Friday 11 November 2011

Review: James Burton

James Burton – The Early Years 1956-1969 (Ace Records)
In 1956 James Burton was 17 years old and was already a respected semi-pro guitarist. He’d been a regular on the popular Louisiana Hayride radio show in Shreveport for three years and was getting regular session work. The earliest recording on this excellent collection is a low key 1956 Carol Williams track, but a year later he hooked up with Ricky Nelson, and continued moonlighting as a session musician, playing on a succession of prime rockabilly cuts, including Dale Hawkins’ “Susie-Q” and Bob Luman’s “Red Hot” – both included here.

His work with Nelson attracted a considerable fanbase, including Elvis Presley and various Beatles and Stones, and there are four tracks here to represent their collaboration. The best, “My Babe” and “Stop Sneakin’ Around” are full of energy, with Burton’s guitar propelling the songs.

Over the 28 tracks, there’s a surprisingly wide range of artists represented, including The Everly Brothers, Merle Haggard, Lee Hazlewood, and in 1967 he played on the Buffalo Springfield’s “A Child’s Claim To Fame”. A 1969 Buddy Cagle track is the latest recording here, before joining Presley in Vegas in his famous TCB Band, then later hooking up with Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band. But, as they say in the movies, that’s a whole ‘nother story.
Rob F.

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