Jack Scott

Baby She's Gone

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Of all the early rock & rollers, Jack Scott was one of the hardest to pigeonhole. Lacking the matinee-idol good looks of either Elvis Presley or Ricky Nelson, he nevertheless would occasionally tread on the orchestrated, chorus-heavy pop crossover that brought big hits for both, particularly as rock & roll faded into the background in the early '60s. But before that, he was a tough, muscular rock & roller, with a haunting melancholy streak, and he wrote classics to fit both sides of his personality -- "The Way I Walk," "Leroy," and "Baby She's Gone" on the former, "Goodbye Baby" and "What in the World's Come Over You" on the former. These sides, all recorded in the late '50s, are at the core of his legacy and cult following (still active at the turn of the new millennium in the U.K., where early rock & rollers are always given more respect than they are in their homeland), but the work that he did once he drifted toward pop was always interesting, often good, not least because he had a surprisingly supple and versatile voice, but because he varied his material. He often drew on gospel -- he did so even in his rockabilly days -- and there were elements of high lonesome country in those lush, layered pop arrangements, and even when the pop was a little corny, he sang exceptionally well. All this is chronicled on Castle's 2003 double-disc compilation Baby She's Gone, the first concise overview of Scott's classic work (Bear Family did release a five-disc box called Classic, but it's too much to digest for anyone not deeply into late-'50s/early-'60s American popular music). Spanning 50 tracks and all his labels from ABC/Paramount to Groove, there is nothing major missing and there's plenty to treasure here, even if it is a bit much for those looking for nothing but the aforementioned singles, which are all featured by the end of the first disc. Nevertheless, given the lack of serious, comprehensive Scott collections on the market -- prior to this, it was either a budget-line comp or the Bear Family box -- it's easy to recommend this as both a summary and introduction since it tells his story completely and enjoyably. Plus, anybody who loves the rocker on disc one can choose never to spin the second disc a second time.

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