Saturday 12 December 2009

Taking a break

I'm knocking it on the head. I'm just too tired from work and can't think straight. It means I'm making stupid mistakes. Saying Mac Curtis was on Decca not King might not seem like a big issue to none believers but for me it shows that I can't rush stuff out just to get something onto the site on a regular basis. I love his King stuff, I've got the old Rockabilly Kings lp and the CD version.

I might be back in the New Year, depends how I feel with work. Thanks for reading over the past year or so. Shaky.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Rollin' The Rock - Texas Rockabilly Vol. 2 - El Toro

Rollin' The Rock - Texas Rockabilly Vol. 2
Various Artists
El Toro Records ETCD 1024

1 Ray Campi & The Snappers - Give That Love To Me
2 Mac Curtis - Goosebumps
3 Alvis Wayne with Tony Wayne & his Rhythm Wranglers - Sleep Rock-A-Roll Rock-A-Baby
4 Sid King & The Five Strings - When My Baby Left Me
5 Johnny Carroll & his Hot Rocks - Tryin' To Get To You
6 Ray Campi with John & Henry - Play It Cool
7 Sid King & The Five Strings - Let 'Er Roll
8 Mac Curtis - Just So You Call Me
9 Ray Campi with John & Henry - Catapillar
10 Johnny Carroll & his Hot Rocks - Corrine, Corrina
11 Mac Curtis - You Ain't Treatin' Me Right
12 Mac Curtis - If I Had Me A Woman
13 Sid King & The Five Strings - Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight
14 Johnny Carroll & his Hot Rocks - Hot Rock
15 Alvis Wayne - Don't Mean Maybe, Baby
16 Sid King & The Five Strings - Booger Red
17 Mac Curtis - Half Hearted Love
18 Alvis Wayne - Lay Your Head On My Shoulder
19 Ray Campi & The Snappers - It Ain't Me
20 Sid King & The Five Strings - Good Rockin' Baby
21 Alvis Wayne - I Gottum
22 Ray Campi & The Snappers - The Crossing
23 Mac Curtis - Grandaddy's Rockin'
24 Alvis Wayne with Tony Wayne & his Rhythm Wranglers - Swing Bop Boogie
25 Sid King & The Five Strings - It's True, I'm Blue
26 Ray Campi & The Snappers - I Didn't Mean To Be Mean
27 Mac Curtis - That Ain't Nothin' But Right
28 Johnny Carroll & his Hot Rocks - Rock 'n' Roll Ruby
29 Sid King & The Five Strings - I've Got The Blues
30 Ray Campi & The Snappers - You Can't Catch Me
31 Alvis Wayne - I'd Rather Be With You
32 Johnny Carroll & his Hot Rocks - Crazy, Crazy Lovin' (from "Rock, Baby, Rock It!")
33 Johnny Carroll & his Hot Rocks - Wild, Wild Women (from "Rock, Baby, Rock It!")

Three years ago El Toro issued Real Cool Cats (ETCD 1010), a 35 track CD of prime Texas rockabilly. This is a follow-up of sorts in that all the artists come from the great state of Texas. What's makes this release such a novel idea is that the five featured artists all went on to record for Ronny Weiser's Rollin' Rock label in the 70's.

There's probably nothing here that most of you haven't got, but the idea and the presentation make it a damn near essential purchase.

The odd man out here is Ray Campi who although he'll forever be associated with Texas was actually born in New York. I'll be honest with you here and admit that I'm not a massive fan of his early stuff. He's also the odd man out in that I prefer his Rollin' Rock stuff to his 50's stuff on labels like TNT and Dot. His tracks here are okay but give me Rockin' At The Ritz anyday.

The other four are a different kettle of fish and the numbers on show here are brilliant. Mac Curtis on Decca was as good as our music gets with Goosebumps being one of my desert island discs. Johnny Carroll was one of those regular visitors that I never got around to seeing, something I deeply regret. We get his Decca recordings here, but if you haven't heard them, get the Bear Family CD to hear The Swing and Sugar from his Warner Brothers stint.

