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Title - 'Bang! The Bert Berns Story' [2LP]
Artist - Bert Berns

For those not in the know, Bert Berns [also known as Bert Russell and, occasionally, Russell Byrd], was an American songwriter and record producer of the 1960s.

A pioneer of 1960s rock and soul, Berns made numerous contributions to popular music, including "Twist and Shout", "Piece of My Heart", "Brown Eyed Girl" (as a producer), "Here Comes the Night", "Hang On Sloopy", "Under the Boardwalk" and "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love".

Berns's early work with Solomon Burke ["Cry to Me"] brought him to the attention of Atlantic label chiefs Ahmet Ertegün and Jerry Wexler. In 1963, Berns replaced Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller as the staff producer at Atlantic, where he wrote and produced hits for Solomon Burke ("Everybody Needs Somebody to Love"), the Drifters ("Under the Boardwalk" and "Saturday Night at the Movies"), Barbara Lewis ("Baby I'm Yours" and "Make Me Your Baby"), Little Esther Phillips ("Hello Walls"), Ben E. King, Wilson Pickett and LaVern Baker.

With many of Berns's songs being recorded by British Invasion bands such as the Beatles ("Twist and Shout"), the Rolling Stones ("Cry to Me") and the Animals ("Baby Let Me Take You Home"), Berns became the first American record producer to travel across the Atlantic to work in London. He went to England three times between 1964 and 1965, where he produced a number of British Decca artists such as Van Morrison's Them ("Here Comes the Night", "Baby Please Don't Go") and Lulu.

In 1965, Berns formed his own record label, BANG Records. BANG Records was founded with his Atlantic Records partners, with the label's name derived from the initials of each of their respective personal names—in order, Bert Berns, Ahmet Ertegün, Nesuhi Ertegün, and Gerald (Jerry) Wexler. BANG was home to such artists as the McCoys ("Hang on Sloopy"), the Strangeloves ("I Want Candy"), Them's ex-lead singer Van Morrison ("Brown Eyed Girl"), and, most notably, Neil Diamond ("Solitary Man" and "Cherry Cherry").

With BANG Records releasing predominantly rock and roll, Berns formed Shout Records in 1966 as an outlet for his greatest passions of R&B and soul music, recording artists such Freddie Scott ("Are You Lonely for Me Baby") and Erma Franklin ("Piece of My Heart"). One of his last songs, "Piece of My Heart," was covered shortly thereafter by Big Brother and the Holding Company, which the then unknown Janis Joplin fronted.

So, as you can well imagine, Bert Berns is regarded as a musical visionary and this delightful 20 track set compiles the best of his studio productions from the soundtrack to the new film 'Bang! The Bert Berns Story'.

Described as Music meets the Mob, the biographical documentary, narrated by Stevie Van Zandt, is about the life and career of hitmaker Bert Berns, the most important songwriter and record producer from the sixties that you never heard of.

Filmmaker Brett Berns brings his late father's story to the screen through interviews with those who knew him best and rare performance footage; including interviews with Ronald Isley, Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, Van Morrison, Keith Richards and Paul McCartney.

Side A:
1. "Piece of My Heart" - Erma Franklin
2. "A Little Bit of Soap" - The Jarmels
3. "Tell Him" - The Exciters
4. "Twist and Shout" - The Isley Brothers
5. "Cry Baby" - Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters
6. "Show Me Your Monkey" - Kenny Hamber

Side B:
1. "Baby, Please Don't Go" - Them feat. Van Morrison
2. "You May Be Holding My Baby" - The Pussycats
3. "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" - Solomon Burke
4. "Here Comes the Night" - Them feat. Van Morrison
5. "I Want Candy" - The Strangeloves

Side C:
1. "Are You Lonely for Me Baby" - Freddie Scott
2. "Mr. Success" - Bobby Harris
3. "Chick-A-Boom" - Van Morrison
4. "Hang on Sloopy" - The McCoys
5. "Cry to Me" - Freddie Scott

Side D:
1. "Brown Eyed Girl" - Van Morrison
2. "Am I Grooving You" - Freddie Scott
3. "Heart Be Still" - Lorraine Ellison
4. "Piece of My Heart" - Big Brother & The Holding Company feat. Janis Joplin

Previously only released as a digital only format soundtrack by Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings, Bang! The Bert Berns Story has now been released as a stunning 150 gram vinyl LP, out December 15th, 2017.

Now famous recordings by the Drifters, Ben E King, Wilson Pickett, LaVern Baker, Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles, Solomon Burke and Tami Lynn may well not feature here (as they represent Berns' time as house producer at Atlantic Records), but what we do get are stand out tracks by the McCoys, The Pussycats, Van Morrison, Freddie Scott, Kenny Hamber and Erma Franklin; all of which stem from his own aforementioned Bang record label.

Listening to all the tracks, one by one they waft over you, causing en masse of memories to be evoked. Bookended by two glorious renditions of 'Piece of My Heart' - Erma Franklin and the throatier Big Brother & The Holding Company Feat. Janis Joplin - what lies in between is pure musical gold.

Though Berns died in the final days of 1967 at just 38 years of age, a year hasn’t gone by since when his songs haven’t been recorded and played. This soundtrack to an incredible era gone by, showcases Bert Berns as a musical genius, and rightly so.

If, as the actual movie suggests, Berns' legacy is somewhat tarnished by an association with mob money (at a time when Goodfellas were prevalent in the music industry), I'd like to think that he is more guilty of writing and producing some of the most captivating music of our pop culture.

'Bang! The Bert Berns Story' [2LP] Purchase Link

'Bang! The Bert Berns Story' Ditital Purchase Link

Bert Berns @ Twitter