Songwriter Bert Berns Saluted
As a songwriter/performer/arranger, the late Bert Berns was responsible for songs that are synonymous with the likes of Van Morrison ("Brown Eyed Girl"), Ben E. King ("Stand By Me"), the Drifters ("UnAs a songwriter/performer/arranger, the late Bert Berns was responsible for songs that are synonymous with the likes of Van Morrison ("Brown Eyed Girl"), Ben E. King ("Stand By Me"), the Drifters ("Under the Boardwalk"), and the Isley Brothers ("Twist and Shout"), among many others. To celebrate his legacy, Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Doug Morris personally selected the 10 classic songs that comprise the collection "The Heart and Soul of Bert Berns," due Oct. 1 via Universal Records.
"There was only one reason why I decided to put this album together, and that was to celebrate the music and life that was Bert Berns," Morris said in a statement. "He was one of the few people in the music business who did in fact change the world through his talent; he made a virtue of being different, and everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Beatles recognized this and wanted to be part of it. What this record really is then is a monument to the extraordinary vision and impact of one man."
A child of Jewish Russian immigrants, Berns was born in 1929 and worked as a songwriter beginning in the late 1950s (sometimes under the name Bert Russell and sometimes with partner Jerry Ragovoy). He later became a staff producer at Atlantic Records and ultimately a partner in two Atlantic Records' imprints -- Bang! and Shout.
"The story of Bert's life begins in a tough New York neighborhood, where the influence of his Puerto Rican and Black neighbors left an indelible musical impression," his brother Brett Berns said. "He was one of -- if not the first -- to incorporate Latin rhythms into rock'n'roll and soul." A childhood bout with rheumatic fever left him with a permanently weakened heart, and was ultimately responsible for ending his short but prolific career on Dec. 31, 1967, when he died at age 38 of a heart attack.
Among the highlights of "The Heart and Soul of Bert Berns" is "Piece of My Heart." Later made famous by Janis Joplin, the version on the Universal set was recorded by Erma Franklin, sister of the legendary Aretha Franklin. Other gems include Solomon Burke's "Cry to Me" and "Freddy Scott's "Are You Lonely for Me."
"This record is not just a collection of Bert's biggest hits," Morris writes in his liner notes for the set. "These songs are what I feel are the essence of Bert Berns."
Here is the track list for "The Heart and Soul of Bert Berns":
"Are You Lonely for Me, Baby," Freddie Scott
"Everybody Needs Somebody To Love," Solomon Burke
"Baby, Come on Home," Hoagy Lands
"Cry Baby," Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters
"I Don't Want To Go on Without You," the Drifters
"Piece of My Heart," Erma Franklin
"You'll Never Leave Him," the Isley Brothers
"Cry to Me," Solomon Burke
"White Gardenia," Hoagy Lands
"Twist and Shout," the Isley Brothers