BILLY FURY: BILLY FURY (1960)
1) Maybe Tomorrow; 2) Gonna Type A Letter; 3) Margo; 4) Don't Knock Upon My Door; 5) Time Has Come; 6) Collette; 7) Baby How I Cried; 8) Angel Face; 9) Last Kiss; 10) Wondrous Place.
Billy's second LP seems to have been mainly a «recent singles scoop-up», which is why, unlike most of his early 1960s records, it never got a CD release, and I had to do a little reconstruction from a variety of sources (including some extremely poor quality recordings). It is relatively important, though, since it contains both the A- and B-sides to his first two singles from 1959, the stuff that made him a star in the first place.
Interestingly, both of the A-sides are sweet ballads, with the rocking material relegated to the B-sides: apparently, British marketeers were not willing to take chances and counted on Billy's potential lady fans to be a more stable source of income than the masculine, rowdy rock'n'roll riff-raff rabble. The ballads are syrupy enough, but not hopeless: ʽMaybe Tomorrowʼ is an attempt to write something in the Everleys' style, with a vocal part that finds a good balance between pathos and humility (it also helps that no strings are involved), and the somewhat denser ʽMargoʼ, replete with echoey female backups and woodwind flourishes, is more in the Roy Orbison vein (it also features the wonderful lyrical line "Oh please be mine / Most of the time" — I'm sure the author never noticed the ambiguity, but I wonder what the BBC radio services must have thought of it). Anyway, could have been worse.
Of the rockers, ʽDon't Knock Upon My Doorʼ is the more important one — one of Billy's fastest and raunchiest tunes, a straightforward Elvis homage in the spirit of ʽHard Headed Womanʼ, but a little less «dangerous»-sounding due to all the have-a-good-time cheerleader harmonies (you'll be getting those sexy visions of early 1960's girls in tights in a jiffy) and the lack of any sharp lead guitar work (even the solo is handed over to the bass edge of the piano). Still, it's as fun as any second-tier rockabilly number, and so is ʽGonna Type A Letterʼ, although the latter is, unfortunately, marred by a rather inept brass backing (whatever these wind blowers were doing in the studio on that day, they surely weren't prepared for a rock'n'roll number).
Most of the other tracks are ballads, ballads, ballads, ranging from the easily tolerable (the bluesy waltz ʽBaby How I Criedʼ) to the questionable (ʽColletteʼ, way too hard trying to become the Everleys here, even double-tracking the vocals so as to sound like Phil and Don at the same time) to the awful (an overtly-sickeningly sweet attitude on ʽAngel Faceʼ, sadly, presaging many of the disappointments to come). But the album does get a modestly-excellent conclusion with ʽWondrous Placeʼ, a moody Latin/Western hybrid with a melancholic flair that Billy pulls off real well, even if, once again, it is just one of several of Elvis' incarnations that he is modelling here.
Overall, the album does sound significantly different from The Sound Of Fury — more echo, more atmosphere, less rockabilly, more balladry — which is curious, considering that most of this stuff was recorded at approximately the same time. Recommending it is beyond my abilities (not to mention that this would require setting up an Ebay search), but putting it down due to cheesiness is not something I'd like to do, either: most of the ballads are well within the adequacy limits, and some even have original hooks. It is pathetic, though, just how few rockers they let him place on the LP, despite his obvious attraction to the bawdy side of the business.