JODY REYNOLDS-THE COMPLETE DEMON AND TITAN MASTERS.
JODY REYNOLDS-THE COMPLETE DEMON AND TITAN MASTERS.
Jody Reynolds life was changed forevermore in 1958, when Demon Records released Endless Sleep as a single. This was a song that Jody Reynolds had written in 1956, after hearing Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel. Not long after this, Jody Reynolds performed Endless Sleep for the first time. The song was about a teenager who disappeared after having an argument with her boyfriend. Little did Jody Reynolds realise that Endless Sleep would go on to inspire a string similar songs. That looked highly unlikely.
Having recorded a demo of Endless Sleep, Jody Reynolds took the demo round various record labels. They all rejected Endless Sleep, saying the teen tragedy or death disc was too depressing. It looked like Jody Reynolds was going to be unable to convince a label to release Endless Sleep. That was until he played his demo at Demon Records. They were willing to release endless sleep.
So Jody Reynolds went into the studio with guitarists Al Casey and Howard Roberts. As they accompanied Jody, his vocal was drenched in echo. For the B-Side, Tight Capris, which was written by Jody with Al Casey and Sonja Sturdivant. These two tracks would became Jody Reynolds’ debut single for Demon Records.
When Endless Sleep was released in March 1958, the song was credited to Jody Reynolds and Dolores Nance. This was to ‘fool’ the listener that it had been written by a professional songwriting team. The ruse worked, and by 7th July 1958 Endless Sleep had peaked at number seven on the US Billboard 100, having sold one million copies in the process. This complex and captivating death disc would inspire countless imitators Meanwhile Jody Reynolds’ career at Demon Records continued. It’s documented on Ace Records’ recently released compilation The Complete Demon and Titan Masters. It covers the period between 1958 and 1966, and also features six previously unreleased tracks.
When Jody Reynolds signed to Demon Records, he was already twenty-six. He was born Ralph Joseph Reynolds in Denver, Colorado on December 3rd 1932. Soon, the Reynolds family moved to Shady Grove, Oklahoma. That was where Jody’s love of R&B and western swing music began. Indeed, it was through listening to music that Jody decided to pickup a guitar when he was fourteen.
By the fifties, Jody Reynolds had mastered the guitar, and was playing professionally. Guiding the newcomer through the musical maze that lay ahead was Jimmy Bryant, a lighting fast guitar picker. The two became friends in 1955, when Jimmy came to stay in Jody’s mother’s hotel in Palm Springs. Jody admired Jimmy’s ability to play with speed and accuracy. Jimmy cautioned that not everyone could play with the same speed and accuracy. He also lent a guiding hand and advised the young singer, songwriter and guitarist. So did another guitar player, Al Casey.
He was a native of Phoenix, Arizona, and was one of the top guitarists in the area. So when Al Casey joined Jody Reynolds and The Stormers this was something of a coup. The band would head out on the road, and during these road trips Al Casey would help Jody Reynolds hone his sound. This paid off in 1958.
Having signed to Demon Records, Jody Reynolds released Endless Sleep in March 1958. Soon, Jody was promoting the single across America. He swapped life on the road for a series of appearances on television and radio. This was very different to life before Endless Sleep. One of the highlights of this time was his debut appearance on American Bandstand on 9th May 1958. The constant round of promotion worked, and at one point, Endless Sleep was selling 40,000 copies a day. Eventually, it peaked at number seven on the US Billboard 100, but sold one million copies in the process. This resulted in a gold disc for Jody Reynolds. On the flip-side was Tight Capris, which Jody cowrote with Al Casey and Sonja Sturdivant. Al was sharing in Jody’s success. The two friends celebrated the success of Jody’s million selling debut single. His star was in the ascendancy. Now it was a case of doing all again.
By then life for Jody Reynolds was very different. He had made a breakthrough after years of trying. Others were keen to jump on the bandwagon, in the hope that some of Jody’s success would rub off. In America, Jimmy Witherspoon and Gene Ross covered Endless Sleep. Across the Atlantic, Marty Wilde also covered Endless Sleep. However, Jody was already thinking of his sophomore single, Fire of Love.
Having released a million selling single, Jody Reynolds was in a no win situation. Unless he released another million seller, this would be regarded as a failure. So Jody had to consider his options carefully. The song he chose to release as his sophomore single was Fire Of Love. Just like the B-Side Daisy Mae, Fire Of Love was written by Jody and Sonja Sturdivant. It was released in July 1958.
