|Rockin' Song of the Week - Number 30|
Flatfoot Shakers -Gold Diggin' Mama
As mad as this might sound, Gold Diggin' Mama sounds for all the world like Jack Baymoore & the Bandits on Meteor Records circa 1956. Curled lipped vocals, authentic rockabilly guitar licks and oodles of feel-good factor. The Flatfoot Shakers area quartet from Down Under and they're further evidence of the excellent Australian scene. Singer Kieron McDonald has the perfect blend of hiccups and tease while lead guitarist Peter Baylor has obviously done his homework and studied the genre's greatest pickers. Gold Diggin' Mama is one of those relentless rockabilly boogies that makes you wanna move your feet and grab the air mic. I just played it for a girl here in work and she didn't really like it - proof to me that it's a classic!
Recommended downloads; I'm Getting Rid Of You, a great cover of Louisiana Mama and Hey There Friend.
Rockin' Song of the Week - Number 29
Jerry King & the Rivertown Ramblers - You Forgot Your Name El Toro Records (2006)
Although this fourpiece come from Cincinnati, Ohio they relocated to the home of rockabilly, Memphis, Tennessee where they've built a reputation as one of the best bands on the scene. Lead singer and principal songwriter Jerry King has a real 50's voice and this, combined with the bands mellow rocking sound gives them a Go Cat Go feeling. They recorded their first three albums at Sun Studios and signed with one of Europe's top labels, El Toro. You Forgot Your Name is more Don't Be Cruel than Baby Let's Play House. It's hiccupy, echo-laden and you'd swear it was cut in 1957. The backing vocals are spot on and lead guitarist Jason Roeper keeps it simple with a couple of authentic solos. If you dig the melodic rock 'n' roll of Ral Donner, you'll dig this and most of the A Date With Jerry King & the Rivertown Ramblers album.
Recommended downloads: Honky Tonk Bop, Bad Dreams (surely this is Ral Donner!), My Baby Said Goodbye.
Rockin' Song of the Week - Number 28
Billy Nelson - Pack, Shack And Stack Your Blues Away Sun (Savoy 1183)
Big band rock 'n' roll from the glorious Savoy label, Pack, Shack And Stack Your Blues Away was the b-side to Walk Along. Bluesman Nelson was more of a singer than a shouter and this little ditty has New York stamped all over it. The label credits the 5 Wings with the backing vocals but the reality is that only three of them are heard. They became the Dubs, but in November 1955 when this session took place they were happy to get what work they could. It's a fine slab of rock 'n' roll with a sax break that blows the roof-off.
Rockin' Song of the Week - Number 27
Narvel Felts Kiss-A-Me Baby Sun (unissued)
They say only two things are certain death and taxes. Well you can a third to the list - Narvel Felts will always reply to his fan mail. One of the great, sincere people of the music industry this choice is made not because he's a good guy but because of the quality of the music. Despite a handful of red hot rockers for Sun Records he left the label within five months with no releases seeing the light of day at the time sound familiar? Kiss-A-Me Baby was cut on Union Avenue on April 5th 1957 with his regular band of JW Grubbs, Jerry Tuttle, Bob Taylor and Leon Barrett. The song kicks off with jungle-drum rhythm and builds as it leads to the chorus. It was re-cut for Mercury a month later than the Sun session and was released as a single but the version pales compared to the Sun take. The addition of a sax adds nothing and the lack of drive and passion makes it hard to believe that the band was virtually the same.
Recommended downloads: Did You Tell Me, Lonesome Feeling, I'm Headin' Home.
Rockin' Song of the Week - Number 26
Al Willis & The Swingsters Rock Your Little Baby To Sleep (Tail Records)
Makes Buddy Knox sound like Jimmy Bowen. Actually that suggests that Al Willis' version is all crash, bang, whollop but in honesty it's anything but. It's hard driving and relentless but it's very controlled and expertly played. The band take the song at a quicker pace than Buddy Knox's original without sacrificing the songs melody. The band are French and have been going for over a decade. Both their Tail Records, Rock The Bop and Got What It Takes are well worth checking out.
Recommended downloads: The great I've Gotta Find Someone, Angelina and When I'm Gone.
Rockin' Song of the Week - Number 25
Eddie & the Flatheads Green Man (On The Hill Records)
Think Billy Lee Riley's Flyin' Saucer Rock 'n' Roll meets the new Millenium and you're getting close to Eddie & the Flatheads Green Man. It's relentless rockabilly boogie with a pulsating beat. Front man William Svensson is a formidable singer and an uncompromising guitarist, a good combination for a rockabilly main man. The Flatheads sound like the Little Green Men, with equal measures of urgency and technique. Don't know much about them other than they're Swedish, but I like what I've heard.
Recommended downloads: Gonna Love My Baby Now, Record Hop, Stop Shakin' That Tree, Woodchopper.
