All the Way

by: Brenda Lee

Like many albums of its time, Brenda Lee's All the Way was a little thin on outstanding non-45 material. A number of covers of recent rock and pop songs ("Kansas City," "Tragedy," and Ray Charles' "Talkin' Bout You") filled out an LP spearheaded by a big hit single, the organ-grinding groover "Dum Dum." Within its limitations, however, it was a pretty good record, and certainly very well produced and well sung. Ronnie Self, who'd written or co-written a couple of her big earlier hits, co-penned what was probably the most outstanding cut other than "Dum Dum," the arching orchestrated ballad "Eventually" -- one of several dramatic orchestrated ballads here, actually. Lee also showed some good tough rock chops on "Talkin' Bout You," and while (again like many albums of the period) the LP seemed programmed to showcase versatility, she sang each and every number -- even the less imaginative selections, like "On the Sunny Side of the Street" -- with nothing less than utter panache. It seems a little strange to apply the adjective "overlooked" to a singer as popular as Lee was at this time, but the album, like so much of her early-'60s work, is further evidence of her underrated skills as a rock and pop singer. And it was appreciated by listeners at the time, the album making the Top 20, even if most of the songs are unfamiliar today even to many Brenda Lee fans. ~ Richie Unterberger

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