Glenn Reeves

Johnny on the Spot: Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight

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Glenn Reeves never had a hit single, but he is an interesting footnote in rock & roll history. He sang lead on the original demo of “Heartbreak Hotel,” the demo that provided the template for Elvis Presley's iconic hit: not something that leads to a successful career, as Reeves never had a charting single, but certainly something that generates enough interest for Bear Family to devote a volume of their Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight to him. That 2011 compilation Johnny on the Spot contains that spare original demo, and all of Reeves’ singles for TNT, Republic, Atco, and Decca are here, along with six previously unreleased recordings. Not one of these singles charted but it wasn’t because Reeves had an uncommercial sound. Hardly the wildest of rock & rollers, with his smooth croon he sounded at home when the beat didn’t swing so hard, he seemed at ease when his rock started to roll toward pop -- something it did quite often, as on the teeny-bopping “She Traded Her Pigtails for a Toni,” “Betty’s Bounce,” and “Born to Cry” -- and he could sing a novelty (“Tarzan”) without skipping a beat; even his hardest rockers had a clean, precise snap that benefits from his rounded tone. The trouble is, Reeves’ signature was a friendly sound, and amiability is hardly a guarantee for a hit, even if it can result in some fine sides. Even now, that sweetness -- both in timbre and material -- can make getting through the 26 tracks of Johnny on the Spot a little bit of a chore, but Reeves’ finest rockers and demo of “Heartbreak Hotel” do make the effort worthwhile.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:38
2 2:18
3 2:15
4 2:44
5 2:06
6 2:24
7 2:05
8 2:23
9 2:10
10 2:36
11 2:06
12 2:28
13 2:18
14 2:35
15 2:25
16 3:04
17 2:05
18 2:35
19 2:26
20 2:29
21 2:54
22 1:46
23 1:48
24 2:19
25 2:06
blue highlight denotes track pick