Tuesday 29 September 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 75 - Hi-Tombs

Hi-Tombs - Sweet Rockin' Mama
Cannon 832

"Hey man, dip dip dip dip". This is what rockabilly is all about. The beat is a foot-tapper with a guitar or two driving the song along. They even throw in a line from the Big Bopper's Chantilly Lace. The Hi-Tombs, Sweet Rockin' Mama came out on Cannon Records out of Richmond, Virginia in 1960, but the record has a sound of a couple of years before. This is hard rockin', none of that Bobbybilly that was around at the time. The song was written by group member Cody Reynolds and Harold Wilson (queue Mike Yarwood impersonation) who had a split of the publishing with Starday Records. The flip, Weeping Willow is an uptempo instro that is okay but nowhere near as great as the top side. The best place to find the Sweet Rockin' Mama is on Ace's brilliant Starday Dixie Rockabilly Volume 1 CD.

George Jones - youTube update

Mellow kindly wrote to me regarding the George Jones youTube clip I posted the other day. He points out that the other musicians are the Tennessee Three, Marshall Grant, WS Fluke Holland and the legendary Luther Perkins. You're right Mellow, I hadn't even looked in the background for some reason. Looking at it again I even noticed that Johnny Cash himself is the guy twiddling with George's left ear at the end.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 74 - Lightnin' Hopkins - They Wonder Who I Am

Lightnin' Hopkins - They Wonder Who I Am
Herald 449 (1954)

If you thought hard rockin’ blues starts and ends with John Lee Hooker I’ll assume you haven’t heard Lightnin’ Hopkins on Herald. He had more labels than a recycled can but it was at Herald where he was at his rawest, brilliant best. One of my favourite songs is his slow blues, California Showers, but that’s not what I’m on about here. I’m listening to They Wonder Who I Am, one of the hardest-assed blues songs ever.

In two mammoth sessions in Houston, Texas in April 1954, Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins recorded no less than 26 songs. Backing himself on guitar, he had Donald Cooks on bass and Ben turner on drums, and boy do they earn their dough. They must have been sweating like rapists by the time they finished They Wonder Who I Am, not mention Lightnin's Boogie or Hopkins' Sky Hop. They Wonder Who I Am is nuthin’ but a roadhouse stomp as Brother Flip says, absolutely tenacious with Lightnin’ playing the most ferocious guitar you’re likely to hear. It might always sound like it’s in tune, but it always sounds like the guy is in the mood to boogie. “Now somebody asked me, please tell me who you am, soon as they found out, this is ain’t nothin’ but blues singing Sam.” Now, that might not be the exact lyric, because Lightnin’ was renowned for being hard to understand. I remember the Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins documentary where they had to have subtitles for his talking. And then there’s Fishing Clothes, or Sufficient Clothes. Ah, what a legend.

Rockin’ Single of the Week No. 73 - Lawton Williams

Lawton Williams – Moon Joe / Lightnin’ Jones
RCA 47-7580

Lawton Williams was better known for his song-writing than his singing, but don’t let that put for off. It’s not that his singing wasn’t any good, it’s just that his writing was breathtaking. Among the many hits he wrote are Fraulein, Color of The Blues and Farewell Party. When he died a couple of years ago, Bobby Braddock told the Tennessean that Lawton Williams’ songs “were hard country at a time when so much country was being influenced by rock and roll and rockabilly. He was a great songwriter." Williams was born in Troy, Tennessee on July 24th 1922, the son of a fiddler. I assume that the type of guy who play a string instrument not the type seeks dishonest ways of getting by.

While was stationed in Houston during World War II he fell under the influence of Floyd Tillman who helped hone his songwriting skills. He also began performing and by the end of the '40s he’d recorded for a handful of small country labels including Sultan and Fortune. Much of the ‘50s saw him working on the much celebrated Big D Jamboree, as well as more recording on Four Star, Coral, and Imperial. But it was the songs he wrote that got him the biggest accolades with Bobby Helms scoring big style with Fraulein, Hank Locklin’ making out with Geisha Girl and Color of the Blues going massive for the songs co-writer, George Jones. Williams did make the charts a couple of times in the early ‘60s with the 1963 novelty "Everything's OK on the LBJ," scoring during a quick stop at RCA Victor.

The song that has been getting me all excited this week, is Lawton’s Lightning Jones, which although it didn’t become a hit, did enough to spawn an album by the same name. The song could be a Johnny Horton number, from the guitar opening and shuffle beat to the western lyrics. The guitar figure has a bit of “the bells are shining me, for me and my girl”. Moon Joe is more of a novelty (telling Ike he’d be better off sticking to golf), and is definitely worth a listen. The guitarist is superb on both numbers. The two songs were cut in May ’59 in Dallas and the story goes that they were only supposed to be demos, but such was the quality that RCA decided to issue them. The November 9th, 1959 issue of Billboard advised “deejays desiring a sample of Lawton Williams’ latest RCA Victor Release Lightnin’ Jones b/w Moon Joe, have only to drop him a card at station KCUL, Fort Worth where he does a platter show from 2-5 pm daily. Williams is also a regular on the Big D Jamboree, Dallas each Saturday night”.

