GENE VINCENT The Definitive Rarities And Outtakes Volume One (Ozit)

Shabbily packaged in the Ozit house anti-style, this 17 track CD is apparently the first of a series of four or five such releases (can't they make their minds up?!), which renders the paltry running time (almost half the disc's capacity is unused) doubly inexcusable. And really, if Ozit have serious intentions of corralling the collectors market they'll have to spring for more informative descriptions of the source of these tracks than 'Early studio outtake' or 'Live, 1970s'. The booklet's boast of "many rare and previously unpublished photographs" hardly ameliorates this shortcoming.

Perhaps inevitably with early rock 'n' roll artefacts, songs such as "You Are The One For Me" are strongly reminiscent of the works of Elvis Aaron - "Baby Blue" is practically a rewrite of "Heartbreak Hotel"! - despite Vincent's protestations to the contrary. "His show is his show and I don't do anything he does", he explains in one of several interviews fragments scattered amongst the music, all of which are prefaced by jarringly posed questions that sound like they were recorded in the Ozit office last week. "Pistol Packin' Mama", meanwhile, was surely performed under the influence of his friend Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else". Nevertheless, the sweet pop-psych-gospel of "Rainy Day Sunshine" suggests, like "Rainbow At Midnight" on the recent Kim Fowley primer "Impossible But True", that Vincent still had a great deal left to express when his life was tragically curtailed by a bleeding ulcer in 1971.

The sound quality demonstrated by "The Definitive Rarities And Outtakes Volume One" is generally superior to that of Ozit's recent Captain Beefheart archive trawl "Dichotomy", something of a pleasant surprise given the advanced age of many of these recordings, but "Whole Lotta Shakin'" captures the audience's handclap technique with greater clarity than it does the exploits of the musicians on stage, and it might as well be The Jesus And Mary Chain performing "Good Golly Miss Molly" for all that can be determined from listening to this version. Perhaps a Sweet Gene archivist would be better able to assess the worthiness or otherwise of this release. For the general buyer, if there aren't superior introductions on the market Vincent's legacy is being very poorly served.