Friday, December 8, 2017

Review: 'Bang! The Bert Burns Story: Official Soundtrack'


Producer/composer Bert Bern’s role in the Rock & Roll conversation tends to be limited to discussions of Van Morrison and Neil Diamond’s early career, but there’s a lot more to his legacy than “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Cherry, Cherry”. Berns wrote or co-wrote such timeless tunes as Solomon Burke’s “Cry to Me” and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”, Them’s “Here Comes the Night”, Freddie Scott’s “Am I Grooving You”, and Erma Franklin/ Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart”. He also produced such major records as The Jarmels’ “A Little Bit of Soap”, The Isley Brothers’ The Exciters’ “Tell Him”, “Twist and Shout”, The Strangeloves’ “I Want Candy”, and The McCoy’s “Hang on Sloopy”. That there is one impressive track record, my friends.

A new documentary called Bang! The Bert Burns Story apparently sets the record straight by telling Burns’s story, while its soundtrack is a stunning sustained blast of why that story is worth telling. There is not one bum track on this 20-track double LP. There isn’t even one track that deserves anything less than a sincere “Wow!” Relative obscurities such as two tracks by The Pussycats (making their long-playing debut), Morrison’s funky “Chick-A-Boom”, Lorraine Ellison’s gospel-like “Heart Be Still”, Bobby Harris’s “Mr. Success”, and Kenny Hamber’s “Show Me Your Monkey” join most of the classics mentioned above. The absence of any of Diamond’s early sides for Berns’s Bang Records seems a somewhat glaring oversight, but that does nothing to change the fact that Bang! The Bert Burns Story: Official Soundtrack is a knock out pop and soul compilation.
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