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Here's a sample article plus a few reviews of some of our favorite titles across the spectrum of music styles covered in a recent issue of Blue Suede News (#45)! There are about100 CD titles reviewed each issue (in our earlier 68 page issues - #33 thru #55 - there were as many as 200 reviewed!). You'll also see a few of our covers, and some Tidbits from the Tidbit Jukebox, a feature which appeared in each issue (issues 27 - 55)! Issue #42 also had a much more extensive article on Carl Perkins' career by Dr. Howard A. DeWitt, one of our contributing editors and author of several books on rock'n'rollers and popular culture. And of course much more than that! Meet Our Contributors! See sample reviews - many not printed in the magazine because more are written than we can fit - Below!
Each issue since #67 has several pages of
color photo layouts like this! (color ads too!)

Here's a sample page from issue #72! There's more to the interview - order your copy at: #72 order page

Here's a list of titles reviewed in the extra 4 pages of our electronic edition of issue #93 (these reviews do NOT appear in the print edition!):

Gary Bennett / My OlÕ Guitar / Raucous RAUCD 254

Lucky Linetti presents The Western Spaghetti / Part CD 690.001

Allerton & Alton / Black, White and Bluegrass / Bear Family BCD 16559 AH

Del Rio Ramblers / Go Away Hound Dog / Raucous RAUCD 266

Cooper DeVille / Rent Party Tonight

The Sunskippers / Rockabilly Town

Foggy Mountain Rockers / RockÕnÕRoll Philosophy / Part CD 627.008

777 / Unleashed / Part 698 001

Wanda Jackson / The Party AinÕt Over
Third Man/Nonesuch

V/A / The Fire/Fury Doo Wop Story
Great American Music Company GA-231

The Kingmakers / Last Night In Nashville

The Starday Story: The House That Country Music Built, by Nathan D. Gibson with Don Pierce. 2011, University Press of Mississippi, 265 PP, Illustrated, Hardback

Click here to order Issue #93 in PDF form (or any issue #70 - 95) by e-mail, only $4.00 anywhere in the world! Read on computer or portable device - latest issues have 4 extra pages of reviews in electronic editions!

Titles reviewed ONLY in the extra 4 pages of our electronic edition of issue #94:

James Brown / IÕll Go Crazy: Every Track Released By The Godfather, 1956-1960 / Fantastic Voyage FVDD 086

The Lazy Boys / Shadows
Part-CD 642.001

The Booze Bombs / Hang Over Blues
PART-CD 678.005

The Jailbirds / Special / Part-CD694.001

Bobby Lord / EverybodyÕs RockinÕ But Me! Bear Family Records BCD 16524 AH

T-Bone Walker / YouÕre My Best Poker Hand: The Definitive Collection
Fantastic Voyage FVTD 099

Harry Pasternak / A Bed Of Clowns

Roky Erickson with Okkervil River
True Love Cast Out All Evil / Anti Records #87078-2

V/A / RockinÕ RollinÕ Wedding
Fantastic Voyage FVCD 084

Liam Fitzgerald And The Rainieros
Bad Decisions, Big Mistakes And Other Fan Favorites/ Hypnolab

Aretha Franklin / The Great American Songbook / Columbia/Legacy 88697 83468 2

V/A / Their Hispanic Majestics Request
Norton Records 9666

Glenn Reeves / Johnny On The Spot / Bear Family Records BCD 16658 AH

Rum Drum Ramblers / Mean Scene

Lloyd Jones / Highway Bound
Underworld UND0019

Click here to order Issue #94 in PDF form (or any issue #70 - 95) by e-mail, only $4.00 anywhere in the world! Read on computer or portable device - latest issues have 4 extra pages of reviews in electronic editions!

Read 'em ONLY in our electronic editions! (extra reviews, and more sample articles from before issue #93 below)

Order our Latest Issue print edition!

Here is a list of titles reviewed in the extra 4 pages of our electronic edition of issue #95:

the Shirelles on Broadway (Theater review)

Wanda Jackson / Let's Have A Party! The Very Best of Wanda Jackson / Varese Sarabande 3020670812

V/A / Rockin' And Rollin' With Santa Claus / Fantastic Voyage FVCD103

V/A / The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams / Columbia 090102

Peggy Sugarhill / Rockabilly Music is Bad, Bad, Bad / Bear Family BCD 17106 AH

Jimi Hendrix / Merry Christmas And Happy New Year / Legacy 77226

Pete Anderson / Even Things Up / Little Dog/Vizztone LDVT001

The Crystalaires / The Whole Wide World / Bear Family BCD 16768 AH / Westwaerts / BCD 17239 AH

Los Fabulocos featuring Kid Ramos / Delta Groove DGPCD142

Click here to order Issue #95 in PDF form (or any issue #70 - 95) by e-mail, only $4.00 anywhere in the world! Read on computer or portable device - latest issues have 4 extra pages of reviews in electronic editions!

 Clayton Perkins, W.S. "Fluke" Holland, Carl Perkins and Jay Perkins onstage at the Big 'D' Jamboree in Dallas, Texas, June 1956. Photos courtesy David Dennard & Ed Watt.


 Memories of Carl

by Marc Bristol


Quite obviously Carl Perkins' song "Blue Suede Shoes" was the inspiration for the name of this magazine. The song was recorded or at least performed by virtually every major or minor rockabilly artist, and though Jimi Hendrix's version of the song is dreadful, he too, did record it. But Carl was an inspiration himself, for a lot more than that song. To my deep regret, I never met the man, but I've hung on his words through interviews over the years, and his humility and genuine caring for his family and his friends in the music business always shone through.

It was always my intention to honor Carl with the cover, but when we did so with issue #23, I wound up somewhat disappointed with the result. I wish I'd had a better photo for the cover, and Lee Cotten's article on Carl inside contained at least one glaring error that still mortifies me. It was claimed that Carl was the brother of Johnny Cash's sideman Luther Perkins, who in fact was a cousin of Thomas Wayne Perkins ("Tragedy"), but unrelated to Carl. They were certainly brothers of the road, though.


Carl Perkins backstage at the Big 'D' Jamboree, 1956 - cover photo, issue #42

The article also failed to mention Uncle John Westbrook, the black neighbor who taught Carl a lot about guitar playing (and sold the family Carl's first guitar), particularly the bluesy side of Carl's sound, and of course the Blind Lemon Jefferson song "Matchbox" - one of Carl's classic numbers. Since Carl is certainly one of the most important influences on the rockabilly sound and rock and roll, this seems particularly significant to me. Black musicians directly influenced Bob Wills, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Carl Perkins, Billy Lee Riley, and many others.

In turn Carl has influenced countless others, including yours truly. A new subscriber to BSN, who lives near the Perkins family in Jackson, Tennessee, has told me he was present at Carl's last recording session, at which Perkins was recording songs for a John Fogerty tribute. No doubt there will be another Carl Perkins tribute disc ("Go Cat Go" should qualify, with the number of luminaries joining Carl), and when it comes out we'll see a list of stars who have been inspired by Carl's music. In my own case, I was given the Beatles album "Beatles '65" (called "Beatles For Sale" in U.K. release) for Christmas that year. Having been excited by Beatle records like "Twist And Shout", "I Saw Her Standing There", "She Loves You" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", I was kinda disappointed by the general down tone of virtually all the original Beatle songs on that album. "Baby's In Black", "I'll Follow The Sun", and especially "I'm A Loser" made me realize that mega fame had a horrible price for these interesting guys. On that last song, I had to assume John Lennon (I was quite sure that since he sung it, he'd written it in the main) was serious, not just trying to write a cute pop song. It certainly made me have second thoughts about becoming a rock star, probably enough to stop it from happening if there had ever been any danger.

But the album's redeeming feature was the two Carl Perkins songs and the Chuck Berry classic "Rock And Roll Music". These songs were steeped in the groove and sense of fun that was what rock and roll meant to me, and still does. I've grown to appreciate those other songs on the LP too, but the classics they covered are still my favorites. By that time Carl's career had pretty much foundered here in the states, but his tour of England showed him that there was still an audience for his unique and wonderful hillbilly rock and roll.

I watched (and taped) the TNN special "The Life And Times Of Carl Perkins", and interstingly, though this is supposed to be a country music network, only Carl's rockabilly and rock and roll are featured, though a couple of his hillbilly sides were mentioned.

To me, Carl's songs like "Turn Around" and "Sure To Fall" are just as good as everything else he did. And I think anyone who doesn't like Carl's hillbilly side doesn't understand either the man or his music. I was especially happy when Ricky Skaggs asked for "Turn Around" during Carl's appearance on the "Monday Night Concerts" show. Carl said it was the first song he ever performed on that Ryman Auditorium Stage, during his first Grand Old Ory performance. My assignment for this article was to discuss Carl's influence on other artists. One thing Howard DeWitt failed to mention in his article is the fact that Carl is the one who suggested that Jerry Lee Lewis try standing up to play the piano. He probably should have bought stock in a piano stool manufacturer the next day. Carl joked about how he and Johnny Cash thought maybe he should have kept his mouth shut - and certainly Lewis' meteoric rise after that consumed Sun Records' meager resources for promotion, forcing not just them but also Billy Lee Riley and others to jump ship to other labels.

But Carl's perspective returned when he kicked booze one cathartic day in California. He had a loving wife, kids who grew up to follow in their father's footsteps and even play with him in his band, and the ability to make a living doing what he enjoyed the most - playing and writing music. He said on the TNN special that he never would have wanted to trade places with Elvis Presley, so perhaps folks should stop emphasizing the notion that he lived his life in Presley's shadow. Lee Cotten's BSN article tended to read like a catalogue of Perkins' commercial failures, when I'd have rather it were a tribute to Carl's artistic successes, which are many.

Since Johnny Cash suggested Carl write "Blue Suede Shoes", perhaps it's appropriate that Carl never got credit for writing the music for "A Boy Named Sue" on the spot just before the famous "Live At Folsom Prison" show. But it's something that we should all know just the same. Cash did hire Carl to replace Luther Perkins after Luther died, and let Carl sing some of his hits in the show, and he cut Carl's wonderful "Daddy Sang Bass". Once again Carl and Luther were brothers of the road, but in a different way.

I certainly miss Carl already, though I've been listening to all the recordings I have, especially the fabulous Bear Family box set. I wonder, does anybody know where I could obtain Carl's Universal title "Born To Rock" on CD? The borrowed cassette I had disappeared when it went to be halftoned for the issue we reviewed it in. Special thanks to David Dennard (of Dragon Street Records), who sent me these Big D Jamboree photos a few months ago. I wish I'd gotten it together to run them while Carl was still living. I'm told the sparkly blue shoe was a gift from Sam Phillips. But Carl Perkins' music was the real gift, and I'll always treasure it. -Marc Bristol

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Here are some current reviews that DIDN'T fit into our Fall 2010 issue!

Les Paul and Friends / How High The Moon: Hits And Rarities From The Wizard Of Waukesha / Fantastic Voyage FVTD 035

          Les Paul was the personification of success in 20th Century music. His performing genius on guitar extended across  country, blues, jazz and pop genres. His collaborations with  noteworthy performers extended from Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Georgia White, and Nat King Cole to Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Helen Forrest, and The Delta Rhythm Boys. He also produced hit after hit  with his spouse Mary Ford as well. As an audio experimenter and recording process innovator, Les Paul pioneered the solid-body electric guitar, multi-track recording, and such special sonic techniques as tape delay, echo, reverb, phasing, flanging, sped-up sounds, and muted picking. Les Paul's myriad of distinctive contributions to American music have been recognized through his inductions in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
         How High The Moon is a superb 3-disc salute to Les Paul's extensive and influential recording career. This 76-song compilation highlights Paul's years with Capitol Records (1948-1958), including his numerous instrumental solos ("Lover", "Goofus", "Jazz Me Blues", and "Whispering") and his duets with Mary Ford ("Mockin' Bird Hill", "The World Is Waiting For The Sunshine", "I'm A Fool To Care", and "Vaya Con Dios"). Two full discs are committed to the husband-and-wife team's most popular and enduring commercial hits. The third disc in this set focuses on the initial decade of Les Paul's performing career. This 24-song selection highlights his pickin' and swingin' period (1937-1947), with two tunes attributed to Paul's country music alter ego Rhubarb Red ("Just Because" and "Deep Elem Blues"), several songs by The Les Paul Trio ("Steel Guitar Rag", "Guitar Boogie", and "Blue Skies"), two 1944 performances with Nat King Cole from the Jazz at the Philharmonic program ("Body and Soul" and "Rosetta"), a few pop collaborations with Bing Crosby ("It's Been A Long, Long Time") and The Andrews Sisters ("Rumors Are Flying"), plus eight previously-unreleased transcription recordings by The Trio ("Subterfuge", "Melodic Meal", "Hand Picked", "At Sundown", "Coquette", "I Found A New York Baby", "Danger, Men At Work", and "Short Circuit").
         Most enthusiasts are already familiar with  recent anthologies and tributes such as The Best Of Les Paul: The Millenium Collectioin (MCA, 2001), The Best Of The Capitol Masters: 90th Birthday Edition (EMI, 2005), American Made World Played (Capitol, 2005), and The Essential Collection: Les Paul And Vocalists (Avid Entertainment, 2007). London's Proper Records has also produced an admirable and extensive 4-disc compilation titled Les Paul And Mary Ford: In Perfect Harmony (2007). But there is no current release that so thoroughly samples the hits and rarities of this magnificent musician, this remarkable recording entrepreneur, and this visionary audio acolyte.  Liner notes writer Dave Penny is especially skillful at delineating Les Paul's early years in Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as his final years of performing at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City. How High The Moon is a marvelous tribute! - B. Lee Cooper

Esquerita / Wildcat Shakeout / Fantastic Voyage FVCD 080

         Just as contemporary blues guitarist and singer Kevin Moore adopted the name Keb' Mo',  mid-century piano-pounding rocker Steven Quincy "SQ" Reeder assumed the distinctive stage name Esquerita. Humorously, this Greenville, South Carolina native also utilized two other bizarre  monikers -- "The Magnificent Malochi" and "Fabulash" -- late in his career when he was playing the Northeastern African-American gay club circuit. Esquerita was truly a wild child! Sporting a huge pompadour hairstyle, wearing dark glasses with  sequined frames, and donning red, orange, and purple costumes on stage, he was an over-sized, aggressive amalgam of Little Richard, Bobby Marchan, and Elton John. Esquerita's gigantic hands pummeled the piano keys while his powerful voice, hitting shocking soprano squeals and falsetto whoops, echoed across barrooms and recording studios in Nashville, New Orleans, and New York.
         The 2010 re-issue of Wildcat Shakeout, an album originally released in 1969 by Britain's Ember Records, is a fitting salute to a little known, less appreciated late '50s rocker. Esquerita had a symbiotic relationship with Little Richard. The two men first met in a Macon, Georgia bus station and later exchanged piano licks at Little Richard's home. Whatever the Georgia Peach learned from Esquerita, he converted  into majestic musical mayhem for Specialty Records. In 1958 Capitol Records signed Esquerita to recording contract, hoping to replicate Little Richard's raucous sound and remarkable commercial success. The outlandish, dynamic, flamboyant, talented performer  from South Carolina seemed destined for fame and fortune. No such luck, though. Esquerita worked like a demon during two lengthy Nashville studio sessions in 1958 and produced a total of 28 different songs. Regrettably, all of his  Capitol releases were ignored by white radio broadcasters, by black deejays, and by both Billboard and Cash Box as well. He was finally abandoned by Capitol Records in late 1959. The rest of his music career consisted of vagabond recording efforts for a variety of labels such as Okeh, Cross-Tone, Brunswick, Hermitage, Instant, Minit, and Everest.
         Wildcat Shakeout features all 14 tracks from the original Ember album, plus 6 additional tunes. Two of these bonus cuts -- "The Rock-A-Round" and "Sweet Skinny Jenny" -- are performed with guitarist Paul Peek of Gene Vincent's Blue Caps. Peek, also a Greenville native, had been a strong advocate for Esquerita's Capitol Records experiment. This entire disc displays Esquerita's penchant for lyrical loopiness and rhythmic volatility. "Rockin' The Joint", "I'm Battie Over Hattie", and "Gettin' Plenty of Lovin'" are sheer rock 'n' roll madness. And the self-titled "Esquerita and The Voola" is  remarkably inventive and haunting as an instrumental performance. What these 20 songs achieve in electricity and volume, though, they sacrifice in respect to sound balance and production clarity. Therein lies the fundamental commercial problem. Esquerita could never match Little Richard's solid beat and sales success because he lacked the skilled support of Cosimo Matassa's engineering and the delightfully disciplined session players from the J&M  Studio in New Orleans. Too bad. Wildcat Shakeout is a valuable reminder that the greatest rock 'n' roll records of the '50s were always  crafted through  a strong production team effort. Just ask Dave Bartholomew or Sam Phillips.- B. Lee Cooper

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Various Artists / Instroville: Hits And Rarities From The Golden Age Of Pop Instrumentals / Fantastic Voyage FVDD 061

         Today instrumental music can be heard in elevators and at shopping malls. However, there is little  place for it in Billboard's "Top 40" listings or on contemporary radio playlists. This was not always the case. During the '30s, '40s, and early '50s Americans listened, danced, and romanced to non-lyric versions of "Peg O' My Heart" by The Harmonicats, "Star Dust" by Artie Shaw, "Heartaches" by Ted Weems, and "Whispering" by Les Paul. This same instrumental music adoration stretched into the early rock era thanks to gifted performers like Bill Doggett ("Honky Tonk"), Santo and Johnny ("Sleep Walk"), Bill Justis ("Raunchy"), Link Wray ("Rumble"), and Duane Eddy ("Rebel-Rouser"). After the British Invasion and just as soul music began to evolve into funk, disco, hip-hip, and rap, public interest in instrumental recordings declined sharply. Too bad.
         Instroville revisits the peak of  instrumental music success during the late '50s and the early '60s. What is especially fascinating about this new compilation is that it balances obligatory  audio salutes to Doggett, the Farina brothers, Justis, Wray, and Eddy with the resurrection of several rare and raucous record releases. This does not imply that the quality of these lesser-known instrumentals is diminished. Far from it. In fact, the compilers of Instroville have assembled such excellent one-hit wonders as "Harlem Nocturne" by The Viscounts, "Tall Cool One" by The Wailers, "Woo-Hoo" by The Rock-A-Teens, "Bongo Rock" by Preston Epps, and "The Green Mosquito" by The Tune Rockers. Even more obscure instrumental tracks are featured, including "Guitarville" by Roland Janes, "Straight Flush" by The Frantics, "Bullwhip Rock" by The Cyclones, and the magnificent "Honey Rock" by Barney Kessel.
         This 2-disc, 50-song collection is fabulous! Nevertheless, there are several omissions, many understandable but a few egregious. It is clear, of course, that the Fantastic Voyage compilers are emphasizing hot boppin', cool rockin' recordings. Therefore,  they had no interest in exploring the numerous instrumental hits by Ray Anthony, Perez Prado, Jimmy Dorsey, Morris Stoloff, Al Hirt, Henry Mancini, or Percy Faith. Similarly, famous jazz tunes by Mongo Santamaria, Ramsey Lewis, Cannonball Adderley, and Dave Brubeck were skipped. But within the rock 'n' roll, R&B, and rockabilly perspective of Instroville, it is strange that so many key instrumental grooves were ignored. Among these interesting recordings are "Brontosaurus Stomp" by The Piltdown Men, "Jupiter C" by Pat and The Satellites, "Midnight" by Johnny Gibson, "Slow Walk" by Sil Austin, and "The Crazy Otto" by Johnny Maddox. Even more influential instrumental songs, such as "Hideaway" by Freddie King, "Last Night" by The Mar-Keys, "You Can't Sit Down" by Phil Upchurch, "Walk - Don't Run" by The Ventures, and "Memphis" by Lonnie Mack, are strangely missing in action.
         There are many other large collections of instrumental recordings available to 21st Century record buyers. In 1994 Rhino Records issued a 5-volume set on Rock Instrumental Classics; in 1996 Hip-O Records released a 2-disc set titled Soulful Grooves: R&B Instrumental Classics; between 1993 and 2000 Ace Records issued five discs of instrumental tunes labeled Teen Beat; and in 2001 Golden Stars Records released a 3-disc compilation of Rock And Soul Instrumental Classics. It is a tribute to Instroville that this relatively compact 2-disc set is more diverse and more interesting than any of these prior efforts. -B. Lee Cooper, Ph.D.

