Mac Curtis

Blue Jean Heart

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Elvis Presley's Sun Records sound provided the blueprint for Mac Curtis' King recordings, and his earliest cuts -- "Grandaddy's Rockin'" and "If I Had Me a Woman" from 1956 -- are as pure a distillation of the rockabilly style as one could want. Curtis wasn't on par with Presley as a vocalist, but appropriated some of his techniques without overtly aping him. The absence of Sam Phillips' thick reverb also differentiates Curtis' King recordings from Presley's Sun sides, as does the lack of hard-hitting R&B-derived material such as "Baby, Let's Play House" and "There's Good Rockin' Tonight." Much of Curtis' material is midtempo or, like "Grandaddy's Rockin'," lighthearted in sentiment. On "You Are My Very Special Baby," a bit of Jerry Lee Lewis creeps into Curtis' vocal performance, and the inclusion of a vocal chorus in 1957 moved his music away from straight rockabilly toward rock & roll and even teen pop. Blue Jean Heart, which includes several previously unreleased recordings and alternate takes, is the most complete anthology of Curtis' King Records period ever compiled. All of the songs were cut in 1956 or 1957, and the chronological track sequence illustrates Curtis' evolution from pure rockabilly toward a more orchestrated and commercial sound, even though his rockabilly roots remain in evidence. Most of these recordings, with the omission of three ballads and three alternate takes, are also available on the Ace Records compilation Rockabilly Kings: Charlie Feathers & Mac Curtis (which, unfortunately, jettisons the chronological order).

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