I was later in the day getting into Alvis Wayne, but have made up for lost time in the past few years. His Westport recordings are nothing short of wonderful and when me and Phil met him a few years ago he seemed to be a great bloke. Unfortunately he's suffered a lot of ill health in the last couple of years - I hope this release gives him some much needed good cheer.

Sid King and the Five Strings are another band that when you listen, you can't believe that they never made it bigger. How Columbia couldn't get a hit record out of numbers like Let 'er Roll and When My Baby Left Me beggers belief. I've Got The Blues is a peach.

This is a cracking release, the latest in a long line from El Toro.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

youTube - Blue Cats - Wild Night

This was one of the great rockabilly singles of the 80's. I don't remember hearing it on the radio but it was a highlight of the Best of British Rockabilly vinyl lp which I think was on Raucous. I've got it in the cupboard here but my misses is sat in the way watching The Mist. The clip here was posted by the Blue Cats' very own Clint Bradley who says in the blurb that it was "Single Of The Week in Sounds 1981. Recorded in Paris 1981." Primetime rockabilly revival. Play it loud and marvel at the sound. Why can't rockin' bands get on the tele nowadays?

Sunday 6 December 2009

Jerry Lee Lewis in the Los Angeles Times

The following article appeared in todays Los Angeles Times. Good to see the Killer still making the news.

Jerry Lee Lewis: Whole lot of playin' going on
Rock's original wild man may have mellowed a bit, but he's still busy pounding the keys. And even playing a little guitar. His latest project is a country album.

Reporting from Las Vegas - Jerry Lee Lewis sinks into a regal looking leather chair backstage at the House of Blues. The 74-year-old rock 'n' roll pioneer has just completed an impressive hourlong set at a private party for an associate of country star Tim McGraw. He's sharply dressed in a white vest embossed with floral curlicues, over a simple black shirt tucked into black denim jeans.

But the most striking thing about his physical presence might be his skin: Few of even the hardest-living rock or country musicians have been through as much as the man also known as the Killer. Yet his face is youthful, smooth -- not the battle-scarred war zone of wrinkles likeKeith Richards and Merle Haggard wear.

And there are those fingers: elegant, long and graceful, and still fully capable of tickling, tapping or pounding the ivory keys of the instrument with which he is synonymous.

"You can't beat a piana," he drawls.

Indeed, he displays such respect for the instrument that it's hard to believe he ever actually torched one -- though legend, of course, holds that he did precisely that, a good decade before Jimi Hendrix tried the same trick with a guitar. It was that act that helped earn the Louisiana native another nickname, the "Ferriday Fireball."

"I like to play guitar too," he says in an almost confessional tone. "I play my guitar just about as good as anybody plays guitar. Yeah! I can play some heavy blues, and some good rock 'n' roll on guitar . . . But I don't want to do that, because then I'm gonna be obligated to do it. I know [fans] expect to hear a piana . . . They're not going to allow the other Jerry Lee."

Sun discovery

It's difficult to imagine anyone -- fans included -- being able to box in Jerry Lee. His signature hits "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On" and "Great Balls of Fire" were explosive songs full of unbridled lust that left adults of the sedate 1950s convinced that the devil himself had arrived in the world to claim their teenage children.

While Jerry Lee might have mellowed with age, he is, as acknowledged by the title of his 2006 album, "Last Man Standing -- the Duets," the only surviving icon of a singular generation. Among the artists Sam Phillips discovered and first recorded at Sun Records in the 1950s -- including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins -- Lewis, the biggest hellion of them all and the one Phillips once described as "on balance, probably the most talented human being I ever had the opportunity to work with," has outlived every one.

"Last Man Standing" is chock full of superstar duets with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, B.B. King, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and a slew of others, which helped it sell nearly 200,000 copies.

Many of those guests are back, with new names added to the list, for another set that Steve Bing and his Santa Monica-based Shangri-La Music label plan to issue early next year (a five-song sampler EP was made available online last month).

A third album is set to follow about nine months later.