Various Artists / Next Stop Is Vietnam: The War On Record, 1961-2008 / Bear Family
         BCD 16070 MS

         Cultural historian and military music maven Hugo Keesing has compiled the ultimate collection of Vietnam War songs. This monumental box set features 13 compact discs containing 295 songs and 39 spoken commentaries. The latter sound bites  feature U.S. Presidents, Congressional figures, American ambassadors, and professional radio and television reporters. A hefty hardcover text that  offers  brief  scholarly articles about the history of the Southeast Asian conflict and the influence of commercial sound recordings on  civilians and battlefield troops  is also provided. More than 200  pages of this book are devoted to song-by-song/artist-by-artist observations penned by Keesing. These comments elaborate on the social importance  of particular lyrics and the political motives of specific performers. Nothing has been spared to make this mammoth montage of music both enlightening and entertaining.
         The full range of Vietnam era emotions are resurrected and re-played in these fascinating recordings. Patriotic,  pro-American preaching is provided in cuts by Ernest Tubb, Ssgt. Barry Sadler, Dave Dudley, Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, Merle Haggard, and Terry Nelson. Anti-war epiphanies and lyrical support for draft evasion are presented by The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Tom Paxton, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Country Joe McDonald and The Fish, and Edwin Starr. Beyond these usual suspects in the long-running musical debate about Vietnam, this distinctive collection also explores items from  lesser known vocal commentators such as  Rod McKuen, Marvin Gaye, Connie Francis, John Lee Hooker, The Monitors, Inez and Charlie Foxx, Paul Revere and The Raiders, and Roger McGuinn. In addition to commercial disc releases, Next Stop Is Vietnam  displays numerous post-war reflections sung by Vietnam veterans. These tunes -- including "I Ain't Here Alone", "Warspeak", "Who Are The Names On The Wall", "Vietnam: Still Part Of Who I Am", and "Veteran's Lament" -- are haunting tales from those who actually experienced battlefield  terror and trauma,  rather than just personal  ideological discomfort on the homefront.
         This superb retrospective audio collection is designed to be an oral history of America's most controversial overseas military engagement. It succeeds admirably. Even with more than 290 songs included, though, there were several American  recording companies and a few noteworthy artists that refused to grant permission for Bear Family to reproduce their copyrighted audio materials. Among the classic Vietnam-related  songs that are missing in action are: "Born in the U.S.A."  by Bruce Springsteen, "Chicago" by Graham Nash, "Goodnight Saigon" by Billy Joel, "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, "2 + 2 = ?" by The Bob Seger System, and "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" by The Animals. These omissions do not diminish the heroic efforts  of Keesing and his collaborators. They have re-established the incendiary musical landscape that was emblematic of the Vietnam imbroglio.
         Who should acquire this spectacular box set? Vietnam veterans will be especially touched by the intentional additions of the voices and perspectives of enlisted men (and women) about the fighting environment prior to Saigon's fall in 1975 and about the strange and painful recovery years in the U.S.  following the war's termination. Opponents of the war will appreciate the consistency with which the case for diplomatic solutions and peace negotiations  echoed across the broad spectrum of anti-war recordings. Current-day students, teachers, and cultural historians will glean much about the deeply divided opinions held by Americans about the Vietnam War and about the role of audio dissent in terms of demanding   foreign policy adjustments. Librarians and Sound Recording Archivists will be overjoyed to  be able to access hard-to-acquire recordings from  the '60s, '70s, and '80s  in a very  well-organized audio resource package. Record collectors who specialize in military themes, political commentary, or music from particular 20th Century decades will appreciate the amazing depth and breadth of this collection. Finally, for Blue Suede News readers, the realization that recorded music has often been a powerful political force as well as a potent source of personal pleasure will be a reward in itself. This huge box set is truly comprehensive -- and crucial to understanding an especially significant period in  American history. - B. Lee Cooper, Ph.D.

The Running Kind / The Girl For All The World

            This L.A. area band is a Country/Rock outfit, fronted by singer Leslie Ann Bosson. Their tunes tend to start out with acoustic guitar, but they do have drums, usually played with brushes, and bass & electric guitar. They’ve got a piano player too, and Leslie sings harmonies with her husband Matt, the acoustic guitarist, on several songs, and he sings lead on a few too. Of the 10 songs on their new CD, they wrote 7, but open on George Jones’ “Life To Go.” They close with Gram Parsons’ “Return Of The Grievous Angel” and Neil Young’s “Don’t Cry No Tears.” The addition of pedal steel on 6 songs, and dobro on one, gives the proceedings a more Country feel, and I like the laid back two step of “A Okay” especially. “Don’t That Make No Sense” has a two-beat feel with the mandolin and dobro, more old-timey than the rest. Lead guitarist George Alexander sings “Seemed Like A Good Idea,” which has Matt on trombone, just briefly for comic effects here and there, pushing that tune slightly in a Dixieland direction. They do feature both upright and electric bass, but I think those last two tunes probably show their direction. The runningkind.net -MB

Jayhawks / Tomorrow The Green Grass / Legacy 

My awareness of the Jayhawks is limited to knowing they have something to do with the “alt.country” movement in music. That is, the alt.country Jayhawks, of course we recently had an article about the Doo-Wop Jayhawks. Anyhow, for those who are interested in them, Legacy has reissued their Tomorrow The Green Grass CD, complete with several bonus tracks, 4 of them previously unreleased. Then there is a Disc 2 subtitled “The Mystery Demos”. Our advance copies have no notes, but these are not listed as previously unissued, so perhaps you’ve heard them before, if you’re into these Jayhawks. I’m listening to Disc 1 now, and they’re a Country Rock group, and appear not to have so much ‘alt.rock’ about them. I believe they have sometimes been thought of as a modern version of the Byrds, and I can hear later Byrds in there. Interestingly (for me anyhow), song #3, “Miss Williams’ Guitar” is about Victoria Williams, who I followed on a stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in ’89, so we met in passing. Primary songwriter Mark Olson married her after having written this song for her (she was his girlfriend at the time). She also appeared in the film Even Cowgirls Get The Blues. Although the distorted lead guitar isn’t exactly my taste, the stuff is a lot like later Byrds, fairly enjoyable. They have been a very influential group in their musical area. Legacy has also reissued their Hollywood Town Hall CD, which was their first major label release on Def American. Both CDs are from the period before Olson left the group to spend more time with Williams. They divorced in 2006, and the Jayhawks (who carried on without him in between for a while) have since reunited for some shows. Wikipedia compares them to Neil Young. Legacyrecordings.com –MB

The Daddy Mack Blues Band / BluesfingerInside Sounds ISC 0536

            Songwriting producers Eddie Dattel and Matt Isbell help bluesman Daddy Mack Orr channel his best Albert King-styled vocals throughout this fine release. The borrowed rhythm pattern on the title track (thank you Bar-Kays for your "Soul Finger" original) is creatively supplemented with inspired harmonica work by Billy Gibson. The Daddy Mack Blues Band invariably lives on the double entendre lyrical edge, particularly with "Mailman" and "Soda Pop". The experienced vocalization of Daddy Mack serves him especially well on "Great Recession Blues" and "Blues Highway". On the latter tune, the ghost of Little Milton haunts the song's theme and performance. Bluesfinger is a fine example of "new blues" that reflects current artistic creativity along with traditional blues themes. Superb musicians like Isbell, Gibson, and Joe Boogie offer intensity and solidarity behind Daddy Mack's excellent vocals. Even the antique Bill Doggett classic "Honky Tonk" gains new life in Memphis. This entire disc is enjoyable on many levels. The instrumentalization is authentic and innovative; the lyrics are laughable, lovable, and invariably bluesy; and the feel of  new songs like "All Tore Up And Cryin'" are unmistakably classic. Good job, Daddy Mack! -B. Lee Cooper. Ph.D.

Buddy Holly and The Crickets / The First Three Albums / Fantastic Voyage FVCD 004
Ricky Nelson / Lonesome Town: The Complete Rrecord Releases, 1957-1959 / Fantastic Voyage FVTD 056

         Buddy Holly and Ricky Nelson had a great deal in common. They were born prior to America's entry into World War II; they abandoned their given names ("Charles"  and "Eric") to perform under more familiar nicknames; they admired the early recordings of Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Elvis Presley; they scored their initial Billboard hits -- "That'll Be The Day" and "I'm Walking" -- in 1957; they recorded in a variety of genres, including Rockabilly, Pop, Country, and Rock 'n' Roll; they died in tragic plane crashes, in 1959 and 1985 respectively; and they were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the mid-1980s. Of course, it's also undeniable that the family backgrounds and  career paths  of Buddy and Ricky were much different. Likewise, their hit recordings differed in lyrical originality and historical influence  --  and their contrasting images as a songwriting genius vs. a teen idol remain firm even today. These interesting similarities and differences make it even more delightful that London's Fantastic Voyage label has elected to highlight the initial pop years of Buddy and Ricky.
         The First Three Albums revisits Buddy Holly's brilliant work on The 'Chirping' Crickets (1957), Buddy Holly (1958), and  That'll Be The Day (1958). This new compilation highlights 36 songs. Hit singles like "Everyday", "Peggy Sue", and "Not Fade Away" are joined by such wonderful tunes as "Midnight Shift", "Rave On", and "I'm Lookin' For Someone To Love". A bonus track featuring a second version of "Rock Around With Ollie Vee" has been appended to this collection. Lonesome Town features all of Ricky Nelson's commercial releases between 1957 and 1959. This includes all songs from his four Imperial label albums -- Ricky (1957), Ricky Nelson (1958), Ricky Sings Again (1959), and Songs By Ricky (1959). These tunes include "I'm Walking", "Be-Bop Baby", "Poor Little Fool", "Believe What You Say", and "Stood Up". This 3-disc compilation offers a total of 61 songs. The third  disc in the compilation contains a 75-minute interview with Ricky from the 1970s that was conducted for the British music magazine Record Retailer. What a historic find!
         Neither death nor time have diminished popular interest in the musical contributions of Buddy Holly and Ricky Nelson. They are still heralded in literary biographies and magazine  essays, hailed by their fan club members, and lauded as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members. Their songs still echo on "Golden Oldies" radio channels and in DVDs featuring performances by early rockers. For Buddy Holly, the current availability of recordings is staggering. Recent CD compilations include: The Buddy Holly Collection (MCA, 1993), The Ultimate EP Collection (See For Miles, 2001), Gold (Geffen, 2005), The Definitive Collection (Geffen/Decca, 2006), Memorial Collection (Geffen/Decca, 2008), and Down The Line Rarities (Geffen/Decca, 2008). Recent CDs reflecting on the singing career of Ricky Nelson are nearly as numerous. They include: The Best Of Rick Nelson (EMI America, 1987), The Best Of Rick Nelson, 1963-1975 (Decca/MCA, 1990), Rockin' With Ricky (Ace, 1996), The EP Collection (See For Miles, 1997), and Ricky Rocks (Bear Family, 2007).
         Despite the abundance of previous CD salutes, these two new collections are distinctive and worth owning. The First Three Albums is the only single-disc compilation of Buddy Holly's three best-selling albums. Lonesome Town provides an even more important retrospective on Ricky Nelson. This excellent compilation demonstrates the significant influences of Johnny Burnette, Dorsey Burnette, and other rockabilly artists on Ricky's  initial recordings. But the most fascinating aspect of this 3-disc release is the open-mike commentaries spoken by the artist himself. Fantastic Voyage has given 21st Century listeners a rare opportunity to hear the musical roots of two key early rock  performers. -B. Lee Cooper, Ph.D

Various Artists / The Ace (USA) Story -- Volume One / Ace CDCHD 1261

Small, independent record labels like Checker, Chess, King, Specialty, and Sun rocked the American music industry at mid-century. Johnny Vincent's Ace Records, originally located at 227 Culbertson Avenue in Jackson, Mississippi, has been an audio asylum and star-showcasing force to be reckoned with from 1955 up to the present day. Just prior to his death on February 4, 2000, Vincent sold his entire record catalog for $1,000,000 to the U.K.-based licensing firm Music Collection International. Now British Ace Records has re-opened Vincent's hallowed vaults to create a five-disc, 120-song series featuring the hits and misses from Mississippi Ace's heyday. These new compact discs supercede the former vinyl Ace Story anthology of 1979-1983 vintage. They also double the number of tunes provided per disc. Ace Story -- Volume One revisits the distinctive New Orleans audio gumbo of blues, R&B, and rockabilly that Vincent so adored. Many of the songs featured here were recorded at J&M Studios under the watchful engineering eye of the legendary Cosimo Matassa. Beyond the usual suspects -- "Rockin' Pneumonia and The Boogie Woogie Flu", "Just A Dream", and "Sea Cruise", this ample treasure trove of Crescent City re-issues features "Lover of Love" by Chuck Carbo, "Pop-Eye" by Huey Smith and His Clowns, "Gee Baby" by Joe and Ann, and "Everybody's Carried Away" by Earl King. Also included on this disc are Joe Tex (in his best Little Richard voice) wailing "You Little Baby Face Thing", Mac Rebennack (prior to his Dr. John conversion) playing "Storm Warning", and a raucous salute to the Big Easy TV boogie man "Morgus the Magnificent" performed laughingly and anonymously by Rebennack, Frankie Ford, and Ronnie Baron. -- Volume One also contains perceptive, fact-filled liner notes by Tony Rounce and a variety of vintage photos of Ace, Vin, and Rex label discs. Although London's Westside Records has previously re-issued several American Ace oddities -- Mark Lamarr's Ace Is Wild (1998), The First Take Is The Deepest (1998), and Curiosities: The Ace (MS.) 70s Singles And Sessions (2000), it is certain that the five forthcoming U.K. Ace volumes will become the most reliable historical overview of Johnny Vincent's influential label. Turn up the volume, kick back, and enjoy listening to Frankie Lee Sims, Roland Stone, Bobby Marchan, and Alvin "Red" Tyler. -B. Lee Cooper, Ph.D.

Ghost Town Blues Band / Dust The Dust Inside Sounds ISC 0537

Based in Memphis, the Ghost Town Blues Band features a fascinating foray across several sonic styles on the debut disc DUST THE DUST. The opening tune -- "One More Whisky" -- is an original shuffling ode to male reliance on strong liquid medicine to endure the seemingly unending demands of domestic incarceration. Dave Coen and Daddy Mack Orr join the Ghostly trio on this irreverent but rockin' tune. The remainder of the CD is divided between cover songs -- the staple of most bar bands across America -- and new numbers composed by lead guitarist and bandmaster Matt Isbell. While dirty dancing to classic oldies is always a worthwhile pursuit, it is the fresh compositions on Dust The Dust that are most interesting. The title song is an inspired blues-rock number with thunder in the lyrics and lightning throughout the melody. "Suga Mama", another new Isbell tune, is a sensational bluesy salute to a sugar cane sweetie whose powerful loving sparks amnesia. The band's zeal of shapely chicks continues in the upbeat rocker "Comfortable Way". While Isbell isn't Cole Porter or Johnny Mercer, his lyrics are humorously creative and his rhythm structures are topflight. The Ghost Town Blues Band is comfortable with all sorts of traditional pop and down home blues songs. They tackle "Come Together" (imagine listening to The Beatles on steroids), "C. C. Rider", "Baby Please Don't Go", "I Put A Spell On You" (in Creedence Clearwater Revival fashion rather than in the more exotic, bumbling, chaotic Screamin' Jay Hawkins style), and "Goin' Down" (more influenced by Gary Moore than by Freddie King). This is an album that begs for high decibel playing in a spacious room with the capacity for uninhibited footstompin' and tailfeather shakin'! These eleven delicious platters deserve a follow-up helping. -B. Lee Cooper, Ph.D.

Various Artists / Girls Gone Rockin': 75 Fabulous Femme Rockers / Fantastic Voyage FVTD 054

Top 2010 album sales, as reported in the June issue of BILLBOARD, place nine women among the 20 highest chart positions. These ladies are: Sade, Lady Gaga, Kesha, Susan Boyle, Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys, Monica, Rihanna, and Carrie Underwood. This narrow sales snapshot omits several other highly successful contemporary female recording artists such as Janet Jackson, Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, Cyndi Lauper, and Madonna. Girls Gone Rockin' explores the 1950s audio roots of women's rise to fame and fortune in the commercial recording industry. Obviously, some very talented early black female artists like Alberta Hunter, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ida Cox, Mamie Smith, and Memphis Minnie paid their dues during the segregated era of disc distribution and sales. Fortunately, the mid-century musical world exploded with a diversity of opportunities for female artists, both black and white. Girls Gone Rockin' isn't saluting everyone, though. It ignores such pop stars and big band performers as Teresa Brewer, Doris Day, Dinah Washington, Rosemary Clooney, Kay Starr, Julie London, Georgia Gibbs, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Margaret Whiting, Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, Della Reese, and Ella Fitzgerald. Instead, the compilation lionizes those rockin' female rebels who repeatedly put the audio pedal to the metal with screaming vocals, suggestive lyrics, and upbeat rhythms. Fantastic Voyage compiler Lucky Parker provides generous, thoughtful retrospective tributes to Ruth Brown, Rose Maddox, Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin, Etta James, LaVern Baker, Annisteen Allen, Brenda Lee, Ella Johnson, Lorrie Collins, Barbara Pittman, and many others. Of the 75 songs featured on this 3-disc anthology, most artists perform at least two of their best numbers. Among the most memorable tunes presented are "Razzle Dazzle" by Ella Mae Morse, "Crazy Little Baby" by Shirley Gunter, "You Can Have My Husband (But Please Don't Mess With My Man)" by Irma Thomas, "Go Get The Shotgun Grand'pa" by Ann Castle, and "Rang Dang Dilly" by Big Maybelle. The only strange track among these fine recordings is "Lipstick On Your Collar" by Connie Francis. The more serious problem, though, is the unexplainable omission of a few women who embodied explosive performing zeal and stage-commanding presence on the fifties music scene. Specifically, this compilation should have included "Hip Shakin' Mama" by Chubby Newson, "Hound Dog" by Willie Mae Thornton, "I'm Gonna Play The Honky Tonks" by Marie Adams, and "Mistrustin' Blues", "Misery", and "Deceivin' Blues" by Little Esther Phillips. Girls Gone Rockin' is a terrific introduction to the strong, highly-motivated, independent women recording artists that emerged during the second half of the 20th Century. Ready or not,the fifties faded into memory just as a new generation of very hot, very determined, and very talented female singers emerged. The new divas on disc included Koko Taylor, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Janis Joplin, Patti LaBelle, Martha Reeves, Pat Benetar, Joan Jett, Chaka Khan, and Melissa Etheridge. Girls Gone Rockin' offers a more than reasonable overview of the R&B, rock 'n' roll, and country music world of the fifties. For those who desire even more tunes by rockabilly gals, check out Hot Rockin' Girls: Female Rock 'N' Roll, 1956-1958 (Jasmine, 2009). -B. Lee Cooper, Ph.D.

Here's some reviews that didn't fit in our
Winter '09/2010 issue!

Stephen Stills / Live At Shepherd’s Bush, Manassas / Pieces, Crosby, Stills & Nash / Demos / Eyewall/Atco/Rhino 521560, Eyewall/Rhino 521089 & Atlantic/Rhino 519624

Stephen Stills, as solo guy, group leader and group member, was the subject of a trio of 2009 reissues.  The first, “Demos,” with Crosby, Stills & Nash, has a dozen tracks laid down between 1968 and ’71. All three harmonize on the opening “Marrakesh Express,”  then various members take the lead. Stills is alone on “My Love Is A Gentle Thing” while David Crosby flies solo with “Almost Cut My Hair.” The demos are different enough from the final album versions that this CD is worth checking out. While Crosby, Stills & Nash still tour and record together, they have also gone their separate ways since debuting in 1969.  Stills formed Manassas in 1971, enlisting hotshots like Chris Hillman and Joe Walsh. “Pieces” is an appropriate title for the 15-track set. It includes alternate takes from their second album (“Do You Remember The Americans” and “Lies”) along with the previously un-issued “Sugar Babe” and “Word Game” and other rare treats. While bits of “Pieces” might interest serious Stills types, the live album, from a 2008 show in London, is really the way to go. The 13-song CD/DVD is broken into to “acoustic” and “electric” sets and draws on all aspects of Stills’ colorful career, ranging back to Buffalo Springfield (“For What It’s Worth,” “Bluebird”), CSN (“Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”) and solo hits like “Love The One You’re With” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country.”  Backed by a tight three-piece band, Stills is clearly at ease, enjoying a romp through his past as much as the enthusiastic crowd. www.rhino.com -Mark Marymont

Steve Conte & The Crazy Truth / Varese Sarabande 302-066-987-2

Rock ‘n’ roll fans with a long memory may recall that Steve Conte was the lead guitarist, songwriter and backing singer for The New York Dolls. He’s worked with other bands – Crown Jewels, Contes – but will always be a Doll. On this new project, with drummer Phil Stewart and bassist Max Roach, he’s managed to retain a punky New York persona while blending in bits of power pop, surf and straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll. It’s an attractive blend that, hopefully, will find an audience. Conte wrote all 11 songs and they open with the driving “This Is The End,” move onto the Stones-like “Gypsy Cab,” spit out “Get Off” (a snotty nod to “Get Off My Cloud”), turn to surging power pop in “The Truth Ain’t Pretty,” tell the bitter tale of Atlantic City-bound gamblers on the “Busload Of Hope” and offer a queasy love song in “Strumpet-hearted Monkey Girl.” The only ballad, more or less, is the ironic “Indie Girl.”  There are a few guests to fill out the sound, including former Doll front man David Johansen on harmonica, but this is clearly Conte’s show and he offers a powerful collection of songs that reflect on the sometimes seedy, even violent life in the big city. www.steveconteandthecrazytruth.com -Mark Marymont


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Kim Field and the Mighty Titans of Tone / Black Diamonds

Eric Daw / Hey Now!

