Liner Note Author: Ed Osborne.
Photographer: Mike Newmyer.
Timi Yuro was a pint-sized Italian girl who had giant, soulful pipes. Influenced by the blues and jazz singers she heard as a kid growing up in Chicago, she invested everything she sang with impressive emotional power. Even when the material let her down, as it quite often did, she could turn a decent song into something spectacular. She burst onto the scene in 1961 with an incendiary cover of Roy Hamilton's hit ballad "Hurt," which tore up the charts and established her as a vocal powerhouse. This collection gathers up all her singles cut for the Liberty label between 1961 and 1964 (when she left the label due to frustration with their politics and selection of material for her to sing), and 1968 and 1969, when she briefly returned. Unsurprisingly, the stand-out cut is "Hurt," but there are quite a few that nearly equal it. The girl group-meets-Drifters "Count Everything" is a great song and Yuro's vocal shows an unusual amount of nimbleness; "Satan Never Sleeps" is a weird little tune that she croons through like one of the jazz singers she so admired, and "I Ain't Gonna Cry No More" is a tough little girl group rocker. Best of all is the amazing "What's a Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You)," which was co-produced by Phil Spector and features a vocal that equals anything Tina Turner ever did in its rawness and naked emotion. Despite these high points, it's easy to see why she was upset at some of the label's choices of songs; her cover of "Smile" is schmaltzy at best, for example, and pairing with Burt Bacharach on "The Love of a Boy" is fine, but her fire is dimmed but Bacharach's production style. The second disc has a batch of singles from 1963-1964 when Liberty attempted to remake Yuro as a country singer in the mold of Ray Charles, who had recently blown up the charts with his country crossover albums. The results are interesting, and occasionally quite moving as on her aching version of Willie Nelson's "Permanently Lonely," but not up to the same level of her best work in the pop field. The rest of the disc is made up of the singles released after her return to the label and show a more mature approach to recording, with much fuller arrangements that place her firmly in the middle of the pop road. "Something Bad on My Mind" from 1968 is a hidden gem though, sounding like a lost Phil Spector cut. As always, Yuro's blockbuster voice carries the day and even the weakest track she cut is still worth hearing. The casual fan curious to hear what Yuro was all about may be better served by a collection that strips away some of the weaker songs in her repertoire, but anyone who wants the full picture of Yuro in her prime will be knocked out by Real Gone's release. ~ Tim Sendra