George Jones - White Lightnin' (youTube)

Check out this great clip of George Jones. From a tv show in 1962, he's got the old flat top that no-one can believe he ever had - it's so much better than the playdo wig he wears now! I think it's Gordon Terry taking the guitar solo, but what I love is the way the guys tweeak ol' Possum's ears at the end - just letting the steam out. Perhaps they should have followed him around and done that in the 70's when he was getting a bit hot under the collar from a bottle of bourbon too many.

Friday 25 September 2009

Smalltown Casanovas - A Little Guitar Ride

Smalltown Casanovas - A Little Guitar Ride
Rhythm Bomb Records RBR 5685

Tracklist: Doin' All Right, Cold Cold Woman, I'll Try, Put Me Down, Showdown, Charade, So Glad You're Mine, Hambone, Say When, Turn Me Loose, Caveman, Untrue Unfaithful, Graduation Day

This is the debut album by 4-piece rockabilly band, the Smalltown Casanovas. They come from Germany where they formed in 2007 Three of the band were formally with Plan 9 From Outer Space with the front man coming from Saints & Sinners.

The set is a fine mix styles with rockabilly being at the fore. They kick off with a good cover of Eddie Cash’s much loved Memphis classic, Doin’ All Right. Other’s of that ilk include Benny Joy’s Cold Cold Woman, Conway Twitty’s I’ll Try and the Killer’s Put Me Down. The Carl perkins covers are less obvious than most bands choose, and they are rewarded with fine versions of Hambone and Say When. They close this fine release with a great version of Chris Isaak’s Graduation Day.

Watch the band play As Long As I Live at the 2009 Rockabilly Rave.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No.72 - Keith Loren – Born To Ramble

Keith Loren – Born To Ramble
Mark IVB 8800

For the umpteenth time I’m writing about a song with the intro, “I don’t know much about this guy”. I think that’s the fun of our music though, the mystery artist on a two-bit label. When I used to read those Charley 10” covers, I’d glean any bit of info I could from Ding Dong and take it all in. But there was something fascinating about the missing info, it gave you a chance to dream up who the guy was on guitar, or where the singer had come from and gone back to. Anyway, Keith loren on Mark IV records. It seems that Born To Ramble was the only single for both parties, which is a shame as I think it’s a great bit of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s got a full sound and is the early 60’s Elvis mode. It’s on Nasty Rockabilly Volume 1, but to be honest there’s nothing nasty about it. I’m not even sure there’s much rockabilly about it either, this is rock ‘n’ roll with a great groove. The picture is from the 18th Sep 1961issue of Billboard, which looks at the other side.

Jerry Lee Lewis in Brazil - youTube

Man yu gotta love the internet. Days after Jerry Lee played live at the Belo Horizonte Music Hall in Brazil, there's clips of the show on youTube. Not only that but one of them is the Killer doing his new single Mean old Man for possibly the first time live. It's great to see him freshen up the set-list. While the single might not have any piano, this show does with Jerry taking a great solo. He sings it great and Kenny takes a blistering solo. Listen to the roar from the crowd at the end - they love Jerry Lee everywhere. Okay the fan with the camera might not make it all the way to Hollywood, but who cares - this rocks.

Imelda May - seetickets.com

I've just had this email from seetickets.com. It's good to see them pushing the scene's very own Imelda May.

See The Fantastic Imelda May This September!

Irish rockabilly diva IMELDA MAY celebrates her Irish number 1 album and Meteor best female award by bringing her high energy show to the 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Friday 9th October. With her amazing band the IMELDA MAY experience is a total Bop-a-Billy blend of tradtastic Hepcats and kitten!!

Support is a rare London appearance of a man possessed of an extraordinary soul voice – JAMES HUNTER

LONDON, O2 Shepherds Bush Empire on Friday 09 October 2009 ON SALE NOW


IMELDA MAY will also play these upcoming dates in September.

SWANSEA, Sin City on Saturday 26 September 2009 ON SALE NOW

BRECON, Theatr Brycheiniog on Sunday 27 September 2009 ON SALE NOW

WREXHAM, Central Station on Monday 28 September 2009 ON SALE NOW

HOLMFIRTH, Picturedrome on Wednesday 30 September 2009 ON SALE NOW

SALE, Waterside Arts Centre on Thursday 17 December 2009 ON SALE NOW

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Mario Bradley – My Search (Fury Records)

Mario Bradley – My Search (Fury Records)

Tracklist: 1.My search 2.Breakout 3.Love cats 4.Cherokee dance

Mario Bradley turned solo a couple of years ago after making his name on the UK rockabilly scene with The Marvels, The Blue Ridge Mountain Boys and The Bootleggers. Since going alone he has expanded his fan base with two albums that have included a couple of dance floor favourites. This latest release is on Fury Records and is a four track EP with three covers and one original. The album was recorded at his own studio, and for the most part, all the instruments are played by Bradley.