There are several good reasons to review these two CDs together – they were recorded at about the same time, by two men who were playing together in a band at the time (although the personnel on the two CDs are different on most tunes).  The two CDs even share a song  (Eric Daw’s “You’re the One”) in versions that offer a good comparison of these top-flight Northwest musicians. The two CDs were also recorded in the same studio (Seattle’s Orbit Audio), both with an emphasis on an uncomplicated, live-in-the-studio, rootsy sound.  Both these artists are comfortable as bluesmen, but both have a wider musical view.  Influences from classic country music, 60’s soul music, and from the rise of rock and roll are evident here. Of the two, Kim Field is the experienced master; possessed of a long  and rich career as a performer, song writer, recording artist and graphic designer – and an internationally known music historian who literally “wrote the book” on the development and history of the harmonica.  In his book Harmonicas, Harps and Heavy Breathers, Kim traces his chosen instrument from its humble origins as a pocket instrument for cowboys and hoboes, to the highly amplified, soaring electric instrument launched by the likes of Little Walter and George “Harmonica” Smith into the front lines of modern improvisational music. The younger man, Eric Daw arrived on the Seattle music scene less than a decade ago, and his rapid development as a guitarist; first as a dedicated sideman, seemingly popping up everywhere you looked, to a smoking instrumentalist and increasingly dazzling soloist, to a confident vocalist and a competent songwriter – this development has been a joy to watch and a pleasure to hear.

Kim Field’s album, Black Diamonds, represents a solid return to form by Kim as a songwriter.  Kim has always pushed himself well beyond the clichés that so many roots music songwriters fall into.  “Endless boogie” crowd pleasers are notably absent here, although the Titans can rock with the best of them.   What you get from Kim are finely crafted songs – both musically and lyrically – songs that often plunge deep into the heart of human relationships.  In addition to calling up the spirits of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and their delta predecessors, Kim’s influences by later R&B and country music geniuses like Sam Cooke, Arthur Alexander, and Merle Haggard have added a richness and complexity to his work that sets this CD apart form any other area artist currently on the scene. Kim’s CD opens up with one of the highlights of the set, “My Heart is Still My Own,” a rocking statement of survival in the face of romantic turmoil, followed by “The Language of Love” with the great line “don’t look to the Good Book, or the customs of Japan, if you want my touch, you got to put it in my hand.”   “So Dark in Here” follows, a fine soul ballad reminiscent of the classic work of Dan Penn, followed by another of Kim’s rockin’ Cajun tunes (this one written with Henry Cooper), “Dis Pas Ca.”  Other

highlights of this excellent set include Kim’s signature harp instrumental, “Heavy Breathing,” his rollicking take on Eric Daw’s “You’re the One,” mentioned earlier, and the very dark  “She’ll Bury You (In the Hole She Dug For Me)” here with Kim on delta style guitar.  A reworking of the Slamhound Hunter’s “The Snake Sheds it’s Skin” might make your skin crawl, and the title tune, “Black Diamonds,” is a minor blues coming straight out that desperate 3am hour, with Kim’s huge harmonica tone flowing out of the speakers like black, bitter honey. The musicians on this CD are all top-flight, with a special mention of Billy Spaulding’s rock-solid drumming throughout.  As James Ellroy would say, DIG IT. 

Eric Daw’s CD opens with the title tune, “Hey Now!” a Jimmie Vaughan-style instrumental shuffle which let’s you know right away that you are in for some treats with this collection!  The personnel on this cut and several others make up another band that Daw stands out in during appearances around the area – The Satellite Four, a Booker T. and the MGs style instrumentals-only band featuring the amazing Jeff Conlin, who has quickly become my favorite area organist, as well as a solid rhythm section in Johnny Horn and David Hudson on bass and drums.  If you like what you hear on this track, “Ricky’s Revenge,” and “Under Control,” you need to get out and see The Satellite Four live!  They will blow you away, guaranteed.  

There’s plenty of great guitar scattered all over this set – Daw is an imaginative player who covers a lot of territory, all done with true feeling and a lot of style.  Eric has a lighter touch with his singing, but again, this man is growing by leaps and bounds before our eyes and ears, and he carries this initial solo CD very well as a frontman.  His vocal touch on “You’re the One” calls up the classic Hollywood rock-a-billy of Ricky Nelson, and had my wife dancing around the room singing along.  Expect more great things from Eric Daw – ‘cause we’re gonna get ‘em!  

The best idea, of course, is to get out and see these cats live and pick up these CDs direct from the source, but if need be, you can get either one or both from cdbaby.com.  You WILL be glad you did!   -Mark Dalton   Fall 2009

Les Blousons Noirs / Special Rock

Born Bad Records 006

This is so bad it's impossible to believe the 8 tracks actually were released on two EPs in 1961 and '62. The young quartet covers a few American hits (and sings some in French, too), starting with the dreadful "Be Bop A Lula" and ending on several Twist covers. A singer who can't hold a note (and with a super strong accent on the English songs), a drummer who is totally out of sync plus very rudimentary guitar licks. Marc said the rehearsal tape for his very first 60s band sounded better than this. The quartet sounds like a chaotic one man band and yes, it does me remind me of Hasil Adkins who had a ton more talent than Les Blousons Noirs. A+ for enthusiasm and guts! Liner notes are in French and if I understand it correctly, the Blousons Noirs  are celebrated as early Punk rockers in the tradition of the Legendary Stardust Cowboy and such. If you need a (astonishingly bad) gag present for someone, this would be it. Myspace.com/Bornbadrecords. -GMB

Natasha James / Tequila Time / HOR 817

Here's some nice laid back roots music for a lazy afternoon. Call it Americana, Country or Roots Rock, Natasha James surrounded herself with an excellent crew of experienced musicians (Asleep At The Wheel, Chris Isaak band) to create a 15 song, 49 minute toe-tapping album that comes straight from the heart. Plenty of pedal steel guitar, fiddles, resophonic guitar. The stand outs for me are the songs with a Tex Mex flair and the California native dishes it out with gusto on the accordion laced "Boy Do We Drink". There's a Latin flair in "Cheetah On The Run" and a slide guitar spicing up "Get Out Of My Way". I dig the jug band feel of "Stuck in Atlanta", the groovy, bluesy "If You Think This Is Love" and the New Orleans style "Somebody Just Blew It". It's Tequila Time! Natshajames.com. -GMB

The Tractors / Trade Union / Koch-CD 5071

This new album by the Tractors has been on the shelves since spring but just in case you missed it, the bouncy beat of the Oklahoma gang is worth a listen. While considered a Country act, the Tractors incorporate  roots music styles from Rock'n'Roll to Blues and deliver it all with a boogie beat to boot. Head Tractor Steve Riley sings, plays guitar, produced and wrote the majority of songs and invited a star studded cast of friends to participate. 70s Country icon Leon Russell pounds the 88 keys on the energetic opener "Up Jumped The Boogie" and also on his own 50's style Rock'n'Roll "Good Old Days" with wailing saxophones and great steel guitar. Guitar great J.J. Cale nails a shuffle on his composition "Rhythm Bone", also taking the second lead vocals. "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down" is probably my favorite Harlan Howard song and The Tractors take a traditional approach here with a real nice Western Swing arrangement. Several rootsy Country tunes follow, a couple slower like the weeper "Love Hurts", some drivin', others bluesy ("Midnight Train'") or full blast roots Rock. While I enjoy the album, the one beef I have (besides the dismal cover art) is that several songs have some sort of intro that distracts from the actual tune. Overall a good pick for fans of upbeat Country with a roots twang. -GMB

Matthew Stubbs / Soul Bender / MS1001

This is a GREAT album. And it's all instrumentals! And all original! This comes from somebody who thinks the human voice is the most extraordinary instrument, so you know this must be the real deal. Matthew Subbs is the young guitar slinger whose hot chops supported Janiva Magness in her heavy touring schedule. He's backed up Lynwood Slim, Junior Watson, John Nemeth and just took over lead guitar duties in Charlie Musselwhite's band. Quite an array of credentials for a 25 year old Blues musician! This wonderful Soul drenched album has been out for while, recorded in MA during the last couple of years with bass, drums and a horn section. Marc's credo when it comes to guitar players is that "Less is More" and Matthew Stubbs understands the value of giving notes room to breath. His intricate playing is spot on and varied with a nice clean tone, producing wonderful soulful ballads like "Rivelli's Mood" framed by energetic 60s style numbers like the pumped up Garage Rock infused "Jacksonville Jerk". "Stompin' On Thru" is a hot Jump Blues played at break neck speed with honkin' saxes. Many more Soul numbers to discover here, a great set to strut your stuff to, powerful and soulful all the same. Vizztone.com. -GMB

Amazing Rhythm Aces / Their Very Best / Varese Sarabande 302 066 949 2

This Memphis band is best-known for the slightly cheesy, if good-natured 1975 hit, “Third Rate Romance.” It was a wry commentary on cheating that combined an easy-going rock beat and lyrics that played off the classic country preoccupation with infidelity. Vocalist Russell Smith wrote most of their songs, and he carries this 17-track collection that features their five pop and country hits for ABC Records. “Amazing Grace (Used To Be Her Favorite Song),” a country Top 10, is a clever fallen-woman story that was followed by the easy gallop of the world-weary “The End Is Not In Sight.” They also did well with a cover of the O’Jay’s “Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)” and a nice take of “Ashes Of Love.” The dramatic, emotional “Dancing The Night Away” was a favorite of album rock radio and, for a while, a powerful highlight of shows by the Oak Ridge Boys. Smith went solo in the early ‘80s, had a few minor hits (two featured here) and now leads a regularly-touring version of the Aces. Their first two albums were released as a single CD in 2000 but this first-ever best-of is a wider-ranging overview of the groups’ best years. www.varesevintage.com -Mark Marymont    

Here's a few reviews that we didn't have space for in the last couple issues!

Summer/Fall 2009

Jimmy “Duck” Holmes / Gonna Get Old Someday / Fat Possum BLM 0205

Roadside joints are a popular cover theme on CDs – how refreshing that the one on this CD is actually owned by Holmes, the artist on the CD. He’s billed as one of the last living proponents of the Bentonia (Mississippi) style of Blues made famous by Skip James and Jack Owens. In fact he as accompanied here by the late Owens’ partner Bud Spires on harmonica and by Calvin Jackson on percussion. Holmes had expanded the music program at the Blue Front Café after taking it over, and became a protégé of Owens, one of the performers there. It says the 12 tunes were written or arranged by Homes, and “Devil Blues” is clearly based upon James’ “I’d Rather Be The Devil,” and “Done Broke Down” is clearly “What’s The Matter With The Mill” – and actually my favorite tune on the CD as it moves along nice with Jackson’s percussion. One thing that is most interesting about the CD is in the notes where I learned that this style was actually imported from the Bahamas via a meeting in Europe during WWI between Bentonian Henry Stuckey and Bahamian soldiers. The style is based upon an E minor guitar tuning. I had not encountered that information before. Anyhow fans of James and Owens will be happy to know a protégé is carrying on the style and they can hear him on this CD, if they can’t make it to the Blue Front Café. Fatpossum.com -MB

Saffire The Uppity Blues Women / Havin' The Last Word / Alligator Records

 After 25 years of existence, Saffire calls it quits! Fortunately they go out with a bang in form of this new 16-song album aptly titled "Havin' The Last Word". If you know these three talented and outspoken women, you know they just have to dispense another big dose of sassy advice and wise cracking comments packaged into an acoustic Blues music mix that clocks in at just under an hour of playtime. Six well chosen covers by the likes of EG Kight and Deanna Bogart supplement the originals by this trio that range from laid-back Country Blues to Boogie Woogie, Gospel and beyond . The opener "Goin' Down To The River" with its infectious New Orleans groove and the fun "Nothin' In Your House" are among my favorites here. Gaye Adegbadola's (guitar, harmonica) excellent recent solo album was very personal and so are her contributions here. "Bald Headed Blues" deals with her triumph over cancer. "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" tells the story of getting foreclosed upon in this recent economic downturn. Her "Locked Up" is an encouraging Gospel laced piece about unconditional support for an incarcerated loved one. In the tradition of the often suggestive blues lyrics that date back to the 20s and 30s, Gay revives the genre with the risky piano driven "Bald Eagle". Ann Rabson's (piano, guitar) husky voice graces her toe-tappin' "Since You Been Gone" that ends on an uplifting note. Her boogie piano prominently drives the fine "Travelin' At The Speed Of Love" and rocks and rolls on "Haste Makes Waste". Andra Fay's (mandolin, fiddle, upright bass) glass clear voice works perfectly on her beautiful "Blue Lullaby", an excellent addition that you'd rather expect to find on a traditional Country or Bluegrass album. She rocks, rolls and boogies on her upbeat "Walkin' Home To You". The real show stopper here is "Too Much Butt", if this doesn't bring a smile to your face, you're way too skinny! And remember "there no such thing as too much butt" and if you need more encouragement take "I'm Growing Older" defying the stereotype of mature women. Saffire will be touring behind this album and we all know we'll hear from them again (watch out for the soon to be release documentary "Hot Flash"), individually or maybe for that special occasion. uppityblueswomen.com. -GMB

Gene Snowden / Austin's Original Hillbilly Poet / Part CD 676.001

This is what you'd call a “field” recording, and Snowden was playing for a couple of friends whom you can hear in the background clinking glasses and talking some. Ray Campi recorded Gene's “Quit Your Triflin'” early in his Rollin' Rock era, and later Gene sent this tape of a bunch of his other original songs (made in 1970) in case Ray might record another. Ray did do “How Can I Get On Top, two versions of which are here.” It reminds me a little of those Ramblin' Jack Elliot recordings where they had to trick him into recording by gathering a few friends and putting the lights low etc. Occasional annoying pops when Gene is tapping his foot on the mike stand, or too near it. And some of the songs are incomplete - he didn't remember all the verses. At the end are a couple of Gene's full band recordings from about 1950. 27 tracks, some partial and a couple repeated in different versions. Part-Records.de -MB

Mike Westhues / Dumbflakes For Breakfast / Humble House Records 32

 Sometimes a song grabs you from the very first notes and sometimes a whole album has that effect. Dumbflakes for Breakfast does it to me, you can feel the pain, experiences of a life lived to the fullest with all its ups and downs from loving to leaving. What Watermelon Slim is to the Blues community, Mike Westhues is to the field of roots music with his gravely vocals, wry lyrics packaged into a frame of a man that had his share of bar room romances, whiskeys and days and nights spend at the roadhouse saloon. He's been a world traveler since 1971, first hitchhiking through the USA, then moving to Finland, later Sweden, back to the USA and finally Finland again. Helsinki is were he recorded these 13 original tunes, beautifully backed by a team of first rate players (guitars, acoustic bass, drums, piano plus occasionally dobro and organ). The opener "Bettin' On Love" (a fine slow Country shuffle) and the energetic "Fools Like Us"  come to full life with a great female chorus - the latter with a bit of a New Orleans flair. The haunting "47 Ford" sounds autobiographical, "Hide-Away St. Bar" swings and "Raindrops On Your Doorstep" is another sad shuffle. Mike Westhues spices it up with the toe-tappin' roots rocker "53rd And Vine" with sizzling Blues slide guitar and pounding piano. Another fine bluesy track is the slow groovin' "If You Don't Mind My Company", Ray Charles style. "Scrambled Red Eyes" is a great  piece with Rockabilly style guitar and the yummy "Tennessee Stew" (about eating roadkill) combines a variety of Blues and Rock'n'Roll influences to maximum effect, sounds like a real crowd pleaser to me! This is an excellent release with lots of heart and soul. Often in a laid back mood but always passionately delivered songs with gritty lyrics and vocals and a great sound that should make an impact in the Blues, Americana/Roots music and possibly Country scene. Humblehouserecords.com -GMB

Rhythm Aces / Hand Me Down Suits'n' Hobnail Boots / TRA 01

 For starters, don't confuse this British Trio with the American Amazing Rhythm Aces. These Rhythm Aces are veterans of the British Rockabilly scene and just put out this all original 12-track album that comes with an insert boasting song lyrics and lavish layout but no band bio of any sort - same goes for their myspace space! The three (guitar, upright bass, drums) are very active playing festivals and clubs all over Europe and have a somewhat unique sound. "What's The Matter Baby" has the distinct Johnny Cash guitar sound, but that's the only comparison I can come up with. Many songs are somewhat specific to England and it's hell raising Teddy Boys. Check out "I'm Bad", "The First Teenage" and the atmospheric "Cosh Boy" - very cool with excellent guitar work. "Life At The Top" is an all acoustic offering (with acoustic lead guitar) while "The Fabulous Rosina" is a great song about a pin up and it rocks and rolls, one of the most dynamic offerings here. "78 RPM" is a fine Rockabilly that fittingly describes the dawn of the Rock'n'Roll revolution in Great Britain. Overall an interesting release that could have benefitted from a mix that would have emphasized the vocals a little more. Myspace.com/therhythmaces -GMB

Here are some current reviews that DIDN'T fit into our Spring 2009 issue! Read 'em only here

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And read the rest of the current reviews!

Raul Malo / Lucky One

Fantasy 30896-02ADV

 Raul Malo has always been an eclectic fellow, going back to his days with the Mavericks, and that’s certainly the case on this collection of a dozen songs. All were written by Malo, the first such CD in seven years after a couple of well-done sets spotlighting  renditions of pop and country classics. Those old influences are obvious on this new project, from the twangy Bakersfield country of “Lonely Hearts” and the jangly rock of “Lucky One” to the cheerfully lusty “Moonlight Kiss” and the elegantly sad “Crying For You,” which could have been done by Roy Orbison.  “One More Angel,” a ballad with a strong rock beat, and the mournful, Latin-influenced “Rosalie” are clearly about the departure of a loved one – in one case to that great bedroom in the sky – but avoid coming off as too maudlin. Working with producer Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) Malo used a full band on some tracks while others are demos cut over a two-year period at his Nashville home that didn’t need that much enhancement. Malo’s voice is as evocative as ever and it’s clear  he still knows how to write a meaningful, entertaining song. www.concordmusicgroup.com  -Mark Marymont

Twangbangers / Twang! Boom! Bang!

TCY Records

 This is a German Rockabilly trio, not the US Honky Tonk roots rockers Bill Kirchen and Redd Volkaert are part of. The three musicians garnered experience in several other bands, most notably the Jailbirds, before "Mr. Twang" lend his singing, song writing (10 originals, 4 covers here) and guitar playing abilities to the Twangbangers. The trio has a modern sound and lyrics that circle around "Back Seat Lovin'", "Burger Time", "Lady Ink", "Don't Feel Like Fighting" - pretty typical fare. The drivin' "Rockabilly Cat" describes his musical idols, from Carl Perkins and Eddie Cochran to the Blue Cats and Polecats and cleverly incorporates a few licks Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps and Restless style, among others. He's proud to be a "White Trash Man" and slows it down a bit for the bopper "I Would Only Make You Blue". The melodic "Guard My Heart:" is one of the more memorable tracks. "Race With The Devil" is a pretty furious cover, I could have done without Jagger's "Satisfaction" (done Rockabilly style) but I dig Billy Joe Shavers' "Georgia On A Fast Train" with steel guitar, deep baritone vocals and finger picked guitar at a break neck speed. The Twangbangers are tight, Mr. Twang's singing is fine, his guitar playing (with a nice, clean tone and often twangy) a highlight throughout the album that overall could have profited a bit from more variety in styles and tempi plus a few more well chosen covers. tcy-records.com. -GMB

T Jarrod Quartet / Jazz Offerings To the Schnauzer King / Music Room MRCD02814

 Bonta is one of my favorite piano players, and even though we don’t review much Jazz anymore, his appearances on numerous CDs we HAVE reviewed compels me to let you know about his first CD (I know about) as band leader. Made for Jim Springer’s label, the CD features vintage Jazz stylings (mostly ‘cool’ school, but some swing etc. too), and in fact 3 of the tunes are Stinger’s, and he’s a guitarist in the band along Dave Biller and JD Pendley, with Beau Sample on upright bass, and Paul Schlichtling on drums. Bonta himself wrote 7 of the 12 tunes. Wth the couple covers being “Some Of These Days” and “Please Don’t Talk About Me.” Most of the music is instrumental, but Bonta sings a couple, too. Musicroom.org. -MB

The Marshall Tucker Band / Love Songs Shout! Factory 11201

Reissue package featuring 13 love songs, including “Heard It In A Love Song” (45 version), and “Can't You See,” 2 of their biggest hits. Shoutfactory.com -MB

Miss Leslie & Her Juke Jointers

/ Honky Tonk Revival / Zero ZLR0101

Honky Tonk Happy Hour . Zero ZLR0102

 Our regular readers will know I interviewed Miss Leslie for issue #85, after reviewing her third CD Between The Whisky And The Wine in issue #84. In the process Leslie sent her two previous CDs confirming that that third one was no fluke, she’s the genuine article – REAL DEAL Honky Tonk music. Now we’ve got 3 times as much! Really, it’s a bit more than that, because while the first CD has 13 tracks (8 originals, one of which was written by Leslie’s sister Hilary, one by her then husband and lead guitarist Randy Lindley The rest by her with Jake Jenkins, or by Jake alone) the live one has 18 songs. It was really fun just to hear all the folks cheering her on at Houston’s Continental Club, and also great to hear her dad ‘Country Jim’ Sloan sing “Bubbles In My Beer,” and piano man Damian O’Grady sing a couple as well. It’s all great stuff, and with the live CD you get a glimpse of the covers they perform in addition to all the great original tunes! Like I said in my review of the third CD, this is the real stuff, and extremely welcome here – looking forward now to the next CD, whenever she gets one out! All three CDs are highly recommended to anyone who’s interested in Honky Tonk music as an ongoing art form. Missleslie.com -MB

