Thursday, 30 July 2009

Ultimate Jerry Lee Lewis clip

I always get people asking me why I love Jerry Lee Lewis so much and I end up boring them about his songs, his life story, the fact that he plays anything from rock 'n' roll to country to dixieland, blah, blah, blah. Two minutes ago I found my future answer. I'm going to send them this youTube clip and they can see for themselves.

It's got everything I loe about the Killer. The playing is great, but the arrogant sneer, the laugh, the general mayhem, it's all here. It's nearly six minutes of his arrival (dig the short change he gives the so-called celebrity), a mad backstage interview and a couple of song clips from Bourges, 1987. How many g's in swagger?

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Classic Album revisited - The Sharks

The Sharks - Phantom Rockers
Nervous Records
1.Moonstomp 2.Skeleton rock 3.It's all over now 4.Crazy maybe 5.Take a razor to your head 6.Death row 7.Love bites 8.Short shark shock 9.Ruff stuff 10.Phantom rockers 11.Charlie! 12.Slipped disc 13.I can't stop 14.Electrifyin' 15.Ghost train 16.We say yeah

I wrote this a couple of years ago and after listening to the Sharks going to work this morning I thought it would be worth adding it hear.

When I bought this wonderful album in the mid-80s I had no idea who the band were. I'd never heard of them and had never seen a review for the album, but I was attracted by the cover and the back photos of three sharp rockabillies with leopard skin kit and the basic line-up, double bass, giutar and snare drum. I thought the cover would look good on the wall even if the music was crap. Fear not, the music contained within, is the best psychobilly album ever recorded - to these ears anyway.

Members Alan Wilson (guitar), Steve Whitehouse (bass) and Paul Hodges (drums) developed from a typical rockabilly revival band into one of the neo-rockabilly / psychobilly movements premier bands. Recording for the genre's leading label, Nervous Records, they produced the brilliant Phantom Rockers in 1982. The album was recorded in just a few days with most of the songs written on the way to the studio.

The album kicks off is stunning style with the frantic Moonstomp, my first taste of Wilson's crispy clean guitar style and the equally brilliant slap-bass playing of Whitehouse. Others in the manic, breakneck psycho style are Charlie and Ghost Train. Ghost Train is an astonishing gallop with all three playing their instruments like no other psycho band has done before or since. The drumming and bass pound a massive beat at hell for leather speed and Wilson again demonstrates his prowess.

The pick of the hole lot has to be the wonderful story of Charlie, the chainsaw wielding 12 year old schoolboy who decaps the teacher before "He butchered all his classmates/and just to make his day/He smeared blood on the blackboard/ saying 'Charlie rules OK'. His parents would surely disapprove so "The headmaster sent a letter home/telling of what he done/'I know he is a lively lad/but this is not my idea of fun./You must point out to Charlie/that what he did was bad'/But Charlie doesn't care because /he's killed his Mum and Dad". Classic psychobilly, in fact, the best pyschobilly track ever, no question.

Ruff Stuff is pretty much a straight forward rockabilly record (they actually sound like the Polecats on this) as is their version of Sir Cliff's We Say Yeah. Short Sharp Shock is neo-rockabilly of the highest order as is the free bit of haircut advice, Take A Razor To your Head. Skeleton Rock, Electrifyin' and Death Row are great numbers and again show off the prowess of all three. Their sound is so clear and the guitar notes are so pure that to me they just stand above the rest. I think it's like comparing Gene Vincent's Blue Caps sound to some of the obscure garage bands you hear on the Collector label.

On the slower end of the scale the best must surely be Love Bites. It's gentle and hypnotic and much surley be the greatest psychoballad ever. I've sang this song to myself for twenty years now and it still sounds fresh (their version not mine!).
"my baby is a vampire and she's not much good for you / my baby is a vampire and she'll suck the blood from you, / When you meet her at night times, and you love her charms/ But don't give her a cuddle coz then, you'll die in her arms".

The only tracks that don't really do much for me are Crazy Maybe and their cover of the Stones' It's All Over Now. Apparantly, the record still sells well in CD format, and over the years has even been issued on coloured vinyl and picture disc. It's a classic which you should own. Why not buy it from Nervous Records, after all, it's thanks to them that we got it in the first place.

