The Songs Of Leiber & Stoller

Artist: Various Artists
Format: 3CD
Bar-code: 5060342021267
Cat No: NOT3CD126


The names of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller resonate with anyone with even a passing interest in the history of rock’n’roll. A track introduced on the radio as ‘by Leiber and Stoller’ has immediate credibility. Elvis Presley himself recorded over 20 of their songs including ‘Hound Dog’, which starts off our selection in rollicking style: ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘Treat Me Nice’ and ‘King Creole’ are among other classic Presley versions of Leiber and Stoller songs on this set.


Born within a few weeks of each other in 1933, Leiber was the Baltimore-born son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, picking up the rudiments of the blues by living on the edge of the black ghetto. Stoller was raised in New York state, and learned the basics of blues and boogie-woogie from black teenagers at summer camp. The pair met in Los Angeles in 1950 at a time when authentic American rhythm and blues was beginning to be embraced by the general (ie white) music-buying public and they began writing together, mainly at the time for black artists. By 1953 their songs had been recorded by such names as Jimmy Witherspoon (‘Back Door Blues’), Little Esther (‘Hollerin’ & Screamin’’ and ‘Flesh, Blood And Bones’), Little Willie Littlefield (‘Kansas City’) and Ray Charles (‘The Snow Is Falling’).


But their hot streak truly began when Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton recorded ‘Hound Dog’ in 1953. This record caught the attention of Atlantic Records. Then, in 1954, Leiber and Stoller formed their own label, Spark, which released classics like ‘Smokey Joe’s Café’ by the Robins, who went on to become the Coasters. After a string of similar innovative releases, Atlantic Records bought out Spark and signed Leiber and Stoller to the first independent production deal, making what turned out to be record-industry history. Leiber, with his renowned sharp wit, became the lyricist, while Stoller, classically trained but jazz and R&B-loving, wrote the music.


Chart-dominating compositions by the pair included: Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘Spanish Harlem’, The Drifters’ ‘Dance With Me’ and ‘Fools Fall In Love’ and Ruth Brown’s ‘Lucky Lips’. Most significantly, they wrote virtually every hit for the Coasters, such as ‘Poison Ivy’, ‘Searchin’’, and ‘Charlie Brown’, all included here.

Elvis became associated with Leiber and Stoller songs only by accident. He had included ‘Hound Dog’ in his set in 1956 and was then persuaded to record it, taking it to Number 1 all over the world and setting an example for rock’n’roll songs for a decade to come. Following this success, Leiber and Stoller were invited to write songs especially for Elvis, which they did for a number of years before feeling they were in a rut and needed to move on. Leiber once said ‘We could write any song- but I think we preferred with straight blues or those burlesque inventions that we did for the Coasters.’ Nonetheless, some have suggested that, ‘If Elvis Presley was the king of rock’n’roll, then Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were two of the most important powers behind the throne.’


The tracks included on this compilation are a representative collection of hit recordings of Leiber-Stoller songs, but the fact it is by no means comprehensive gives some idea of the huge catalogue they produced. The singers here read like a who’s who of blues and rock’n’roll – Etta James, Ruth Brown, Buddy Holly, Johnny Mathis, Lonnie Donegan, Ben E King and Peggy Lee, to name only a few.


After their successful run at Atlantic in the late Fifties and early Sixties, Leiber and Stoller eventually left the label in 1964 to regain their artistic freedom and continued generating successful material for many years to come. Though the era of timeless singles faded long ago, Leiber and Stoller remained active in the music business up until Jerry Leiber’s death on 22 August2011 in Los Angeles.


Leiber and Stoller also gained many major awards. They were inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1985, the Record Producers’ Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In the year 2000, while celebrating their 50th anniversary as a team, they received the coveted Ivor Novello Award from the British Academy of Songwriters.

But the greatest accolade of all is in those artists who have subsequently recorded their songs. They include the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, James Brown, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers, Bill Haley and the Comets, Barbra Streisand, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Tom Jones, Edith Piaf, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, BB King, and Otis Redding, among literally hundreds.