Eric Lindell / Gulf Coast Highway

Alligator ALCD 4728

Excellent Soul/Blues artist, with whom you can often hear his Van Morrison influences - like on “Love And Compassion.” But the title is also illuminating, he does indeed do some fine New Orleans and Gulf Coast style Soul/blues, and other funky stuff. Nice departure from the Chicago sound for Alligator! The only song of the 15 I recognize is Buck Owen's “Crying Time,” done uptempo rather than Buck's or Ray Charles' style. So I guess Lindell wrote a bunch of them, but our advance doesn't say. Actually, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson wrote “I Can Get Off On You,” though it sounds like Delbert McClinton in Lindell's version, with a fine second line groove. Delbert's “Here Come the Blues Again” is here, too. The 30 year old Lindell is originally from the San Francisco Bay area, moved to New York in 1998 to gig there, briefly, before relocating to New Orleans, where he has soaked up influences from many of the greats there. Of course with the Gulf Coast concept there are plenty of fine horn parts here, and great funky grooves! Recommended to any fan of that Big Easy and Gulf Coast sound! Alligatorrecords.com -MB

Mitch Kashmar / Live At Labatt

Delta Groove DGPCD128

One of the finest contemporary Blues harmonica players and singers now has a live CD to prove it was no studio trick or fluke! Since signing with this label he also signed on with the band War, and actually played a reunion concert with War & Eric Burdon last year! He recorded this at this Blues festival is held in Edmonton, Alberta 4 months later. The set includes fan favorites from his two Delta Groove titles, and his Santa Barbara band the Pontiax which now features the late William Clarke's guitarist John Marx. In fact Kashmar's tribute to Clarke “Lollipop Mama” is also included. It's an excellent recording of a top artist on one of my favorite labels! How can you miss? Deltagroovemusic.com -MB

The Red Button / She’s About To Cross My Mind

 This one’s been around here for a while, but we’re sure some of you would want to know about it. These guys are a Beatlesque ‘60s style act. They’ve got a very good handle on the John Lennon style stuff circa Revolver and before. Anyone knows that’s saying quite a lot! All 11 songs are by Seth Swirsky and Mike Ruekberg, except a couple Swirsky wrote with Roger Greenwalt, and one on his own. Swirsky and Ruekberg are the band, though they’re helped by a few other players on guitars, bass, horn, drums and strings. But they must have played a lot of it themselves. It’s a fine tradition, and in good hands with these fellows! Excellent! I think any Beatle fan would be very impressed! Myspace.com/theredbuttonband -MB

Tommy James & The Shondells / 40 Years: The Complete Singles Collection (1966-2006) / Rhino

 I don’t personally care for Tommy James apart from “Hanky Panky” (included here in the original mono single version), or for that matter much of any bubblegum type Pop, which he helped invent. But some of you might be into it. Here’s a 2 disc collection with 48 tracks. -MB

Lobos Negros / Ocho Grandes Aullidos

Calandraca Records

 We reviewed an interesting documentary about this group (in issue #86), and this CD appears to be an advance of some sort for a longer CD to be issued later, though I cant’ really read Spanish to be sure. The 8 songs include a cover of Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” (in Spanish), along with a medley of “Bloody Mary” and “Comanche.” Additionally “Corretera Asesina” is an instrumental as well, as is “A 116 Km de Talavera” except for a lyric line. The bonus tracks include a version of “Corretera Asesina” with lyrics and a bunch of noise and a song with a much different feel to the Rockabilly on the edge of Psychobilly we’re used to from this group – acoustic guitar and organ. Al lyrics are in Spanish. Theorchard.com -MB

Here's some reviews that didn't fit in our
Winter '08 issue!

Film Review

 Cadillac Records / Sony Music Pictures

 A film covering 20 years of the meatiest American music history ever is of necessity going to be an over simplification at best. Gaby and I enjoyed this film quite a bit, though, even though at least a couple important characters (Bo Diddley and Phil Chess – Shiloh Fernandez plays Phil, but I don’t remember the character in the story at all, perhaps it was a scene of the brothers at a young age) were left out of the story completely. Adrian Brody plays Leonard Chess and Jeffrey Wright plays Muddy Waters, Cedric the Entertainer plays Willie Dixon, whose character narrates the film. Another thing the film comes up short on are Dixon’s contributions both as a songwriter and record producer – only one of his songs (“My Babe”) actually appears. Chronological history takes a hit when Elvis appears along about 1962- ’64, but in a clip from the mid-‘50s, then the version you hear of “My Babe” by Elvis is from ’69. They could have included Dale Hawkins’ version of that song which appeared on Chess subsidiary Checker, but again, too many characters just are impossible in a 109 minute film. Still, Eamon Walker as Howlin’ Wolf, Mos Def as Chuck Berry, and Beyoncé Knowles as Etta James are all quite good! Wright is also good as Muddy, just doesn’t look that much like him. Eric Bogosian as Allen Freed was powerful if not realistic. The film was written and directed by Darnell Martin. One hopes that Mos Def and Beyoncé will bring many younger viewers in who’d then check out not only a bunch of the original recordings from Chess, but also the true stories. The real stories are much richer yet, but this film gives a good taste, and I hope it is successful enough to spawn several more films about our pioneers of Blues and Rock’n’Roll! Do buy a ticket and see it! You’ll likely also want to own the DVD when it comes out. -MB

 Bobby “Blue” Bland / The Definitive Collection / Geffen 80008161-02


The most important songs of Bobby “Blue” Bland were marketed in the ‘90s in three multi-boxes that broke his long career into chronological sections. That may have meant more money to get all three but did provide a lot of Bland music. For a less expensive overview of a run of success that began in 1957 with “Farther Up The Road,” we’d suggest this 22-track single disc. It includes the brooding “Farther” along with morose classics like “Little Boy Blue,” “I Pity The Fool” and “Stormy Monday Blues.” While Bland’s blues were often best delivered as ballads, he could rock out and some of his best-known songs – “Turn On Your Love Light,” Don’t Cry No More,” “Yeild Not To Temptation” – became rollicking stapes of numerous ‘60s garage-and-or-bar band. While a lot of kids could take on the rocking rhythms, few could capture the power of Bland’s pleas for love or declarations of pain. The album closes with the 1976 duet with B.B. King, “Let The Good Times Roll,” but the blues is what Bland does best and those sad songs and his evocative voice are the focus of this collection. Rarely has someone hurt so bad and still sounded so good. www.ilovethatsong.com -Mark Marymont

Dave Herrero / Austin To Chicago / HMG 002

 Austin based Dave Herrero had me by the first notes of the swinging Blues shuffle "I Don't Believe" that opens a fine 10-song album. The following Swamp Pop "Nacogdoches" is a soulful slow dance number with horns. "Doggie Blue" is an energetic Country Blues while "Leave Me Be" (a slow burning piece with harmonica) and the gritty "Problem" take us back to the juke joints of late 50s Chicago. "What Could Have Been" and "Jealous Kind" are fine, soulful 60s style ballads while "halo" is a worthy solo effort. Dave Herrero who wrote most of the tracks here with his bassist Felix Reyes is a strong singer and guitarist and he used vintage equipment and technology to capture the raw spirit of the Blues in its many nuances. Well done! Myspace.com/daveherrero. -GMB

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Anson Funderburgh & Sam Myers / My Love Is Here To Stay / (Hep Cat 0517-2); Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets / She Knocks Me Out / (Hep Cat 0513-2); Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers / Alphabet Blues / (Hep Cat 05162); James Harmon Band / Do Not Disturb / (Hep Cat 0514-2); Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters / Soul Searching / (Hep Cat 0515-2)

 All these albums have two things in common. They are first-class examples of contemporary Blues, featuring strong playing and singing and reflecting deep roots in Southern Soul and Blues. Second, they were issued on the late, lamented Black Top label. Based in New Orleans and run by brothers Nauman S. Scott III and Hammond Scott, they issued a hundred albums between 1981 and 1999, when they finally called it quits. Hammond Scott, whose brother died in 2002, has leased the catalog to the Hep Cat division of the Collectors’ Choice catalog outlet. Rather than just dump a bunch of albums on the market, the folks at Hep Cat have been judiciously putting out a half-dozen or so releases every few months, beginning last summer. This latest batch is highlighted by the early work of Dallas-based Funderburgh’s second album from 1983, when Darrel Nulisch was still taking the lead vocals. In ’84 Anson teamed up with veteran singer-harpist Sam Myers, a terrific partnership that lasted until Myers’ death in 2006. Both sets feature hard-driving blues. Harmon’s’s 1991 set leans more to the edgier side of Chicago blues while Earl’s third project for Black Top debuted Nulisch as lead singer and the official banding of the Broadcasters. The prolific Piazza has been recording with various groups since 1967. This entertaining set, again highlighting the keyboard prowess of Miss Honey, was released in the early ‘90s. There’s more to come from the deep and varied Black Top vaults, so fans still missing favorites may yet find them in this ambitious release program. www.hepcatrecords.com -Mark Marymont

Dino Delray & Uncle Dave Harrison / Coyotes Howling at the Crescent Moon / South Mountain Music SMM001

 We reviewed a Dino Delray disc a while back, and I think that one was made in his own basement studio. This one was recorded at Wild Hare’s studio on the vintage gear, with a couple of guys from Rockabilly band the Chaotics for a rhythm section. They have their own group called the South Mountain Coyotes, and I assume the material here is indicative of what that group does. That material includes Bluegrassish stuff like Vince Gill’s “High Lonesome Sound,” and Rockabilly like “I’m On Fire.” Even Louvin Brothers’ classics like “My Baby’s Gone,” which is my favorite track. There are 2 Evan Johns songs in “Day Go By” (with a little electric guitar – actually another favorite because I like the song!) and “Pain Of Love”, and even a Beatles song with “Two Of Us.” They tap Gordon Lightfoot for “For Loving Me,” themselves for “Running Heart” (Dino wrote it with another guy), and NRBQ’s Joey Spampinato for “That’s Alright.” Two guys on acoustic guitars singing separately or together, with upright bass & drums (brushes mostly) backing. With that instrumentation, the folkier stuff is what works best. dinodelray@yahoo.com -MB

The Creepshow / Run For You Life / STMP 062

 Psychobilly fans will dig the second release by Ontario based Creepshow who just came back from a big European tour. The quartet writes their own tales about "Demon Lover", being "Buried Alive" and other creepy stuff.  "You'll Come Crawlin'", is a full tilt rocker with vocal harmonies by the boys here, helping out Sarah who is a powerful singer. The band races through a total of 10 hot original Psychobillies with a Punk edge with hard slappin' bass, scorching guitar and energetic drums plus an organ played by Revered McGiny that gives Creepshow a distinctive sound. What makes Creepshow special though is clearly the presence of front woman Sarah Sin who belts out every song and plays a mean guitar - a great sounding weapon of massive ear attacks and eye candy to boot. Elaborate & stylish album packaging, including song lyrics too! Stomprecords.com. -GMB

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Arlo Guthrie / In Times Like These / Rising Son 1126

 Arlo Guthrie’s congenial, easygoing style is perfect in person and a live album is a perfect way to chronicle his talent as a singer and writer. He’s done other live albums but this one is an unlikely paring with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. Recorded March 10, 2006, it was slated for release on July 10th, his 60th birthday. While a talented writer, Guthrie has never been shy about covering other artist’s work, including Steve Goodman’s “City Of New Orleans,” a surprise 1972 hit. “City” is here, of course, along with a slightly jazzy arrangement of “St. James Infirmary,” Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene” and a surprisingly effective “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” the Elvis Presley song from the 1961 movie “Blue Hawaii.” Guthrie breathes new life into a few of his old favorites including “Darkest Hour,” “Last Train” and “Patriot’s Song.” The darkly reflective title track is a new song that works well with the somber orchestral arrangement. While some singer’s forays into recording with a large group can result in a plodding, even boring evening of music, Guthrie and the orchestra seem attuned to each other. The  production, by Guthrie, George Massenburg and John Nardolilo, is clear and crisp and his vocals are never overwhelmed by the massed instruments. www.risingsonrecords.com -Mark Marymont

Hellbilly Boys / HBBCD666

 The Hellbilly Boys are a rockin' quartet from Sweden who combine drivin' Rockabilly with Cow-Punk and Hillbilly. The catchy opener "Backseat Education" rocks, "Me & The Devil" has a haunting twangy "Spaghetti Western" sound while "Understand" fits into the alt. Country category. "Tennessee Whiskey" is a fun roots rocker while "Crazy Groove" boasts a modern Surf/Psychobilly sound. If you're into Neo-Billy as well as Cow-Punk and the alt. Country movement, this 12-track album is worth checking out.


 Donnie Fritts / One Foot In The Grove  Leaning Man Records-01

 There's been a gap of some eleven years since Fritt's last album Everybody's Got A Song. Like buddies Dan Penn, Bobby Charles and Spooner Oldham he is known more as a writer of classic songs than a performer. Fritts and Eddie Hinton co-wrote 'Breakfast In Bed' for Dusty Springfield as well as countless others for the likes of John Prine and Kris Kristofferson. The title track is a wonderful combination of blue-sy southern soul and grove recalling Fritt's recovery from surgery where he literally had just 'one foot in the grove'. The raw humor of 'She's Got A Crush On Me' where he is on the receiving end of unwanted adulation 'She lives at the Sweetwater Trailer Park lot number three / She goes to the Church of Christ / She chain smokes Camel Lights / And she's got a crush on me,' is equally funny and profound. Old friends Tony Joe White and Billy Swan lend a hand on several songs and the horns of Wayne Jackson and Harvey Thompson create an easy goin' grove to the proceedings. It's all fairly laid back stuff, but repeated listening reveals many moments of sheer genius. www.donniefritts.com -Rick Meek

 The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue / Command Performance  Delta Grove DGPCD121

 The LRBR is Tommy Castro, Deanna Bogart, Magic Dick and Ronnie Baker Brooks backed by a solid band including Scott Sunderland (bass), Keith Crossan (sax), Tom Poole (trumpet) and Chris Sandoval (drums). This live set from October 2007 was recorded in various California clubs, plus three tracks taken from the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. Ronnie Baker Brook's 'Can't You See' kicks off in high gear, he's a talented guitarist and no mean vocalist either. Equally Tommy Castro takes no prisoners on his 'High On The Hog'. Magic Dick of course has been around forever and shines on several songs with his unique harmonica licks and vocals, but for me the real star of the show is multi-talented Deanna Bogart who flits between piano, organ, sax and vocals with ease, even reviving Billy Preston's 'Will It Go Round In Circles' and making it sound new. Other guests include Curtis Salgado and Marcia Ball who's version of 'Sea Cruise' ends a pretty good mix of down home party music. Wish I could have joined in the fun!  www.deltagrovemusic.com -Rick Meek

The City Shakers / The Very Best Of / AZAN 063

 The City Shakers feature Big Boy Bloater, the big voiced heavy weight who usually fronts his own British Jump Blues band and has played festivals like Viva Las Vegas to enthusiastic crowds. This off-spring of the 6-piece Bloater outfit shares double bass player Mike Powell and a common love for the hard drivin' American blues of the mid-century, think Little Walter. The quartet features Bloater on guitar (excellent), the harp genius of Laurie Garman and Bomber Wade on drums and together they create that hard drivin' gritty Blues that made their idols famous. Nine out of the twelve songs here are classics from Jimmy Reed's "I Ain't Got You" to Willie Dixon's  "Mellow Down Easy". And who hasn't heard songs like "Sugar Sweet", "Mean Ol' Train"and "Got My Mojo Working" (real hot version). Bloaters' own slow "Tellin' You Straight" is fine and his rocket-fueled "Pall-bearer's Song", a gritty piece with a hypnotic groove, moves your soul and feet. While a big chunk of the repertoire is standard, the interpretation is clearly above par, the band is simply dynamite with Big Boy Bloater sounding like a mix between Howlin' Wolf and the famous Blues shouters of the day and the The City Shakers just totally kickin' butt. Great gritty Blues album! Azanrecords.nl. -GMB

Black Raven / Rock In Threes / PART Records 10794

 Black Raven has been around since the 90s, playing their brand of melodic Teddy Boy Rock'n'Roll in Germany and beyond. Listening to their latest release on PART records though, their Pop/Rock and early 60s influenced style does not have that much in common anymore with the tough British Teddy Boy music of Crazy Cavan for example. Alright, so there are powerful vocals by Julian whose fine and sexy voice is mixed right up front and his often twangy and cool guitar work. Marcus provides very prominent drum work and Torsten slaps that upright bass around. Built around melodies and a British Rock'n'Roll backbeat they clearly put their own stamp on the handful of covers like the reverb-ladden "Tiddlywink" with an early 60s vibe and do a great job on the cool instrumental "Out Of Limits". Most of the 15 songs here are their own and I can't even detect an accent. If you enjoy powerful Rock'n'Roll strong on melodies and with lots of twang and early 60s vibe as well as a Teddy Boy groove, check out Black Raven. Rockabilly.de. -GMB

 The Cadillacs / Rock / Bear Family BCD 16281AR

 I always enjoyed the few Cadillacs' songs I knew and I really loved their performance at Green Bay's Rockin' Fifties Week - what a great show (check them out)!!! What I didn't realize was that the upbeat, happy and highly danceable Doo Wop style the Cadillacs represent is one of the foundations of Rockabilly bands like the popular Jets (British Brothers Trio with UK chart success in the early 80s) who adapted the Cadillacs' "My Girfriend" as one of their show stopping concert highlights. The Cadillacs grew up in New York and started out singing at street corners, before the newly founded Josie label signed them in 1954. Their first recording "Gloria" (now one of the all time classic Doo Wop ballads) only made local impact, a later session produced their signature "Speedoo", an autobiographical song about band leader Earl Carroll, a first rate, fast, good-time vocal group romp that shot up the charts in December of 1955. While ballads dominated the early Fifties vocal groups, the clock turned towards Rock'n'Roll and The Cadillacs' elaborate and animated live show established them as THE vocal group of the day. They toured steadily but hits were harder to come by until they rocked the Coasters's style novelty number "Peek-A-Boo". There might not be many hits among these 34 numbers here but they all feature great vocalists, a driving backing band often with roaring saxophone, great beat and simply make you happy! With a high percentage of up-tempo Doo Wop inlcuding a lot of novelty tunes like "Please Mr. Johnson (from the Alan Freed movie "Go Johnny Go"), this might well be my all all time favorite Doo Wop CD - but I haven't heard Bear Family's new Cues CD yet! Bear-family.de. -GMB

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Scott Ellison / Ice Storm / Earwig CD 4956

 Ellison has quite a resume, but the standout item on it is playing rhythm guitar behind Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown in the early ‘80s. He’s also written and recorded a number of songs that have been part of TV shows, and the opening tune (“Don’t Push Your Luck”) of the Morgan Freeman Film Feast Of Love released last year. He also wrote all 12 of the songs on this CD, which features modern Blues with Rock sensibilities. This one’s pretty close to the line I draw between Blues/Rock and Rock/Blues. I have no interest in the latter anymore, but this one’s on the Blues side of the line. As if to make me a liar, “Keys To My Heart” opens with acoustic guitar. But that one’s not really Blues, more like a John Hiatt type thing. My favorite song is “Cadillac Woman”, a faster shuffle. The title song is a fast swinging Blues instrumental with extended sax lead, another favorite. Ellison’s a good songwriter, and I’m not sure why, but his CD reminds me a lot of a bunch of titles I used to review on the now defunct Ichiban label. One clue might be that former Ichiban artist Travis Haddix is now on Earwig. Earwigmusic.com –MB

 Travis “Moonchild” Haddix / Daylight At Midnight / Earwig 4955

 Mississippi born Haddix’s CD is straight ahead Blues with a horn section and harmonica (Bob Frank, who also plays lead guitar in addition to Haddix). Besides for himself Travis has also written songs for Artie “Blues Boy” White, Jimmy Dawkins and the late Son Seals. This is really more like it for my taste, and all 10 songs are original. The band sounds great, even features David Ruffin on tenor sax! Well, not the one we remember, a different Ruffin. Bouncing around from Milwaukee to Cleveland to Stuttgart (Germany, while in the service), Haddix made his first recording with Chuck & The Tremblers back in Cleveland in ’65. “Stop Cheating Woman” was his own song, on the Del-Nita label, not released until ’68. Striking out on his own after 6 years with Chuck Barkley, Travis had superstar Johnnie Taylor steal his band the New Sound after they opened for him, so he started the Travis Haddix Band, which he still runs. He acquired the nickname “Moonchild” from the title of a 1984 single backed by Ernest & The Roccos, which he’d played with during the same time as the Tremblers. Ichiban folded after he made 5 albums for them, and Haddix formed his own label Wann-Sonn. In fact this CD was cut for that label, then picked up by Earwig, which also makes available all 10 of Travis’ self-produced CDs. He tours Europe extensively, and I can see why they like him over there. This is real Blues, from a guy who came up with it – his father and uncles played Saturday Night Fish Frys down in Mississippi. If your dad got drunk and sat on your Stella breaking off the neck, you’d have the Blues too! Shuffles here, slow Blues, and some funky things too – great stuff! Earwigmusic.com –MB

