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There arent many performers who can sing a program of originals written by himself which is at the same time a program of Rock & Roll standards. Otis Blackwell created the music that helped to make the success of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Peggy Lee among many others. These stars had what it took to make hit records which won acceptance by the general public so that the songs, and records, and Rock & Roll music itself became famous throughout the world. Not only the words and music, but the singing style of Otis Blackwell influence the performers. He started out as a rhythm and blues singer and recorded his Daddy Rollin Stone for Joe Davis records in the early 50s. Otis was then singing in joints on Fulton St. in Brooklyn, New York. He was tempted, during these scuffling times, to let some other better established singers record his best new numbers. He would have much preferred to record his songs himself, but a writers advance was money in hand, and there was always the possibility the established artist would make a hit. When Otis brought Dont Be Cruel to Goldy Goldmark of Shalimar Music, in 55, he was persuaded to give up 50% of the copyright to Elvis Presley, who, according to the publisher was going to turn the music business around. Otis went along with the plan and was pleased upon hearing the finished record to find that Elvis had followed the demonstration record very closely, especially in the sound of the voice. There was an uncanny similarity in the styles. The record was Presleys biggest, and with this success, Otiss demo records began to be made with full rhythm sections and the hits continued to come. All Shook Up and Return To Sender, were other Presley hits, while Great Balls Of Fire and Breathless were written for and sung to hitdom by Jerry Lee Lewis.
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Customer Reviews (2)
- "A Rock ('n Roll) Cornerstone!!!!"Review by Big Toots
Was it was the not-yet-turbulent 60s, the drinking water, or the gumbo of cultures that mingled within Brooklyn in the 1950s that spewed forth so much of was to become the popular music for generations to come: Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Carole King (Klein), Barbra Streisand and … Otis Blackwell? Who? Certainly lesser-known than each of the former stars, Blackwell was instrumental in providing material that eventually sold over 200 million records for Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others. He was a Top 40 hit-generating machine who wrote over 1000 songs.
With “These Are My Songs,” (recorded in 1977) Blackwell steps forward as vocalist and performs a dozen classic “Rock ‘n Roll” selections which he either composed himself or in partnership with Presley, et al. If one didn’t know about Blackwell’s work, they’d be staggered to learn that Otis Blackwell was the genesis behind these mega hits that are performed and sampled to this day.
Blackwell, certainly a better songwriter than singer, performs the Presley material (“All Shook Up,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Return to Sender”) with a fair amount of Elvis inflection.
While that might sound a bit comedic, kinder ears will take a more liberal opinion. Not to be complacent, the Jerry Lee Lewis hits (“Great Balls of Fire,” “Breathless”) are also presented in a “Killer” (Lewis’ nickname) styling. But, as those TV commercials say: “Wait! There’s more!” More hits from Blackwell’s pen – Peggy Lee’s hit, “Fever” and others (“Handy Man,” “Searchin’”) round out the history lesson here.
The rhythm section of the late 70s is significantly more accomplished than those of the 50s. These Cats rock well and frame this Mr. Blackwell’s “fashions” superbly.
While “These Are My Songs” is historically significant and might be the musical equivalent of Blackwell’s car vanity plate, it confirms that Otis Blackwell was a true cornerstone of what has become America’s second true musical gift to the world. No regrets for this Mr. Otis – only hits.
(Posted on 6/23/2015)
- These Are My SongsReview by Simon Sez
Otis Blackwell hardly made any records of his own, and none of his own recordings were hits, but he was entertaining. All but one of the songs are These Are My Songs are indeed his, even though few today probably know his name. His singing is entertaining (sounding a little like Elvis in spots) and should be heard. There is something magical about hearing a songwriter sing his own songs.
Simon Sez: Otis Blackwell wrote many hit songs in the 1950s and ‘60s for pop and rock singers. He sings them himself on These Are My Songs (IC1032). (Posted on 5/6/2014)
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