Eddie Cochran is an artist who remains lost in the mists of time for many people. He was always more popular in Europe than the United States, yet he was one of the most influential guitarists of the rock ‘n’ roll era. His guitar intro to “Summertime Blues” is genius encapsulated into about 15 seconds. Through his music, he would create a series of story songs as good as any that were being produced in the late 1950’s.Unfortunately, Cochran was killed in a car accident in England in April of 1960. Fellow rocker Gene Vincent would survive the crash but be in pain until his death in 1971.
Cochran’s catalogue of songs has been released in a number of ways and forms over the years but I still migrate back to The Legendary Masters Series Vol. 4, which is now 36 years old. Not only does it cover all the highlights of his career but also contains some of the best liner notes ever written.
Most rock aficionados remember the Who’s version of “Summertime Blues” or possibly the bludgeoning of the song by Blue Cheer. Neither really holds up to the original by Cochran. The guitar playing is crisp and clear and is the focus of the song. He also possessed a superior rock type voice which he puts to good use on this song. “Summertime Blues” remains one of the most influential and best of the pre-Beatles rock songs and essential for anyone interested in the development and progression of the American rock ‘n’ roll sound.
“20 Flight Rock” has been covered by The Rolling Stones among others but Cochran’s original version is not cluttered with extra instruments and over production. His interpretation is clean and stripped down to basics, which allow the guitar and vocal to stand and ultimately shine on their own.
“C’mon Everybody,” “Somethin' Else,” “Pink Peg Slacks” plus a number of known and lesser known tracks emerge in pristine condition years after their creation.
Eddie Cochran’s career was unfortunately very brief. Today his songs are mainly played on late night radio or appear on greatest hits oldie albums. The Legendary Masters Series Vol. 4 remains superior to many of his newer CD compilation releases. It is an excellent place to experience his music and legacy all in one place.