I guess most of you don't know who Jimmy Sweeney was or why he is a legendary lost figure in the history of Memphis rock & Roll and music in general. His main claim to legend is as the voice on the Acetate of Without You Elvis Presley was given as a guide vocal to imitate at his first Sun recording session. This album is a compilation of his best-known recordings that might be in the roots of rock and roll but actually are much the roots of easy listening.
Leaving the legend behind this long-lost music behind how does it sound. Well from the opening Without You we are in a world of beautifully sung ballads like Without You with a nice acoustic guitar accompaniment that sounds every bit as dated as it should do but it still sung with so much feeling to pull on the heart strings in a very high register. Yes you can hear the hiss and crackles on it.
Deep Blues is with the Varieteers who sound like a gospel quartet or similar sized small band and backing singers who have an early Rock & soul feel to the music to help uplift you from all your sorrows.
I Pay With Every Breath sounds like a sappy Roy Orbison style ballad with gentle almost choral backing vocals keeping it Churchy and also reminding me of the quieter side of The Jacks, this is also with the Varieteers.
It Wouldn't Be The Same (Without You) is another sad song of regret at the love that has left beautifully sung and full of emotion.
Desire sounds more produced and has the feel of a film soundtrack song with all sorts of dancing in a eastern night club going on.
We then get a very sweet version of Danny Boy with some very nice Wes Montgomery style guitar playing and a nice trumpet break and was recorded with Jimmy Destry.
Don't Come In Here with the Varieteers is a less strident version of this than Priscilla Bowman's or whatever the version I'm thinking of as I know this song.
The a-side closes with Tobacco Road played slower and sweeter that I think I've ever heard it played and in this case it's with Jimmy Sweeney and they sound like they want to be like Paul Robeson.
The B-side opens with Gonna Find My Sweetheart with Jimmy Sweeney and is every bit as sweet and sappy as the title suggests with a very 1950's sensibility to the wooing he's doing.
Flippity, Flop has barely there piano backing on what sounds more like a vocal demo that a fully realized song as this sounds like it could a real belter and instead is rather too restrained for the lyrics.
He sings Sick, Sick, Sick so it almost sounds like I'm a six six six or devil because he's not getting any loving from you and then he starts to sob and wail to persuade his baby to help his recovery, blimey if I was his paramour I'd be on the floor in fits of laughter at this routine, it sounds rather hokey to me.
She Wears My ring really sounds like one of Elvis Presley's most sickly sweet ballads enveloped in strings and a man on one knee hoping to put that ring on his beloved's hand this one is with Jimmy Bell.
Where You Lead Me is the sort of pleading to be a doormat of a man as long as the apple of his eye gives him what he wants, great vocals but this really sounds dated and what if she leads you to hell young man.
Lunch in A Bucket is a menu song as along with Jimmy Bell who is very much still in town he reads out what's on the lunch menu in the bucket his baby brings him it's sweet and he certainly won't be going hungry.
Afraid with or as Jim Sweeney is a sorry tale of just why he is so afraid you're going to leave him with the sort of empathy and care you'd expect on a Jim Reeves record.
What'cha Gonna Do About Me is a real cool R & B pop song from Jimmy Bell that just sounds like it would have been one away from being a big hit but one of my favorite songs on the album.
The album closes with a gospel tribute by Jimmy in tribute to Deacon Brown that's sung acapella as we find out what food he will leave for the Deacon to eat.
Many fans of obscure 1950's music will love this album but unless you really collect that sort of stuff this has a more limited appeal.
Find out more at https://orgmusic.com/releases/jimmy-sweeney-without-you/