The opener is a stompin’ blues version of Ben Hewitt’s My Search, with Hilltop Curtis’ harmonica giving it a great Hot Boogie Chillen sound. I’ll eat my hat if this doesn’t become a deejay favourite. It’s the cutting edge rockabilly sound that the scene loves at the moment. Breakout is an original rocker with heavily amplified vocals and a relentless beat that just won’t quit.

The cover of the Cure’s Love Cats is unrecognisable from the original. It’s great fun and is ‘80s rockabilly – there’s no hint of new romantic shit here, this is slap bass rockabilly as we know and love it. The EP is rounded off with a brilliant cover of Bob Landers’ Cherokee Dance. I quite like the original but the meat on this version makes it so much better. I’m not sure purists will agree, but for me this is one of those occasions when the modern cover leaves the original in the shade. Jack Rabbit Slims’ Paul Saunders lays down a great drum beat and with the Indian chants and rumbling guitar I’m tempted to sell the cottage and get a wigwam. A superb way to end a fantastic EP.

Monday 21 September 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No.71 - Fats Domino - Be My Guest / I've Been Around

Fats Domino - Be My Guest / I've Been Around
Imperial 5629

When Fats cut this double sider, 50 years ago this week on September 26, 1959, rock 'n' roll was becoming a bigger feature of the courts than the charts. Alan Freed and Dick "squeaky-clean" Clark were in the centre of the Payola scandal, with one destined for the scrap heap and one who was to be welcomed back into the fray, reputation untarnished. Musically, Fats appealed to both deejays, with Freed likely to go ballistic over the frantic boogie of The Fat Man, while Dick by name, dick by nature would come over all flushed to Blueberry Hill. This single, released in October '59 would have found a common ground between the two. Cut at the Cosimo Recording Studio in New Orleans, the usual New Orleans massive provide the backing, including Roy Montrell on guitar, Buddy Hagans and Clarence Ford on tenor and baritone sax and Cornelius Coleman laying down the backbeat. As usual it was done under the watchful eye of uncle Dave Bartholomew.

Fats had made a career of engaging rock ‘n’ roll, but he never bettered Be My Guest for congeniality. Written for the The single was to be Fats last one of the 50’s, a decade that had seen him sell more rock records than anybody except Elvis Presley. You can just see his twinkling eyes sparkle as he joyously gives us the “my, my, oh, my”. The horns peck out the “Ba da be dap dap de de de, dap dap dap” section throughout and the song is impossible to get out of your head. I’ve Been Around is a slower number, with a bluesy feel, and some beautiful piano from our Fat friend. “Woh woh woh who, Woh woh woh woh”. Oh Fats, we love you. I don’t think there will ever be another artist who could capture the hearts and ears of a generation in the way Antoine Domino did.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Bo Diddley quote

I've just read a great email from Scottish rocker Graham Knight talking about Bo Diddley. "I am reminded of Bo Diddley who discarded all the good reviews but kept a scrapbook of bad ones. When I asked him about this he said, "I don't need anyone to tell me I'm good. I know that already. But people saying I am bad - now that is interesting." You gotta love the eccentric nature of our heroes.

One of my favourite quotes if from Jerry Lee (natch-ez), a man well known for his self confidence. "I ain't never wrong. i thought I was wrong once, but I looked it up and I was right".

Charlie Mather

Here's the newest rockabilly rebel in mid Wales. Early indications are that he likes the Killer and Johnny Burnette and the Rock 'n' Roll Trio. Then again, that's all he's heard so far. He's named Charlie, after Charlie Mather, Charlie Fulford, Charlie Feathers, Charlie Rich, Charlie Gracie and the Charlie Bop Trio. He definately isn't named after Charlie George.

Saturday 19 September 2009

Hank Williams - Rockin' Chair Money

Hank Williams
Rockin' Chair Money - Gonna Shake This Shack
Bear Family Records

Tracklist: Tennessee Border/ Swing Wide Your Gate Of Love/ Move It On Over/ Rootie Tootie/ I'm A Long Gone Daddy/ I Saw The Light/ I Ain't Got Nothin' But Time/ You Better Keep It On Your Mind/ Honky Tonkin'/ Pan American/ The Blues Come Around/ Lovesick Blues/ Mind Your Own Business/ You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)/ Rockin' Chair Money/ Roly Poly/ My Bucket's Got A Hole In It/ Long Gone Lonesome Blues/ Why Don't You Love Me/ I'm Satisfied With You/ I'll Be A Bachelor 'Til I Die/ I Can't Get You Off Of My Mind/ Nobody's Lonesome For Me/ Fly Trouble/ Moanin' The Blues/ Hey, Good Lookin'/ Half As Much/ Honky Tonk Blues/ Jambalaya (On The Bayou)/ Settin' The Woods On Fire/ Kaw-Liga/ Ten Little Numbers/ Fool About You.

Along with most people who weren’t “there at the time”, my first Hank Williams album was a Greatest Hits affair. It gave me an insight into the greatest country music artist of all time and whetted my appetite for more. A couple of years ago I bought the stunning Complete HW 10 CD box set and over the years have bought the Opry live, the Health and Happiness shows and just about anything that offers something new. So why the hell did I need to get this CD? Well it’s on Bear Family for a start, and it also features 33 tracks in the uptempo mode, ideal for a happy drive around the countryside. Don’t get me wrong, I love Your Cheatin’ Heart and My Son Calls Another Man Daddy is one of my favourite songs of all time, but for me, the real meat and bones of ol’ Hank are the numbers when he’s got a pep in his step.

