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Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas: Trains Boats & Planes

Album Notes

Billy J. Kramer's commercial stock had fallen dramatically by the time of his third and final LP, Trains Boats & Planes. In fact, the album didn't contain a single American Top 40 hit, though the Burt Bacharach-Hal David-penned title track had come close. But while it contained its share of forgettable covers (including the ill-conceived version of the Platters' "Twilight Time," which was issued as a U.S. single), it actually contained some not half-bad rockers, even if they're more notable for some fairly hot playing than Kramer's merely adequate singing. "Sneaking Around" both recalls and stands up to Ricky Nelson's hardest rockers, and "To Take Her Place" and "I Live to Love You" are quite acceptable pounding Merseybeat, especially by Kramer's usually mild standards. None of these appear on the best Kramer CD anthology, The Best of Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, which alone makes the album worth obtaining for Merseybeat fans if affordable copies turn up. The rest of the LP is rougher sailing, including a cover of "When You Walk in the Room" with an uncharacteristically aggressive but clumsy vocal and a couple live tracks that again show Kramer leading a band that rocked harder than a fairly bland balladeer like him deserved. ~ Richie Unterberger


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