Tommy Steele and The Steelmen: British Rock’n’Roll Gets A Jump Start

28th December 2016

Title: British Steele – The Singles 1956-1962 and More

Label: Jasmine

The USA had Elvis Presley, we in the UK had Tommy Steele. Ok, ok, stop throwing that rotten fruit.

I’m being horribly facetious, I know and it’s easy (very easy) to cast aspersions on Steele and the UK, in general, in terms of its (lack of) rock’n’roll credentials and how derivative it all was but, even if you look down on Steele as a bone fide rocker, you have to admit that this was (and still is, he hasn’t gone yet you know) a supremely talented man who could easily and successfully lend a hand to a range of tasks including singing, dancing, acting and a whole lot more. That he was a highly successful entertainer and that many would say that this was the field that he truly excelled within might reveal the truth about the man. That is, Steele was an all ‘round family entertainer who also proved that he could do a bit of rock and rolling in his spare time.

OK, he was never a true rocker. His delivery was clever and technically proficient but too inoffensive, lacked power, grit and a nasty streak (Tommy was just too nice a guy) but to knock him for even trying is a bit churlish and terribly unfair. After all, who else did we have? The self-confessed Elvis impersonator, Cliff Richard? Cockney sparra, Joe Brown? We had to wait for Marty Wilde to make an appearance before the UK scene bothered to leave the ground.

As such, this nicely mastered collection ain’t half bad. It provides a comprehensive chronicle of Steele’s first six years in the business, featuring the A and B sides of all of his singles from Rock With The Caveman to the end of 1962. You are also treated to bonus tracks from his EPs of the period.