But it's not strictly about big names paying their respects. Among the raw tracks Bing is working up with the album's co-producer, veteran drummer-to-the-rock-gods Jim Keltner, is one featuring "the other Jerry Lee," with Lewis accompanying himself on guitar on a freewheeling, country blues rendition of Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues."

Naturally, he remakes the lyrics to fit his own outsized personality: "I shot a boy in Memphis / Didn't want to watch him die," adding a sardonic little "heh-heh" after his revamp.

And there's Lewis at the piano, singing the gospel song "Peace in the Valley": "The bear will be gentle and the wolf will be tame / The lion shall lie down with the lamb . . . [and] I'll be changed from this creature that I am."

Lewis is more lamb than lion these days, although he flashed a bit of the old bite at the recent 25th anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden. After a laudatory introduction by Tom Hanks, Lewis kicked over his piano stool to start the second night's show, delighting the crowd.

The country side

One surprise amid the 43 songs he's put down with Bing and Keltner is his take on Kris Kristofferson’s "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," which Cash turned into a No. 1 country hit in 1970. "I never heard John's record," Lewis says, and it's easy to believe him after listening to the 100% Jerry Lee version that streamed from the monitors recently at a Hollywood recording studio.

A lot of the songs he's recorded for Shangri-La have been on his set list for decades. Others, like the Rolling Stones' "Sweet Virginia," he would learn after a few listens in the car on the way to sessions.

"He's the quickest study I ever worked with," said producer Jerry Kennedy, who oversaw hundreds of Lewis' country recordings in the 1960s and '70s after his rock 'n' roll fame flamed out.

"He'd get to town an hour and a half or two hours before we would start recording, he'd listen to the new song five, six, seven or eight times, and then he knew it," Kennedy said by phone from his Nashville home. "I think he uses a song likes a script: He crawls inside it and does his thing like an actor . . . He never did anything the same way twice -- that's what was wild."

During playback of Lewis' rendition of "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," Kristofferson was in the control room. He shook his head while wearing an expression of amazement and pride.

"God almighty," he said. "If I ever thought back in the day I'd be hearing this . . . I'd think somebody brought me back from heaven to hear that."

The "Last Man Standing" project was intent on reviving Lewis the rocker; this time around, the focus is on the country facet of his music. That's where he resurrected his career in the late 1960s, after he had become a pariah for marrying his 13-year-old cousin Myra. Virtually overnight, he went from commanding $10,000 a night to out-of-the-way gigs that paid $25.

The wild ups and downs of his life from that point on have been well-documented: six wives, four of whom he divorced, the other two died; two sons lost in separate accidents; his own addiction to drugs and alcohol, which led to bleeding ulcers that nearly killed him in 1985. And of course, the renaissance he's experienced in the last few years.

"When I moved in back in 1999-2000, he was not the same person," said his daughter, Phoebe, from his marriage to Myra, who also has served as his manager for nearly the past decade. "He was depressed, he was in a bad marriage. It took us some time, but with his commitment and my commitment, and putting together a good team of people, we turned it around. It's like he started over again."

Added producer Kennedy, who last worked with Lewis 35 years ago: "He deserves any good things that can happen. What a great talent."

Busy touring

Lewis wasn't on hand to take in any of the kudos directly. While many of those working on the new album were hunkered down in Hollywood, Lewis was in Linz, Austria, in the middle of a month-long European tour.

At this stage of Lewis' career, touring isn't about milking a fabled name for nostalgia value on the oldies circuit, but facilitating his ability to continue performing while he's both able and inspired to play.

When he's not, Phoebe's happy to head home to Nesbit, Miss., where Jerry Lee relaxes in front of a TV watching "Gunsmoke" reruns or old Gene Autry westerns. ("Anybody who doesn't like Gene Autry," he says with a sneer, "is a weirdo.") Sometimes, he entertains himself and his daughter with songs he loves, including pop standards "Autumn Leaves" and "Stardust."

There'd been talk of him traveling to Los Angeles the night after the Vegas party for another show, but he and Phoebe decided to scrap it so they could get home a day early and rest up for the European tour.