Seventeen of the songs here made the country top 10, but for me the real beauty of this set is the less obvious stuff. You Better Keep It On Your Mind, Nobody’s Lonesome For Me, I’m Satisfied With you, they all sound great even against such illustrious company as the likes of Hey Good Lookin’ and Lovesick Blues.

Following Hank’s death, a shed load of songs came out with backing tracks overdubbed. These were followed decades later by the unadulterated, “unplugged” originals. You may have both or you might just have the unplugged. For the most part, Bear Family have chosen to go with the fuller sounding dubs (thankfully minus strings) and I believe they’ve made the right choice. Overdubbed in 1959, Rockin’ Chair Money and Tennessee Border both sound brilliant in this format and I can’t stop singing track two. Surely Hank had his tongue firmly in his cheek with that famous half smile cracking as he asks his chick to “swing wide your gate of love, open it for me”. I’ll have ten bucks worth with her as well.

As with their Rocks! series, Bear Family’s hillbilly sister, Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight goes from strength to strength. Mind you, it can’t get any stronger after this. Rockin’ Chair Money packs all the punch of Miss Audrey when the drunken Hank stumbled home with a head full of booze and that lop-sided grin.

To top it all, and to close the CD in blistering style hanks 1951 demo of Fool About You is given a pure rockabilly backing with probably Grady Martin adding the spice as he did to so many sessions. A brilliant ending to an absolutely essential package.

Thursday 17 September 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 70 - Carlene Carter

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 70
Carlene Carter & Dave Edmunds - Baby Ride Easy

Carlene Carter is a result of a couple of minutes of rompy pompy between country legends Carl Smith and future Mrs Cash, June Carter. She is a country rock singer who has had some hardships along the way, together with some pretty good records. I like her bopper I Fell In Love in the early 90's but it's Baby Ride Easy that sums her up for me.

In the early 80's she was married to Rockpile's Nick Lowe who was starting to influence her sound. It resulted in Musical Shapes, Carter's third album. The best song, and only hit from the album, was Richard Dobson's Baby Ride Easy, a deut with the great Welsh rocker, Dave Edmunds.

It's got a rockabilly guitar line throughout and the their vocals compliment nicely.
The alternating lines were Americana fueled and came over like a modern day Johnny and June ala Jackson or If I Were A Carpenter. "If I drove a truck, And I were waitress, And I ordered coffee, And I poured you some. Then you'd stop by on your
way sometime later, And if we arm-wrestled, I'd say that you won".

The Killer tops the 10 Biggest Trouble Makers in Music list

I've just come across a site looking at the 10 Biggest Trouble Makers in Music. In a group that includes Sid Vicious, Gary Glitter, Keith Moon and Steve Earle, you'll be glad to know that the Killer came first. The blurb below shows what they were looking for but offers no explanation as to why they chose each artist. I always find it a fascinating part of the Jerry Lee persona that he was a bad-ass mutha and I'm always proud that the public see him as that. But there's another side to JLL. He's got an amazing fan base, a number of whom have been able to call themselves not just fans but friends of his. Not many stars let their fans get this close, but Jerry Lee seems happy to have them around and between him, the band and this select group of fans there's a genuine affection. But hey, when you're looking for eccentric rock stars, Jerry's the man. He got it all.

"Rock ’n’ roll is not polite. It’s rude, full of bad taste, questionable morals, and unapologetic crassness. Or at least that's what's supposed to happen when it's good. Once upon a time, rock stars did not have media coaches. They did not play nice with American Idol judges, and they didn't sit down for pre-scripted morning talk show appearances.

Rock stars used to find glory in getting caught with their pants down — literally and figuratively. Their goal was to create more trouble than the rock star next to them. They lived life in the wild wide-open, unafraid that anyone might blush or judge them.

Those days are long gone. Now tattoos pass for rebellion and spontaneity has been usurped by publicity stunts. Ah, but once upon a time... it was glorious bedlam. In honor of the long-lost era bad behavior, here are our favorite music troublemakers."

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Metrotones at Twinwood

The last band we saw at Twinwood were the Metrotones, a British doo-wop group I've loved since their 1992 release, Zoom Boom Zing. Me and the misses loved that album and were chuffed that when we saw them at a Bath all-dayer in the mid 90's they played most of the album. A decade and a half later and the boys are back together, and thankfully, still sing most of the same album. It's not often you go to a show and see a band play just about all the songs you hope for - today was one of those beautiful occasions.

Only three of the quartet remain, the new guy being none other than Dan Heggerty, the mad man of Darts. The boys are a clean cut bunch, totally at odds with his eccentric behaviour, spitting, swearing and generally causing them embarrassment. He was pretty funny as well, it just didn't seem the right type of show. At Hemsby or the Rockers Reunion it would have been fine but this was more of a family show. Musically though, he's a great bass singer and gives the group a big bottom end.

