Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas were one of several Liverpool groups to achieve a measure of pop success in the early sixties. Like the Beatles, they were managed by Brian Epstein. The Dakotas really wanted to be an instrumental group, following the example of the Shadows in Britain and the Ventures in America. It was agreed that they would get to record their own music (included on this compilation) in return for backing Billy J Kramer. The lead guitarist of the Dakotas is the brother of Elkie Brooks, a singer who failed to make it in the sixties but eventually achieved success in the late seventies with Pearl's a singer and some other great songs. To be honest, the Dakotas' musicianship was better than Billy's singing, which was good but not great. However, it doesn't really matter - the songs and the music compensate for any limitation in the vocal department.
The first single by Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas was Do you want to know a secret, a song that the Beatles had already included on their debut album, Please please me. It made number two in the British charts. Next came two more Lennon-McCartney songs, Bad to me, which topped the UK chart, and I'll keep you satisfied, which made number four. Perhaps the best song they ever did was Little children, an American song that gave them their second and last British number one. This was recorded in preference to another Lennon-McCartney song (title unknown to me) that Brian Epstein and George Martin wanted to go with. However, they returned to the Lennon-McCartney songbook for From a window, which just made the UK top ten. After that there was only one more significant hit, a cover of the Bacharach-David classic, Trains and boats and planes, which didn't quite make the UK top ten - it peaked at twelve. It's gonna last forever and Neon city both failed to chart.
Without Billy J Kramer, the Dakotas had a minor UK hit with The cruel sea (titled The cruel surf in America). Two other singles, Magic carpet and Oyeh, missed the charts. One of the B-sides, My girl Josephine, features vocals from one of the Dakotas and is included here.
This collection includes all the hits and misses, several B-sides and album tracks and a few recordings from Billy's comeback attempts (without the Dakotas) in the seventies and eighties.
While not by any means the most essential Merseybeat group, they are worth a listen if you are into this kind of music. But go for Gerry and the pacemakers first if you haven't already got some of their music.
am 17. Januar 2011
Wunderbare Zusammenstellung von Billy J.s schönsten Titeln. Höre ich sehr oft, weil ich mich rückwirkend immer mehr zum Fan des Merseybeat 1962 - 1965 entwickele (das waren schöne Melodien mit hervorragendem Satzgesang und prägnantem Gitarrensound ohne Verzerrung). Auch die Liverpooler Kumpels und Konkurrenten der Beatles haben sahnige Musik gemacht. Die bekanntesten hatten nur das Pech, bei derselben Plattenfirma unter Vertrag zu sein, und da waren die Beatles eben der Top-Act. Aber auch Billy J. Kramer, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Hollies u.v.a waren auf demselben Niveau. Tolle Musik, gerade heute, wo kaum noch was Hörbares im Radio läuft.