The Excellos

The Excellos – The Excellos
Excellos CD001
Tracklisting: 1 I Got Love If You Want It 2 Catfish 3 You Don't Care 4 Jekyll & Hyde 5 Bad Boy Blues 6 Draw The Line 7 Black Betty 8 Cold Coffee 9 Jump 10 Sonny Rising 11 Kasbah 12 Lucky Charm 13 Suzy Q 14 Scratch & Sniff 15 Shake Your Hips 16 Down In The Bottom
The Excellos are a hot quartet from the UK. They couldn't have chosen a better name for themselves as they play in the rockin' blues style so famously recorded by the likes of Lightnin' Slim and Slim Harpo on the Excello label from Louisiana. It's good to see a band with this sound doing so well on the scene as it's been surprisingly underutilised over recent years. A notable exception was the great French band Boll Weevil who slayed a packed crowd at the Rhythm Riot a few years ago. I remember after the show they carried on playing a few songs in the foyer - it was hot and sweaty just as you'd imagine a Crowley gin joint to be circa 1961.
The Excellos are Craig Shaw, Adam Wakefield, Trev TC Collins and Paul Sheahan and they've all been on the scene in some form for the past couple of decades. Wakefield, Shaw and Sheahan were founder members of the Bop Shack Stompers and Collins was the drummer for the Western Bops.
The album kicks off with a great cover of Slim Harpo’s Got Love If You Want It with a driving beat and Shaw’s harmonica stealing the show. Jackyll & Hide was released as a single on Rollin’ Records last year and is wicked stomper with heavily amplified vocals and was backed by the instro Scratch & Sniff.
The whole album will appeal to rockers and bluesmen alike but the stand out moments for me include, Draw The Line, a rockabilly number with the bass beautifully recorded in the mix. Ram Jam’s Black Betty is a surprise choice that works well. Jump is in the Detroit era John Lee Hooker with a vocal that sounds like late 70’s George Thorogood. Not surprisingly, Slim Harpo is revisited with Shake Your Hips, no doubt a killer at their live shows. A really good album that will hopefully be the first of many.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Further Adventures of Los Straightjackets

It's hard to imagine but the infamous instrumentalos Los Straightjackets have been going twenty one years. It was back in the summer of 1988 that guitarists Eddie Angel and Danny Amis and drummer Jimmy Lester formed the trio in Nashville, aiming to bring the 60s sounds of the Ventures and Dick Dale to the masses. They mixed their high energetic surf rumble sound with a Mexican wrsetler look complete with intricate face masks. It wasn't just a gimmick though, these guys can play. I've got a couple of their albums, and as with all things instrumental, I enjoy them without going mad for it.

It's been a couple of years since their last release, and after a few experiments with vocal tracks and horn sections, it sees them firmly back in throbbing instrumental mode. There's nothing particularly new hear and I think most of these songs run better in islation than as part of an album. Viurtually without exception, these siongs could form part of a Hollywood soundtrack, any number of them sounding ideal to play as some guy gets his head blown-off on some remote Texas highway. All thirteen tracks come from within the band, the pick for me being the thunderous Blowout! and the melodious Catalina. Old fans will know what to expecta nd can buy with confidence, new fans can get the bug and start going through the back catalogue.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Battle of the Song No.3 - Leave My Kitten Alone

Leave My Kitten Alone - Little Willie John (King 5219 and King 5452)
Leave My Kitten Alone - Johnny Preston (Mercury 71761)

It wasn't unusual for a King record to be covered by it's artists for both the black and white markets. This time though, the white cover came from the Mercury label. Leave My Kitten ALone was written by the great Little Willie John, label mate Willie "Titus" Turner and James MacDougall.

Willie recorded the song in New York on 3rd June 1959 with a crack backing band that included Ernie Hayes on piano, Pinky Williams on sax and the momumental Mickey Baker on guitar. The backing vocals and Willie's voice work in perfect harmony before Pinky takes an extended solo. The song hit the number 13 in the r&b charts and on reissue went to number 60 on the pop charts. It makes you wonder what the top 59 was like!

Johnny Preston's version deviates little from the original, with the backing vocals threatening, but thankfully failing, to take the song over. Cut at the Bradley Studios in Nashville in late 1960, the country backers nail the song, giving it the big rock 'n' roll beat along the lines of Elvis Is Back. Once it had regained it's breath after the initial onslaught of rock 'n' roll, Music City had become one of the big beat's finest exponents, a perfect rockin' beat eminating from virtually every studio in town. Preston's vocals are engaging and the public respoonded by sending the record to number 73 in the charts.

