Ricky Sings Again

by: Rick Nelson

By the time of his third album, most of which was recorded when he was 18 years old, Ricky Nelson had lots of performing under his belt, and the roadwork showed in his much more confident vocals. Also, as a major recording artist, he was having material written for him instead of having to fill up his LPs with covers of other people's hits. In those songs and in the covers he still did, he hewed to the rockabilly sound developed by Elvis Presley and others in and around Memphis, TN. In particular, he had become a follower of Dorsey Burnette, who co-wrote his 1958 hit "Believe What You Say" with his brother Johnny and took sole writing credit on the album's first two tracks, "It's Late" (soon to be a Top Ten hit) and "One of These Mornings." Such songs were tailored for Nelson, but they were very much in the style of what was currently popular; "It's Late," for example, in sound and subject matter, bore similarities to the Everly Brothers' 1957 hit "Wake Up Little Susie." Thus, even on his own songs, Nelson still sounded like a carbon copy of his betters, and when he tackled a classic like "Trying to Get to You," an Elvis Presley Sun sessions song, or Hank Williams' "I Can't Help It," his inadequacies were accentuated. In a sense, Nelson was a victim of his own success; he was still a promising, developing artist in terms of his abilities and experience, but he was also the second most successful pop singles artist of 1958, right behind Presley, which raised the bar of expectations. Ricky Sings Again found him branching out toward country music and anticipating the rise of teen pop, but it did not live up to his star status. ~ William Ruhlmann

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.