THE MAN BEHIND THE DRAPE…Otis Blackwell: The Songs & Recordings 1952-62

I know that the Bible says that coveting is a sin, and I’m usually content in all that I am and have. However, my fantasy life was to be someone like either Steve Cropper or Otis Blackwell; just penning hit after hit that other artists cover, racking in the royalties, and living an obscure life in music while influencing it like few others. Alas, I became a chiropractor!

This two disc set comprises the songs that Blackwell wrote that you probably never realized or appreciated. Artists including, but not limited to, Elvis Presley (“All Shook Up” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Return to Sender”), Jerry Lee Lewis (“Great Balls of Fire” and “Breathless”) and  Peggy Lee (“Fever”). Also in the mix of interpreters are Pat Boone, Clyde McPhatter, Cliff Richard, Ben E. King, Bobby Darin and Lavern Baker, with Jimmy Jones getting a hit out of “Handy Man.”

Blackwell himself if featured on the early material, and does some nice vintage R&B with “My Josephine” and “Daddy Rolling Stone” getting some attention during the early 50s. Doo Wop groups like The Five Keys and Four Lovers first stared presenting his material such as “My  Pigeon’s Gone” and “You’re The Apple of My Eye” respectively, but things really got moving with Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel” and then followed up with “All Shook Up” by Elvis joined by the Jordanaires. Besides the mega hits, you’re gonna get hooked on lesser known ditties such as “Twistin’ Fever” by the Marcels and “You’re Just Wasting Your Time” by Jimmy Bowen, while Jerry Lee Lewis and his Pumping Piano belt out “Livin’ Lovin’ Wreck” like there was no tomorrow.

There are various ways of appreciating this compilation, whether through the lens of nostalgia, vintage R&B gone into pop culture or simply how to pen a good tune. Either way, Blackwell is a crowd pleaser. WHEW!


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