Friday, July 24, 2009

Song of the Week: "Summertime", Gene Vincent

And now for something completely different. Here is perhaps the most unique arrangement of Summertime I have ever heard. And considering the Billy Stewart scat-version posted just two days ago, that is really something. It's by rockabilly legend Gene Vincent and it was released on the album A Gene Vincent Record Date in 1958. (Me thinks Vincent did NOT choose the name on the album). I'm not even sure what genre or style this would be? It's not rockabilly is it? Rumba with Jazz influences? All I know is that it is an absolutely fab version of the song that owes parentage to know one but Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps. Guitarist Johnny Meeks -- who spent a career being referred to as the lesser guitarist in the Blue Caps (to guitar recluse Cliff Gallup) -- is absolutely brilliant here on his out-of-phase Telecaster. Meeks' guitar work is a constant shiv to the ear and it gets a well deserved lead in the middle, the highlight of which is the single note stutter stop in the middle right before he switches pickups. Listen for the second guitar on this. It's got a cool little budda-dump-bum-bum-bump-dee-dum-dum riff played throughout that is buried deep into the mix. It can be heard best in the background during the guitar lead. Rumor has it that Eddie Cochran played on some tracks of this album. Could that be him on second guitar? The piano work, which also gets a nice little lead, is spritely and tips its hat to jazz influences. The drumming propels the song along with a wicked little Caribbean backbeat. Back up vocals (done perhaps by the Jordanaires) give a creamy smooth feel to the song. And Gene Vincent himself, drenched in echo -- croons through the song with complete confidence. Bottom line -- this is not the dark brooding version done by so many others (see the Zombies' take on Summertime). I absolutely love this version of the song and am willing to bet that you will too. Click here to listen to Gene Vincent's radical take on Summertime. Until tomorrow, enjoy your Summertime.

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