CD Reviews

For a detailed song by song review see "The Complete Ral Donner 1959-1962" ---> click here

"You Don't Know What You've Got - The Ral Donner Anthology" UK Castle Music CMEDD043. Issued January 2001

1. Tell Me Why (mono)
2. That¹s Alright With Me (mono)
3. Girl Of My Best Friend (mono)
4. It¹s Been A Long, Long Time (mono)
5. You Don¹t Know What You¹ve Got (mono)
6. So Close To Heaven (mono)
7. Please Don¹t Go (mono)
8. I Didn¹t Figure On Him (mono)
9. Turn Back The Clock (mono)
10. Lonely Star (mono)
11. With You Now (mono)
12. Nine Times Out Of Ten (mono)
13. I Don¹t Need You (mono)
14. School Of Heartbreakers (mono)
15. She¹s My Baby (mono)
16. Your Skies Of Blue (mono)
17. For Love Nor Money (mono)
18. Pray For Me (mono)
19. Because We¹re Young (mono)
20. She¹s Everything (mono)
21. Will You Love Me In Heaven (mono)
22. To Love Someone (mono)
23. Loveless Life (mono)
24. Bells Of Love (mono)
25. To Love (mono)
26. Sweetheart (mono)
27. And Then (mono)
28. Loneliness Of A Star (mono)
Playing time 70:51

1. You Don¹t Know What You¹ve Got (stereo)
2. So Close To Heaven (stereo)
3. Please Don¹t Go (stereo)
4. I Didn¹t Figure On Him (stereo)
5. Turn Back The Clock (stereo)
6. Lonely Star (stereo)
7. Nine Times Out Of Ten (stereo)
8. School Of Heartbreakers (stereo)
9. She¹s My Baby (stereo)
10. Pray For Me (stereo)
11. She¹s Everything (stereo)
12. Will You Love Me In Heaven (stereo)
13. To Love Someone (stereo)
14. Loveless Life (stereo)
15. To Love (stereo)
16. Nite Owl (stereo)
17. Standing Here (stereo)
18. Puddle Of Tears (mono)
19. Creampuff (stereo)
20. Please Don¹t Tease (stereo)
21. Half Heaven, Half Heartache (stereo)
22. You Haven¹t Lived Until You¹ve Loved (stereo)
23. Little Miss Heartbreak (stereo)
24. Tears Of Misery (stereo)
25. Juarez (Quarez) (mono)
26. Silver And Gold (stereo)
27. Love Isn¹t Like That (mono)
28. It Will Only Make Me Love You More (mono)
Playing time 66:48

REVIEW (taken from UK's premier Rock 'n' Roll magazine 'Now Dig This' - February 2001 issue). Courtesy of Howard Cockburn and Trevor Cajiao.

Compact Corner

Eventually turning up several months after originally being announced (legal wrangles getting in the way), is the up-dated and revitalised Ral Donner collection that first appeared on Sequel in 1991 (see NDT 107). That compilation included Gone, Tau and Scottie masters and clocked in at 39 tracks. Here that number is bumped up to 56 but does include both stereo and mono versions of several songs. The 1991 release had included several previously unissued performances - things like 'Tears Of Misery', 'Silver And Gold' and 'Little Miss Heartbreak'. This time around there are no further 'new' tracks but we do get both sides of Ral's Red Bird 45 'Love Isn't Like That'/'It Will Only Make Me Love You More'. Originally it was hoped to include two unreleased tracks that are listed in the Gone files, but on closer inspection it was found that both 'Castle In The Sky' and 'The Girl For Me' are unfinished backing tracks with not even a scratch vocal.

Ral was easily the best and most sincere Elvis-influenced singer of his day and, as has been stated on many occasions, actually got to record songs that were stronger than much of what The King was recording at the time, certainly the film material.

The earliest items emanate from Ral's short stint with Scottie Records in 1959. 'That's All Right With Me' (also waxed by Ray Smith) and 'Tell Me Why' are fine up-tempo rockers and although still not in perfect sound quality do come across slightly better than before. The bulk of the collection by far is made up of those wonderful Gone masters that provided Ral with his justly earned reputation. We all know the great titles, starting with his fine interpretation of a Presley original 'Girl Of My Best Friend', on which Ral almost out-Elvises Elvis! Other magnificent performances include 'I Didn't Figure On Him (To Come Back)', 'She's Everything', 'School Of Heartbreakers', 'To Love', 'Please Don't Go' and the song that gave him his biggest US and UK hit 'You Don't Know What You've Got'.

Donner was equally dextrous at both up-tempo and ballad material. This is exemplified by numbers like the unfortunately titled 'Creampuff' (much better than the Jimmy Boyd original on MGM), 'For Love Nor Money', 'Pray For Me', 'Turn Back The Clock' and the Cliff Richard hits 'Nine Times Out Of Ten' and 'Please Don't Tease'. For a full breakdown of just how great this man's repertoire was, check out your Editor's full discourse on Ral's Gone/Tau/Scottie era in 'Now Dig This' issue 107.

Through Donner expert Terry Wilson, my good buddy in Canada, the packaging, artwork, label logos and biographical details are much improved over the 1991 issue. Roger Dopson tells the Ral Donner story quite comprehensively, though oh how I wish record companies would stop employing the use of large fold-out inserts. They are the bane of my life! They're difficult to take in and out of the jewel case and the folds tend to look tacky and split after a short period of time. But this is only a minor gripe and shouldn't put you off investing in a splendid set by a truly great artist. Yes, it's basically a reissue - but a much improved reissue.

Those interested in learning more about Ral Donner should access - the website set up by Terry Wilson in honour of Chicago's own Elvis Presley.

Howard Cockburn
( with his collar turned well up )

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