TOMMY SANDS – Sands Storm – (RCA) – 1959

what Frank is listening to #47- TOMMY SANDS – Sands Storm – (RCA) – 1959


Tommy Sands was one of the million Elvis rip-offs in the late 50s (eg: Gene Vincent, Terry Stafford, Bobby Darin, Ral Donner, Dion, Ricky Nelson, Buddy Knox, Jack Scott etc). No offence to any of these artists because some of them were legends in their own right but still "rip-offs". OK, rip-offs is perhaps a bit too strong but Sands, like the others, was influenced by Elvis and Elvis' success. They all took aspects of Elvis' style in different ways and adapted it to their styles … by way of example, Gene Vincent took the histrionics and made a career out of that, whilst Darin took the ballads and went down the lounge path. Tommy Sands took the "clean" Elvis path. He had, however, been a credible soft rockabilly singer who had some minor hits ("Teenage Crush" was a #2 hit in 1957). By the time of this album (his third) the record label were trying to soften his image, perhaps scared of any anti-rock backlash (which never happened) after the Presley riots and moral outrage in 1956/57.

An interview:

Q. Tommy, you were once referred to as "One of the more talented of the Presley imitators." Were you, in any way trying to imitate Elvis?
A. I think there might have been a subconscious influence there, because I liked him so much. I can say that honestly now without any loss of dignity. When I met him, I was so young, and he influenced me so much, just as James Dean did as an actor. There were little pieces of Dean and Elvis in what I did, and that's quite normal. But, the people who managed me did a whole lot to take almost all of Elvis out of me, because they were much more conscious of it then me. They took away the guitar from early on. I never again after "The Singing Idol" appeared with a guitar that I remember. They had me cut my sideburns, cut my hair. It was a conscious attempt on their part to make me totally different. If I would've had my own way, I would have been even more identifiable as an imitator because I liked him so much.

I suspect the old record labels still did not really understand rock, so pairing a rock singer off with a old school orchestra was reasonably common place. Here, Sands is linked with the Bob Bain Orchestra. The album is subtitled "Tommy Sands Presents a Collection of Rock n' Roll Hits with the Music of Bob Bain"  and that surely isn't a lie. The tracks are all well known rock "hits" of the preceding 3 or 4 years so there are no surprises. The only interest then is incidental …  attaching those rock songs to an orchestra giving you a "lush pop" which isn't hard on the ears even if it is mildly forgettable. Pat Boone probably took that to the extreme, though Tommy is more raw than Pat and sometimes this is jarring as Sands vocals don't always compliment the lush orchestrations.
Best Tracks:
  • Maybelline – the Chuck Berry classic.
  • Oop Shoop – the Shirley Gunter doo wop track.
  • Hey Miss Fannie – The Clover hit.
  • Tweedlee Dee – the Lavern Baker hit.
  • Such a Night – Elvis later covered this track though it's generally assumed he was inspired by the Clyde McPhatter version.
  • Blue Velvet – a great song – it doesn't matter who does it.
  • Chicken and the Hawk – a shameless rip off of "Shake Rattle and Roll" by writers Leiber and Stoller no less.
It's hard not to like the album as the songs Sands covers are such good tunes and he does impart his personality onto the tracks …
Into the maybe pile.
btw: my LP cover is a "World Record Club" sleeve which is totally different to the one pictured.
Teenage Crush – the big hit from the year before:
Trivia: Sands is mainly famous for having fantastic taste – he married Nancy Sinatra in 1960 (be still my beating loins). He also had a reasonable film / acting career. And, Interestngly he also, subsequently, came under Bob Dylan's spell and made some committed folk music.
Tommy Sands (below) – Elvis influence?
(originally posted: 14/06/2009)

About Franko

Hi, I'm just a person with a love of music, a lot of records and some spare time. My opinions are comments not reviews and are mine so don't be offended if I have slighted your favourite artist. I have listened to a lot of music and I don't pretend to be impartial. You can contact me on though I would rather you left a comment. I also sell music at Cheers
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