 Liz Mandeville / Red Top / Earwig CD 4954

 You might remember Liz with the last name Greeson, but this is the same red head that plays sassy, swingin’ Blues. She wrote all 15 songs. And her band (which includes Eddie Shaw on a couple tracks, and our old buddy Twist Turner on 5) is totally solid. There’s some fine piano from Allen Batts on 5 songs, and horns on 5 tracks. Ricky Nelson plays drums on a cut, but again, obviously not the one we remember. Liz knows how to work it with titles like “Spanky Butt”, “My Baby’s Her BabyToo,” “Scratch The Kitty,” “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa,” and “Guilty Of Rockin’ All Night.” She mixes the tempos and grooves well too, even including vintage Blues mama style on “Rub My Belly.”. “Hold Me” is Soul music at its best. “Home Cookin’” features the acoustic resonator guitar. She even plays a bit of Louisiana style scrubboard! Highly recommended! Earwigmusic.com –MB


Hermann Lammers Meyer / 1961 – A Love Song / Desert Kid DK 2006-20

 Meyer is one of the top Country artists of Germany, and he’s also got a few radio shows (hear them on the internet linked at the web address below) – spreading the Gospel of Country music in more ways than one! He traveled to Nashville to make his latest CD, and among the pickers on it are Buddy Emmons on pedal steel and Buddy Spicher on fiddle! With buddies like that…well it’s no joke – that’s the way to cut some great Country music. Not only that, one of my all-time favorite artists Becky Hobbs plays piano and sings on “Nashville Cats Boogie,” one of 6 of Hermann’s original songs on the CD. The covers come from a variety of directions, including Ned Miller’s “Do What You Do Do Well,” Merle Haggard’s “Just Between The Two Of us,” Willie Nelson’s “Mr. Record Man” (done as a duet to enhance the picture that there are matching lonely people out there listening to the radio), even Lennon, McCartney and Starkey’s “What Goes On” and Delaney Bramlett’s “Never Ending Song Of Love” (with a bit of banjo) and more! Production is also excellent, there are a few other guest vocalists on duets – Lois Johnson, Laney Hicks, Dusty Owens and Annie B. Hermann reminds me a lot of “Whispering” Bill Anderson on his own title song and some of the others, but not all the time. My favorite is “Neon Leon” about a broke down Country singer. The only other German Country act I’ve heard – Truckstop – sings some of their songs in German, but Meyer sings all his in English. If you like REAL Country music, you’d enjoy this CD! 16 tracks total, including an all-star jam instrumental. Hermannlammersmeyer.com -MB

Los Fabulocos Featuring Kid Ramos Delta Groove Music DGPCD125

The Cali-Mex sound is one of the most infectious around and no one does it better than Los Fabulocos. They are veterans of the Southern California music scene and on this CD they join forces with veteran blues guitarist Kid Ramos. The results are spectacular.  A remake of Rockin’ Dopsie’s “You Ain’t Nothin’ But Fine” brings a bit of Doug Sahm’s influence. Another Cajun classic Clifton Chenier’s “All Night Long” brings a new twist to an old classic. It is on a remake of the Rock N Roll Trio’s “Lonesome Train In My Eyes” that the Los Fabulocos demonstrate their rock roots. They dip into roots rock for a version of Lloyd Price’s “Just Because” that brings a new twist to a classic rocker. The two Jesus Cuevas original songs “If You Know” and “Day After Day” are brilliant examples of the genre. Covers of Huey Piano Smith’s “Dedicated Fool” and Rockin’ Sidney’s “You Ain’t Nothin’ But Fine” are classics with an original twist. Kid Ramos and Jose Cuevas provide vocals that make this a highly recommended CD. A great effort. -Howard A. DeWitt

Eddie Floyd/ Eddie Loves You So Stax Records STXCD-30795

 Eddie Floyd is back with an album of new material. The good news is that he reprises some old classics. With remakes of the Falcons’ “You’re So Fine” and “Since You Been Gone,” Floyd’s scintillating vocals are still in place. “Since You Been Gone” was a Falcon demo that was never released and this is a rare Eddie Floyd gem, With nine of the ten songs on the CD written by Floyd, he gets a chance to record songs he wrote for other people including the Sam and Dave “You Don’t Know What You Mean To Me,” Dorothy Moore’s “I Don’t Want To Be With Anybody But You” and Carla Thomas “I Will Always Have Faith in Your.” This is a masterful soul album with a version of Floyd’s 1964 classic “Never Get Enough of Your Love” that is worth the price of the CD. A soul legend releases another masterpiece. -Howard A. DeWitt

Neon Swing X-Perience / Here To Stay

 Neon Swing X-Perience has been playing a powerful mix of modern Swing for the last 10 years in and around Pennsylvania. Founder and singer Mike Urick (also on trumpet) contributed four of the ten songs. Reworks of classics include "In The Mood" (like Glenn Miller's arrangement), "Jump, Jive & Wail (more like the Brian Setzer version than Louis Prima's original) and Cab Calloway's cool "Minnie The Moocher", among others. Their own "Tragically Uncool" starts off the self released album with a powerful groove and lines you haven't heard before like "A Subaru is my favorite car". The following "Man With The Hex" is a rockin' Swing that combines the power of Gospel style shouting with the voodoo of Screamin' Jay Hawkins. The septet reminds me of bands like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Fans of modern Swing music will enjoy Neon Swing X-Perience. Neonswing.com. -GMB


Here's a few Reviews that wouldn't fit into our Fall 2008 issue!

Hot Club Of Cowtown / The Best Of The Hot Club Of Cowtown / Shout! Factory 826663-10984

 Formed as a duo in 1996 by fiddle ace and singer Elana James and guitarist and singer Whit Smith, they morphed into a trio that specialized in a congenial mix of hot jazz, Western swing and bits and pieces of pop and country. This 20-track CD draws on their four albums for HighTone Records, which was recently acquired by Shout! Factory. They haven’t done a studio album in more than six years but are now back in the studio and on the road after a two-year hiatus. Hopefully, future work will match the quality of the past ably demonstrated here. Both James and Smith are talented writers as she demonstrates on the countrygrass of “Forget-Me-Nots” and the pouting but good-natured “I’d Understand Why.” Smith’s deadpan voice is perfect on the infectious jazz of “It Stops With Me,” brooding “When I Lost You” and “Sleep,” an original tale of insomnia. The group demonstrates eclectic taste in covers, offering an easygoing instrumental of “Stardust” while vocalizing on pop standards like “I Can’t Believe You’re In Love With Me,” “Deed I Do” and the much-recorded “Ida Red.” It closes with a dynamic live version of “Orange Blossom Special” that actually breaths new life into the classic fiddle tour de force. www.hotclubofcowtown.com -Mark Marymont

 Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs / Dirt Don’t Hurt / Transdreamer TR 1259-CD

 These two sound at times like the Rolling Stones and others like an out-of-Appalachia folk duo. And, they are a duo, with Ms. Golightly singing and playing guitar and banjo and Lawyer Dave, aka the Brokeoffs, singing and playing all kinds of stuff. Golightly has worked with various other groups, including Thee Headcoatees, and has issued on almost 20 albums and other releases. No matter how experienced she is, they keep it simple here, from the upbeat Stones-sounding opener, “Bottom Below” and minor-key, brooding “Up Off The Floor” to the frisky, folky blues of “My 45” and  atmospheric “Indeed You Do.”  It’s hard to gauge the seriousness of the gospel “Gettin’ High For Jesus,” but it’s a lot of fun and is balanced out by the intensity of “Boat’s Up The River” and the good-natured cheer of the blues oldie “I Wanna Hug Ya, Kiss Ya, Squeeze Ya.” It would be interesting to see them carry off the depth of sound they achieve on this disc when they play live, but you have to figure they make it work. And they certainly make it work on their first “official” U.S. release. hollygolightlyandthebrokeoffs.com -Mark Marymont

Brenda & The Tabulations / The Dionn Records Singles Collection 1966-1969” (Jamie 3909) & “The Top & Bottom Singles Collection 1969-1971 / (Jamie 3912)

 This may almost too much of a good thing for fans of the Philadelphia-based sweet Soul group, with 28 tracks spread over two separate discs. But they did some good things for both labels and completists will enjoy the mix of hits and albums tracks by Brenda and the boys. Some of this material came out almost a decade ago on the then-newly revived Jamie label. And, like those collections, they are drawn from the original masters overseen by esteemed pros like Gamble & Huff and Van McCoy. Both small labels were distributed by Jamie and each had a Brenda smash and lesser-known songs that did better on the R&B charts. Debuting in 1967 with “Dry Your Eyes,” the group had a Top 10 success followed by other soulful treats via Dionn. Resurfacing in 1969 on Top & Bottom, their best seller was the McCoy-produced “Right On The Tip Of My Tongue.” They also did well with their take of Dionne Warwick’s “Don’t Make Me Over” and the morose “A Child No One Wanted.” Brenda Payton (who died in 1992 at the age of 46) had an expressive voice if not the most unique of that era. But she was always convincing and the various Tabulations offered stellar backing. jamguy.com -Mark Marymont

 Mack Fowler/Playin’ For Keeps MF Records

 Mack Fowler is a songwriter with a modern blues touch. His eleven original songs on this CD bring a new talent to the fore. With “Lovin’ Me Blind” he recreates a Southern blues sound that owes a great deal to the traditions of classic Southern blues bands. The poignant “Woman” is a classic blues song that showcases Fowler’s vocal talent. There is a smoky vocal to “Dana” and Fowler’s guitar work on She’s A Real Good Time” is classic. This is a CD that deserves a wide audiences. The original songs are in a blues-rock vein that is well worth listening and the concluding tune “Rollin’ On” is a wonderful way to end a great CD. -Howard A. DeWitt

Michael Hurwitz & The Aimless Drifters / Cowboy Fandango / Meadowlark MLR-007


Although each tune on this new CD is listed as “Folk”, there’s a definite Country leaning as indicated by the title. I’m guessing you’ve never heard “Great Speckled Bird”/“Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes”/“Honky Tonk Angels” redone as a space theme, but that’s here in “Spaceships O’r Wyoming.” Some of the tunes are more on the Folky side, but Michael has been playing the Cowboy/Western Festival circuit. The band features some nice fiddle and steel guitar, even a bit of great piano. My own “Old Green Truck” was actually blue, mostly, and I called it the Pink Fog Machine. Had to “Check The Gas” often, too. Don’t think we ever stopped at the “Mustang Motel,” but we knew some like it. Hurwitz has a great baritone voice, lots of character. While this is Singer/Songwriter stuff, story songs, there’s a nice groove to everything. He’s had previous CDs that were more on the Country Blues side, and I like this type of versatility. “Garden Spot Pavillion” sounds much like John Prine’s “Paradise,” the first couple are Western Swing, “Ghost Ranch” sounds a lot like “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” I like this CD, and hope someday to cross this Wyoming Cowboy’s trail! Michaelhurwitz.com -MB

Stan Perkins / The Ballad Of Carl Perkins


"The Ballad Of Carl Perkins" is thank God no ballad but a strong rocker in the tradition of the SUN Records legend. Mark Crawford wrote this tune and got Carl's first born son to sing it with a hot backing band. I found myself getting up and turning up the volume and boogieing to the drivin' rhythm. I wish Stan Perkins would have added a few more songs to this very fitting tribute to his dad, one of the beloved stars of Rockabilly. All proceeds benefit the Carl Perkins center for the prevention of Child Abuse. Please support them by buying this three minute hommage. carlperkinscenter.org. -GMB

Paul Ansell / Love Conquers All - The Nashville Sessions / VRCD 101


Paul Ansell has been active in the roots music scene as a member of the smokin' hot vintage blues-a-billy outfit No. 9, has played Rockabilly, Rock'n'Roll and mesmerized fans with his Elvis renditions with Elvis old  bandmates Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana. The British singer possesses one of those voices that emulate Elvis without trying too hard. "Love Conquers All" is a 16-song album that is reminiscent of Elvis' later work and Charlie Rich's style, full of emotions and feeling with great productions. Except for five tracks it's all originals by Paul Ansell that might fall into the Country category but have a big Soul element, Memphis meets Nashville, rooted in the mid 60s while still being absolutely contemporary. Dan Penn's memorable "Tear Joint" starts off a strong set the way Elvis would have done it.  "Bloodshot Eyes" is a groovy take on Hank Penny's Western Swing number that Jump Blues master Wynonie Harris rocked up and Paul here has a roaring trumpet open it to great effect. The tender "If I Should Fall Behind" was written by Bruce Springsteen. Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain" is the most recognizable hit and it's an excellent version. Kudos goes to the backing band here: legendary upright bass player Bob Moore ("Crazy", "Pretty Woman"...), guitarist Reggie Young ("In The Ghetto"...), David Briggs (piano, hammond B-3 - worked with Elvis, James Brown, Johnny Cash...), Jimmy Russell (drums - Desmond Dekker...). Paul Ansell's original are just as memorable, the upbeat and fun "Big City' with trumpet, the haunting "Blue For Two" done Roy Orbison style, the piano driven title track, and energetic "Start All Over Again" with steel guitar, or the cool Rockabilly "Baby Baby". Soulful and haunting the slow burning "Set Me Free" and "Answer To My Prayer" the latter a bit reminiscent of Chris Isaak. A truly great roots music album (and especially recommended as a gift for the woman you love). No9rockin.com -GMB

Here are some current reviews that DIDN'T fit into our Summer 2008 issue! Read 'em only here

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Jerry & The Rockets / Takin' Off / Blue Lake BLR-Cd 09

 Excellent debut from Swiss Rockabilly & Western Swing Combo Jerry & The Rockets. Pigeonholing them would be wrong, I should have added they are a Hillbilly Boogie, Piano Rock'n'Roll, hot Blues and swinging and rockin' quintet that's at home in all good vintage music styles spanning the late 40s to the early 60s. I really dig that they not only have a piano player (singer Marcus "Jerry" Calonder plays rhythm guitar too and wrote five songs) and a sax man! The album takes off with a great twangy original rocker "She's Gone". Hot stuff! (Oh yes, two of the Rockets were members of authentic Rockabilly band Hot Stuff). "Ballroom Baby" is one of Pee Wee King's best swinging Rock'n'Roll numbers with great piano and steel guitar playing. Lead guitarist Walter Thut opens the hot "Cadillac Blues" with aggressive licks, the sax kicks in and there's a fast slap bass drivin' this hit home. The toe-tappin' "Boogie Woogie Fever" and "Four Alarm Boogie" remind me of early Bill Haley and his Comets with terriffic steel guitar and hot piano. Glenn Barber's magnificent Starday Rockabilly classics, the hot rocker "Shadow My Baby" and Hillbilly bopper "Ice (Cold) Water" - are fine remakes - what a nice tribute to the talented Barber who sadly passed away the end of March. Jerry Lee's "I'm On Fire" is just that - great! Everything else on this 15-tracks is real good fun 50s style rockin' and boogying music. Get yourself a slice of Jerry & The Rockets and check out the bonus video file, too!  wwwbluelake.ch. -GMB

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Ramblin Ambassadors / Vista Cruiser Country Squire / Mint Records


From the great Canadian north, namely Calgery Alberta, comes one of the best surf bands I’ve heard in a while. The band is the Ramblin Ambassadors, and with Brent Cooper of Huevos Rancheros fame on lead guitar  this recording is powerful. Best tracks are "Camino real" also "Kamikaze" and a cover of a Sadies song "Rat Creek." Songs 6 and 7 are a little off the mark (just barely) so we have 10 winners out of 12 cuts. This Surf release comes highly recommended  for all of our surf fans, who have a tapeworm like appetite for great Surf music. The Ramblin  Ambassadors play Vista Cruiser Country Squire. Released by Mint Records Canada Ramblinambassadors.com - Dennis M. DeWitt

Petty Booka / Tokyo Bluegrass Honeys / Benten BNTN 069


We reviewed this Japanese group’s Let’s Talk Dirty In Hawaiian CD some time back. Far from just a novelty act, they must be very popular judging from the 15 titles pictured inside this new CD! They had stellar pickin’ on the last one, and on this one the Japanese accents seem less pronounced, though they were very cute then. The ukeleles I loved on the earlier release are gone, but everyone else is doing a Bluegrass release, why not them! The fare is largely familiar tunes from “Don’t Rock The Jukebox” to “Bartender Blues” and from “Friend Of The Devil” to Petula Clark’s “Down Town.” “Sea Of Heartbreak” I recognize of course, and “Don’t Laugh” from the Louvin Brothers. Bluegrass isn’t the only fare – “Come Dancing” has a marimba and a rhumba groove a la Jimmy Buffett, and “In The Summertime” has of course that Jugband feel. Jerome Kern and Buffy DeSylva’s “Look For The Silver Lining” is more on the String Swing order. Judging from the photos these girls (the two singers) aren’t quite as well endowed as their cartoon versions from the cover, physically at least – but they are endowed with very nice voices. I still want to see them sing in person, and regret having missed a couple of chances in Seattle. Sister.co.jp -MB

Sean Costello / We Can Get Together / Delta Groove DGPCD120


The late Sean Costello left us this fairly heavy set of tunes before he checked out. Tailor made for the Blues festival circuit, it’s a shame he didn’t live to promote it longer. If you’re unfamiliar with his name (though we have reviewed a title or two before), Costello was a Blues prodigy, on the road with his own band at 17, and he toured with Susan Tedeschi, playing on her debut CD Just Won’t Burn (Tone Cool). Though born in Philly, he was raised in Atlanta form age 9, and took up the guitar soon after moving there. While his touring act appears to have been a trio, he is augmented by keyboards, harmonica, accordion, horns, and also another guitar for various of the tracks on this CD. Of the 11 tunes, all but 2 are original, some co-written by band members or others. The two traditional tunes include “Going Home” (sadly prophetic) and “Little Birds,” the latter gleaned from Levon Helm. We have yet to hear what would take the life of one so young and with so much promise – he would have been 29 the day after he was found dead in a motel room. Deltagroovemusic.com -MB

Jim Lauderdale & The Dream Players / Honey Songs / Yep Roc YEP-2159


Jim Lauderdale has released a string of albums since his impressive 1991 debut Planet Of Love, some good, others forgettable. Honey Songs is in the former and its great to hear Lauderdale doing what he does best blasting a mix of neo-country, roots with a touch of rock n' roll. He is a unique singer/songwriter (all ten tracks are Lauderdales's) with a style all of his own, although he never strays too far from his country roots. The Dream Players in question live up to their name, just the kinda' friends you call when you are recording 'a dream project'. Guitar legends James Burton and Al Perkins are joined by Garry Tallent (bass), Steve Sheeman (acoustic guitar), Glen D Hardin (piano) and Ron Tutt (drums). Several guests are on hand for harmony vocals. Buddy Miller joins in on ' Hope You're Happy', Patty Loveless is on hand for the 3/4 time 'Hittin' It Hard' a tale of substance abuse. The lovely 'It's Finally Sinking In', a slow reflective look at lost love is one of the highlights of the album and perhaps of Lauderdale's songwriting career. 'I'm Almost back' with Emmylou Harris rounds off one of Lauderdale's most enjoyable albums in a while. www.yeproc.com -Rick Meek


The Doughboys / Is It Now? / Ram Records #RR-0800

 Anyone into sixties garage rock will appreciate the story and music of The Doughboys. The group got together as teenages in the mid-sixties in the Plainfield, NJ area and worked the circuit of teen dances and clubs for a few years, releasing a couple of singles that never charted. Forty years later, the band is back together again, with three original members onboard, including drummer Richard X. Heyman, singer Myke Scavone (remember “Black Betty” by Ram Jam? That was Myke’s group after The Doughboys), and bassist Mike Caruso. Guitarist Gar Francis has been added to the lineup to replace the band’s original guitarist who passed away recently. The Doughboys debut disc, the album “they never made back in the day,” is a killer that shows off the band’s Stones and Animals influences nicely. The original material is catchy and edgy. Tunes like “Black Sheep,” “Out Of The Night,” “Too Little Too Late,” and “Hear Me Moan,” are great tunes that evoke the true spirit of that great time period of 1965-66 American garage rock. The covers are equally as good; “Route 66,”  “Ain’t Gonna Eat Out Me Heart Anymore,” “I’m Cryin,” and “That’s How Strong My Love Is.”  To say I like this record is an understatement. I love it. I’m proud to say these are Jersey boys, now all in their late fifties and still kicking ass. Now, if I could only get my sixties garage band, Saturday’s Garbage, back together. Let’s see; Gerry’s in California, Alan is in Florida, Mike and I are still in Jersey…and Jim? Who knows?! -Bob Cianci

Eleven Hundred Springs / Country Jam / Palo Duro PDR 1103

 Texas Music at its best, that's what Eleven Hundred Springs delivers here after playing together for 10 years. The Texas quintet is fronted by Matt Hillyer, who led the modern Rockabilly outfit Lone Star Trio with a punk-rock attitude. No Punk here, just good Country music that includes great Honky Tonk like "Whose Heart Are You Breaking Tonight" and "Texas Afternoon" and upbeat Western Swing. These five guys can rock, too and deliver a first rate version of Ronnie Dawson's fantastic "V-8 Ford Boogie" with hot slap bass and a cool "Rocket 88". George Jones' waltz "Don't Stop The Music" is real nice and there's a sweet duet with Heather Myles called "I'll Be Here For You". "Fallin' Off The Wagon" opens with twangy guitar licks and turns into a great swinging Honky Tonk number, "Ten To Life" has a Johnny Cash feel and theme. Both are compositions by the talented guitarist and lead singer Matt Hillyer who possesses a great voice, made for singing true Country. With guitars, (upright and electric) bass, pedal steel guitar, fiddle, drums and guest musicians on piano, sax, accordion, banjo and organ, Eleven Hundred Springs delivers a feel good 12-song album with a great sound (produced by LLoyd Maines) and perfect two-steppin' material. It deserves spins not just on every jukebox in Texas. 1100springs.com. -GMB


