Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Incompleteness: On Jack Nitzsche's Hearing is Believing

I've always wanted to know more about producer/arranger Jack Nitzsche, whose name appears on so many great albums and soundtracks, so I decided to start with recently released MOJO favorite Hearing is Believing: The Jack Nitzsche Story (Ace Records). In the boffo liner notes to this single-disc, 26-track retrospective is a list of songs that were unavailable. It's pretty heartbreaking as a lot are better--better known, at any rate--than the songs that actually appear on the collection, like Nitzsche's own "The Lonely Surfer" and Jackie DeShannon's "Needles and Pins" (both 1963) or Graham Parker and the Rumour's "You Can't Be Too Strong" (1979).

Bob B Soxx & the Blue Jeans: "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" (1962)
Terry Day: "I Love You Betty" (1963)
The Crystals: "Then He Kissed Me" (1963)
The Ronettes: "Be My Baby" (1963)
Darlene Love: "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)" (1963)
MFQ: "This Could Be the Night" (1965)
Timi Yuro: "Teardrops Till Dawn" (1965)
Ike & Tina Turner: "River Deep - Mountain High" (1966)
The Rolling Stones: "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows?" (1966)
The Cake: "Baby That's Me" (1967)
Buffalo Springfield: "Expecting to Fly" (1967)
Merry Clayton: "Poor White Hound Dog" (1970)
Mick Jagger: "Memo From Turner" (1970)
Neil Young: "A Man Needs a Maid" (1972)
Ringo Starr: "Photograph" (1973)
The Tubes: "Don't Touch Me There" (1976)
Captain Beefheart: "Hard Workin' Man" (1978)

Fortunately, I already have my favorites, like "Then He Kissed Me," on recordings by the Crystals, the Ronettes, the Rolling Stones, Captain Beefheart, etc. Still, a list this long calls for a sequel, although I can only assume the release date would be many years in the future. Let's hope it adds the Monkees' sublime "Porpoise Song" (from 1968's Head) and avoids goopy Oscar-winner "Up Where We Belong" (1982's An Officer and a Gentleman). For initiates like myself, Hearing is Believing is a great place to begin, but I'm saddened by what could have been.

For an unvarnished take on the Nitzsche legend, check out Andrew Loog Oldham's "Turning the Key of the Universe: Jack Nitzsche Remembered."

Note: Image from Jack Nitzsche's Magical World.

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