Mickey ‘Nehru’ Newbury
If you don’t know the name Mickey Newbury, you will surely recognize today’s selection.
Newbury was a Texas based singer-songwriter, who – despite his own amazing work – was better known for the recordings of his songs by other people, like Tom Jones, Don Gibson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and in the case of today’s selection, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.
Newbury wrote ‘Just Dropped In’ in 1967, and it was recorded first by Teddy Hill and the Southern Soul, then Jerry Lee Lewis, with Newbury’s version, from his first solo album ‘Harlequin Melodies’ in 1968.
Newbury is a particularly interesting performer, because though he is largely identified with country music, his own oeuvre is much les specific in its focus.
His own records wander freely between folk, country and pop, and his 1969 LP ‘Looks Like Rain’ is an absolutely sublime work of genius. I’ve wanted to write about it for years but have hesitated only because I worry that I wouldn’t do it justice.
That said, his version of ‘Just Dropped In’ may not be the masterpiece of faux-psychedelia that the First Edition version was, but it does contain its own share of psych trappings – sitars, cymbaline etc- and Newbury’s vocal has a bit of grit missing from Kenny’s.
Apparently Newbury was not happy with the busy production and arrangements (some, but not on this track, by Tupper Saussy!), but as I mentioned before, he wasn’t an easily categorized kind of performer. You can hardly blame 1968 record execs for slapping sitars on a song about a bad acid trip.
I like his version, and I would HIGHLY recommend picking up a copy of the amazing ‘Looks Like Rain’.
I hope you dig the track, and I’ll see you next week.