The UpSouth Twisters / UST 101cd


These guys were formerly known as Lucky 7, and we reviewed something by them long ago. Some of them also play in Finn & The Sharks, which have had some reissues of ‘80s recordings reviewed here recently. This group has a distinct Louisiana flavor with accordion and scrubboard, and have written most of the 13 songs here. “Valentines Day” by Bruce Springsteen was cut for a tribute and is also included here. The material is very good, and covers a wide swath of the region’s styles, including Zydeco (“Smithville Blues”), New Orleans R&B style (“Where’s My Money”), Funky Second Line (It’s A Poor Rat”), Cajun Waltz (“Amede”), Even Tex-Mex (Dan Prater’s “Do You Ever Think Of Me” – dedicated to Doug Sahm and Freddy Fender), “Voodoo Mambo”, Rock’n’Roll (“If The Phone Don’t Ring”), Moody Instrumental (“Holiday Depression”), Blues (“Rattlesnake Fever”), Swamp Pop (“It’s A Crying Shame”) and more – it seems serious effort was made to have every song quite different! Admirable versatility, excellent songwriting – this one should please anyone who enjoys the spectrum of Louisiana and that region’s sounds! Upsouthrecordings.org -MB


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The Wildcats / Take And Give / Hellskitchen CD 66604


The Wildcats are a hard rockin' Teddy Boy Rock'n'Roll band made up of original 1980's Dutch Wildcats Kees van Bemmel on vocals and guitar and Peet Schenk on drums with Mikel Mueller on bass. The original Wildcats were only together for a few years but their powerful Rock'n'Roll was here to stay and around the turn of 2000, the saga continued eventually amounting to this 12 tracks release, half of them originals. Their sound is derived from the popular Teddy Boy bands the British scene produced like Crazy Cavan and Shotgun. The leather clad trio throws in some fine melodic Rock'n'Roll like the real fine "Baby, Won't you Ride With Me" in between straight forward rockers. Even the slow Slim Rhodes SUN tracks "Take And Give" gets a spin Wildcats style. "She Wants A Ride" and Cash's fine "Get Rhythm" have an upbeat boogie groove. Eddie Rabbit's 70s "Drivin' My Life Away" sounds similar to Sonny Fisher's version. "The All Gonna Boogie Tonight" has a Diddley beat and "Handy Man" rocks and boogies Crazy Cavan style, one of my favorites here. Pretty good comeback, check them out on myspace. -GMB

The Rewinders / Meanwhile, Back In The Swamp / Blue Lake Records BLR-CD10


This CD is actually a by-product - yes, you get it for free when you buy the vinyl edition of the Rewinders 10-song album!  Seems like a good way to go! The Rewinders are a Swiss/German Rockabilly quartet with experienced musicians (King Louie Combo, Hot Stuff, Madison Trio...) who incorporate a vital dose of drivin' late 50's Rhythm'n'Blues into their explosive music. A fat but "a little dirty, swampy" sound is common to all 10 tracks, recorded on vintage valve equipment in a couple days a year ago. It opens with a cool "Rocky Road Blues" version, done as a stroll. Big Maybelle's "Pretty Good Love" could easily become a dance floor filler and explains why The Rewinders had been booked as support for T-Model Ford. "Tired Of Beggin' is wild complete with screams, the bluesy "Bad Mouthin'" has a great groove, and the hot instrumental rocker "Uprising" adds jungle rhythm to a great album. Singer Pat sports an accent that is more obvious in the slower numbers like the swampy "I'm The Man" and the Mac Curtis rocker "If I Had Me A Woman". Other than that I really dig this release, the gritty guitar playing by Panama Pat, the fine slap bass by Pat Madison, the cool strolls and the energetic and often bluesy rockers. bluelake.ch. -GMB

The Informants / Stiletto Angel

Wipe It Off! #INF002


They call if juke joint boogie, and I agree. This bnd has keys and a twin sax section, so they definitely jump and boogie! Most of the 13 songs are original, with “Monday Morning Blues,” “Ding Dong Daddy” (a  bit of a Rockabilly boogie), and “Jump Jack Jump” the only 3 not sporting composer credits from the band members. Lead singer Kerry Pastine co-wrote 4, and although that name can go either way, she’s definitely a female singer. They do mix up the tempos, and also include slow dance numbers as in “Tears Of Heartache,” and “I’ll Never Know,”and also New Orleans style grooves on “Baby Take A Shot.” And slow grind tunes, too, like “Monday Morning Blues.” “Let’s Roll” is a fast ‘flat tire’ shuffle, they even delve into Zydco territory on the last song, “Work It,” with accordion. Folks who dig these vintage styles ought to enjoy this CD! This is another group I’m sure Gaby and I would love to go out and dance to, were they local to Seattle, or passing through. They hail from Denver – if you’re around there keep your eye on the entertainment listings! Who knows, they might break out of there too! Theinformantsband.com -MB


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Tracy Nelson / You'll Never Be A Stranger At My Door 

Memphis International DOT 0219

 Tracy Nelson is a Blues belter of formidable power and vocal range and over the years has given us some classic albums detailing her talent. You'll Never Be A Stranger At my Door is Tracy's homage to some Country classics, where Blues meet Country without her loosing any of her trademark growl and delivery. You could almost imagine her singing these songs in the bath!  because they are great songs that she obviously loves to sing. "Cow Cow Boogie" is a jazzy opener. "Four Walls" (the Jim Reeves chestnut) and Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone" fit perfectly into Nelson's plan of what makes these country gems sound great. Most of the songs are from long ago, but Randy Sharp's "New Way Out", an '80s single by Karen Brooks is mesmerising given the Tracy Nelson treatment. The only let down for me was the old Browns '50s hit "The Three Bells", it sounded mawkish and downright crass back then, even Nelson can't bring this back to life. With sensitive backing by multi-instrumentalist Fred Kaplin, guitarist Robert M Britt, Steve Conn on piano and accordion, plus Guy Clark and Alice Newman Vestal (vocals on "Salt Of The Earth") this is Country delivered Tracy Nelson style and I love it all the more for that! -Rick Meek www.memphisinternational.com


The Four Dots / Goin' Back To Memphis SRCD 13


Hot rockin' late ‘50s Rock'n'Roll with a hint of a surf and garage rock edge - that's The Four Dots from Spain. Sizzling guitar, drivin' rhythm, pumpin' sounds - beware, they might rock you into a trance! Singer and lead guitarist Hector Guerrero used to head the more traditional Rockabilly oriented Little Boy Arnold & His Western Okies but here his new band progressed to a late 50s, very early 60s sound, fast and furious Rockabilly, Rock'n'Roll with scorching hot lead guitar. Nine of the thirteen songs are written by the talented Guerrero, including the instrumentals "Messin' Around" and "Strollin' In Chinatown" (two cool strolls), the fast boogie "Four Dots Boogie" with a slap bass solo, the powerful "Twisted Guitar" (Duane Eddy meets Link Wray) and the toe-tappin' "PIckin' & Slidin'". The Four Dots' "King Bee" version sounds like the Cramps could have done it early in their career. Their stompin', rockin', strollin' songs include the sparse but strong blues bopper "Hey Little Girl", cool stuff with an edge, think 50s rockers like Benny Joy whose "Gotta Get Some Money" they revive here. The Four Dots close their breathtanking set with Hank Mizzell's powerful "Ubangi Stomp". Fine raw rockin' late 50s style Rock'n'Roll and Surf/Instro rockers. sleazyrecords.com. -GMB

The Browns / The Complete Hits

Collectors’ Choice CCM-923

 Pop fans most likely recall the Browns’ for their sentimental 1959 No.1 “The Three Bells.” But the Arkansas trio had 20 more country hits between 1951 and ’67, all of which are on this collection, taken from the original Fabor and RCA masters. Featuring Jim Ed Brown and sisters Maxine and Bonnie, they initially trafficked in pure country like “Looking Back To See,” “I Take The Chance” and “I Heard The Bluebirds Sing.” Nearing the end of their contract with RCA, they did “Bells,” and it took a threat from Chet Atkins to quit his job as head of Nashville operations to get the home office in New York to promote the song. It would sell more than a million copies. That led to successful covers of the standards “The Old Lamplighter” and “Scarlet Ribbons,” both of which did well on the Hot 100. Then it was back to their country roots and a succession of singles that did well – “Then I’ll Stop Loving You,” “I’d Just Be Fool Enough” – and others that hung around the lower regions of the country lists. Over the years, the group’s sound became more sophisticated, as they changed with the times, especially in the ‘60s, even adding a pop flair to material that failed to cross over. But Jim Ed’s softly convincing vocals and the stellar singing of his sisters always made for good records. Going solo in 1965, Jim Ed racked up another 51 hits, but this collection focuses on the family and is a nice showcase for their work. www.collectorschoicemusic.com -Mark Marymont

Scott Kempner / Saving Grace

00:02:59 Records

 Scott Kempner brings the same no-frills sound to his first solo album in 16 years as he did to records done during his tenure with the highly-esteemed Dictators and Del-Lords. He calls it a “rock ‘n’ roll album,” and that’s certainly true, especially on the driving “Stolen Kisses,” The Secret Everybody Knows” and sinuous “Baby’s Room.” But there’s a lot more to the 13 songs – a dozen of them written by Kempner – as he drops the tempo a bit on the easier “The Rising,” positive “Beyond The Pale” and “Heartbeat Of Time,” a duet with his old pal Dion. There are even a few ballads, including the love song “Saving Grace,” the startling honesty of the junkie-themed “I’ll Give You Needles” (written by Tommy Womack) and the brooding “Shadows Of Love.”  There’s another change of pace with the slinky blues of “Passion Red.” Kempner plays all the guitar on the album, accompanied by friends from the Del-Lords and other talented musicians and the songs all have interesting arrangements. As for the lyrics, they’re often reflective and display the thoughtful perspective you might expect from somebody who has been doing this since the ‘70s. Kempner strikes a nice balance between that hard-earned maturity and the remnants of his youthful, punky attitude. www.myspace.com/scottkempner -Mark Marymont

Chris Bergson Band / Fall Changes

2 Shirts Records 1003

 Chris Bergson has got talent dripping out of his ears! he is an old fashioned vocalist/guitarist, in the way he crafts his music together, not flashy, no gimmicks kinda' guy. Bergson could be loosely described as a bluesman, but he digs much deeper into the American song genre than that.Joining Bergson are Bruce Katz (B3, piano), Jay Collins (sax, b/v), Chris Berger (acoustic bass) and Tony Leone (drums), plus a horn section on a couple of songs. Of the eleven tracks, seven are Bergson originals which leap from Texas blues through the BS & Tears influenenced title track and the Allman style licks of 'The Engine'. Covers include Dylan's 'When I Paint My Masterpiece' and Hendrix's 'Are You Experienced?', both given a new lease of life in Bergson's hands. There is no doubt that this is a musicians band, thoughtful solo's that have that edge, just the right jazzy feel, laidback at times, but still gritty and gutsy. Chris Bergson has a soulful voice and a musical guitar technique that deserve to be heard by a wider audience, definitely a talent to watch. www.chrisbergson.com -Rick Meek

Whiskey River (Take My Mind): The True Story of Texas Honky-Tonk

Book by Johnny Bush with Rick Mitchell. University of Texas Press

Well, you can bet your boots Johnny Bush knows what he's talkin' about when it comes to Texas Honky-Tonk. That's what he's been playin' and singin' since the early 1950's and that's what he's still playin' today.  Bush grew up in Houston - singin', playin' guitar, learnin' from his musical uncle Smilin' Jerry Jericho, doin' local radio and t.v. and turnin' pro when he's still a teenager.  His first regular gig was playin' the Texas Star Inn in San Antonio - drawin' good crowds and makin' good money - ten dollars a night.  That's where he learned to play the drums and where he learned about watchin' out for shady club owners. Since then he's been in Willie Nelson's band, and in Ray Price's, he's been in package shows, and he's been a bandleader.  And he's always been able to pack the house and to sell records in Texas - even when the rest of the world didn't give a damn. Now for most of his adult life Johnny Bush was the kind of guy who just couldn't resist puttin' the pork to just about any chick he came across, but he also liked fallin' in love and gettin' married. This usually meant that his marriages didn't last too long, but it also meant he knows what he's singin' about when he does a cheatin' song or a splittin' up song.  It also gives him plenty of good stories... and he ain't afraid to tell 'em. For example, at a time when he and Willie were each gettin' more ass than a couple of toilet seats, Bush gets the clap for the third time - so he asks Willie how come he never gets it.  Willie's reply: "It's very simple.  I only fuck married women."  Hmmm... so seems to me that Ol' Willie left that little pearl of wisdom out of his own autobiography.  But don't worry, there's plenty more great Willie stories here.  And some Ray Price/Cherokee Cowboy stories, too. Naturally, Bush tells about the fun he's had of drinkin' and poppin' pills - and about his troubles from drinkin' and poppin' pills - but you've heard all that before about other hard livin' Country stars.  But what you might not know about are his troubles with spasmodic dysphonia - a medical condition that weakened the vocal cords and eventually took his voice away... for a while.  With therapy he learned how to talk and sing all over again - but his voice had changed.  He couldn't hit the high notes anymore - so he learned to sing in lower keys. (Personally, I like his voice better now.  It's definitely lower and less operatic.  It's growlier and more lived in, it just lets you know he's been through some hard times and it damn sure is a better fit with the words he's singin'.) Now about Bush's writing style: his train of thought seems to get de-railed pretty easily.  For example: he'll start out explaining the steel guitar part of one of his songs ("Sound of a Heartache").  Then he'll jump back in time to the first time he heard "Steel Guitar Rag" as a kid.  Then he'll throw in a brief history of the evolution of the steel guitar: from an acoustic guitar with the nut raised, through Leon McAuliffe's Fender solid body triple neck non-pedal steel, through the current favorite double necks with ten strings on each neck with floor pedals and seven knee pedals.  Then he'll explain the different tunings for each neck (E9th - best for ballads and C6th - best for up tempo stuff).  Then he talks about his all time favorite steel players Jimmy Day (best for the slow stuff when he was straight) and Buddy Emmons (best for the fast stuff - unless he didn't like the song - then he might get up and walk out of the session)  Then Bush talks about Herb Steiner - who's been playing steel in Bush's band for the past ten years.  Then he'll get back on track, back to "Sound of a Heartache." It's a round about way of tellin' the story, but you damn sure understand what he's talkin' about.  It all reads like a good barroom conversation and you'll damn sure enjoy the ride.There's about 50 photos, a discography, lots of song lyrics.  Hell, I couldn't put this one down.- University of Texas Press (800) 252-3206© 2007 Billy Tom Hogg

Here are some current reviews that DIDN'T fit into our Winter 2007 issue! Read 'em only here

Billy Joe Royal / Going By Daydreams Raindrops

 I’m sure you remember Billy Joe Royal’s 2 biggest hits “Down In The Boondocks” and “Cherry Hill Park”, and maybe also “Hush.” Royal has been playing the oldies circuit, and now has a new CD produced by Chips and Casey Moman on B.J. Thomas’ label Raindrop Records. I’m all for guys like this keeping their hand in with more than just nostalgia shows, and while it starts off with some gentle Pop stuff, “All He Wants To Do Is Play” rocks on about a guy who wants to play “Johnny B. Goode.” There’s a cover of “Under The Boardwalk,” Moman’s “Class Of ‘65” reminisces and wonders “Where Did The ‘60s Go?”, and most of the program is fairly wistful Pop, but Royal still has his pipes. Bjraindrops.com –MB

Crazy Hambones / Blowin The Family Jewels / Stormy Monday MO 81221

We had the great pleasure of seeing these guys in Germany a couple years ago, and I even got to sit in for a tune! We also reviewed a previous CD that had been released under the name Coolstep, with their previous harmonica player/frontman Paul Orta. They are committed to the vintage Blues sound and feature just guitar, drums (sometimes washboard, spoons or tambourine), and harmonica/vocals. This new 15 song CD features a mix of traditional material from the likes of Johnny Shines, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Jerry McCain, Chuck Berry and Dr. Ross, with originals written or co-written by guitarist Peter Krause and “Hambone Boogie” which credits all three, Henry Heggen (harp, vocals), Michael Maass (drums, vocals) and Krause (guitar, vocals). The production places you, the listener, right in the midst of the band, a great immediate and intimate feel. In this day of in your face bass mixes, here’s a band with NO bass player – and it works fine for me! I’m not against bass, but there’s plenty of traditional precedent for this type of lineup. Excellent vintage style Country Blues, with some fine harmonica, guitar (and slide) and for that matter percussion plus great singing! Hambones.de –MB

 Franklin & Baytop / Searching For Frank Patuxent CD-156

OK, they got me: I’m looking for Frank Stokes too! In fact it was one of his songs(“Downtown Blues”) I played with Crazy Hambones in Saltzgitter-Bad. They don’t do that tune on this CD, but open with another of my favorites, Blind Blake’s “Champagne Charlie.” They’re not just doing Stokes obviously, but instead trying to paint a picture of the context in which Stokes and his partner Dan Sane were working. They do “I Got Mine,” which the Frank recorded, along with others, and tunes from contemporaries like Furry Lewis (“Jail House Blues”), Bo Carter (“Beans”) and others. These two guitarists come of the Washington D.C. area, where Rick Franklin had worked with the late Archie Edwards and the late John Jackson. Michael Baytop also hung around Edwards’ barbershop, and both have absorbed the fingerpicking Blues tradition. They are among the few younger black artists to take up this tradition. Baytop also picked up the bones playing tradition, and you can hear a bit of that s well as his harmonica, giving some variety of sound to this pastiche of street singer style vintage Blues. Pxrec.com -MB

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Dale Watson / The Little Darlin` Sessions / Koch Records KOC-CD-9880 From The Cradle To The Grave / Hyena Records HYN 9357

 Little Darlin' Records was Aubrey Mayhew and Johnny Paycheck's baby. Back in the middle and late 60’s, they were writin' and puttin' out some of the hardest of all hard-core Honky-Tonk. This was not good-natured dance music, this was gut-churning hard drinkin' juke box music for the guy at the bar that you just know you’d best steer clear of. Mayhew did the producin' and Paycheck was the label’s top singin' star. Top pickin' star was their amazing house steel man Lloyd Green. But nobody was gettin' rich, so they closed up shop. But now Aubrey Mayhew is back producin` and Green is back still playin' his steel guitar “with an attitude”. They’ve brought back a few other original session men like Pig Robbins on piano and Pete Wade + Billy Sanford on guitar. None of these boys has missed a lick and they’re doin' the same song that put Little Darlin' and Paycheck on the map to begin with. Only this time its Dale Watson doin' the singin'. Sounds like he’s singin' deep down from his balls and that matches up just fine with these 15 emotion-drippin` drinkin` and hurtin` songs. To my ears everything on Dale Watson’s The Little Darlin Sessions sounds just like it ought to sound- like it could have been recorded back when men were men and when a Country record was still Country, [ its almost unheard of today, but they actually recorded Watson’s vocals while the band was playin'. ] The songs are right on the money- 9 written by Mayhew and/or Paycheck, a couple from Groovey Joe Poovey, and a real sad one co-written by that Kentucky-Fried Col. himself Harlan Sanders. My favorites are an unrepentant gettin' wasted song “If I’m Gonna Sink (I might as well go to the bottom)” from Mayhew-Paycheck, followed by Mayhews “I don’t need a bottle (to sleep like a baby now )” - about kickin` alcoholism and “He thought he‘d die laughing (.. And he did )” - a fun ironic one from Poovey about killin' the dude who’s been braggin` about fuckin` your ol’ lady - God I just love this stuff. that’s why it surprizes the hell out of me that Dale Watson has pretty much disowned his Little Darlin Sessions album, sayin' that they were hurried in the studio and didn’t have time to get it right, and that he’s not happy with the results or with his own singin`.. Go figure.

