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Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps

The Lost Dallas Sessions 1957-'58 – 1998 (Dragon Street)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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This is one of those happy accidents that sometimes occurs in the music business. In 1957 Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps were one of the top acts in rock 'n' roll. "Be-Bop-a-Lula" had been a huge hit in 1956 and he and his band the Blue Caps had spent six months touring behind it.

These 21 unreleased tracks is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Vincent during his great '57/'58 Capitol period. During these years Vincent and the Blue Caps appeared in two movies (the masterpiece "The Girl Can't Help It" and a quickie called "Hot Rod Gang"), had numerous lineup changes (including the departure of his brilliant lead guitarist, Cliff Gallup), and finally racked up some decent post-"Be-Bop-a-Lula" hits with "Lotta Lovin'" and "Dance to the Bop."

Early demos of "Hey Mama" (later retitled "Say Mama") with Ronnie Dawson on guitar and "Lotta Lovin'" alone are worth the price of admission, as are songwriters' demos of songs like "Who's Pushing Your Swing?" and "Git It" that would later be recorded by Vincent. The real surprise for Vincent fans, though, is the inclusion of four live tracks recorded in October 1958 on Dallas' Big "D" Jamboree radio show. A mere handful of Vincent live tracks from this period have been known to exist up until now, so hearing Vincent and his band rock with abandon on tracks like "Lotta Lovin'" and "Blue Jean Bop" while in their prime is a revelation.

Considering Vincent's recent long-overdue induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, the discovery of unreleased material from his prime couldn't be better timed.