Through it all they remained behind the scenes, never venturing out to record anything in their own names. This was initially because they did not think it right for a white man to record the blues: later, when they were fully in charge of writing and production, they felt the records were as much theirs as the artists anyway. They were top of the game in an era when the song was the thing – and the challenge was to find the right artist and the right production to make it a hit.


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1. Hound Dog – Elvis Presley
2. Ruby Baby – Dion
3. Take It Like A Man – Gene Pitney
4. My Boy John – Baby Jane & The Rockabyes
5. Love Me – Johnny Burnette
6. Lucky Lips – Ruth Brown
7. It’s My Turn To Cry – Jay & The Americans
8. Spanish Harlem – Ben E. King
9. Kansas City – Wilbert Harrison
10. Some Other Guy – Richie Barrett
11. I’ll Be There – Damita Jo
12. Alligator Wine – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
13. Cafe Espresso – Leiber-Stoller Orchestra
14. I Keep Forgettin’ – Chuck Jackson
15. Smokey Joe’s Café – The Robins
16. Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello – Elvis Presley
17. Don Juan – LaVern Baker
18. The Bossa Nova (My Heart Said) – Tippie & The Clovers
19. All Is Well – Johnny Mathis
20. Fools Fall In Love – The Drifters
21. Falling – Sammy Turner
22. Hollerin’ & Screamin’ – Little Esther
23. Charlie Brown – The Coasters
24. Keep Tellin’ Yourself – Marv Johnson
25. Love Potion No.9 – The Clovers


1. Stand By Me – Ben E. King
2. Baby I Don’t Care – Buddy Holly
3. There Goes My Baby – The Drifters
4. Tears Of Joy – Etta James
5. Shack Daddy – Betty Jean Morris
6. Poison Ivy – The Coasters
7. The Chicken And The Hawk – Big Joe Turner
8. Riot In Cell Block #9 – Wanda Jackson
9. Black Denim Trousers And Motorcycle Boots – The Diamonds
10. Blues For Me – Eddie Fisher
11. Drinkin’ Fool – Big John Greer & His Rhythm Rockers
12. You Laugh – Jack Jones
13. Your Old Lady – The Isley Brothers
14. Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
15. Corn Whiskey – Jimmy Witherspoon
16. The Snow Is Falling – Ray Charles
17. Heavenly Blues – King Curtis
18. You’re The Boss – LaVern Baker & Jimmy Ricks
19. Dancin’ – Perry Como
20. Lips – Roy Hamilton
21. Take My Love – Mabel Scott
22. Framed – Ritchie Valens
23. Sorry, But I’m Gonna Have To Pass – Lonnie Donegan
24. Don’t – Elvis Presley
25. Jack O’Diamonds – Ruth Brown


1. Dance With Me – The Drifters
2. I’m A Woman – Peggy Lee
3. Kansas City – Little Willie Littlefield
4. You’ll Be There – Clyde McPhatter
5. Searchin’ – The Coasters
6. King Creole – Elvis Presley
7. Saved – LaVern Baker
8. Tricky Dicky – Richie Barrett
9. Drums – Jay & The Americans
10. The Draw – Sherman & The Teenagers
11. Hound Dog – Big Mama Thornton
12. Fanny Lou – Frankie Marshal
13. Back Door Blues – Jimmy Witherspoon
14. It’s Been So Long – Jo Stafford
15. Teach Me How To Shimmy – The Isley Brothers
16. Get Off My Wagon – Linda Hopkins
17. I Smell A Rat – Big Mama Thornton
18. Broken – Patty Andrews
19. Bazoom (I Need Your Lovin’) – The Cheers
20. I Want To Do More – Ruth Brown
21. Treat Me Nice – Elvis Presley
22. Destination Love – Wynonie Harris
23. The Lady Wants To Twist – Steve Lawrence
24. Flesh, Blood And Bones – Little Esther
25. Here Comes Henry – Young Jessie