"That one was gonna pay $40,000," he says with a nod that seems to carry with it the memory of those $25 nights of yore -- and even a glint of pride that it's one he can now afford to pass up. "That's a lot of money, Killer."

Elvis songwriter Aaron Schroeder dies

Aaron Schroeder, who wrote no fewer than 17 songs for Elvis Presley died earlier this week in Englewood, New Jersey aged 83, following a long battle against a rare Alzheimer's-like form of dementia. He was a composer, lyricist and/or producer for more close to 2,000 songs.

Born in Brooklyn, New York his first success came in the late 1940s when Rosemary Clooney scored with "At a Sidewalk Penny Arcade". Others to record his songs included Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Pat Boone, Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat King Cole, Roy Orbison, Dionne Warwick, Art Garfunkel, Arlo Guthrie and The Beatles.

As a producer, he helped launch the careers of Randy Newman, Jimi Hendrix, Al Cooper, Barry White and Gene Pitney. He also worked for Hanna-Barbera, where he provided the music for The Banana Splits and also had the honour of writing the children’s classic, "Scooby Doo Where Are You?"

But it’s as a songsmith for Elvis that he made his biggest impact. He provided the King with five numbers 1’s, including the massive worldwide hit, "It's Now or Never". Their work together each side of Elvis’s stint in the army are just mind blowing.

Despite co-writing Rubber Ball for Bobby Vee he will still be remembered as a great songwriter.

Have a look at this least and drool. Don’t just read it quick, look at the title, think about the song and how great it is and then the full impact of the magnitude of his songwriting should hit home. This is what legendary really means.

For Elvis:
Stuck on You
Good Luck Charm
A Big Hunk O'Love
I Got Stung
Don’t Leave Me Now
Anyway You Want Me
First In Line
Got A Lot Of Livin’ To Do
I Was The One
In Your Arms
Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me
Shoppin’ Around
Young And Beautiful
Young Dreams

For some other rockers
Apron Strings (Cliff)
Because They’re Young (Duane Eddy)
Grizzly Bear (Jack Scott)
Halfway to Heaven (Conway Twitty)
Make Me Know You’re Mine (Conway Twitty)
My Boy Elvis (Janis Martin)
Today’s Teardrops (Roy Orbison)
Wild Cat (Gene Vincent),

Saturday 5 December 2009

Crazy Cavan 40th Anniverary Box Set

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the legendary Welsh teddy band, Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers, they will be releasing small career prospective box set. Sadly the set will only include 40 songs, but on the plus side it will contain 15 previously unreleased tracks. The package will also include a 30 page booklet co-written with the band by John Kennedy.

Their 40th Anniversary Tour kicks off at Rockers Reunion in Reading in January, and will continue across Europe for most of the year. Further details of the tour and the box set will be issued by the band in the next month.

Thursday 3 December 2009

Jackson Taylor & The Sinners - Aces 'n' Eights

I’d never heard of Texan singer-songwriter Jackson Taylor before, despite his previous half dozen or so releases. On first hearing I’ve gotta say I like him, I like him a lot. He reminds me a lot of the great Monte Warden and the Wagoneers who I’ve raved about before. When a songwriter of Billy Joe Shaver’s talent and status describes you as follows, “Jackson’s songs are so real and honest, you know straight off he's been there and done that. He writes and sings like he lives, great songs that I believe will live forever", you know the guy must have talent.

The opener is a great honky tonk duet with Dale Watson, telling us how they’re “I’m back on the bottle, back to the bad old days”. There’s a Waylon feel to the Mike Ness penned Ball And Chain, this time duetted with Jason Boland. Country Song is a four-letter rant at some of country music’s “spiky-haired half assed popstar wannabes”. The disgruntled, aggressive lyrics are what give the album it’s Parental Guidance warning on the cover.

Both Goin' Back To California and Barefeet On The Dash show a fair bit of flair and originality and I really liked the title track, a Texas ballad that has more than a hint of Joe Ely about it. Easy Lovin' Stranger is another fine item, and I quite enjoyed Ness’s other number Highway 101, which is the rockiest number on show. Sex, Love & Texas is an up-tempo tribute to a girl we all dream about.

