You know the drill.
Biographical details and musical stylistic observations on Johnny Rivers are on any number of other entries on this blog.
This was Johnny's 3rd album and 3rd album of 1964.
It was his first studio album despite suggestions of being live: the pictures, the title.
Rivers had shown he could cut it live and create "groovy" go go sounds. This album is a little more restrained but there is still a good vibe running through it as he tackles songs from the rock n roll era and more recent hits. These aren't slavish covers but rather songs done to the Rivers beat. The emphasis is on the beat, as in a beat for dancing.
As I sit here alone in my man cave (the wife and kids having deserted me for the comforts of cable TV) I'm not going to hop up and do a dance but my foot is tapping and I know I'll be playing the record through again because it's fun.
The album was produced by Lou Adler who is no slouch at this type of stuff. Joe Osborn is on bass and Mickey Jones (formerly with Trini Lopez and later with Bob Dylan) is on drums.
Perhaps the final word should come from Steve McQueen who does the celebrity endorsement liner notes on the back sleeve:
I dig music…all kinds of music: jazz, blues, pop, classical; the style doesn’t matter if it’s something that involves me. That’s why, when I was asked to write a few lines for this new album, I jumped at the chance.
Blues are something special for me; they get to the live heart of people – their hurts and happiness, problems and joys, desires and fulfilments. Isn’t this what life is all about?
When Johnny Rivers sings, he gets to the heart of the music. He sings from the soul, capturing not only the meaning of the lyric but the complimentary value of the melody. For me, Johnny is the most exciting and creative young talent since the days of the great Leadbelly.
Many times I’ve enjoyed dancing to Johnny’s music at the Whisky à Go Go. But Johnny’s talents are equally deserving of a listening audience, and for that reason I’m happy to be able to add this album to my collection at home.
Johnny Rivers is no fad. He’s an artist, one who will survive and continue to grow long after many another has been forgotten.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Mountain Of Love – (Harold Dorman) – Harold Dorman's 1960 hit (#21Pop, #7R&B). Apparently, The Wrecking Crew played backing to Rivers on this. The Beach Boys tackles Rivers version on their "Party" (1965) album. This sis a great song and oddly reminiscent of Elvis movie songs around the chorus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_of_Love
- Promised Land – (Chuck Berry) – Chuck Berry was perfect for Johnny Rivers. Rivers had hit with Chuck's Memphis and Maybelline (both 1964) so i assumed the logic was, "when oin a roll …" The song first appeared on Chuck's 1964 album, "St. Louis to Liverpool" and Rivers does a good credible version. It's become a bona fide classic. (Elvis' version from 1974 is one of the best). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promised_Land_(song)
- I Should Have Known Better – (Lennon–McCartney) – The Beatles song from 1964 slowed down for hipster older dancing rather than teen shenanigans. It works. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Should_Have_Known_Better
- I'm In Love Again – (A. Domino – D. Bartholomew) – Fats Domino's tune from 1956. is done well by Rivers. This type of stuff Rivers loved having grown up in Louisiana. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_in_Love_Again_(song)
- Rhythm Of The Rain – (J. Gummol) – The Cascades big hit from 1963 (#3) is sped up slightly to match the tempo of the other songs, for dancing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhythm_of_the_Rain
- He Don't Love You Like I Love You – (Nathan Stuckey) – Jerry Butler, Calvin Carter, and Curtis Mayfield) – A #7 hit in 1960 under a different title. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/He_Don%27t_Love_You_(Like_I_Love_You)
- Cupid – (Sam Cooke) – Sam Cooke's #17 from 1961. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cupid_(Sam_Cooke_song)
- Oh, Pretty Woman – (Orbison – Dees) – Roy's worldwide smash (#1US, UK). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh,_Pretty_Woman
- It's All Over Now – (Bobby Womack and Shirley Womack) – It was first released by The Valentinos featuring Bobby Womack (#94, 1964). This is a treat and is a good poppy blues. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_All_Over_Now
- What Am I Doing Here With You – (P.F. Sloan, Steve Barri) – P.F.Sloan released the song on his "Songs of Our Times" LP from 1965 though it seems that Johnny was the first to actually release a version on this album in the same year.
- Moody River – (G. Bruce) – Pat Boone) – Pat Boone had a #1 with this in 1961. A great song. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moody_River
- Keep A-Knockin' – (R. Penniman) – There have been many version of this song. Little Richard put his name to it in 1957 and it went to #8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_A-Knockin%27
I dig this music and, if it's good enough for Steve McQueen, it's good enough for me … I'm keeping it.
1964 Mountain Of Love The Billboard Hot 100 #9
1965 Cupid The Billboard Hot 100 #76
1965 Johnny Rivers In Action! The Billboard 200 #42
Mountain Of Love