They kicked off with let's Fall In Love before launching into Nappy Brown's Don't Be Angry. Sh Boom, It's A Groove and Whispering Bells were followed by the El Dorados My Front Door, where they had the crowd doing the hand movements. When the lead singer said it was easy to do, Dan Heggerty said, "not for Stephen Hawkins".

The Way You Look Tonight, a great version of I Wonder Why and the boppin' Trickle Trickle maintained the standard before they wooed us with the best song of the weekend. Don't Take Your Love From Me has always been one of my favourite ballads and their rendition today was just beautiful. Little Bitty Pretty One had a hard act to follow before the set was closed with they tipped their caps to the Four Top Hatters' 45 Men In A Telephone Booth. The encore gave us two more Dion's, Love Came to Me and Runaround Sue. A great, great show and I can't wait to see them again.

Sunday 13 September 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 69 - Crazy Cavan

Crazy Cavan & the Rhythm Rockers – Chasing Rainbows

Chasing rainbows comes from the excellent 1996 album It’s Wild, It’s Weird, It’s Crazy, the first on their own label. For such a great album, none of the songs have gone on to be Cavan classics, and I can’t recall seeing them sing any of these live.

Lyrically the song shows there’s more to Cavan Grogan than switchblade knives and teddy boy boogies. He comes across like a soul-searching bluesman, “Well, can you hear the highway, it's a-callin' me / That old wind's a-blowin', settin' my soul free / 'Cause I'm leavin', yeah I'm on my way / I'm goin' chasin' rainbows, blowin' the clouds away”. Musically the song is hypnotic rockabilly with a beautifully melodic riff from Lyndon Needs running right through it. Cavan provides plenty of Buddy Hollyesque hiccups and is in total command.

This band are so often overlooked as a bunch of heavy, loud rockers, when a listen to songs like this should set everyone straight. This band are the ducks nuts, and probably still the best thing out there. I’d love to hear them do this live, while I’m doing the teddy boy roll with Johnny T and Flip 54.

Mike Sanchez at Twinwood

Mike Sanchez and his band closed the proceedings on Sunday night and everything was made for a great show. The hot weather and beer had left everyone in a good mood and the open air arena made for the perfect setting. Well Mickey boy didn’t disappoint. With the whole atmosphere taken into account I would say that this is the best show I’ve seen him do, and that’s saying something. He exploded into life with the opener, Rocket 88 that would have had Jackie Brenston drooling. Two Sanchez regulars, I’m Hurtin’ Inside and Girls All Over The World followed together with Coalminer.

His version of the Geraint Watkins classic Deep In The Heart Of Texas was nothing short of breathtaking. He introduced Be My Guest as his favourite Fats Domino number before slaying all around with red Hot Mama which was enhanced with passages from Lucille, Good Golly Miss Molly and Tequila! Chuck’s Brown Eyed Handsome Man was done to a Bo Diddley beat and Oliver Darling even took the guitar solo Bo style. He was joined by Ricky Cool for a bit of hot rockin’ harmonica blues. It was Cool’s best contribution of the weekend. His Hula Boola Boys closed the whole event on Monday and I thought they’d be good having seen them back Mike Sanchez many moons ago in Aberystwyth. This time they were shocking. It was funky and had no place at an event like this. The same can’t be said of Mike Sanchez and his band – they should be the first band booked every year.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Routes of Rockabilly - Various Artists

Routes of Rockabilly – Various Artists
Fantastic Voyage FVTD026

1. Thats All Right (Arthur Big Boy Crudup)
2. Love My Baby (Little Juniors Blue Flames)
3. Freight Train Boogie (The Delmore Brothers)
4. Move It On Over (Hank Williams)
5. Thirty Days To Come Back Home (Ernest Tubb)
6. Drinking Wine Spoli Oli (The Five Strings)
7. Welcome To The Club (Charline Arthur)
8. Country Cattin (Jimmy Swan)
9. Dign And Datin (Gene Henslee)
10. Peepin Eyes (Charlie Feathers)
11. Split Personality (Bill Taylor and Smokey Jo)
12. Juke Box Help Me Find My Baby (The Rhythm Rockers)
13. Im A Little Red Caboose (Maddox Brothers and Rose)
14. Daddys Got The Deep Elem Blues (Jimmie Revard)
15. Who Shot Willie (Arthur Guitar Boogie Smith)
16. False Hearted Girl (Tennessee Ernie and Ella Mae Morse)
17. Jersey Rock (Zeb Turner)
18. Rocking Chair On The Moon (Bill Haley)
19. Thirteen Women And Only One Man In Town (Dickie Thompson)
20. Motor Head Baby (Chuck Higgins)
21. Right String But The Wrong Yo Yo (Piano Red)
22. The House Of Blue Lights (Merrill E Moore)
23. The Milk Cow Blues (Jimmie Rogers Snow)
24. Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Elvis Presley)
25. Baby Lets Play House (Arthur Gunter)

