Nearly 10 years after his comeback with the Stone Canyon Band, Rick Nelson's career declined again when he returned to EMI in 1981. Paul McCartney expressed interest in producing the latest effort from the former teen idol... more », but, due to corporate politics, the album was instead assigned to Phil Spector cohort Jack Nitzsche. Nelson, however, basically produced the sessions himself. Always adept at picking material, he covers rockabilly-derived tunes by the likes of John Fogerty ("Almost Saturday Night"), Graham Parker ("Back to Schooldays"), and John Hiatt. In addition to two Nelson originals, he revives "Believe What You Say." The rerelease is supplemented with six bonus tracks, including a previously unreleased version of Hiatt's "Radio Girl" and Rocky Burnette's "Tired of Toeing the Line." The label refused to release the track and Burnette's own version became a Top 10 hit. --Bill Holdship« less
Nearly 10 years after his comeback with the Stone Canyon Band, Rick Nelson's career declined again when he returned to EMI in 1981. Paul McCartney expressed interest in producing the latest effort from the former teen idol, but, due to corporate politics, the album was instead assigned to Phil Spector cohort Jack Nitzsche. Nelson, however, basically produced the sessions himself. Always adept at picking material, he covers rockabilly-derived tunes by the likes of John Fogerty ("Almost Saturday Night"), Graham Parker ("Back to Schooldays"), and John Hiatt. In addition to two Nelson originals, he revives "Believe What You Say." The rerelease is supplemented with six bonus tracks, including a previously unreleased version of Hiatt's "Radio Girl" and Rocky Burnette's "Tired of Toeing the Line." The label refused to release the track and Burnette's own version became a Top 10 hit. --Bill Holdship
Ian Cooke | Wenatchee, WA United States | 08/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rick Nelson returned to his Rock and Roll Roots with the release of 1981's "Playing To Win." It was his first offical release after a four year absence from the record stores.Burning out of the grooves with the opening to "Almost Saturday Night," Rick proves he could rock with the best of the current Rock scene. Scoring with a contempary remake of "Believe What You Say," Nelson hits it right in the pocket. Other excellent rockers include "Back To School Days," "Don't Look At Me" and "I Can't Take It No More."Rick shows he could still sing a ballad like no one else interperting Ry Cooders, "Do The Best You Can" and John Hiatt's "It Hasn't Happened Yet." Nelson provides two excellent originals with a Little Featish "The Loser Babe Is You" and the rocking "Call It What You Want." The lyrics of both songs revel a glimpse into Rick's world.Bonus Tracks include the first song Rick recorded for Capitol, "Tired Of Toeing The Line." John Beland plays Lead Guitar on this track recorded before Beland formed The Burrito Brothers. Unfortuantely, Capitol declined to release this wonderful song and Rocky Burnette went Top 10 with it soon after. "Doll Hospital," Give 'Em My Number" and "Rave On" also score.The weakest cuts are "Little Miss American Dream" and the previously unreleased "Radio Girl."With 16 songs, great Liner Notes by Jim Ritz and a outstanding remastering job, this is a excellent addition or introduction of Rick Nelson and his music. No wonder he was the only 50's rock and roll artist to have new albums chart from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's.One final note, the late Bob Hyde did the Nelson family and fans a GREAT service in reissuing this album."
Early 80s rock'n'roll
Dino | Scotland | 07/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Rick Nelson's voice was grainier by the time of this release in 1981, compared to his youth and hits such as Poor Little Fool, Lonesome Town and countless others. Compare his original 50s hit Believe What You Say to the version on this CD: the 80s arrangement owes more to contemporary American rock music than the Jordanaires-backed original hit. It's none the worse for that - Nelson should be congratulated for producing music with a modern feel, rather than merely duplicating his past. Other up-beat songs, including Almost Saturday Night (written by John Fogerty) and the Chuck Berry homage Back To Schooldays, stand out as quality additions to Nelson's enormous back-catalogue. Desperate not to be seen as a fifties revivalist, Nelson's self-penned Call It What You Want, plus others written by John Hiatt, prove he was still a relevant artist in his fourth decade in the music industry. The bonus tracks on this CD, recorded at the same sessions as the original album, are generally strong, particularly Give'Em My Number and Radio Girl."
A wonderful album made better
Dino | 06/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I loved this album when it first came out. Unfortunately it came out when Rick was having difficult times in terms of commercial success, so this great album did not generate the kind of sales that it deserved. But it was and is a killer album. The opening cut, John Fogerty's "Almost Saturday Night," is worth the price of the CD by itself. Rick's renditions of John Hiatt's "It Hasn't Happened Yet" and Ry Cooder's "Do the Best You Can" (aka "The Tattler") are nearly definitive. There is not a weak cut on the album. I have been waiting for years for this to make it to CD and now it is finally here as a part of Capitol's "Ricky Nelson" series. The CD re-release is made even better by the addition of six new cuts, including the superb "No Fair Falling in Love" (a classic Rick Nelson song) and two more John Hiatt songs. This CD is a must for all Rick Nelson fans and for all fans of great rock and roll. Rick was at his best on this album. The band, led by the wonderful guitarist Bobby Neal (who sadly died in the same plane crash that took Rick's life) was tight and rockin'. The sound is excellent."
Rick rocked to the end...
Ronald E Baker | Mason, WV USA | 10/16/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was Rick's last complete studio album before he died (not counting the re-records he did for Silver Eagle records). It showed that even though he had matured and added depth to his music, his love for rock and roll never waned. A final MCA album could have been truly incredible, for to me his last single "You Know What I Mean" was his best record. This Capitol album is really great...it should probably warrant 5 stars and would except that some of the guitar playing by his band isn't the greatest. Rick's choice of material and his singing are flawless. He could do it all! Why "Tired of Toeing the Line" wasn't released as a single by him should be investigated. It's as good a rock record as the Burnette boy's version and as good as Shakin' Stevens cover version. Pick this up if you liked the original album...this cd has great sound and the bonus cuts make it an incredible buy."
Rick's Final Studio Album Original Release
Edward Knapp | Enumclaw, WA USA | 07/10/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This has been called a Rock-A-Billy album, (known as "Neo-Rock-A-Billy" back in 1981) but only contains a bout half in that genre. Those tracks alone: "Almost Saturday Night", "Call It What You Like", "Don't Look At Me", "Back To Schooldays" and the REMARKABLE remake of "Believe What You Say" certainly sell this album. The six "Bonus" tracks are from a further set of Capitol sessions, most unreleased originally. It was a very strong comeback album for Rick, and when released, it was exactly what I wanted to hear from him. Long anticipated for re-release, the remastering is properly done: the analog tape hiss you'd expect is still audible during the fade outs, just as it should be. This is a fine, modern album by Rick with a band better than his Stone Canyon group. Essential for the Ricky Nelson collector."