When Fire Of Love was released in July 1958, the single stalled at just sixty-six in the US Billboard 100. This was a far cry from the million selling Endless Sleep. For Jody Reynolds this was a huge blow. The only small crumb of comfort for Jody was that Fire Of Love became regarded as a rock ’n’ roll and blues-punk classic. MC5 and Gun Club would go on to record the song. However, that was way down the line. Before that, Jody had to get his career back on track. However, little did Jody realise that he would never enjoy another hit single.
It was a case of back to the drawing board for Jody Reynolds. For his third single, he decided to cover Doug Marlin’s Closin’ In. On the flip-side was Elope With Me which Jody wrote, but was credited to Jody Reynolds and Delores Nance. Both cuts showcased a new style from Jody, balladry. This was quite different to previous releases. Despite this, when Closin’ In was released in November 1958, the single failed to chart. This was a first for Jody.
Before the release of Closin’ In, Jody Reynolds had enjoyed two hit sits. After the million selling Endless Sleep, it looked like commercial success was going to be a constant companion of Jody’s. It was only a passing acquaintance, with Fire Of Love giving Jody a minor hit. Now that Closin’ In hadn’t even troubled the charts, Jody must have been wondering how did he rescue his recording career. It had started in March 1958, and by the year end, looked like it had hit he buffers.
A year after the release of his debut single, Jody Reynolds returned with his fourth single in March 1959. The song that had been chosen was the ballad Golden Idol, which Jody Reynolds and Delores Nance cowrote with Johnny Burnette. On the B-Side was Beaulah Lee, which Jody and Sonja Sturdivant penned. It was a storming rocker which featured the debut of Jody’s new guitarist fifteen year old guitar virtuoso Dan Cole. His guitar playing was at the heart of the track’s sound and success. Many thought that Beaulah Lee should’ve been released as a single. Especially when Golden Idol was released as a single in March 1959, and failed to chart. History it seemed, had a habit of repeating itself.
After the commercial failure of Golden Idol, it wasn’t until August 1959 that Jody Reynolds returned with his new single, The Storm. This was a cover of a song that had been written by Delpha Nelson. The B-Side Please Remember Me was written by Jody Reynolds and Delores Nance with Bobby Adams. However, when the moody, atmospheric The Storm was released as a single, it failed to find the audience it deserved.
Although The Storm wasn’t a death disc, some record buyers may have mistaken it for one. By August 1959, producers like Lee Hazelwood had jumped on the bandwagon. He knew that death discs and splatted platters could prove profitable, and further his nascent career. Sadly, by then, Jody Reynolds, one of the men who pioneered the genre, realised that his recording career seemed to be going nowhere.
Jody Reynolds had released five singles, and the last three failed to trouble the charts. This was worrying. There was no sentiment in music, and if Jody didn’t come up with a hit single, then his recording career could be in jeopardy.
With Jody Reynolds no longer releasing hits, nine months passed before he released another single, The Whipping Post. This was one of Jody’s compositions. So was the flip-side I Wanna Be With You Tonight. Both sides were cut at Gold Star studios in Los Angeles in March 1969. Accompanying Jody, were some top session players. This resulted in two very different tracks.
The Whipping Post country-tinged track; while I Wanna Be With You Tonight saw the jazz session players come into their own. They played their part in a track that deserved to fare better than a B-Side. Once the songs were complete, the Jody’s sixth single was scheduled for April 1960.
When The Whipping Post was released, it was a familiar story, and the single failed to chart. This wasn’t helped by the lyrical content of the song. Some radio stations were reluctant to play the song. Maybe if I Wanna Be With You Tonight had been chosen as the single, things would’ve been different; and Jody wouldn’t have found himself in the last chance saloon?
Just two months passed before Stone Cold was released in June 1960. Stone Cold had been written by Jody with Johnny Bachelor and Rupert Stephens. For the flip-side (The Girl With The) Raven Hair was chosen. It was a collaboration between Jody, his regular songwriting partner Sonja Sturdivant and Bobby Adams. When the moody ballad Stone Cold was released in June 1960, it found Jody revisiting one of his previous ‘sounds’. Maybe the songs had been recorded at an earlier date, given the same songwriting team wrote together in 1959. On the B-Side, (The Girl With The) Raven Hair had rockabilly sound. Alas, Stone Cold failed to chart, and after seven singles, Jody Reynolds left Demon Records.
After leaving Demon Records, Jody Reynolds continued to play live in clubs. Jody Reynolds and The Storms were still a popular live draw, and was a regular face on the live circuit. So with George Brown having left Demon Records, and having founded Titan Records here was an outlet for singles by Jody Reynolds and The Storms.
Jody Reynolds sold George Brown had recorded two instrumentals, Makin’ Out and Shot Down. Both feature saxophonist Plas Johnson, who plays a crucial role in both sides. His growling, grinding saxophone plays a starring role, and is the perfect foil to Jody Reynolds and The Storms.