1. Cash On The Barrelhead (The Louvin Brothers)
2. Bear Cat (Rufus Hound Dog Thomas Jr)
3. Mystery Train (Little Juniors Blue Flames)
4. I Dont Care If The Sun Dont Shine (Elvis Presley)
5. Get Rhythm (Johnny Cash)
6. My Kind Of Carrying On (Doug Poindexter)
7. My Gal Gertie (Dub Dickerson)
8. Corrine Corrina 1947 Radio Transcription (Bob Wills)
9. Settin The Woods On Fire (Hank Williams)
10. Long Gone Daddy (Lou Graham)
11. Granpaws A Cat (Jimmy Murphy)
12. Catfish Boogie (Tennessee Ernie)
13. Rock A Bye Baby (Skeeter Bonn)
14. Kitty Kat (Bill Mack)
15. Alligator Come Across (Arlie Duff)
16. Rockin With My Baby (Malcolm Yelvington)
17. Movie Magg (Carl Perkins)
18. Feelin Low (Ernie Chaffin)
19. Lie To Me Baby (Johnny Tyler)
20. I Wont Be Rockin Tonight (Jean Chapel)
21. Choo Choo boogie (Kenny Roberts)
22. Fujiyama Mama (Annisteen Allen)
23. Forty Cups Of Coffee (Danny Overbea)
24. Im Coming Home (Johnny Horton)
25. The Rockaway Rock (The Collins Kids)

1. Hound Dog (Willie Mae Big Mama Thornton)
2. Red Hot (Billy The Kid Emerson)
3. Sittin On Top Of The World (Bob Wills)
4. Honky Tonk Blues (Hank Williams)
5. No No Baby (Al Ferrier)
6. Tom Catin Around (Jimmy Selph)
7. Rockin And Rollin With Grandmaw (Carson Robison)
8. Oakie Boogie (Ella Mae Morse)
9. Burning The Wind (Billy Wallace)
10. Dont Cry Baby (Cal Veale)
11. Dig Boy Dig (Freddie Hart)
12. Honky Tonk Man (Johnny Horton)
13. Tennessee RocknRoll (Bobby Helms)
14. Stop Look And Listen (Patsy Cline)
15. Mamas Little Baby (Junior Thompson)
16. Dont Go Baby Don t Go (Al Coker)
17. Take And Give (Slim Rhodes)
18. Crazy Arms (Jerry Lee Lewis)
19. Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On (Roy Hall)
20. Sag Drag And Fall (Sid King and The Five Strings)
21. Catty Town (Pee Wee King)
22. Party (The Collins Kids)
23. Just Because (Elvis Presley)
24. Trucker From Tennessee (Link Davis)
25. Down The Road A Piece (Chuck Miller)

The latest release from the emergent Fantastic Voyage label takes a look at the roads that led us to Rockabilly Central. The musical highways and bye-ways that gave us rockabilly are featured, from the Blues Highway to the Rural Route. Listen to Hank plead the Honky Tonk Blues for the perfect example of both styles in one magical two minute stroll. Not everything in life is black and white though, so we also get a few of the lesser trodden paths like western swing. To top it all we get a handful of songs from the town where all these routes converged, Memphis.

When I got into rockabilly/rock ‘n’ roll in the ‘80s I was soon digging out anything relating to its roots and quickly started to worship at the House of Hank. The likes Ernest Tubb and Tennessee Ernie Ford entered my conscience a little later and never quite thrilled me like the Drifting Cowboy. A big of digging to see what made Elvis tick led me to Arthur Crudup and Arthur Gunter and the jigsaw was starting to come together. There were some brilliant compilations in the ‘80s that shaped the rst of my lifes musical taste. And while that took a lot of collecting and searching, this 3CD set gives it to you in one fell swoop.

Why buy it then? Well, as well as the well known artists mentioned above, there’s a whole host of less obvious singers. Oklahoma deejay Gene Henslee’s 1954 Imperial single Dig’n And Datin’ is a rural rocker with honky tonk piano and a hypnotic shuffle beat. I’ve always loved the great Arthur Smith boogie, Who Shot Willie and there may be some out there unfamiliar with the early Bill Haley gem Rocking Chair On The Moon. I love his Thirteen Women, but here we get the Dickie Thompson original which I can’t recall hearing before. It’s bluesy and Thompson plays a mean guitar.
The second CD has a trio of numbers that might not be known to everyone but will definitely appeal to your taste buds -You’ll love Skeeter Bonn’s RCA Rock A Bye Baby, Bill Mack’s Kitty Kat and Arlie Duff’s superb Alligator Come Across. Johnny Tyler’s Lie To Me Baby is raw, country bopper shows that the Starday label was as hot as any label in 1956.

The only tracks that didn’t hit the spot for me were the two gals Jean Chapel and Charline Arthur and Bob Wills’ Corrine, Corrina. Three poor tracks, perhaps that’s why it sells for £9.99 not a tenner! These three are more than made up for by the stupendously brilliant, Burning The Wind by Billy Wallace. I’ve been saying “ah, play it Mr Gibson” to every acoustic guitar break since I first bought the Mercury Rockabillies album many moons ago.

