Lee Curtis & The All-Stars

Star-Club Show, Vol. 3

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Back in the day, in Liverpool, there were basically two types of bands -- the ones that could pump out the wattage and the beat for audiences in crowded, poorly ventilated clubs that just wanted to dance, and the ones that built their sound on ballads, and could sing with some vocal (and, preferably, harmonic) sophistication; the latter were often considered (ages before Arnold Schwarzenegger made it into a political epithet) kind of "girlie" in their appeal, i.e., more suited to charming the fairer sex (which was not an attribute to be totally neglected, by any means) than getting a crowd of four or five hundred working class teens waiting to blow off some steam on a Friday or Saturday night on their feet. The Beatles were among the few that could do both, and it took time for them to get good at both. Somewhat in their shadow were Lee Curtis & the All-Stars, who placed directly behind them in a December 1962 poll of the city's music fans. Listening to this album, it's easy to understand how Curtis and company could pull that off. They clearly came from the hard, stomping end of the music spectrum, but they were also good enough to give a subtly sophisticated approach to the numbers here, so that it's clear that Mike Cummings had been listening to a lot of Carl Perkins and James Burton, but also to George Harrison and Gerry Marsden's playing on records by the Beatles and Gerry & the Pacemakers, respectively. And the little bits of harmony singing show that their producers in Germany, as in England, were listening closely to the music of the Beatles. The 13 songs are all solid, even somewhat sophisticated rock & roll as it was best loved in Hamburg, Germany, with a few slightly elegant and complex (for the place, genre and era) components woven in.