Later in 1961, Jody Reynolds and The Storms rerecorded Thunder and Tarantula for Indigo Records. These song don’t feature on The Complete Demon and Titan Masters. Nor were they new songs. Thunder had been released on the Sundown label in 1959, with Tarantula on the B-Side. However, following the release of Thunder, Jody Reynolds moved on.
Next stop was Emmy Records where Jody Reynolds released Dusty Skies in 1962. It was a familiar story, and Dusty Skies failed to chart. From Emmy Records, Jody moved to Smash Records, where he released Don’t Jump in 1963. When the single failed to chart, Jody moved to Brent Records, where he released The Girl From King Marie in April 1963. Again, commercial success eluded the single, it would be another three years before Jody released another single.
Between 1963 and January 1966, Jody Reynolds concentrated on playing live. Then Jody Reynolds came full circle, and returned to Titan Records. He entered the studio with his latest band, and cut four sides. This included Tear For Jesse, It a George Brown and Dennis Hardesty composition. The B-Side Devil Girl, was penned by Jody. Both sides featured a guitarist Roberta Lee Streeter, who was known with music circles as Bobbie Gentry. She accompanied Jody on his second Titan Records debut was Tear For Jesse.
When Tear For Jesse was released, it was another ballad. This time, it featured a contemporary country sound. This was on-trend, and should’ve proved popular. However, the single failed to attract the attention of record buyers. Jody Reynolds wasn’t ready to give up.
He returned later in 1966 with a new single. This time, it was a duet with Bobbie Gentry. This it seemed George Brown trying to build on the popularity of the partnership between Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood. For their first single, Jody Reynolds penned two tracks, Stranger In The Mirror and Requiem For Love. Stranger In The Mirror, a country-tinged ballad was chosen as the single.
Later in 1966 Stranger In The Mirror was released on Titan Records. Sadly, commercial success eluded what is now regarded as a hidden musical gem. There was no followup to Stranger In The Mirror and Jody Reynolds left Titan Records.
A year later, and Bobbie Gentry was a star. She had moved to L.A. and recorded her classic single, An Ode To Billie Joe. It reached number one on the US Billboard 100, and was a hit for Bobbie worldwide. An Ode To Billie Joe was nominated for eight Grammy Awards, and eventually won three for Bobbie and one for arranger Jimmie Haskell. The success of An Ode To Billie Joe inspired George Brown to reissue Stranger In The Mirror in October 1967. This time around, the partnership was billed as Bobbie Gentry and Jody Reynolds. He was relegated to the role of supporting artist. This was the final ignominy for Jody, who nine years earlier had watched as his own debut single sold over a million copies. That seemed a lifetime ago.
Since then, it had been all downhill for Jody Reynolds. Following the million selling Endless Sleep, Fire of Love gave Jody a minor hit. He had to endure thirteen consecutive singles fail to chart. For Jody Reynolds it must have been a soul destroying time. Especially when many of the singles he was releasing deserved to fare much better. This included the singles Jody Reynolds released on The Complete Demon and Titan Masters, which was recently released by Ace Records. The compilation features some of the best music Jody Reynolds recorded during a career that lasted six decades. However, the singles and B-Sides are only part of the story to The Complete Demon and Titan Masters.
There’s a number of unreleased songs on The Complete Demon and Titan Masters. This includes the wistful My Baby’s Gone; the heartfelt beautiful ballad Kiss Of Love; I’m Not Afraid Anymore is a tender ballad with a needy vocal. It’s a real hidden gem, that’s a welcome addition to The Complete Demon and Titan Masters. Ballad Of Love features a vocal that’s full of hurt and regret, at the love he’s lost. It Goes On And On showcases Jody’s verstility, and there’s even a nod to Elvis in his vocal. Jody’s cover of the standard Blue Moon, has a melancholy sound that works well with the understated arrangement. These unreleased tracks are further proof of a talented singer, songwriter and musician whose singles sadly, never enjoyed the success they deserved.
Fortunately, the rockabilly revival of eighties resulted in an upsurge of interest in Jody Reynolds’ career. Suddenly, a new generation of record buyers discovered an artist whose debut single was a million seller that pioneered the death disc. However, there’s more to Jody Reynolds’ career than death discs or teenage tragedy. That was just a small part of his recording career that’s celebrated on The Complete Demon and Titan Masters. It’s a reminder of Jody Reynolds, who sadly, passed away on November 7th 2008. However, the music world was a better place for Jody Reynolds contribution including which features on The Complete Demon and Titan Masters. It’s the definitive Jody Reynolds compilation.
JODY REYNOLDS-THE COMPLETE DEMON AND TITAN MASTERS.