The Beatles also covered it and gave it their typical 60s beat which lacks the drive of the two versions above. John Lennon sounds as good as ever, adn George Harrison takes a pretty neat solo but without the backing vocals, the songs falls short to my ears.

The winner in my eyes has to be Little Willie John. As good as Preston's is, the soulful voice of LWJ is just sooooo cool. What a talent.

Fever: The Very Best of Little Willie John (Rhino R2 71511)
Johnny Preston - Running Bear (Bear Family BCD 15473)
Beatles (youTube - you don't think I'd buy their albums do you).

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No.58 - God Bless Robert E. Lee - Johnny Cash

God Bless Robert E. Lee comes Johnny Cash’s 1983 album, Johnny 99. Although JC was no longer a regular on the charts he was by no means a fading light. No longer the shooting star that had blazed across the Memphis sky thirty years before, he had become more like the North Star – always there, solid, reliable and something reliable to guide your ship home.

The good thing about him being off the charts was that he was able to record, what, how and where he wanted without having to appease fickle, radio friendly ears. The Man In Black was now a middle aged, seasoned pro who could cut what he fancied, something that made Johnny 99 such a good album. For start he recorded it in North Hollywood at the Magnolia Sound Studios, away from the restrictive 2 hour - 4 song Nashville formula. The band was a mix of the West Coasters James Burton, Hal Blaine and Glen D Hardin and his own country boys, Bob Wootton and Marty Stuart.

The songs were taken from writers across the country with Nashville exiled Englishman Paul Kennerley providing a pair of peaches. That’s The Truth tells how you don’t really find the truth about a gal until the lights go out and the duet with June, Brand New Dance, which would have been an absolute classic if the wife had been replaced by the sister-in-law, Anita. Even better were the two numbers from Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, Johnny 99 and brilliant opener, Highway Patrolman, which allowed JC to preach about right and wrong like only JC could. Another highlight is Guy Clark’s New Cut Road which sees James Burton show why his clean picking was so revered.

God Bless Robert E. Lee comes from the pens of B Borches and the amazingly talented Mack Vickery, whose portfolio is up there with the best in the business. It pays tribute to the General’s common sense when the war was slipping away from the Confederacy. JC has the voice of authority, and his reading here sounds like a narration for the History channel. If Johnny had chosen a second career in this area, Morgan Freeman and James Earl Jones would have been out of work. When he sings he heard a Yankee say “yesterday Nashville fell”, his deep tone sounds like the thundering cannon blasts that would have been guilty of felling that Southern jewel. The music is strong an delicate in turns, like the quiet waiting and then sudden battle cries of the Civil War in question. It all takes place behind the Dixie beat, and is up there with his Ragged Old Flag for best compatriot song of his illustrious career. I’d love to hear Elvis do this ala An American Trilogy, with the band and his voice it would have been a goose-bumper. I could also imagine Jerry Lee Lewis doing it, a great addition it would have been to When Two Worlds Collide or Killer Country.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Elvis is Everywhere No. 4 - Bellagio Watches

Bellagio Time specialise in custom made watches for the stars, with Tom Jones among their clients. The Ol' Pusstcat himself reckons that if Elvis was alive today he'd be wearing a Bellagio watch. From what I've read over the years, I'm not sure Elvis was much of a slave to time, but who knows.

What I do know is that these watches are really nice, a bit more than I can pay for a watch, but bloddy good if you have got the readies ready. As well as some great looking "normal" watches they've got a couple of themed ones. The Aloha one is pretty cool but the one that takes my fancy is the '68 Comeback Special, with a leather look that matched the Kings clothing on the show. They are unique designs using precious and semi precious stones that make them stand out from any other Elvis watch I've seen.

I think it's really ironic that a guy who was late for virtually every recording session and somewho who slept in the day and stayed up all night would have such a great array of watches made in his honour. It's a bit like naming a lettuce after Fats Domino.

So if you've got the money, splash out and sing along to First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Doncha' Think It's Time or Steadfast, Loyal and True. (can you think of better?)

