American Dream: The Complete Imperial and Verve 1957-1962

The American Dream: The Complete Imperial and Verve 1957-1962

by Rick Nelson
This is one of the more difficult Bear Family sets to take on simply because it is such an intimidating package. Never mind that Nelson is an American myth, having eked his way into that terrain by dying in a plane crash while still in his forties, and despite being managed by Colonel Tom Parker, he still looked fantastic despite the unsubstantiated rumors of drugs,


This is one of the more difficult Bear Family sets to take on simply because it is such an intimidating package. Never mind that Nelson is an American myth, having eked his way into that terrain by dying in a plane crash while still in his forties, and despite being managed by Colonel Tom Parker, he still looked fantastic despite the unsubstantiated rumors of drugs, alcoholism, and twisted sex that poured forth from the tabloids after his passing. But that Ricky (or Rick as he was known then) Nelson doesn't even appear inside this box set. The material documented here begins near the end of the rockabilly era in 1957 and ends before the Beatles came stateside. The 180 tracks contained on this set represent five years in the recording life of Ricky Nelson, who before he even began his recording career was a television star with his real-life family, the Nelsons, parented by Ozzie and Harriet. In fact, Ricky Nelson starred in a number of motion pictures during the era when these recordings were made -- most notably Rio Bravo with John Wayne and Dean Martin and The Wackiest Ship in the Army -- and remained on the TV program until 1966, four years after these sessions leave off in 1962. Ricky Nelson was indeed America's most popular and respectable teen idol. For starters there's the hardbound book that's 180 pages long with rare photographs galore, including some risqué shots of a "party" at Nelson's house; some shots with Eddie Cochrane's widow, Sharon Sheeley; shots from the TV show; wedding day photos; record covers from seven different countries; all of the original singles and LP sleeves; press clippings; and magazine and fan club shots, as well as stills from the movies and even a full four-color reproduction of the Ricky Nelson comic book. A large chunk of the book is dedicated to an exhaustive essay by Todd Everett that fills in not only biographical details, but cultural ones as well, and quotes many of the major figures in Nelson's life at the time at length, including, but not exclusively, Gene Pitney, Johnny Rivers, Johnny Cash, and Larry and most notably Lorrie Collins of the Collins Kids, whom Nelson was romantically linked to early in his career. In addition to Everett's essay there are copious production notes on remasters and mono and stereo mixes as well as how most of the recordings were constructed in the studio. This adds up to an insanely beautiful package and we've yet to comment on the music. Of the 180 tracks included here, part of disc five and all of disc six have previously unreleased alternate takes, unheard masters, and unreleased tracks -- impressive by even Bear Family standards. Disc one begins with Nelson's first Verve single, his cover of Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'" (that featured Domino's drummer, Earl Palmer, on the session all the way from New Orleans), backed with "My One and Only Love," a syrupy teen anthem that rocketed to the top of the charts. The rest, in a sense, was history, though it didn't run out all over the margins of press and radio like a river. After leaving Verve Nelson went to Imperial, and it is from here and Challenge that the rest of the recordings on this set come -- in complete chronological order, which means track duplication in sequence. For whatever reason, since there are usually only two or three takes, it's not as irritating as it is, say, on the complete Verve Bird sessions when there are sometimes 13 versions of the same tune all in a row. All of the hits are here, such as "Hello Mary Lou," "Travelin' Man," and the stuff you'd expect to find on the Imperial masters LPs and CD, but those tracks only tell a small part of an amazing musical odyssey. This set proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Nelson was not gifted with a golden voice, but it was a good one, and he interpreted material well. One such cover is his 1962 version of the Gershwins' "Summertime." This is a version that rivals Janis Joplin's for its raw, steamy emotion and one that equates with the Clash's version of "Brand New Cadillac" in its rock & roll firepower. (And James Burton's guitar playing on this track is not even to be believed -- only heard and whistled at.) The material Nelson got -- whether it was from Domino, Lieber & Stoller, Carl Perkins, Don Gibson, Jerry Fuller, J.D. Loudermilk, Scotty Wiseman, Johnny and Dorsey Burnette, Johnny Cash, Baker Knight, and dozens of others -- was mostly top shelf. Nelson and producer Jimmy Haskell's choice of standards by Sammy Cahn, the Gershwins, Hank Williams, and many more were not idle or random selections. Everything was picked first for musical value and then with the notion of selling it. But there's so much more: the gospel EP of Glory Train plus three Nelson recorded after Elvis' "Pace in the Valley" -- his truly moving version of "The Stars Fell on Alabama," his wicked early "Be Bop Baby," and a throat-clenching rendition of "Have I Told You Lately (That I Love You)" -- and the list goes on and on, including one of the spookiest covers of "Gloomy Sunday" ever. Of the unreleased material, it's fascinating to hear Nelson's awesome band with guitarist James Burton (where do you think Gram, Emmylou Harris, and Merle Haggard first heard him?), bassist James Kirkland (and later Joe Osborn), and drummer Richie Frost, who put together the backing tracks before adding a vocal. Or to hear jazz musicians like pianist Jimmy Rowles and bassist Leroy Vinnegar, or country guitar ace Joe Maphis, or the fabulous vocal groups the Jordanaires and the Four Preps sit in. These folks all appear on final issued masters as well, but the process involved is an intimate experience collectors and hardcore fans will be delighted to hear. Listening to this set through is exhausting, draining, and obsessively thought-provoking. It asks questions that cannot yet be articulated let alone answered as to not only how this kid did it -- and Elvis being in the army for a couple of those years cannot be the simple explanation -- but why he did this, put himself through this much sweat and blood and agony in five years with another whole life or two to live. But ultimately, The American Dream is one of the most remarkable rock & roll experiences this writer has ever had. So massive is the contribution enclosed in this 12-by-12-inch box, that it will without doubt be poured over and analyzed by fans, historians, musicologists, and trivia nuts for decades to come. Well done Bear Family.