Released this week and retailing at under a tenner for a triple set, this 75 song set is an absolute steal and will please new fans and seasoned collectors alike. This is the type of set that will stay in the car for years. The road between Pontrhydfendigaid and Aberystwyth might not be one of the Routes of Rockabilly, but it’s certainly heard a bit of it over the years, and with this set in the glove compartment it's going to hear a bit more for some time yet.

Monday 7 September 2009

Jive Aces at Twinwood

The Jive Aces played a lively set during in an afternoon slot that might have been hard to get the crowd going. They had no such trouble though, playing with high energy and plenty of visual gimmicks. AT first I didn’t think I’d review them because I thought they’d be too slick and swingy for my tastes. But I must admit that I grew into them as the set wore on.

Mack the Knife was standard fare for them and gave them all a chance to show their unquestionable quality. The lead singer was pretty good throughout but really comes in to his own when he does Louis Prima. It’s uncanny how much he can sound like King Louis. I’m Just A Gigalo was brilliant and was followed by a classy cover of Up A Lazy River. During Oh Marie, three of the band got in amongst the crowd and by this stage they had the dancers going full on. They returned to Bobby Darin for a quality reading of Beyond The Sea.

I thought their version of Shake Rattle And Roll was rubbish - too jazzy and showy for me sorry. The band were joined for a couple of songs by Louis Prima and Keely Smith’s daughter Toni Elisabeth Prima, the highlight being Buena Sera. The closer was a wonderful jived up version of Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again. To round off a great afternoon we bumped into Keely Smith who chatted away and was one of the friendliest people you could wish to meet. I stood and watched with her as an old Dakota flew overhead – sometimes life throws you these moments to cherish.

Great photo of Johnny, Ricky and Gene

This photo was believed to be taken in Hollywood, sometime in 1957/58. Johnny Cash, Ricky Nelson and Gene Vincent are pictured with Stew Carnall the guy who ran off with Lorrie Collins. Apparantly she broke Ricky Nelson's heart because they were an item at the time. I didn't know if it was just me so I've just checked with the misses and she's confirmed that Stew Carnall must have something that we couldn't see in the photo. I know one thing he must have had the next day after being out with Gene and Johnny - a hangover!

Sunday 6 September 2009

Whose Gonna Fill These Shoes

Every time I see Jerry Lee live I always wonder if it will be the last time. The sadness I feel when he shuffles off stage isn't so much because the show is over, but for the reality that this could be it - the final look. Well today I got to say farewell to my cricketing hero and although it was sad, it felt good to be able to say adios properly. Twelve months after announcing his retirement, Graeme Hick returned to Worcester today to play in Ben Smith's testimonial. I can't tell you how many times I've seen him score a hundred, and today he added one more. Amongst his 107 he thumped one into the ladies pavillion, hit one over square leg out of the ground and then hit a massive one straight back over the bowlers head, over the big stand and into downtown Worcester. What a legend. When he took the final walk back from the middle there was a standing ovation - time for him to soak up the New Road admiration one last time.

My Graeme Hick playlist.

1. Whose Gonna Fill These Shoes
2. Saturday Night In Hickman County
3. Batman
4. Swing Batter Swing
5. Git It

Saturday 5 September 2009

Occassional Bootleg Series No. 8 - Brian Setzer '86.

Stray Cats – Lonely Cat
Recorded Live Ta Capitol Theatre ,Passaic NJ, 20th April 1986

Tracklist: Haunted River / Rumble In Brighton / Bobby's Back / Maria / Stray Cat Strut / Breath Of Life / Chains Around Your Heart / The Knife Feels Like Justice / Rock This Town / Radiation Ranch / Tear It Up

When the Stray Cats split in 1984 Brian Setzer had a brief flirtation as a serious American rocker in the vein of Springsteen and Mellancamp. He undertook a major US tour in 1986 to promote his first solo project The Knife Feels Like Justice. Die hard rockabilly fans were aghast at the modern sound of the album, but I really liked most of it. I was more appalled by the hair!!

This bootleg was recorded at a date in Possaic, New Jersey and where Setzer showcases a handful of tracks from The Knife together with a few Stray Cats classics. The band features Setzer on vocals and lead guitar, Tommy Byrnes on second guitar, Chuck Level on keyboards, David Prater on drums and Kenny Aaronsen on the dreaded electric bass.

Highlights of the album songs are the title track, Bobby’s Back and Maria, which was always my favourite. The soundboard quality is excellent and it allows us to enjoy Brian’s guitar which is as wonderful as ever. The trio are adult orientated rock whereas another from the album, Radiation Rock is guitar fest with echoes of rock, punk and rockabilly.

The album cover says that all songs were written by Setzer. Well if he wrote Tear It Up, I wrote Blue Suede Shows. Anyhoot, this version goes like the clappers and his guitar is on fire. The quartet of Cats numbers are great with the extended intro to Rock This Town starting in a slow before turning into the nitro-burning rockabilly classic we all know and love.

The clips below show a couple of performances from the ’86 US tour.