For an example of the quality invloved, the '68 watch has the following features:
• 13/4 inches wide stainless steel case
• Black Leather cuff strap
• Set with 204 sparkling stones
• Genuine Austrian crystals set at 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 & 11
• Day and date sub dials
• Precision quartz movement
• Two year manufacturer’s guarantee
• Three years movement warranty
• Presented in a 68 Comeback Special travel jewellery case with mirror

Monday, 20 July 2009

Mellokings - The Herald Sessions

The Mellokings – The Herald Sessions
Acrobat ACMCD4301

Tracklist: Tonight Tonight I Promise Our Love is Beautiful Sassafrass Once On a Windy Day The Only Girl (I'll Ever Love) Kid Stuff Chapel on the HIll Chip Chip Valerie Starbright Baby Tell Me (Why Why Why) Do Baby Do Running to You Penny I Played the Part of a Fool Thrill Me (Not originally issued) Dear Mr. Jock Till There Were None Workout (Not originally issued) She's Real Cool Love at First Sight Chapel on the Hill (alt.) Chip Chip (alt. - not originally issued) Tonight Tonight (alt.) Love at First Sight (alt.)

I gotta confession to make – I actually like white doo-wop as much as black doo-wop. Before you going hanging me from street corner lamppost, have a think, and I’ll bet you love it too. You got Dion and the Belmonts to start with, then you got a whole tenement block full of groups like Vito and the Salutations and the Mellokings. Acrobat Records have just released a CD by the Mellokings and there is plenty on it for beginners. I’ve only borrowed it from a friend as I’ve got their stuff on Relic and to be honest, there’s not enough on the new one to need an upgrade. However, if you haven’t got anything by them, what can you expect?

First and foremost the band are famous for the beautiful 1957 ballad, Tonite Tonite which although revered in doo-wop circles, only reached numbers 77 and 95 on it’s original release and it’s1961 reissue.

The group formed in 1956 in Mount Vernon, New York and consisted of Bob Scholl (tenor), his younger brother, Jerry Scholl (high tenor), and Eddie Quinn (second tenor), Neil Arena (baritone) and Larry Esposito (bass). They signed for Al Silver, owner of Herald and Ember Records and recorded Tonite, Tonite at their first session together with the flip, Do Baby Do.

The follow-up single in September 1957, Chapel On The Hill was another lovely ballad while the flip, Sassafras was more of a novelty teen rock ‘n’ roller. Before the year was out Herald released a third single, the uptempo Baby Tell Me Why, Why, Why and the ballad The Only Girl. Despite promotional appearances and national exposure on the likes of American Bandstand and working an Irvin Feld 17 day tour featuring the Everly Brothers, the Crickets, the Rays, the Hollywood Flames, Eddie Cochran, and Jimmy Rodgers, they still couldn’t crack the charts.

The writing must have been on the wall that chart success would allude them after the glorious ballad Valerie failed to register the following March. She's Real Cool maintained the excellence, being an archetypal zoom-bappa-boom style doo-wopper. If I have to be negative here, I’d say that the instrumental breaks on most of their songs, leave a lot to be desired and can lose the momentum.

In the spring of 1958, the Mellokings became a four-piece when Neil Arena left. Mot long after, Larry Esposito also left, and the Mellokings replaced them with Louis Jannacone and Tony Pinto. This was the line-up that recorded Chip Chip in November 1958. Released in January 1959, Chip Chip is a great novelty that had hit record written all over it. The flip Running To You was a nice slowie that had more than a hint of Dion about it.

It was over a year before the next release, another lovely ballad, Our Love Is Beautiful backed by the neat Dear Mr. Jock. By the end of 1960 the group was back to being a quartet with Jerry Scholl, Bobby Scholl, Lou Jannacone, and Tony Pinto. Kid Stuff and I Promise from September ’60 both have their moments but if Valerie and Chip Chip weren’t going to hit, these certainly wouldn’t.

Late 1960 saw the issuing of their only album, The Mellokings Sing, which makes up the first half of this Acrobat CD. As well as containing the singles released to date, it also featured a couple of previously-unreleased numbers including the too-white and too-shite, Once On A Windy Day.

With doo-wop enjoying a second coming as early as 1961, the Mellokings could have been forgiven for thinking that they were finally in the right place as the right time. Penny is heavily stringed but the vocals are nice enough but it was their final Herald release in October where they hit their highest artistic heights since Tonite Tonite. Love At First Sight has everything a classic doo-wop record should have, relentless ooh-ah’s behind a lifting lead vocal. It’s a beauty and with Bobby Scholl sublime. Among the autographs he was signing at the time, the biggest was for a certain Uncle Sam, as he was drafted.

