In a world where every obscure album ever made is eventually reissued and proclaimed a long-lost classic, here’s one we didn’t see coming: an album made by the actor Joe Pesci before he became the actor Joe Pesci.
Yep, before he became famous as the potty-mouthed, terrifying mob hand Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas, Pesci carved out a low-key career in the New Jersey music scene playing guitar with Joey Dee and the Starliters, who briefly featured a young Jimi Hendrix in their ranks. And in 1968, after being discovered singing at the Palm Garden in New York’s Harlem, he released a solo album, Little Joe Sure Can Sing!
“Before Joe Pesci became a film legend, he was a singer,” confirms Rich Kamerman, COO/Label Manager of Brunswick Records.
“Unlike the soul and R&B that Brunswick was best known for, the artist billed as ‘Joe Ritchie’ delivered inspired versions of several early Bee Gees classics, paid tribute to the Lennon-McCartney songbook, and got bluesy on a Mel Torme gem, among the ten tracks on Little Joe Sure Can Sing!
“What could have been a mere curiosity from the distant past is actually a lost classic begging to be discovered by new generations of music lovers,” he adds. “Original vinyl copies continue to be sought-after collectibles, but now everyone can enjoy the album on their favourite streaming and download sites.”
Pesci’s phrasing and vocal tenderness were influenced by the jazz great “Little” Jimmy Scott, who he briefly lived with in Chicago, and the actor would go on to release two more albums. Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You was credited to his character in the 1992 movie My Cousin Vinny, while 2019’s Pesci… Still Singing finally saw his own name added to the sleeve artwork. On the same album, with a cover of Hoagy Carmichael’s The Nearness Of You recorded a decade earlier, he duetted with Scott.
Little Joe Sure Can Sing! is available on streaming platforms now.