Product Details

Release Date:
Bear Family

Related Subjects


Disc 1

  1. I'm Walkin'
  2. You're My One and Only Love
  3. A Teenager's Romance
  4. Be-Bop Baby
  5. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
  6. If You Can't Rock Me
  7. Your True Love
  8. Honeycomb
  9. Boppin' the Blues
  10. Baby I'm Sorry
  11. I'm Confessin'
  12. Be-Bop Baby
  13. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
  14. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On
  15. True Love
  16. Am I Blue?
  17. Teenage Doll
  18. If You Can't Rock Me
  19. Stood Up
  20. Waitin' in School
  21. My Bucket's Got a Hole in It
  22. Believe What You Say
  23. Shirley Lee
  24. I'm Feelin' Sorry
  25. There's Good Rockin' Tonight
  26. Someday (You'll Want Me to Want You)
  27. Down the Line
  28. Unchained Melody
  29. Poor Little Fool
  30. My Babe

Disc 2

  1. I'm in Love Again
  2. There Goes My Baby
  3. Believe What You Say
  4. Don't Leave Me This Way
  5. Lonesome Town
  6. I Got a Feeling
  7. I'll Walk Alone
  8. Restless Kid
  9. It's All in the Game
  10. Lonesome Town
  11. Cindy
  12. It's Late
  13. One of These Mornings
  14. Old Enough to Love
  15. Trying to Get to You
  16. Gloomy Sunday
  17. Be True to Me
  18. Never Be Anyone Else But You
  19. Just a Little Too Much
  20. Sweeter Than You
  21. I've Been Thinkin'
  22. It's Late
  23. I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You)
  24. You Tear Me Up
  25. Just a Little Too Much
  26. Sweeter Than You
  27. I've Been Thinkin'
  28. One Minute to One
  29. So Long
  30. Blood from a Stone

Disc 3

  1. You'll Never Know What You're Missin'
  2. You're So Fine
  3. That's All
  4. A Long Vacation
  5. Hey Pretty Baby
  6. Half Breed
  7. Don't Leave Me
  8. Make Believe
  9. Mighty Good
  10. I Wanna Be Loved
  11. Again
  12. I'd Climb the Highest Mountain
  13. Young Emotions
  14. Make Believe
  15. Glory Train
  16. If You Believe It
  17. March With the Band of the Lord
  18. I Bowed My Head in Shame
  19. Right by My Side
  20. Here I Go Again
  21. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?
  22. When Your Lover Has Gone
  23. Baby Won't You Please Come Home
  24. Time After Time
  25. I'm Not Afraid
  26. Yes Sir, That's My Baby
  27. You Are My Sunshine
  28. Ain't Nothin' But Love
  29. Proving My Love
  30. I'm All Through With You

Disc 4

  1. You Are the Only One
  2. Milk Cow Blues
  3. Hello Mary Lou
  4. Everybody But Me
  5. Break My Chain
  6. Travelin' Man
  7. Oh Yeah, I'm in Love
  8. Sure Fire Bet
  9. Stars Fell on Alabama
  10. Lucky Star
  11. My One Desire
  12. I'll Make Believe
  13. Hello Mary Lou
  14. That Warm Summer Night
  15. Everlovin'
  16. A Wonder Like You
  17. Thank You Darling
  18. History of Love
  19. Today's Teardrops
  20. Baby You Don't Know
  21. There's Not a Minute
  22. Mad Mad World
  23. Sweet Little Lovable You
  24. Stop Sneakin' Around
  25. Excuse Me Baby
  26. I Can't Stop Loving You
  27. Summertime
  28. Congratulations
  29. Poor Loser
  30. Young World
  31. I've Got My Eyes on You (And I Like What I See)