That’s the story as far as this CD goes. If you’ve got the Relic album you won’t need this, but if not, t’s a more than worthwhile item that should find a warm reception in any doo-woppers collection.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Art Meripol's concert photos

Art Meripol is a photographer from the southern states of the USA. Whilst looking for a photo of Billy Lee Riley I came across a website chockful of his great photos.

His website has an amazing array of on-stage photos from the 70's to the 90's, featuring a range of artists from Bruce Springsteen to Waylon Jennings. There's some wonderful photos of Jerry lee in a cowboy hat from 1981 and some beauties of BB King. You also get Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Bo Diddley....

If the link below doesn't work, just copy and paste it - you won't regret it.

Bill Lee Riley Benefit Gig

Sun Records legend, Bill Lee Riley, is in desperate need of help these days, with growing health bills following a couple of years of unbelievable back luck. He's currently being treated for cancer and in an effort to help him out, Sonny Burgess and the Pacers are holding a benefit show for Billy Lee on August 30 at 1 pm at the Silver Moon in Newport, Arkansas.

Original Pacer, Bobby Crafford is trying to line up a number of artists to play with all the proceeds going to Billy Lee. Anyone interested in attending or playing should contact Bobby Crafford at or on 501-803-4834.

Also, our best friend Bob Timmers is helping raise money for Billy Lee, visit for more details.

Rock 'n' Roll Art No. 2

J.D.Sipe was born in 1951 in the small farming community of New London, Wisconsin but has lived most of his life in New Mexico. He is an award winning self-taught artist who specialises in painting blues singers and general musicians that he's a fan of. He paints on pine boards, and embellishes his paintings with bits of recycled aluminium can. See Lightnin' Hopkins' tie and handkerchief as an example.

Among our heroes to look out for, Snipes has painted Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Hank Williams, BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Away from art he is the bass player for the blues band the HooDoos, performing in saloons, dancehalls, honky-tonks, roadhouse and nightclubs throughout the Southwest. He has been a professional musician for more than thirty years, and has performed with such bluesmen as Homesick James, Joe Huston, Buddy Ace and Wild Child Butler. He loves to tell the story about the night that Steve Winwood sat in with his band at the Chicago Bar in Tucson.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No.58 - Big Bad John (for John Hartson)

Welsh footballer John Hartson, 34, is currently facing a fight for life after being diagnosed with cancer of the testicles, brain and lungs. Today he has undergone emergency neurosurgery on his brain and is in a critical condition in a Swansea hospital.

I've watched Big John in the flesh for Wales about half a dozen times and everytime he gave you 100 per cent. He led the line in formidable fashion, giving the defenders a rough ride - he knew where the goal was as well. He might not have been the most mobile player to bless our red shirt, but he wore his heart on his sleeve and the fans love and respect that. There was a spell a few years ago at the Millenium where they used to play Big Bad John in tribute, so I'm going to do the same.

I and no doubt fans around the country wish him all the best. I hope you pull through Big John.

As for the song, Big Bad John was a massive hit for country singer Jimmy Dean in 1961, a perfect bit of Nashville countrypolitan. Ironically, the song tells the tale of an heroic miner, a profession that was once the major one in Wales. Another parallel between the two is that Jimmy Dean went onto become famous for making sausages, whilst JH was a bit of porker.

Little known fact No.1 - Phil's ex Mair taught the young JH in a school in Swansea.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Various: Good Rockin' Tonight - Red Hot Rockabilly
Fantastic Voyage - B002BANBV2

I’ve just been sent a review copy of the latest in a long line of rockabilly box sets and have to say it one of the finest compilations you could dream up. Compiled by renowned rockabilly Lucky Parker, 'Good Rockin Tonight-Red Hot Rockabilly' is a 3CD 75 track set including much sought after tracks from the likes of Sun, Decca, Capitol, Columbia, Mercury, RCA and Brunswick labels.

Fantastic Voyage was launched this February, a subsidiary of Future Noise Music which itself only came into being in January. The labels will feature releases of r&b, soul, blues, jazz and rock 'n' roll to punk, electronica and rock. A new imprint, Year Zero will be launched in September, dealing with the punk era onwards.
As I said, there’s been no end of rockabilly compilations taking advantage of the 50 year copyright ruling, but Good Rockin' Tonight - Red Hot Rockabilly, is one of the best. We get the full variety of the genre from the uptempo hillbilly side to the flat-out high-octane rockabilly blasters. They all come from the prime-time period of rockabilly, 1954 to 1958.