The album closes with Cocaine, a juicy honky tonk barroom baller and a second version of Back On The Bottle, with Swedish country band, the Taylors replacing the Sinners. A really impressive album that will get me searching out the earlier releases.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Alan Jackson - Songs of Love and Heartache

Alan Jackson - Songs of Love and Heartache
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store®

Tracklisting: Here In The Real World - She's Got The Rhythm (And I Got The Blues) - Tropical Depression - Livin' On Love You Can't Give Up On Love - Gone Crazy - When Somebody Loves You - Remember When - Rainy Day In June - A Woman's Love - That's What I'd Be Like Without You (Previously Unreleased) - Nothing Sure Looked Good On You (Previously Unreleased)

Not only do you leave your local Cracker Barrel store with a full stomach, you can also come away with a twelve song CD of Alan Jackson ballads. The folks at my favourite chain restaurants in the world, have added the great honky tonker to their growing list of featured artists. For the hardened fans like myself the bonus of this CD is the inclusion of a couple of unreleased gems.

I fell in love with AJ after hearing the brilliant title track of his debut album, Here In The Real World. As with most Nashville stuff at the time, the wonderful fiddle of Rob Hajacos gave the best songs a great, haunting feeling. One of the things I love about Alan Jackson is that his ballads are't usually about being suicidal because his wife has left him. There's usually a feeling of hope and mostly they're about family values and the simple country life. Basically, you can listen to him without feeling the need to check the ceiling beams, wondering if they're strong enough to hold a rope.

The other nine issued tracks come from all stages of his career and there's not a duffer in sight. There's a few omissions that I'd have included, like Dallas, Tonight I Climbed The Walls and Everything I Love, but when you're just looking for a dozen tracks in a career like his you're bound to miss a few out.

Anyway, what about the two unissued numbers. The best is his cover of Gene Watson's great Nothing Sure Looked Good On You. On AJ's superb 1999 cover album, Under The Influence, he said in the sleevnotes that "I think Gene Watson was one of the greatest country singers ever, still is". Well his performance here shows that Jackson himself belongs in that same category - class. That's What I'd Be Like Without You is pure Alan Jackson, strong country lyrics and a great honky tonk voice.

Whether you've got all his other albums is irrelevant, you need this for the Gene Watson cover. The CD is available only at Cracker Barrel and

Tuesday 1 December 2009


Foot Tapping Records FT088


The new Porky’s Hot Rockin’ line-up sees Porky backed by legendary Restless brothers Mark and Paul Harman and his own brother John. Porky Coates has been one of my favourite acts of the last two years and Mark Harman has been a hero of mine for twenty odd years, so this much be a sure-fire hit record. Well, no actually, it isn’t the no-brainer you’d expect. In fact I’d have to say I found it a bit disappointing. I think the problem is that the rockers are too familiar and quite often his voice sounds a bit flat.

For me, the stand-out track is the pepped-up version of Elvis’ Don’t Ask Me Why. As with his brilliant cover of the King’s Angel, he’s taken an okay ballad, notched it up as gear and in the process made the song his own. He’s tried the same on the Jailhouse Rock ballad, Young And Beautiful, but it seems more forced and doesn’t worth half as well.

I’m not sure we need another version of Eddie’s Summertime Blues, but it’s a bit different in that Harman plays some jumpsuit era James Burton. They give Status Quo’s Caroline a good kick in the ass with Mark Harman playing some wicked guitar.

On the originals front we get Harman’s rocker Jukebox Jessie where Porky’s sounds like he eats Wurlitzers for breakfast. Porky’s own Lonesome Love Song is okay but I liked the western styled I Ain’t Waiting despite the lapses into Bananaramaville.

We visit a couple of Memphis’ best in Carl Perkins (Sweethearts or Strangers) and Johnny Burnette (Train Kept A Rollin’) as well as another nod to Eddie Cochran with My Way which again sees Harman in fine form. Sleepy’s All The Time is pretty poor and CCR’s Proud Mary is worse. On a positive note, I thought the album title was funny.