Gene Vincent

The Masters [Eagle]

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THE MASTERS is an odd mish-mash of an album, with what sound like mid-to-late 1960s demos and remakes of Vincent's hits. The liner notes are extremely vague about the provenance of this stuff, the most baffling track being a very nice rockabilly instrumental version of "Unchained Melody."

But the meat of the package is unarguable. These are mid-1960s tracks Vincent recorded for Challenge Records, helped along by top L.A. session cats (Glenn Campbell and Seals and Crofts). For a singer of such reckless danger, Vincent and adapts with surprising ease to the tamer musical tastes of the day. His original stance as rockabilly wildman is deliberately downplayed in favor of California folk-rock and pop. He takes some surprising left turns, covering country giant Merle Haggard's hit "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive." He also finds the time to deconstruct the pop standard "Hi-Lili Hi-Lo."

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