From the country side of things we get such classics as Ferlin Huskey’s Slow Down Brother, Webb Pierce’s Teenage Boogie, the Farmers Boys’ Cool Down Mame and Brenda Lee’s Little Jonah. From the dance-floor stomping market we get such shot-in-the-arm rockers as Ray Harris’ Come On Little Mama and Jack Earls’ Slow Down. There’s a whole slew of tracks that have gone on to become classics in the last few decades – Cast Iron Arm, Sixteen Chicks, Bop-A-Lena, and one of my all-time favourites, Love Bug Crawl b Jimmy Edwards (uuumm, what a thrill).

Sun records always looms large on compilations like this and here we get to bop to Warren Smith’s Miss Froggie, Sonny Burgess’ We Wanna Boogie and Hayden Thompson’s Love My Baby and a dozen or so other essentials.

Towards the end of the second CD you get two examples of backing vocals – they’re fine on the late-great Janis Martin’s Alright Baby but spoil Bob Luman’s Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache (the undubbed version would have fit the bill much better).

My two heroes, Jerry Lee and Elvis are well represented with not a dud between them. In actual fact there’s only one dud here, Billy Lee Riley’s over-rated Baby Please Don’t Go. I adore Billy and am saddened to here of his continued illness, but this song isn’t in the same league as the likes of Trouble Bound, Pearly Lee and countless others.

This is a must have item for new fans and for established rockers it’s a great collection to leave in the car to brighten up any journey. 74 classics out of 75 is a five star release in anyone’s book. Released this week, file under Essential.

Don Woody is coming to Europe

Finally!... Don Woody is coming to the Netherlands (for one and only
show in Europe!) for the 1st Rockabilly Bash festival in Cruise Inn
(Amsterdam) in November 7, 2009! It gonna be small set of him, only the
best hits, but surely worth to see! Don't loose your only chance!
Besides, three more bands will give hot rocking party in the most
popular rock'n'roll club in Europe!

The place itself is quite small, so for those who would like to come, we
advise to book tickets in advance. So you won't stand by the door,
hoping that somebody won't come and you will get extra ticket.

Here's Don's biography taken from his website:

Don Woody was born on June 29th 1937 in a very small town named Tuscumbia, Missouri. He started as a disc jockey when he was a junior in high school, where he also played drums in HS band. After graduation Don attended college (Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri) and got job as a DJ on "Top Forty" Rock and Roll station. In the college he met Paul Simmons, his room - mate, who was also interested in music. So they wrote some songs together and made some demos of those. During that time besides being a disc jockey Don did a stand-up comedy routine, performing at various local night clubs. One of the guys from "the Ozark Jubliee" saw him and invited Don to do warm-up for this national television country show, hosted by Red Foley. As a result of that Don Woody met a lot of the people involved with "the Ozark Jubilee", among which was Gary Walker, who became kind of his manager.

One day they brought in 11-year-old girl named Brenda Lee, who was looking for material for Decca Records. Then Gary played some of the Don Woody's demo tapes. In 1956, September of the 17th, Brenda Lee recorded "Bigelow 6200". It was her first release and she had "Jambalia" (written by Hank William) on the other side. Paul Bradley liked Woody's tapes and signed him to cut some demo records for Decca.

So Don Woody flew down to Nashville, Tennessee. Grady Martin and the "Slewfoot Five" (session group, which Grady Martin led for Decca in the 50's) were the band for his records. Owen Bradley produced the sessions.

Don Woody recorded four songs in Nashville (at the Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue, South Nashville, Tennessee).

Barking up the wrong tree (Decca 30277)
Bird dog (Decca 30277)
Make like rock'n'roll
Morse code

Only the first two songs were released by Decca at that time and even though "Bird Dog" sold pretty well, probably due to the success of a song with the same title by "The Everly Brothers", Decca couldn't be persuaded to renew Woody's contract and decided not to release 'Morse Code' and Make Like A Rock And Roll'.

Then Gary Walker decided to put out another record and Don Woody cut two more songs - 'Not I' and Red Blooded American Boy'. They found a record company called Arco (which was located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) to record them. The session was cut in 1958. But Arco was quite small and didn't have any money for promotion, so that record faded away too.

Not I (Arco 4623)
Red blooded American boy (Arco 4623)

By the year 1961 Don Woody was married and had a child, so he needed steadier job to support the family. As a result he went to work for Sears-Roebuck & Co, became a store manger and then a Regional Vice President. Thirty years later, in 1991, he retired from Sears and moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he currently lives with his wife Betty.

