Ricky Nelson / Rick Nelson

Ricky Nelson [Imperial]

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Elvis Presley's first LP was called Elvis Presley, and his second Elvis. In stark contrast, Ricky Nelson's first LP was called Ricky, and his second Ricky Nelson. Nelson remained a slavish imitator of the Sun Records rockabilly style on his sophomore long-player, but he had improved enormously in the endeavor. The production was closer to the Sun Studio sound, with the same kind of vocal echo, and in James Burton, Nelson had found the real article, a classic rock & roll guitarist with a style that was both distinctive and perfectly attuned to the essentials of the sound. But the improvement over the first album was also attributable to Nelson himself, who had become a far more involved singer. He may have been turning out carbon copies of Presley ("There's Good Rockin' Tonight") and Roy Orbison ("Down the Line") from Sun, as well as old favorite Fats Domino ("I'm in Love Again"), whose "I'm Walkin'" had launched his career, and even Little Walter ("My Babe"), but he executed these approximations with the fervor of a true believer. And he was beginning to write his own material ("Don't Leave Me This Way") and introduce the writing of his band (Burton and bass player James Kirkland's "There Goes My Baby"). As usual, there was a complement of tricked-out pop covers from the past -- the 1940 copyright "Someday (You'll Want Me to Want You)," the 1944 song "I'll Walk Alone," the recent movie hit "Unchained Melody" -- songs that Nelson also managed to be comfortable singing. And there was his latest (and biggest) hit, "Poor Little Fool." Ricky Nelson thus marks a distinct advance over Ricky, even if was not embraced as enthusiastically as its predecessor, peaking only in the Top Ten and remaining in the charts only a couple of months.

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