LaVern Baker

by: LaVern Baker

LaVern Baker, the great early rock & roll singer's second LP -- not to be confused with her first and very similarly titled LP, which was called just LaVern -- gathers both sides of seven of her nine first singles, all issued in 1953-1956. (The singles not included from this sequence are the 1954 45 "I Can't Hold Out Any Longer"/"I'm Living My Life for You" and the 1956 45 "Fee Fee Fi Fo Fum"/"I'll Do the Same for You.") In this respect, it's a much more typical album of the early rock & roll era than LaVern, which opted for material that hadn't yet appeared on singles. The most famous, and the best, songs on LaVern Baker are the hits "Tweedle Dee" and "Jim Dandy." Much of the other material comes off as energetic but less interesting variations on the general upbeat "R&B turning into rock & roll" formula of those numbers, though she does get into somewhat different bags on the heavily calypso-flavored "I Can't Love You Enough" and a few ballads. Since no less than 11 of these 14 tracks also appear on the best Baker compilation (Soul on Fire: The Best of LaVern Baker), this has to be considered something for completists, despite its generally decent quality. ~ Richie Unterberger

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