CD Review: Jess Conrad - Jess For You: The Definitive Collection (Cherry Red)
Back in the early 1960s, Jess Conrad was one of several Teen Idol’s that gained pin-up status from teenage girls across Great Britain.
Originating from South London, Conrad (real name Gerald Arthur James) came to prominence in the music industry after he was spotted by television’s Oh Boy! producer Jack Good in a television play as a pop singer.
As an actor, Jess appeared in over 28 films, including The Boys and Konga, while as a singer, he enjoyed a prolific recording career, including three British hits between 1960-62 with ‘Cherry Pie’ (No.39), ‘Mystery Girl’ (No.18) and ‘Pretty Jenny’ (No. 50).
Cherry Red’s new double album Jess For You: the Definitive Collection is a celebration of Jess’s music career spanning those early hits right through to the present day taking in several rarities along the way.
Like many of his contemporaries, Conrad looked to Elvis Presley as a source of inspiration and this is evident on tracks such as Mystery Girl and Rag Doll which undoubtedly carried some appeal with the original rock n rollers, as the teen idol phase began to kick into the record charts during the early 60s.
Jess Conrad’s chart career wasn’t as strong as contemporaries, Cliff Richard, Adam Faith and Billy Fury, but there was certainly plenty of scope for variety. While Jess For You features Conrad’s own takes on familiar songs such as Gene Pitney’s I’m Gonna Love My Life Away and Les Vandyke’s As You Like it. There’s also scope for Conrad to show his ability to have fun by taking on jazz with Tin Pan Alley Rag and cheesy pop with This Pullover (famously selected by DJ Kenny Everett as one of the worst records ever).
Conrad also briefly worked with legendary producer, Joe Meek and two cuts, Hurt Me (featuring a female voice answering his pleas) and the more upbeat, It Could Happen To You both illustrate an interesting if not brief diversion to Conrad’s career,
The release ends with a favourite recording by Jess of Moon Mullican’s ‘Seven Nights To Rock’ (from 2016), showing that some 60 years on from his initial music performances, he’s still retained an ability to entertain.
Jess For You: The Definitive Collection also features an accompanying booklet packed with detailed sleeve notes and nostalgic pictures. Jess For You is a must for fans of the pre-Beatles 60s pop era and a fitting tribute to one of the UK’s most enduring entertainers.
Jess For You: The Definitive Collection is available from all good stockists and directly from Cherry Red Records