Billboard review of new JLL single

NEW YORK (Billboard): Considering that Jerry Lee Lewis once shot his bass player (accidentally) and threatened to kill Elvis Presley, it's no surprise that at 75 years young, he considers himself a "Mean Old Man." On his first country single in decades, the sole survivor of Sun Records extols the virtues of being a heartbreaker, family man and good 'ole friend. Written by fellow musical outlaw Kris Kristofferson, "Mean" is a quintessential rebel song by the man famously nicknamed "the Killer." With his Louisiana twang, Lewis delivers such poetry as, "If I look like a voodoo doll who takes his lickin' standing tall/Who'd rather fight you back than crawl, that's what I am." In a year that has seen the passing of so many music greats, it's wonderful to hear this particular old man sounding as mean as ever.

Big Boy Bloater at Twinwood

This is the first time I’ve seen Big Boy Bloater in his own right, every time I’ve seen him he’s been leading the Rhythm Riot house-band. I expected him to be great and he didn’t disappoint. His six piece band are all quality musicians with two saxes giving a few solos to augment Bloaters’ own guitar breaks. He kicked off with They Call Me Big Boy Bloater and You Better Believe It. His vocals are strong and he has a good stage presence but it’s unquestionably his guitar picking that steals the limelight.

One More Time and I Ain’t Done Nothin’ Wrong were good but his brilliant version of Bobby Blands’ You Got Me was the pick of the whole show. The title song from his latest CD, That Ain’t My Name was strong and with his guitar sound is so reminiscent of Johnny Guitar Watson, Gangster of Love just had to be superb – and it was. His misses, Lil Liza took the lead on three numbers the best of which was Man Or Monkey.

He rounded an excellent set off with both sides of his 7 incher, Whammy and Double Whammy. I missed the encore but judging by the rest I’d say it was a hot blues with stinging guitar – just a hunch!

Thursday 3 September 2009

The Kingcats at Twinwood

The first group I caught at Twinwood last weekend was Ooh Bop She Bamb who were a bit too polished for me. They impressed with Scatman Crothers’ I'm 'gonna Rock & Roll and their version of Lawdy Miss Clawdy was a neat stroller, I could have done without toothless Don’t Be Cruel. Okay, but just an appetiser for what was to follow.

I was really looking forward to seeing the Kingcats as I think lead singer Bill Crittenden is one of the best singers out there. Way before they’d finished their opener, an extended Promised Land, I knew this was going to be a great show. Jerry Reed’s When I Found You was perfect for the band to show their credentials. They played a couple of numbers from their forthcoming CD including a Sun inspired Lonesome Life For Me and a great cover of the Mavericks’ Losin’ Side Of Me and. They’re regular visitors to the Mav’s catalogue, and seem to be partial to a bit of Elvis as well. Today we got excellent versions of I Got Stung and A Mess of Blues. A highlight of the set was the stroller Perfect World which I knew courtesy of James Intveld. The two have similar voices and it was a fine choice.

Abbey Marie joined the band for a couple of numbers and tore through ‘Til Your Well Runs Dry and Bigelow 6-200. She’s got one hell of a big voice and almost stole the show. The Kingcats finished with a bopping version of the Killers/Hawks’ In The Mood with piano pounder Rusty proving to be anything but. The encore took us back thirty-odd years with Washing Machine Boogie. If you’ve never seen them before, you don’t know what you’re missing. This is a great band with a wonderful lead singer.

Reviews of Big Boy Bloater, Jive Aces, Metrotones and a blistering show from Mike Sanchez to follow over the next few days.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No.68 - Charlie Bop Trio – Mr Big Feet

Charlie Bop Trio – Mr Big Feet
Capitol F4100

This slab of rockabilly goes out to the king of the Weston-super-Mare boppers, Keith “Mr Big Feet” Wilkinson and his lovely lady Nicki. I don’t know much about the Charlie Bop trio other than that two of the trio are Charles Johnson and lead singer Jimmy Kersey. The single came out on Capitol in November/December 1958 and was backed by Tokyo Queen. Like most people this side of the Atlantic, I didn’t hear until the rockabilly revival when it was released on the Capitol Rockabilly Originals vinyl lp in 1977. I bought the album in the early ‘80s and was knocked out by the likes of Ferlin Huskey (Slow Down Brother), Farmer Boys (Slow Down Mame) and Bobby Trammel (You Mostest Girl). But it was the Charlie Bop trio and Mr Big Feet that blew me away. What an opening to a record – “Hello there man, what’s your front name?” – “They call me Big Feet”. Eat your heart out Tin Pan Alley, this is hillbilly Leiber and Stoller. According to Bear Family nothing is known about the band other than the record was recorded on 6th October 1958, and if Bear Family drew a blank that’s pretty much it. We might not have the details, but we’ve got the music. It’s got a driving rockabilly shuffle beat with call-and-response vocals, sax and piano solos and great lyrics. Check out the youTube clip below and you’ll see the back of the ’77 album. If you can’t find a copy of the single or the vinyl album, your best bet is the Bear Family’s 1993 CD, That’ll Flat Git It Volume 3 or the Disky CD, A Rockabilly Party Vol.2 (2000). Go, go, go, Mr Feet – that’s what you hear them hepcats say.