Now the album that Watson’s not disownin' is From The Cradle To The Grave on his new label Hyena Records. Here he’s slidin' off of Paycheck's barstool and into Johnny cash territory. Watson’s voice booms out like the voice of God over top of the Luther Perkins- Marshall Grant boom-chicka-boom style pickin and Watson’s phrases are punctuated by spare Cash-style horns. The album was even recorded at Johnny Cash’s old cabin in Hendersonville, Tennessee - now owned by Watson’s friend Johnny Knoxville. Watson claims that he went there without any songs to record “and basically wrote ten songs in ten days”. And he came up with songs about a child murder, suicide, revenge, killin' your ol’ lady, facin' the electric chair and even the end of the world. There’s also one about Johnny Cash. I get the impression that Watson set out to make a serious record… and he did. Just one note: I listened to his song “Yellow Mama” over & over and I didn’t know what the hell it was about. Then I read his press release explain that “Yellow Mama” is the nickname of Alabama’s bright yellow painted electric chair. Now it makes sense, but it would have been nice if Watson woulda explained that in the song (or at least in the liner notes). Or maybe this ol’ honky-tonk singer is tryin' to go cryptic on us … Anyway what we have here is one album rushed in the studio.. And one rushed in writin' … hmm .. I like ‘em both, but I tell you I’ve been spendin' a lot more time listenin to The Little Darlin` Session with its songs that have damn sure stood the test of time. © 2007 Billy Tom Hogg

Dave Gross / Take The Gamble / Swingnation Records SNCD 388006

 This is Dave Gross’ second CD, produced by the great Duke Robillard in “Duke’s Mood Room”. Duke picks only the best musicians to back up this talented young guitar pickin’ Blues singer – Duke himself lends his chops to three songs, Dennis Gruenling on harmonica on 4 songs, Dona Oxford plays piano and organ and half the songs feature horns. “Take The Gamble” has a vintage feel to it and incorporates a lot of Swing, a little New Orleans Blues, Country and Chicago style Blues, guitar driven old-school R&B and more. The strong good-time starter “She Walks Right In” is a rompin’ Gatemouth Brown swinging rocker, get your dancing shoes! One of 9 Dave Gross originals follows and I simply love his wit in “Mess On My Plate” with lines like “I Forgot To Leave You Baby”. It has that groovy New Orleans vibe with great piano and saxophone. A Chicago style 6-minute Blues follows, then a slow burning musical tribute to T-Bone Walker called “I’m So Hungry Blues”. A straight vintage style Swing  (the original “Swingin’ On All Six”) and a Hot Lips Page tune are next. “That’s All You Get” and “Movin’ On Down The Line” are two modern Blues numbers, the aforementioned on the funky side with organ and both feature electric bass instead of the upright that dominates the album.  The slow shuffle “You Ain’t Playing Me No More” is a fine Country Blues example, T-Bone Walker’s humorous “I Know Your Wig Is Gone” swings and the classic “After Your Gone” is as good as any great 30s style Swing number. I dig the hoppin’ Country number with a galoppin’ “Mystery Train” kinda groove on “Once I Had A Girl”. Dave Gross mentions he enjoyed the chicken pickin’ on his tele here (most other songs feature a vintage Gibson). Closing out the set is a more contemporary slow swamp Blues.  Sound and mix are simply perfect, Dave Gross is a fine singer and guitarist and overall it’s a well-rounded album that fans of vintage style Blues and Swing will enjoy. Personally I would have favored inclusions of  a few more uptempo numbers like the lively opener or the irresistable New Orleans groove on my favorite here “Mess On My Plate”. Check it out. DaveGrossBand.com -GMB

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Zane Grey: His life, His Adventures, His Women, by Thomas H. Pauly. 2007, U. of Illinois Press. 385 PP., Illustrated, Paperback.

 Yes, you’re right, Zane Grey was an author, not a musician. I can’t even recall music being mentioned in this biography of the Western author. But his influence on Western culture via his books and the movies made of them is huge, and since Western music is part of what we’re about, we acknowledge the fact that music isn’t the whole culture to the aficionado. At least 3 bands have been named for Grey’s most famous title Riders Of The Purple Sage. While Grey had biographies written on him before, the last one is long out of print, and for this book the author gained access to personal diaries and the family’s permission to uncover the amazing aspects of Grey’s personal life hitherto kept hidden. He had a wife and kids at home, but brought multiple women with him on his adventures in the name of inspiration for his stories. While they unfortunately aren’t printed in the book, it says there are hundreds of photos of most of these women nude and also in sexual situations with Grey (a photography buff as well as an adventurer). In his early books he was very much against Mormon polygamists, but seems to have been a de facto serial polygamist himself. Anyhow, it’s a fascinating book, and even though I think I may not have ever read a Zany Grey western, I’m sure I’ve seen film versions of them. Press.uillinois.edu –MB

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David Evans / Needy Time / Inside Sounds ISC-0532

Shouldn’t it say “Dr.” David Evans? He’s a noted Blues scholar and teacher who also has performed and recorded with folks like Hammie Nixon, Johnnie Shines, Robert Balfour and others. We enjoyed a previous Jugband CD that featured Evans, and indeed this new one has some tracks with that kind of lineup, as on “Adam & Eve In The Garden Of Eden,” but also everything from solo guitar and vocal and other accompaniments such as harmonica, fiddle, mandolin, banjo etc. But several have fuller jug bands. In fact Nixon appears on “Bottle Up And Go,” and the late Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson appears on 2 tracks. Several tunes are Evans' own, but he also draws from Tommy McClennan (“Highway 51”), Sleepy John Estes (“Brownsville Blues”), Big Joe Williams (“Baby Please Don’t Go”), and Wilson (“On The Road Again”, written with Floyd Jones – an electric track with Billy Gibson on harmonica). The Blind Owl tracks date from ’64 and ’67, and the Nixon track is from ’79. Personally, I think that street Blues scene from Memphis has been a larger influence on Rockabilly and also the Chicago Blues sound than it seems to get credit for. Of course radio was the great cross pollinator, but groups like this were on public display in Handy Park throughout the youth of Elvis and other Memphis based Rockabillies. And Memphis was the hub of the Delta too. David Evans represents that sound well on this CD, and the others he has done as well. Insidesounds.com -MB

 Roadracers / Roadrage

Full blast Rockabilly is what the Roadracers do best! Ricky Nelson’s “Believe What You Say” gets made into a raspy voiced wild rocker with sizzling guitar– interesting transformation! Most songs here are originals and I dig their cool “Roadrage”, the aggressive opener “No Fool” and the gallopin’ “Trouble Hound”. “My Way” is head on Rock’n’Roll with piano and saxophone and yes, that’s the vintage Eddie Cochran number! Every song here is hot and rockin’, the hip shakin’ bluesy “New Shoes”, the shuffle “Rock’n’Roll Ship with great piano and all the Rockabillies and hot Rock’n’Roll numbers. The Roadracers end the 13-piece romp with a hard hitting drinking song “This Is What I Drink”. Explosive Rockabilly with a hot rhythm section, sizzling lead guitar and a raspy voiced, often shouting leadsinger who know how to rock out! –GMB

Di Maggio Brothers / When I Hit My Stride

 Italy’s premier rockin’ brothers are back with an excellent album. Marco Di Maggio is known for his impressive guitar skills and … is an skilled singer with a fine, deep baritone voice. Among them they play every instrument on this 15-song album. Slappin’ bass, sizzling lead guitar, drums, rhythm guitar – an exciting sound, based on late '50s Rockabilly / Rock’n’Roll but unmistakenly modern. Weirdly enough they start their set with a hit from the disco era, a makeover of the somewhat annoying “Born To Be Alive” from 1979. Don’t worry, it’s Rockabilly now! The title Track “When I Hit My Stride” is a hard hitting rocker complete with Paul Burlison style fuzz guitar work, cool! “A Date With Fate” is a sweet sounding rock-a-ballad, “Blue Refrain” with its wonderful guitar work and brotherly harmonies is very much reminiscent of the Everly Brothers mellower hits. Among the many Di Maggio Brothers originals is a fine cover of Cash’s “I Walk The Line”. “If You Want Me To” could be a Junior Brown track, fancy guitar work, and that certain '60s Honky Tonk sound, very cool! Buddy Holly’s beautiful “Raining In My Heart” is faster than the original, but maybe it’s the speedy and extra fancy picking that makes me think so. The '60s come alive with a real cool Twist-rocker “Latin Nights”. “A Lotta Swing”, reminds me a little of Gene Vincent and High Noon. “I Got Stung” is of course an RCA Elvis hit and the Di Maggio do a great job and you can tell that’s pretty much the sound they’re successfully aiming for! More melodic rockers follow and last but not least a fingerpicking instrumental named after their late dad ”Bruno”. A great album filled with mostly originals with an exceptionally good sound and production, exciting guitar work and fine vocals. –GMB

Jussi Syren Rockabilly Revival / Stayin’ On Top Of The Beat / Goofin’ GRCD 8137

 Here’s another Finnish Rockabilly trio, this one with lead guitar, slap bass and drums and a singer (Jussi Syren) who has that southern accent down, including that ultra cool “hot potato in your mouth” style. I enjoy every song here, a total of 13 and five of them Jussi Syren originals that include one of my favorites, an intense, slow and very cool “Chichamauga Jeanie”. Hypnotic the opener “Down At Bradley’s Bar”, real fine the tribute to Carl Perkins “Rockabilly Guitar Man”. When bands split their releases between '50s scene classics and originals there is a pretty good chance that their own material can’t hold up. Not here! Strong songs/lyrics complete with great melodies, passionate musicianship and an absolutely great sound make these originals a lasting contribution to Rockabilly legacy. Yes, the covers are top notch, too. Benny Joy’s mega hot bopper “Steady With Betty”, Charlie Feathers’ classic “Bottle To The Baby”, the wild slappin’ “Imitation Of The Blues” with cool guitar licks, or Jimmie Skinner’s Hillbilly lament “Baby You Don’t Know My Mind” and Eddie Bond’s full blast “Slip Slip Slippin’ In” – cool stuff, great rockers that are never short on melody. Carl Perkins’ fine early Country effort “Sure To Fall” is followed by the forceful and haunting Neo-Rockabilly style of “Hank’s Nightmare” with a gallopin’ beat and repetitive guitar licks. Great album, highly recommended. Goofinrecords.com. -GMB

Jessie Lee Miller / Waiting

 Jessie Lee Miller has one of those dreamy and sweet and at the same time sultry voices perfectly suited for sexy barroom ballads – but that’s not all she does. It seems impossible to escape her magic once you pop this 13-track album in your CD player. It kept me hitting the play button over and over again instead of sitting down to finally write the review. Six numbers are her own and they range from sweet ballads to rockers and vintage style Honky Tonk to Blues and oldtimey Jazz. “Runaround” is a cool, slow swingin’ bluesy song that includes Cindy Cashdollar taking the lead on dobro. Jessie Lee Miller’s beautiful voice is always the most important instrument, making every song her own, like the upbeat “Loved By You” with its exotic beat and a trumpet lead.  I especially love the hot Honky Tonk material here, the rocker “Good Lookin’ No Good” and Sean Mencher’s fine “I’m Yours, You’re Mine”, and “When You Said Hello”, wonderful two-step material, too.  “Shameless Tomorrow” is Jessie Lee’s own convincing Hillbilly effort with slappin’ bass and Johnny Cash style guitar work, while her “Hard To Admit” features upright bass, a bluesy guitar solo and just a snare played with brushes. Overall a great release with a vintage feel and a voice you won’t forget. Every song possesses charm and is superbly supported by a strong cast of first rate musicians. The recording quality and the packaging are excellent, too. “Waiting” puts Jessie Lee Miller on the map. –GMB

 The Astrophonix / Suspended Time Thunderball TR2007-1/AP0C7

 Last time I heard young Simone Di Maggio (yes, related to the Di Maggio Brothers) he was playing straight Rockabilly, now he heads the Italian Surf-Rock band The Astrophonix. He’s just as talented as the rest of the musical family, strong on lead guitar, a fine singer and he co-wrote all but one of the 10 tracks here. The trio (guitar, drums, bass) puts out an astonishingly full soundwall. You can hear all kinds of hard hitting '60s beats, Surf, Psychobilly and Punk influences but their style is unmistakenly modern and very forceful. “Guitar Maddness” is a close as we get to a sizzling Rockabilly instro-rocker. Do you remember Annie Lennox and Stewart’s '80s Pop hit “Sweet Dreams”, well here you get the sped up hard rockin’ version with twangy and fuzz-guitar. If you like energetic, full blast guitar heavy modern Surf-Rock, check out the Astrophonix. –GM

 Hot Roddin’ Romeos

 This demo shows Bellingham’s quartet Hot Roddin’ Romeos rock with vintage classics and some new Rockabillies. Their aggressive opener has sizzling guitar, and a Psychobilly edge. “Six Inch Heels And Dynamite” is a real strong rocker, powerful delivered. “Red Hot” is cool, and the Stray Cats “Rock This Town” is a real good remake, I dig that song. A cool lo-fi rocker follows that raps up this pretty good demo. The Hot Roddin’ Romeos with Johnny Rocket’s raspy lead vocals and Killer Kate on drums just formed in 2007 and are planning on recording a full length album soon. In the meantime you can catch their energetic performances live in the Seattle/Western Washington area. Hotroddinromeos.com. -GMB

 DVD Reviews

Schmelvis / VSC SCH1638

 This documentary made by filmmakers from Montreal was inspired by a report in the Wall Street Journal that Elvis Presley’s maternal great grandmother was a practicing Jew. In their quest for proof of this, they recruit a Jewish Elvis impersonator who calls himself Schmelvis, and a rabbi from Toronto, and head for Memphis. The premise promises more fun than the finished product delivers, though there are many funny moments. The main problem is in the bickering amongst the participants along the way, which maybe is supposed to be funny, perhaps if you yourself are Jewish, but is just very annoying if you’re not. The other big problem is that Schmelvis refuses to perform at an Elvis karaoke event because he won’t work without his guitar (so let him play it doing karaoke already!). Then, when in desperation they fly back to Memphis (after visiting Israel, and being informed by Hassidic Jews swimming in the Dead Sea that a Jewish Elvis impersonator is a sign the Messiah is coming), Schmelvis is to participate in an Elvis impersonator contest, but also ends up not performing. In that case the organizer, who happened also to be the veterinarian who treated Elvis’ monkey (which died of cirrhosis of the liver), demanded that there be no religious statements or political statements made. They also didn’t want Elvis being made fun of, and the Schmelvis persona has a comic name at least, regardless that I see no disrespect inherent in it. We do get to see him sing a couple times, and he turns out to be a fairly good guitar player as well. Performance-wise, when Schmelvis sings to a group of Palestinian kids near the huge Elvis statue at a truck stop which is the second most popular tourist attraction in Israel (!!!), it’s the best dose we’re going to get of his performing, and kind of a heartwarming moment. But the bottom line is that Elvis being Jewish is a non-issue for nearly everyone who isn’t Jewish. These guys apparently expected to engender anti-Semitism in Memphis by going around saying Elvis was Jewish, and didn’t really come close. I think they pretty much would have had to find a Klan meeting to make it real. They should maybe have gone to Vegas for the impersonator contest. For Elvis fans the best thing may be the interviews with neighbors of Elvis from when he was 15, and with one with one of the Lansky Brothers. Schmelvis.com –MB

 Destination Vegas Elvis Weinerworld  MVDV 4651

This somewhat schizophrenic DVD seems to want it both ways: it’s alternately worshiping of Elvis and thoroughly sarcastic about his later work and drug problem. I’ll say this, it’s probably not possible to sound more sarcastic than with an English accent, as with the narrator of this. The majority of meaty clips are ones you might already have from the ‘50s TV appearances, which I guess are now “out of copyright” in Europe. The clip of “Tutti Frutti” has frames missing in places. The Vegas footage is all home movie stuff, usually with sound recordings of different performances than what you see, with Elvis talking to the audience. While this purports to be a documentary about Elvis’ Vegas years, it actually covers the whole of his career, though not certainly any better than others already out there. One thing it has that others may not is in the “extras”, a series of photos a few of which I’d seen, but most of which are audience snapshots from Vegas performances, in which you can see a wide variety of Elvis’ stage costumes. The other extra is more of the home movies with different soundtracks to what is happening on the stage in the pictures. Elvis rambles about his early career, and raves about people who had spread inaccurate word about his drug problems, and makes specific threats towards whoever that was. MVDVsual.com -MB

Various Artists / The Leiber & Stoller Story: Shake ‘Em Up & Let ‘Em Roll, Volume 3 1962-1969 / Ace CDCHD 1156

 Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote and produced some of the biggest and best hits of the rock ‘n’ roll era. This album, the final installment of a three-disc series, nicely wraps up a wide-ranging overview of their work. As with the earlier volumes, you get a mix of hits written or produced by the duo – “Drip Drop” by Dion, “Jackson” by Johnny Cash and June Carter, “Is That All There Is” by Peggy Lee, “Only In America” by Jay & the Americans” – and other less-successful material. Artists like Ben E. King (“Where’s The Girl?”), Jimmy Scott (“On Broadway”), Solomon Burke (“You Can’t Love ‘Em All”) and the Shangri-Las (“Bull Dog”) are included and if these versions weren’t hits they certainly sound good. The obvious missing artist is Elvis Presley, who did a number of their songs, but there are plenty of collections of his music around and his absence leaves more room for interesting entries by other acts. As usual, Ace does their terrific job of packaging with rare photos, song information and facts and figures on each of the 24 tracks. By the way, if you wonder what these two had to do with “Jackson,” Leiber co-wrote it with folky singer-songwriter Billy Edd Wheeler, who claimed it was inspired by the play “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf.” That’s what you call in-depth liner notes. www.acerecords.com -Mark Marymont


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Mandy Mercier / Run Out Of Darkness

Mercier seems Blues based – she opens with “Spoonful”, but the second song, her own “Get There” is more on the Rock’n’Roll side. The third song “Call It Love” has a Rock groove. Mandy’s got a fine voice, and I can’t think of another singer to compare her to. “Hello My Lover” is a New Orleans groove. Sippie Wallace’s “Special Delivery Blues” centers the project back in the Blues, but “Wild Heart” has a Stones feel. The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Sportin’ Life” (really a takeoff on the Willie Nelson penned song “Night Life” and some other earlier tunes) is nice to hear again. The title tune, from Ray Wylie Hubbard who duets, is back to the Rock groove. The short 10 song program is rounded out by “Ball & Chain”, inviting the Janis Joplin comparison, and then Gospel Blues standard “You’ve Got To Move.” Mercier is a full voiced singer, and to be true it’s a little painful to listen to Janis sing “Ball & Chain” anymore, so this is easier to take. That last tune was co-arranged by Sue Foley, who isn’t playing or singing here, but her presence is nevertheless felt. Mandymercier.com -MB

Max Stalling / Topaz City / Blind Nello Records

Stalling is a sort of more laid back Dwight Yoakam style Country singer, who wrote all the 11 songs on this new CD. He doesn’t have the Honky Tonk edge of Yoakam or Dale Watson, but he writes fine songs, and it’s really impressive that he doesn’t make an attempt to lead off with a mainstream “Country” style anthem. He can rock a bit, and does so here and there. The title song has a gentle Country Rock beat. “Lank & Lonesome & Low & Loose At Both Ends” has kind of a Hank Williams feel, and “Skyview Café” sounds like a Clint Black thing. “Lonely Days’ has kind of a “Mystery Train” groove. “Don’t Fall Alone” is a nice shuffle. The production is very nice and tasteful, usually featuring some acoustic instruments, whether just a guitar, or also a mandolin. I like this stuff, and I’m ready to hear anything else Max Stalling has done, or whatever he puts out next. I hope he doesn’t try to tweak his style any – just write some more good songs and record them just like this! Maxstalling.com -MB

Red Meat / We Never Close  / Ranchero Records 0701

 San Francisco honky-tonkers Red Meat have been packin' them into the Bay area bars and clubs for a few years now and their tight sound comes from many nights letting loose on their mix of mostly self-written songs. Produced by Dave Alvin, who also produced their last album 2001's Alameda County, he gets the best out of the band both in a well recorded sound and choice of songs. Red Meat are Smelly Kelley (great name!) (vocals), Scott Young (vocals, guitar, trombone) Jill Olson (vocals, bass) Michael Mantalta (guitars, accordion) and Lea Jamea (drums, percussion, vocals) other musicians lending a hand include Doug Livingston (pedal steel, piano) and Rick Shea (guitar, mandolin). You can smell the saw-dust on the floor! with the opener "Honky Tonk Habit" with great guitar riffs and is a whole lotta' fun. Jill Olson contributes some good songs including bar room ballad "I'm Not The Girl For You" and the rowdy "Queen Of King City". So all of the songs tell familiar tales of drinking, women and having a great time (nothing wrong in that), but Red Meat do inject something new with superb playing throughout mixing hot shuffles, Country swingers and Rock 'n' Roll. They probably come over even better live, but this will do for now!  Ranchero Records, 4200 Park Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602 -Rick Meek

 Omar Kent Dykes & Jimmie Vaughan / On The Jimmy Reed Highway  / Ruf 1122

 When I was working in Hamburg in the early '60s the German audiences couldn't get enough of Jimmy Reed songs and our hourly set list always included "Baby What You Want Me To Do" and "Bright Lights Big City". Here vocalist Omar Kent Dykes and guitarist Jimmie Vaughan team up in a great album of Reed songs, not all of them familiar, but every one reminding us what a genius he was, often overlooked because his laid back vocal style hid his many talents as a songwriter. Omar doesn't try to recreate, he couldn't because his gruff and rough vocals bear no resemblance to Reed's smooth delivery, but somehow it works. The backing band has some of Austin's top guys Derek O'Brien (guitar), Ronnie James (bass), Wes Starr and George Rains (drums) with guests Kim Wilson, Delbert McClinton, James Cotton, Lou Ann Barton, Gary Primich and Gary Clark Jr all contributing to make this one of the best Blues albums of the year. Their are two originals by Omar that begin and end the album. The first is dedicated to the late Clifford Antone, both songs avoid any sentimental sweetness and fit in well with the rest of Reed's songs. I should add that Jimmie Vaughan's often understated guitar playing is a key factor in making this collection of songs come to life for a new generation that will hopefully seek out Jimmy Reed once more. -Rick Meek www.rufrecords.de

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Tracy Nelson / You'll Never Be A Stranger At My Door  Memphis International DOT 0219