Don Woody's Barking Up The Wrong Tree backed with "Cast Iron Arm" by Peanuts Wilson was released on 9th of April 1976 by MCA in the UK. The record received considerable airplay, especially on Capital Radio, and appeared bubbling under the British Top Fifty. As a result Roger Scott interviewed Woody for Capitol Radio and in the same it was published in the issue 12 (1976) of rock'n'roll magazine "New Kommotion". Also In 1976 the British band "Matchbox" covered "Make like rock'n'roll" on their first album "Riders in the Sky" (Rockhouse LP 7612).

The songs of Don Woody were re-released several times, the most well known re-issues in supreme quality are probably the ones on the Bear Family series "That'll flat git it! - Volume 2". Morse code unfortunatly is not included on this compilation, but Bear Family included it later on "That'll flat git it! - Volume 6". It can also be found on other obscure mixtures like on the "Rare Rockabillies" series (Volume 1). The two Arco songs can be found on the Eagle records release "The Chicken Are Rockin' - Volume 2". So we can see and hear that Woody's songs are still being played by many well known as well as unknown and obscure rockabilly bands around the world.

Els Versteijnen - RIP

Els Versteijnen
21st May 1948 - 8th July 2009

Els Versteijnen, the wife of Piet died on 8th July after a long illness. Els was a great, long-time fan of Jerry and a good friend to the whole Lewis family and to all of us fans.

Els was a familiar sight at Jerry's shows for over 20 years and often wore a red hat like the one in the picture - Jerry could always spot Els from the stage! Wherever Jerry goes there are long-time fans he knows and trusts. In Holland it was Wim and Ans, and Piet and Els. When Jerry thought a promoter would try to claim back his fee - it was Els and Piet who Jerry trusted to hide the money.

Els had a long standing relationship with Jerry Lee's daughter Phoebe and they often went shopping together whether it was in Memphis, in Holland or in Bocholt.

Els was a happy, friendly person, always smiling and will be greatly missed on the Jerry Lee scene. I never knew Els personally, but her warmth was legendary among the Killer's fans and as such I feel that her life should be remembered. (Thanks to Graham Knight for the majority of this tribute).

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

The FretTones - Down On My Luck

The FretTones - Down On My Luck


The FretTones are one of the most exciting new bands on the UK scene and their debut release, Down On My Luck will only enhance their growing reputation. Formed two years ago at the Spiders Web in Edinburgh, they consist of Keith Turner on lead vocals, Martin Barret (The Tennessee Hot Shots) on lead guitar and Alan McCubbin (The Accelarators) on upright bass, with occasional drummers to complete the quartet. They play authentic rockabilly and have already made successful debuts at Hemsby and the Rockabilly Rave.

Down On My Luck was recorded at the now legendary Chris Cummings' Riverside Studio in Blackpool, and features a bunch of originals with just a few covers. Ross Wilson plays drums on a handful and Cummings plays steel and three including the sublime So Long Goodbye, which not surprisingly had a Riverside Trio feel to it. Something I Done is a hard rocking opener and they also excel on the hot rockin' blues of Poor Little Baby.

Of the covers, Al Ferriers' My Baby Done Gone Away is changed the most from the original and it works well. Sonny Fisher's Sneaky Pete is a great cover with the stinging guitar echoing the original. It's great to hear someone do Bob Luman's Make Up Your Mind. I'm surprised more people don't give him as whirl. This is a brilliant debut release and one of the best albums I've heard for a while.

Elvis Is Everywhere No. 3 - Snowdon

I climbed Snowdon this weekend, it's trhe tallest mountain in Wales and is a bloody long way up and not surprisingly, just as long down. Anyhoots, who should I meet up at the top but none other than Elvis Presley. I know Elvis is everywhere, but I didn't think that would mean Snowdon. Then again, he the King of Rock.

He did a few requests in a short set that included, You Gave Me A Mountain, Cying In Capel Curig, the alternate Way Down (Way Up), Little Cabin On The Hill, Walk A Mile In My Hiking Boots, So High before closing with the Kissin' Cousins classic, Smokey Mouintain Boy. Thankfully he gave I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell a miss. If there's any tracks he could have done, check the comments below and I'll bet Uncle Phil will have come up with a boxset full.