Disc 5

  1. Teenage Idol
  2. It's Up to You
  3. I Need You
  4. Brand New Girl
  5. Brand New Girl
  6. Scratchin'
  7. Tears
  8. Doggone It
  9. Desire
  10. Cindy
  11. My Rifle, My Pony and Me
  12. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?
  13. I'm Walkin'
  14. You Are the Only One
  15. Stood Up
  16. Trying to Get to You
  17. Just Because
  18. Baby I'm Sorry
  19. Waitin' in School
  20. You Are the Only One
  21. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On
  22. Never Be Anyone Else But You
  23. Cindy
  24. Sevillanas
  25. Again
  26. Rick Flat-Picking
  27. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
  28. The Christmas Song
  29. Jingle Bells
  30. Radio Ad-Album Plug

Disc 6

  1. You're My One and Only Love
  2. I'm Walkin'
  3. A Teenager's Romance
  4. If You Can't Rock Me
  5. Poor Little Fool
  6. Restless Kid
  7. Believe What You Say
  8. Don't Leave Me This Way
  9. Lonesome Town
  10. If You Can't Rock Me
  11. It's All in the Game
  12. One of These Mornings [Ve
  13. Be True to Me
  14. Be True to Me
  15. It's Late
  16. It's Late
  17. Trying to Get to You
  18. Cindy
  19. Cindy
  20. Just a Little Too Much (Track)
  21. Never Be Anyone Else But You
  22. Young Emotions
  23. I've Been Thinkin' (Track)
  24. Never Be Anyone Else But You
  25. Doggone It
  26. Tears
  27. Scratchin'
  28. I've Got My Eyes on You (And I Like What I See)
  29. I Need You

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Rick Nelson   Primary Artist
Glen Campbell   Guitar,Vocals
Dean Martin   Vocals
Jordanaires   Vocals
Frank Capp   Drums
Barney Kessel   Guitar,Leader
Red Mitchell   Bass
Pete Jolly   Piano
Jack Marshall   Guitar
Ozzie Nelson   Vocals
Harriet   Vocals
James Burton   Guitar
Billy Strange   Guitar
Vincente Gómez   Guitar
Dorsey Burnette   Rhythm Guitar
Walter Brennan   Vocals
John Audino   Trumpet
Dave Burgess   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals
Johnny Burnette   Rhythm Guitar
Irving Cottler   Drums
Marshal Cram   Trombone
George M. "Jud" DeNaut   Bass
Harold Dicterow   Violin
Teddy Edwards   Saxophone
Don Ferris   Piano
David Frisina   Violin
Irving Geller   Violin
Jimmie Haskell   Leader,cowbell
Howard Roberts   Guitar
George Kast   Violin
Earl Palmer   Drums
Jim Pierce   Piano
Jerry Puckett   Guitar
John Rotella   Clarinet,Saxophone
Ray Siegel   Bass
Leroy Vinnegar   Bass
Allen Harris   Piano
Anthony Terran   Trumpet
Gene Garf   Piano
Jan Hlinka   Viola
Kurt Reher   Cello
Manuel Newman   Violin
Ambrose Russo   Violin
Lorrie Collins   Track Performer
Paul Smith Trio   Piano
Neal Matthews   Guitar
Sanford Schonbach   Viola
Manuel Stevens   Trumpet
Jerry Fuller   Guitar,Vocals
Joe Osborn   Bass
Roger Renner   Piano
Bob Knight   Trombone
John Anderson Concert Orchestra   Trumpet
Unknown   Harmonica,Vocals
Trophies   Track Performer
Fleas   Track Performer
Irving Kluger   Percussion
Robert F. Bain   Guitar
David Nelson   Vocals
Allen J. Reuss   Guitar
Holly Humphreys   Trumpet

Technical Credits

Barney Kessel   Producer
Ozzie Nelson   Producer
Lew Brown   Composer
Dave Burgess   Producer
Todd Everett   Liner Notes,Biographical Information
Rene Hall   Vocal Arrangements
Jimmie Haskell   Arranger,Producer
Bob Hyde   Illustrations,Tape Research
Bob Jones   Reissue Producer,Tape Comparison,Tape Research
Jay Livingston   Composer
Joel Selvin   Illustrations
R.A. Andreas   Illustrations
Buzz Adlam   Arranger
Trevor Cajiao   Illustrations
Jurgen Koop   Illustrations
Nadine Wuppesahl   Artwork
Hans Peter Zdrenka   Illustrations
Bo Berglind   Illustrations
Sidney Clare   Composer
Mack David   Composer
Scotty Wiseman   Composer
Johnny Bachelor   Composer
Gordon Anderson   Liner Notes
Wolfgang Taubenauer   Artwork
Packy Smith   Illustrations
Baker Knight   Composer
Iain Young   Illustrations
Anja Esselmann   Photo Scanning
Andreas Merck   Photo Scanning
Pearl Lendhurst   Composer
Rupert Stevens   Composer
George Lendhurst   Composer
David Gillam   Composer
James Pierpont   Composer
László Jávor   Composer

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