There was only one Timi Yuro. The late, Chicago-born Italian-American vocalist was signed to Liberty Records as a teenager, bringing jazz and R&B influences into her emotional, heart-on-its-sleeve blue-eyed soul style. After having spent the first portion of her career at Liberty, Yuro departed the label in 1963. She was dubbed The Amazing Timi Yuro by Mercury Records for her Quincy Jones-produced LP debut there in 1964, but Mercury never followed it up with another long-player, opting instead for a number of single releases. By late 1967, Yuro was back at Liberty, and the next year, Something Bad on My Mind arrived. Thanks to Cherry Red’s Morello Records label, that original stereo album has finally received a CD debut, paired with a new collection of twelve outtakes and rarities from Yuro’s Liberty tenures. Something Bad on My Mind + The Unreleased and Rare Liberty Recordings paints a full portrait of “the little girl with the big voice,” as she was once (rather accurately) called.
Something Bad on My Mind took its title from a tune penned by top U.K. tunesmiths Les Reed and Barry Mason (“Delilah,” “Kiss Me Goodbye,” “The Last Waltz”). The new liner notes by Yuro’s friend Mike Iannarelli reveal that three songs were cut by songwriter-producer Reed with Yuro, but only two were included on the album and the third has unfortunately been lost. “Something Bad on My Mind” is classy, sophisticated adult pop circa 1968 melding the vocalist’s husky, expressive pipes to a big, dynamic production. The second song from the Reed-Mason-Yuro triumvirate, “When He Wants a Woman,” doesn’t have as strong a hook, but Reed again pulled out the production stops to support Yuro’s singular vocal instrument.
Indeed, Yuro’s committed vocals hold together the album which was eventually culled from sessions with three different producers: Reed, U.K.-based Ian Green, and Timi’s old collaborator Belford Hendricks. Green produced “I Must Have Been Out of My Mind,” a brassy throwback ballad also recorded by Brenda Lee, Jim Nabors and John Rowles which Iannarelli reveals was Yuro’s own favorite track on the album. Green also helmed Yuro’s own co-written ballad “Wrong” and Tom Springfield’s uptempo “As Long As There is You” (which would have been a fine candidate for a single) as well as covers of songs popularized by Tom Jones (Lonnie Donegan’s “(It Looks Like) I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”) and Freddie Scott (Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “Hey Girl,” as “Hey Boy”). King’s yearning, dramatic melody was needless to say perfect for Yuro’s style, and Green delivered a storming, widescreen production that deserved more attention.
Belford Hendricks, whose own C.V. included key recordings with Yuro’s idol Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan and Aretha Franklin, produced the remaining four songs with his usual aplomb for both jazz and R&B styles. He arranged the stomping, string-driven groove of Northern Soul favorite “It’ll Never Be Over for Me” and the torch-styled “You Know You Don’t Want Me (So Why Don’t You Leave Me Alone)” from Johnny Mercer and Robert Emmett Dolan, writers of the abortive Broadway musical Foxy. (The melody was also cut by Connie Francis and Jim Nabors.) Hendricks was well-attuned to Yuro’s deep soul on “When You Were Mine” and “I Can’t Believe I’m Losing You,” the latter written by Phil Zeller who also penned “I Must Have Been Out of My Mind.” Though Yuro was unhappy with the mix released of the LP without her approval, Something Bad on My Mind holds up as a strong, diverse collection unified by the singer’s strength and the luxe arrangements.
Twelve rarities from the Liberty vaults round out Morello’s disc, some dating back to Yuro’s earliest days at the label. Yuro was around 20 years old but already possessed of a cool, sultry voice perfect for R&B on the (fully-produced) demo record of “Afraid of Tomorrow” and the now-standard “It’s Just a Matter of Time,” the latter written by producer Clyde Otis with Belford Hendricks and Brook Benton, who had the first hit with the tune. (It would soon attract vocalists from Aretha Franklin to Glen Campbell.) The torrid “Just When It Looked Like Forever” is another Otis/Hendricks co-write from the same 1961-1962 period as “Matter of Time.” Otis and Joy Byers’ “Wishing It Was You” was another song shared by Timi with Connie Francis; it’s a treat to hear Yuro’s distinctive treatment of the lyric. The writer of “I Still Love You” has been lost to time, but the tune gets a playful, urgent reading here. Vic Damone took the adaptation of the turn of the century Italian song “Mattinata” as “You’re Breaking My Heart” to No. 1 in 1949; subsequently, artists including The Ink Spots, Buddy Clark, and Keely Smith all recorded it. Timi’s typically lavish arrangement (adorned with Italian-style guitar) and commanding vocal make her recording an enjoyable addition to its many versions.
Four outtakes from 1963’s Make the World Go Away premiere here. The vocalist commandingly growls through the brash, swingin’ folk of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” and more sensitively offers the countrypolitan “Without You” (complete with Floyd Cramer-esque piano trills and a big chorus) and Hank Cochran’s three-hanky weeper “Yesterday’s Memories,” with its spoken recitations. Yuro would later re-record Willie Nelson’s “There’s a Way,” but here is her original version of the early tune from the future outlaw superstar.
Something Bad on My Mind + The Unreleased and Rare Liberty Recordings is a welcome addition to the shelf for any fan of Yuro, or indeed of great, soulful singing. It joins other releases in recent years such as Real Gone Music’s The Complete Liberty Singles (2012) and Cherry Red/RPM Records’ I’m a Star Now: Rarities 1956-1982 (2014). Alan Wilson has remastered this superb set produced by annotator Iannarelli and Morello’s Lee Simmonds. Timi might have had something bad on her mind, but this new collection is most definitely something good.
Timi Yuro, Something Bad on My Mind + The Unreleased and Rare Liberty Recordings (Morello MRLLX 50, 2015) (Amazon U.S.)
- Something Bad on My Mind
- I Must Have Been Out of My Mind
- (It Looks Like) I’ll Never Fall in Love Again
- It’ll Never Be Over for Me
- Hey Girl (Hey Boy)
- You Know You Don’t Want Me
- When He Wants a Woman
- As Long as There is You
- When You Were Mine
- I Can’t Believe I’m Losing You
- Afraid of Tomorrow
- It’s Just a Matter of Time
- Till the End of Time
- Just When It Looked Like Forever
- Wishing It Was You
- I Still Love You
- You’re Breaking My Heart
- She’ll (He’ll) Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain
- Without You
- Yesterday’s Memories
- I Get Ideas
- There’s a Way
Tracks 1-12 from Something Bad on My Mind, Liberty LP LST-7594, 1968
Tracks 14-16 originally included on The Timi Yuro Album, United Artists LP 5C 062-97969, 1976
Other tracks previously unreleased