Eddie Cochran

Guitar Picker: Rare Recordings 1954-1960

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This two-CD, 50-song set isn't for the average Eddie Cochran fan, concentrating wholly on his more obscure recordings, some of which weren't issued until long after his death (as well as a ten-minute 1957 Denver radio interview that also includes Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison of the Crickets). Too, he's not the featured solo performer on about half of the material, which also includes cuts on which he played as part of a duo (particularly as half of the Cochran Brothers) or a sideman. It's also possible, that this might not offer much to the dedicated Cochran collector, since all of it's previously been issued somewhere, though often on pretty out-of-the-way releases. For those Cochran fans who aren't obsessive completists but are interested in hearing some of his lesser-known work (particularly from his early days), however, this is a pretty useful compilation, if nothing you'd put on par with his best recordings. Of special interest are some mid-'50s tracks he cut as a teenager that give a clearer indication of his hillbilly country roots, as well as his already formed skills as a guitarist. Rock & roll takes over on the later recordings, however, though only a few of the tracks ("Pink-Peg Slacks," "Skinny Jim," and the Cochran Brothers' "Latch On" and "Slow Down") are truly first-rate rockabilly. Also, except in the case of Bob Luman's demo of "Guitar Picker," it's pretty obvious Cochran's much more talented than the singers he helped out as a sideman on various recordings. It's only on a few of the later cuts that Cochran's wholly recognizable as the major rockabilly singer he developed into shortly before his death, like the early (and initially unreleased) version of "Nervous Breakdown" and, most strongly, the live British and TV performances done shortly before his death in 1960 (one of which, "C'mon Everybody," plays as an unlisted bonus cut at the end of the second CD). The track listings could be clearer about recording dates and Cochran's role in the recordings on which he's not the featured artist, but it's a good-looking long-box format package, with a 34-page liner note booklet including lots of vintage photos and illustrations.

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