Follow The Leader-Lillian Briggs
Released 15th June 2023, Tipltina Records-TLP33003, Germany. Vinyl 10’, 33 RPM, Compilation, Limited Edition. Mastered at: The Studio That Time Forgot, El Paso, Tx. Designed at: Retrograph Artwork: Major Minor Compilation Producer, Reissue Producer: Mr Rock and Soul Liner Notes: Mark Armstrong Reviewed by Terry Mead
Lillian Briggs was born in Allenstown ,Lehigh Country Pennsylvania, USA in 1932.During her school years she studied piano and violin but mastered the trombone and was recruited into the school band. She started her working life as a welder and truck driver using some of the money, she earnt to pay for music lessons. After forming The Downbeats her musicianship was spotted by Allenstown leader of the all-girl Swing Orchestra Joy Cayler and Briggs was invited to join them as a singer trombonist. Whilst performing with them in 1954 and singing a rousing version of ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ talent spotter Jack Petrill approached her and got her a deal with Epic records. Around this time, she performed on one of Alan Freed’s New York Shows and became one of the first women to achieve star status at the dawn of Rock n Roll. She went on to tour Australia in 1956 and got to perform alongside one of her musical idols Nat King Cole .Briggs went on to appear musically in films and tv shows before retiring in 1970 and becoming involved in real estate. She died of lung cancer in 1998 aged sixty-five.
This album is a reissue of some of her notable singles put together on a vinyl album to add originality to and sold in a limited edition.
Let’s review :
Can’t Stop- Off we go “Can’t Stop” straight in with this great fast paced opener first came out on Epic in 1955 and written by Silver & Alfred. Lilian’s powerful voice backed by her superb orchestra will still have you hitting the dancefloor after all these years.
Hey ! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop- Written by Hampton & Hamner and came out on Sunbeam in 1958, this raunchy number has a terrific beat with the title sounding like a cross between Thurston Harris’s Be Baba Leba and Ronnie Self’s Bop A Lena in places, the brass section plays some great breaks here to.
Blues In The Night – Released originally on Coral in 1959 and written by Arlen & Mercer, a swing/R&B number predominantly with the familiar sound of a 1950s Rockin /Jazz orchestrated production.
Follow The Leader- The title track originally brought out on Epic in 1956 and written by Evelyn & Kirkland, another killer diller from the blonde bombshell with some clever tongue twisting lyrics.
I Care For You – This one came out on Coral in 1960 written by Davidson, again Lilian’s powerful voice Brenda Lee style comes across in the words about her caring for you. There is a neat catchy riff riding along to this tune and a piano forte midway it’s a ripper.
Come Here - A Halmay & Friedenberg composition brought originally on Sunbeam In 1958. This is a classic from Lilian which still does the rounds at the clubs and weekenders, it is a unique unusual tune with some terrific notes on the vocals produced by its distinctive sound. This song has recently been covered by Christine and Her Rockers on the album “Ain’t No Need” which I have had the pleasure to review..
I- Love the intro to this foot stomping hand clapping song, a McCoy & Briggs composition first recorded on the Epic label in 1957 . A true gem from Lilian that will have you Rockin.
I Want You To Be My Baby- One of her early numbers first released in 1955 on Epic was also released on the Philips label in the UK as a B side to ‘Give Me A Band And My Baby’ . Orchestrated intro to this track with its jump jive beat and cleverly arranged lyrics that Lilian portrays well as a cover of Louis Jordans original.
Is There A Man In The House? – The B side to Blues in the Night, a song about looking for a dance partner sung in oh so familiar style of Lilian Briggs, capturing the sound of the era.
I’m Burning For You- A 1961 ABC-Paramount release, more of an early pop tune rather than the swing jazz earlier recordings but she still maintains her style and blend of music here. Sadly, the last track on the album but a notable tune to end with.
To Summarise: What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this legend , although she is in Rock n Roll heaven now, she will never be forgotten, hats off the Tipltina Records for reissuing all these classics on an album of hers and its on vinyl folks even more authentic.