the handful of instrumental tracks recorded by the Dakotas separate from Kramer. The sound is state-of-the-art, early-21st century digital audio, and the annotation is very thorough.

Track Listing

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