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Gene pictured at about the time he went to Japan - 1959 

  has always been more popular overseas than in the USA - this is common knowledge. England and France were particularly receptive to his timeless music ; Japan was another such country.

When Gene and Jerry Lee Merritt (Gene's lead guitar player at the time) toured Japan from late June to mid-July 1959, the crowds went wild - notably in Yakuska and at Tokyo's Nichigeki Theater.

Several sources inform us that no less than three 78's, twenty-two 45's, at least one EP and some twelve LP's (not counting various artists comps) by him were released there between 1956 and 1990.

Gene & Jerry Merritt (left) in Japan !!This short piece will focus on Gene's Japanese pressings. When you're seriously into collecting records, you can't miss Japanese records : they are pieces of Art in themselves. The only big problem which has plagued many of those records until recently, was the use of that dreadful 'rechanneled stereo' !! Thus, I have EPs by The Animals, The Dave Clark Five, The Spencer Davis Group and others which are virtually unbearable ; however, there remain the beautiful covers, the lyric inserts and the red plastic to be enjoyed endlessly !! Come to think that all of Gene's singles and albums in the '50s and '60s were pressed on dark red vinyl ; and all of his singles had picture sleeves or more precisely, company sleeves with pic inserts !!

Here's a typical example : single Capitol 7P-146 ('Say Mama' b/w 'Be-Bop-Boogie-Boy'), released in early 1959.

Nowadays, those artifacts are worth $150 or more - when you can get your hands on one of'em, that is. Apart from the many Capitol singles, there's also a very scarce Buddah 45 coupling 'Sunshine' with 'A Million Shades Of Blue'.

So, you can have a go at CDs instead !! But they're not always easy to come by either. Toshiba-EMI put out a couple of nice ones which I'd like to show you now.


TOCP-9122 * Previously issued on CD as CP32-9046 * Reissue of LP ECS-90053 * Track listing : Be-Bop-A-Lula ; Woman Love ; Pink Thunderbird ; Race With The Devil ; Blue Jean Bop ; Lotta Lovin' ; Dance To The Bop ; Walkin' Home From School ; Your Cheatin' Heart ; Over The Rainbow ; By The Light Of The Silvery Moon ; Hey Good Lookin' ; Ready Teddy ; Maybelline ; Say Mama ; Be Bop Boogie Boy ; She She Little Sheila ; If You Want My Lovin' ; Mister Loneliness ; Lucky Star.
A superb compilation !! All tracks are in brilliant MONO except for 'She She Little Sheila' which is in brilliant TRUE STEREO !! By the way, Magic Records in France have reissued Gene's 'Crazy Times' LP on CD, with both mono and stereo mixes.


TOCP-7969 * Issued in 1993 * This is a clever release, since it has the same track listing as Jeff Beck's excellent tribute LP : Race With The Devil ; Cruisin' ; Crazy Legs ; Double Talkin' Baby ; Woman Love ; Lotta Lovin' ; Catman ; Pink Thunderbird ; Baby Blue ; You Better Believe ; Who Slapped John ; Say Mama ; Red Blue Jeans And A pony Tail ; Five Feet Of Lovin' ; B-I-Bickey-B-I-Bo-Bo-Go ; Blues Stay Away From Me ; Pretty Pretty Baby ; Hold Me, Hug Me, Rock Me.
Only five duplicates with the above CD. Magnificent MONO sound !! The only mistake is the inclusion of the (otherwise quite good) 1964 version of 'Baby Blue' in place of the original 1957 cut.

© Paul Vidal * Privas, France * 1999