Rockin' Song of the Week - Number 24
James Intveld Perfect World (Bear Family)
From the excellent Bear Family CD Introducing James Intveld, Perfect World was the opening cut and laid the foundation for a thirty minute pleasure trip. I first heard James Intveld on the Cry Baby soundtrack where he provided the vocals for Johnny Depp to lip-synch to. He was born in Holland but grew up in Compton, California. By the early 1980's he was fronting the local rockabilly band The Rockin' Shadows , before getting to film "My Heart is Achin' For You" for the 1984 movie Roadhouse 66 starring a young William Dafoe. It was whilst opening for Ricky Nelson at The Rumbleseat Garage in Long Beach that The Rockin' Shadows impressed Ricky so much that he invited James's brother Ricky and Pat Woodward to join his Stone Canyon Band. On December 31, 1985, Ricky and all his band perished in a plane crash with James taking the death of his brother bad. He laid low on the music scene for a long time just playing back-up in bands for the likes of Rosie Flores, Ray Campi and Billy Swan. In 1995 Bear Family asked James to do a song called "Barely Hangin' On", for a 20th anniversary compilation they were releasing. This led to the Introducing JI album which won the award for the best country roots CD from Music Connection for 1996. More albums have followed as well as a reputation as a fine live act. Perfect World is a loping, easy going rockaballad in the style he has made his own. His melodic vocals show the influence of Ricky Nelson/Roy Orbison and the band sound more like the Nashville A team than Bill Haley's Comets.
Recommended downloads: Samantha, My Heart Is Achin' For You, Cryin' Over You and the Cry Baby soundtrack is also worth checking out.
Rockin' Song of the Week - Number 23
Bobby Day Beep Beep Beep - Class 215
Bobby Day gives a nod to the Coasters with this novelty rocker. Sax man Plas Johnson takes the role of King Curtis, the only surprise is that it's not written by Leiber and Stoller. Cut at Barney's Studio in Los Angeles in 1957 the band comprise the cream of the West Coast session men, including Johnson, Barney Kessell, Red Callender and Earl Palmer. Bobby Day had been a part of the CA scene pretty much since he'd moved there as a teenager from Texas, and his work with the Hollywood Flames and his solo singles for Class oozed the famous West Coast sound. Yeah, it had a sound long before the Beach Boys!
Recommended downloads: Over And Over, Three Young Rebs From Georgia, and the brilliant Ain't Gonna Cry No More.
Rockin' Song of the Week - Number 22
Mac Curtis Goosebumps King (unissued)
Mac Curtis was a natural rockabilly star. Like most teenage Texans in the '50s he grew up on a diet of country music before becoming aware of rhythm and blues. By the middle of the decade Texas had become a regular stomping ground for the mad Memphis rockabillies who were cutting up the South. Youngsters from bob Luman to Buddy Holly were hooked and before long the recording studios in Fort Worth and Dallas were being bombarded by young hopefuls. Mac was great from the get-go. His first session in April 1956 had yielded a couple of crackers in Granddaddy's Rockin' and If I Had Me A Woman, followed a couple of months later with That Ain't Nothin' But Right. By the time Curtis recorded his third session he'd worked an Alan Freed package tour with no less a star than Little Richard. It was at this session that he recorded Goosebumps, which inexplicably went unreleased for two decades. The band cook in the controlled manner that enchanted many a Texas rockabilly record from Peanuts Wilson to Sid King. It was restrained and melodic and if most of them had been cut 4 or 5 years later they could have made more impact. Cut at the Jim Beck Studio in Dallas on 10 February 1957, the session was produced by the songs writer Louis Innis and featured Bill Peck on drums, Kenny Cobb on bass and Jay Brinkley on lead guitar.
Recommended downloads: Granddaddy's Rockin', If I Had Me A Woman, That Ain't Nothin' But Right, Say So, You Ain't Treatin' Me Right.
Rockin' Song of the Week - Number 21
The Marquees -Wyatt Earp / Hey Little School Girl - Okeh 4-7096
Not to be confused with the Marquees on Grand, the Marquees on Len, the Marquees on Daysel or the Marquees on Warner Brothers, these Marquees recorded for Okeh in 1957. From Washington D.C. they consisted of Reese Palmer (first tenor), Marvin Gaye (second tenor/baritone), James Nolan (second tenor/baritone) and Chester Simmons (bass). They played local shows, sometimes with the addition of Peasie Adams who introduced them to Bo Diddley who was living in D.C. at this time. They were soon signed by Bo's manager Phil Landwehr who landed them Columbia Records' Okeh subsidiary. They cut Wyatt Earp and Hey Little School Girl at their first session at CBS Building on Broadway on 25th September 1957. They were backed by Bo and his band and it was beautiful. Hey Little School Girl is an up tempo jiver with a deadly combination of extreme-doowopping and a crack r&b band. Palmer takes the lead vocals and he's so full of life but the star of the show for me is Simmons with his "bbbrrrrmmm's". Jerome Green sparkles on maracas and there's a tasty sax solo in the middle. Okeh weren't impressed by the recording of Wyatt Earp so they sent them back to the studio on November 12 to re-record it with Bo's band. Simmons is again the star turn and the guitar solo is hot as well - anyone know if that's Mickey Baker? Despite good reviews the song went no-where and the Marquees left both Okeh and Phil Landwehr. Chester Simmons became a driver and valet for Bo Diddley and through this managed to persuade Harvey Fuqua of the Moonglows to come on board and from there the dynamics of the group changed constantly including become the new Moonglows for Fuqua. I think it's fair to say that Marvin Gaye went on to bigger things but he never went to anything better than Okeh 4-7096, a rock 'n' roll gem.