 Tracy Nelson is a Blues belter of formidable power and vocal range and over the years has given us some classic albums detailing her talent. You'll Never Be A Stranger At my Door is Tracy's homage to some Country classics, where Blues meet Country without her loosing any of her trademark growl and delivery. You could almost imagine her singing these songs in the bath!  because they are great songs that she obviously loves to sing. "Cow Cow Boogie" is a jazzy opener. "Four Walls" (the Jim Reeves chestnut) and Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone" fit perfectly into Nelson's plan of what makes these country gems sound great. Most of the songs are from long ago, but Randy Sharp's "New Way Out", an '80s single by Karen Brooks is mesmerising given the Tracy Nelson treatment. The only let down for me was the old Browns '50s hit "The Three Bells", it sounded mawkish and downright crass back then, even Nelson can't bring this back to life. With sensitive backing by multi-instrumentalist Fred Kaplin, guitarist Robert M Britt, Steve Conn on piano and accordion, plus Guy Clark and Alice Newman Vestal (vocals on "Salt Of The Earth") this is Country delivered Tracy Nelson style and I love it all the more for that! -Rick Meek www.memphisinternational.com

 David Olney / One Tough Town  / Red Parlor 00705

David Olney has been writing unique and biting lyrics for years. His songs have been recorded by many, including Emmylou Harris, whose versions of  "Deeper Well' and "Jerusalem Tomorrow" are classic. Olney comes from the timeless Texan songwriter tradition of Towns Van Zandt, Eric Taylor and Vince Bell. Olney is perhaps the bluesiest of the bunch with a deep growl of a voice and masterful technique of acoustic guitar playing. His songs, always varied with clever wordplay and firmly rooted in acoustic Blues and Jazz background. Case in point is the wonderful "Who's The Dummy Now" written from the dummy's view of malice and spite of his controlled existence. "Panama City" blends Caribbean rumba and tequila rhythms with laidback guitar and vocals while "Sweet Potato" is downright Dixie with tuba and clarinet backing. There is one Van Zandt song "Snake Song" which Olney delivers with a sparse reverence of just himself and Sergio Webb's guitar as backing. If you like your music acoustic with songs full of dark humor, often funny sometimes sad, Olney is the man for you!   www.RedParlor.com -Rick Meek

Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter & James Cotton / Breakin it UP, Breakin’ it DOWN / Epic 07283 2)

 After making 1977’s Hard Again, these three went on tour to promote it, and now you can hear what that sounded like. The rest of the band included Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Charles Calmese. Hard Again was Muddy’s album, but this one belongs to all 3, and it’s best moments may be when they are jamming, pushing and playing with each other. It’s got to be a show many of you would like to have been at, along with myself. They recorded 3 nights and took the best for this new CD. There’s a great picture of the 3 principles just inside the booklet, along with Margolin’s notes and a few other pictures from the shows. Legacyrecordings.com -MBSchmelvis / VSC SCH1638

Sixtyeight Twentyeight: The Life and Times of a Texas Writer and a Flat Top Box Guitar by Vince Bell A vincebell.com book

First of all, this is a book for musicians.  If you've never been up there pickin' in front of a barroom crowd - you probably don't want to read this.  But if you have - you probably do. In 'Sixtyeight Twentyeight’ Texas songwriter-picker-singer Vince Bell gives us brief glimpses of his life in music starting with him buyin' his first good guitar - a 1968 Martin D-28 acoustic (hence the title).  In '71 he's startin' as a solo act playin' to crowds of 8 people in run-down Houston barrooms. He tells of bein' on the bottom rung of the musical food chain - an Opening Act - and of his strange encounters with Headliners like Townes and Delbert and Doug Sahm's band.  He's played bars all over Texas and he's done the National Coffeehouse Circuit.  He's played songwriter showcases with Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark, Willis Allen Ramsey, and Steve Fromholz.  He's played Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage, and Europe. And he's had a car wreck that almost did him in.  And he had to re-learn how to do anything musical. He's had troubles with a small Texas record company (Watermelon) and with an affiliate of a giant (Paladin/Warner).  And most recently he's been puttin' out his own stuff on the Internet, cuttin' out the middle men and probably even relaxin' a little. Of course there's some technical stuff for us pickers: like learnin' to deal with his singin' voice gettin' lower as he gets older, by tunin' his guitar down a whole step and switchin' to bigger gauge strings. But above and beyond everything else, this book is the love story between Vince Bell and the one guitar that he played for over 30 years - the one guitar that he was with "for several lifetimes" - the one he got at age 19. You don't even have to know Vince Bell's music to appreciate this book.  Bell squeezes 59 chapters of his life into 171 pages, so it's really quick readin'.  Hell, I read it cover-to-cover while I was tendin' my roadside stand on Memorial Day. But I'll tell you one thing: there's a surprise ending here that hit me hard and kinda left me with a bad taste in my mouth.  I'm not gonna blow it for you, so you might want to check it out yourself. -vincebell.com 7 Avenida Vista Grande, #237, Sante Fe, New Mexico 87508 © 2007 Billy Tom HoggDestination Vegas Elvis

The Detonators / Top Night Out BMM325.2

 It’s the Detonators fifth release and the first I’ve heard. Sometimes it takes longer for that good rough edged roots music from down under to make it to these shores. These Australian roots rockers detonate explosive harmonica driven hip shakin’ bluesy rockers and shuffles a la Fabulous Thunderbirds (and to a lesser extent George Thorogood) and mix in a bit Rockabilly/Rock’n’Roll  and related roots music styles. Standout in the first few tracks is clearly the Texas shuffle “What Happened To My Cash” (must of spent it on my stash)”, with a great storyline and a tempting groove. “Time Machine’ boogies, ”Off My Chops and “She Don’t Need Me” are both fine shuffles, the latter featuring a mean slide guitar. I really dig their swinging Rock’n’Roll with Blues harmonica “Van Diemen’s Hop”. Most of the 13 tracks are Detonators originals but they also do a couple fine covers, “You Sexy Thing” and “Sugar Coated Love”, I think the Thunderbirds did a version of this old J.D. Miller swampy Blues. Closer is a Psychobilly influenced fast “Top Night Out”. Powerful bluesy roots music, worth checking out. Detonators.com.au. -GMB

 Blues Divine / That’s What It Takes!

 Here’s another versatile Blues band with an interesting album. Dedicated to the great musicians of New Orleans it starts with the 10-piece band on “Home To New Orleans, a strong Roots Rock complete with fine female background vocals. There’s the gritty, true to the bone “Other Men’s Crimes”, the double entendre “Ride On Me” with Albert Lee guesting on guitar, the ballad “Raining Again” and then Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound On My Trail” with just guitar and slide guitar. I particularly enjoy the other Robert Johnson cover done New Orleans style “Steady Rollin’ Man” with a band that includes fine piano and slide. Blues Divine’s mastermind Philip Franchini sings, plays guitar and wrote twelve songs on “That’s What It Takes”. Roots Rock, Soul and Funk, Delta Blues, Blues Rock - it all goes together gracefully for a fine bluesy album that sounds mostly contemporary but at the same time pays tribute to the fathers of the genre. Bluesdivine.com. -GMB

The Insomniacs / Left Coast Blues / Delta Groove DGPCD117

 The Insomniacs are a high energy Jump Blues quartet from Portland, Oregon. My legs been twichin’ since the first note of their opener “Stick Around”. It’s easy to be captivated by their hip Blues rooted in the swinging style of the '40s and '50s with a dose of later Blues styles built in. The Insomniacs 25 year old leader Vyasa Dodson is not only a fine singer and cool guitar slinger, he wrote all but three offerings here. Of the covers the hot '50s style Rock’n’Roll “Watch Your Mouth” and the vintage R&B “No Wine, No Women” are my favorites. I like their lineup with guitar, bass, drums and most of all piano. A little Funk and Soul (organ driven instro “Crime Scene”) and influences from Chicago and Texas make it into their upbeat repertoire. There’s the groovin’ “Wrong Kind Of Love”, the fast swingin’ “I’ll Treat You Right” and the irresistible and fun “Shake The Chandelier”. Good contemporary Blues minus excessive guitar solos, just good hooks, fine melodies and a solid band that knows when to rock and when to swing.  Insomniacsblues.com. -GMB

Slick Andrews / Let’s Beer It Up With

Wild Hare WH07003


Slick Andrews is the latest incarnation of a mid 50s Honky Tonk singer. With his thin mustache, scarf, cowboy hat and western shirt he looks a little like a young Slim Whitman. His fine singing voice lends itself perfectly to his own plentiful tales of heartbreak, Honky Tonk queens and dance floor romances. I dig every song here but the two starters will get everybody going for sure.  The lively “Beer It Up” rocks and swings with hot piano, toe-tappin’ fun. “Queen Of The Honky Tonk” possesses a perfect two-steppin’ Honky Tonk beat, “Shot Down In Flames” with its dark twangy guitar is another winner. Hank Williams style he contemplates “sorrow came a-knockin’ at my door” in “Three Old Friends”, with the perfect whining steel guitar setting the mood. Shifting into Rockabilly mode he delivers a cool “Cut Out The Drama” with scorching hot guitar licks provided by his excellent band called The Wild Hare Millionaires, featuring among others multi-instrumentalist Buck Stevens (piano, guitar, steel guitar, bass). Sandwiched in between a couple of ballad the 6-piece band picks up steam with the rockin’ Hillbilly “World’s Greatest Lover” and the lively instrumental romp “Millionaire” with cool slap bass and swingin’ drum solo. “Dance Floor Romance” with its hypnotic groove reminds me of the great Johnny Horton. “The Dues This Fools Has Paid” is another tear jerker. For the last of the 12 originals Slick Andrews picked a hot rockin’ and exciting “She Drives Me Crazy” full blast authentic Rockabilly style, complete with screams. I do think the recording quality could have been slightly improved by using modern equipment but the folks at Wild Hare and the band itself opted for live to analog tape instead, giving it a retro sound but maybe not the best possible one (think Capitol records Hollywood studio for example). Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed this fine release with its authentic mid-century Hillbilly & Honky Tonky style & sound with the occasional Rockabilly added to the mix. Wildharerecords.com. -GMB


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Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers Blues Quartet / ThrillVille

Delta Groove DGPCD118


Sharp eyed readers will notice a change to this group’s name. Judging from the back cover photo it means that Miss Honey Piazza has taken over bass duties on the piano keyboard. The notes confirm that, and the grooves confirm that Rod is still dedicated to providing a varied menu. Bookended by two Little Walter tunes (“I Hate To See You Go” in medley with “Shake Your Hips”, and “Sad Hours”), the show features a quartet of instrumentals including the latter, one by guitarist Henry Caraval and two others by Rod & Honey (“Westcoaster” and “Snap, Crackle Hop”). There are 5 Piazza originals including those two, and also entries from Junior Wells (“Hoodoo Man”), Willie Dixon (“I Don’t Play”), Elmore James (“Stranger Blues”, via Sonny & Brownie). They get funky on “MFBQ”, stroll soulfully on “It Can’t Be True.” A pair of saxes are added for that, and also “Sugar”, “Hoodoo Man”,  and “Honey Bee.” While some might miss the excellent bass playing of Bill Stuve, it makes economic sense in this world to trim the lineup, and powerful bass can be had from today’s electronic pianos. You can hear that on this CD, which maintains Rod Piazza’s extremely high standard as a premier West Coast Blues artist who continues to be nominated for – and win – awards on the national level (2006 Band of the year), and touring worldwide. Deltagroovemusic.com -MB 

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Rocky Velvet / It Came From Cropseyville!

RVM CD 001


Here’s another group featuring our pal Graham Tichy, who also plays with the Lustre Kings and Sun Dodgers. We also recently reviewed a single by Ian Carlton, the singer and rhythm guitar player in this act (Ian & The Aztecs). While the single was Garage Rock, this effort is pretty much on the Rockabilly side, though it opens on R&B classic “King Kong.” They have 3 originals, but are drawing mostly from somewhat more obscure material, though “All I Can Do Is Cry” is heard occasionally. Here’s Joe Poovey’s “Move Around”, Mickey Hawks “Screamin’ Mimi Jeanie”, Eddie Bo’s “Oh Oh”, Benny Joy’s “I’m Gonna Move”, Johnny Powers’ “Rock Rock”, and “Come On”, which I remember from the Planet Rockers, and “Rock And Roll Guitar.”. This is good stuff – of course we love Tichy’s guitar playing, but Carlton’s singing is real good too, and the choice of matrial moves right along. Looking at their online bio (because I thought the name Rocky Velvet seemed familiar) I found out that this was Graham’s band just out of high school in 1996, and we reviewed their single in ‘97. Bass player Jim Haggerty is the newest element, but brought with him two of the 3 fine original songs – “Poor Poor Lonely Me” and “Built Like A Rock.” Rockyvelvet.com -MB

Bram Riddlebarger & The Wailin’ Elroys

On The Bum / Rhythm Bomb Records RBR5657


Here’s a release that sounds pretty much like Wayne Hancock, While there are a several fine rockers and cool Country Boogies like “Mars Cat”, a lot of the `14 song set recorded in Germany is relegated to slower numbers,  The somewhat over the top whiny, Hillbilly-eske vocal style of Bram Riddlebarger (who seems to be trying hard to sound like Wayne Hancock) will not be everybody’s cup of tea and I found it a little annoying. Others will enjoy the sparse instrumentation (upright bass, guitars, steel guitar -no drums) for that retro sound. According to their myspace page the quartet from Athens, Ohio, had a pretty successful 5 year run, with tours in Europe, own releases and music on compilations and soundtracks but recently disbanded, so that cofounders Justin Rayner and Bram Riddlebarger (who wrote all but two songs of the 14-track album) could pursue separate careers. It’s worth a listen for fans of late 40s and early 50s Hillbilly who also dig a bit or Rockabilly and Wayne Hancock. Rhythmbomb.com. –GMB

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Dig Wayne & The Chisellers

Shack Rouser / RBR 5658


Dig Wayne is pretty much back where he left off with the Buzz & The Flyers in the late 70s, Rockabilly, yes, modern, yes, New Wave & Pop influences, yes again, cool – for sure. I always thought it was really hip to have a black lead singer in a Neo-Rockabilly world that was filled only with colorful clothes, guitars and characters instead of skin colors. Dig Wayne was right in there in the first Rockabilly revival with his band the Flyers, helping make Rockabilly cool again for a new generation of kids of whom many still keep the fire burning. If you’re a Rockabilly purist, this is the wrong choice, but if you’re open minded, this interesting roots music melange will perk you up. Dig Wayne wrote all 12 songs and you can find the lyrics in the deluxe 16-page booklet. I found myself groovin’ along to “Black Widow”, the tale of a newly widowed woman who spins her net around her man’s friend”, a song with bongos and twangy guitar and a somewhat mysterious sound that bears a distinct resemblance to Dig Wayne’s Neo-Rockabilly sound as “Buzz”. “Devil Red” and the fine “Wagon Wheel” are hot piano rockers (Carl Sonny Leyland rocks the keys), other songs are mostly in the mid-tempo range and often feature our lead man talking more than singing. Produced by Deke Dickerson, the sound quality is top notch. Check it out! Rhythmbomb.com. -GMB

Sue Palmer / Sophisticated Ladies / 050107


As the title of Sue’s new CD implies, female singers and musicians are featured, though there are some male musicians in the band too. Recorded live, the featured vocalists are Deejha Marie and Dayna Carroll. There are also instrumental tracks, and female songwriters are also tapped, including Janell Rock, Camille Howard, Hadda Brooks, Julia Lee and of  course Sue Palmer. Duke Ellingon wrote the song which inspired the title, “This Can’t Be Love” is from Rogers & Hart, and Big Bill Broonzy penned “I Feel So Good,” to round out the 10 song set, some of which was recorded live, at a KSDS “Live Lunch Show.” Oh yes, “And Time Goes By” is Carroll’s vocal turn to close the show. Anyone lucky enough to have caught Sue backing Candye Kane during the years she toured with Candye knows that she’s a terrific Boogie Woogie piano player, but it sure doesn’t stop there! You get swingin’, mellow – a whole spectrum. Another sophisticated lady involved is April West on trombone, and Sharon Shufelt plays drums  on most of the tracks. Suepalmer.com -MB


Shawn Camp & Billy Burnette

The Bluegrass Elvises, Vol. 1

American Roots Publishers


A mix of neatly played roots music and cynical commercialism, this 12-song collection of Elvis Presley tunes done bluegrass style is occasionally fun. Just don’t expect too much. As stated in Alanna Nash's liner notes, Presley’s groundbreaking style was based on a combination of sexually charged R&B and  Bluegrass. However, in comparison to the dazzling synthesis Presley achieved with Scotty Moore and Bill Black, Shawn Camp and Billy Burnette’s transformation of such classic Rock’n’Roll hits as “Burnin’ Love,” “Hound Dog,” and “Blue Suede Shoes” into fiddle and banjo laden barndance ditties, feels forced and corny. That said, some songs are executed with puckish charm. Blessed with percolating banjo riffs and Appalachian harmonies galore, “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” “Mystery Train,” and “Don’t Be Cruel” sound like a zingy cross between the Osborne Brothers and Ralph Stanley. Further the overdrive banjo substituting for electric guitar works just fine on remakes of “Little Sister” and “Jailhouse Rock.” Yet, Burnette too often eschews the brooding sexuality that distinguishes his best solo Rockabilly sides. Moreover, Camp hokes it up as if Presley’s greatest songs were somehow beneath his considerable interpretive talents. The result is a shallow novelty - clever, yet lacking any sense of personal conviction. Both men are capable of better. - Ken Burke


Roland Riedberger & Barbara Clifford

The Johnny Cash & June Carter Tribute Show / BLR-CD11


This CD came out to coincide with a US tour Mars Attacks lead singer Roland Riedberger and Honeybees cutie (lead singer & songwriter) Barbara Clifford and their bands went on this spring.  Roland’s singing is reminiscent of Cash’s but Barbara’s voice is rather angelic in contrast to June Carter’s. Nevertheless they manage to capture the spirit of those two soulmates with a engaging performance of these six songs, aptly backed by Swiss/Austrian combo Mars Attacks. The energetic “Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man” and Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” are fine renditions. Songstress Barbara is a terrific songwriter, contributing “Gotta Get” in a fast rumba-like beat, the cool rocker “Blaming You” and the great “I’m Sorry”. I love Barbara’s performance on the sweet traditional “Wildwood Flower” with just rhythm guitar, showcasing her outstanding vocal qualities, Nice little CD in an authentic Cash/Carter style. -GMB

Sin City Gamblers / Gambler’s Grave


My old pal Erik Mielzarek is back with a new group and CD. Well, the group may not be new, but I can’t recall reviewing them before. The CD opens with an instro tune, with kind of a futuristic Davey Allen sound. Beyond that the group’s sound is in the Psychobilly direction, especially noticeable in the title song and others like “Sin City”, “Hellride,” and Erik’s “Rockin’ In My Coffin,” an earlier version of which was track #13 on All American Hardcore Hillbillies – the CD that was my introduction to Erik’s music, and Gaby’s introduction to mine. “Pharoah’s In Space” is about an Egyptian Elvis, and in fact all 11 songs are Mielzarek’s, by Tat Mills, the bass player and backing singer, co-written by them, or by Erik and drummer Dustin Delage. “Gone Cat Gone” is a little more in the Neo-Rockabilly direction, and the final tune, “Out All Night” has kind of a Tom Waits cocktail lounge feel. SinCityGamblers.net –MB

Hillbilly Casino / Sucker Punched


Speaking of Psychobilly, Hillbilly Casino also leans into that direction, though it is  more a musical influence than the themes, except on “Voodoo Doll” and “Devil Comes To Town.” We didn’t get to hear them, but ran into Nic Roulette (formerly with the Blue Moon Boys) and Geoff Firebaugh (BR549, for a while) in Green Bay. Many of the tunes are co-written by Blue Moon Boys guitarist Kenny Taylor (I guess with Nick Roulette, if his last name is Abston – I see that name on the BMB CDs too), and all but one are original to the group. Nic told us Kenny is on the road with a Traditional Country artist, but I can’t remember who now. This four man group is augmented by Col. J.D. Wilkes on harmonica for a couple tunes, and there’s a piano and bari sax on one (Come ON Camille”, with a bit of Little Richard feel), a fiddle on another. Fast and hard is definitely the style. “Smashed Down Flat,” “PBR,” “Way Past Gone,” and “County Jail” are some title examples. “Sooner Than Today” is kind of similar to “Matchbox Blues.” The set ends on an acoustic tune with fiddle, which would give someone a fairly inaccurate picture of the band if played on the radio. On the other hand, it’s my favorite song on the CD. Thehillbillycasino.com -MB

Stressor / Russia’n’Roll / TCY006


Here’s an excellent Russian Rockabilly group that sings in their own language! No danger of us criticizing their pronunciations whatsoever! I can’t even comment on the lyrical content, for the same reason, but the sound is great. The band is very tight, and also includes instro music in the mix, the opening tune. They’ve written all 14 songs, and are a trio sound, with a vocalist making four guys. At the end is a bonus video which you can play on your computer. I enjoyed that – they have a different sort of vintage microphone than the Shure we see here so frequently. With the number of Russian immigrants we’ve had since the collapse of the Soviet system, there might well be a lot of folks right here in the U.S. who’d enjoy hearing Rockabilly in the Russian language. I can’t really tell you much about the titles, except a couple have English words in them, like “Siniy Shoes”, “Faktor Vizivaushiy Stress”, “Mentolovaia Baby” and “Rock’n’Roll Na Peremene.” They’re really good, and it’s nice to know that the scene in Russia is breeding great Rockabilly bands, even if the record label is actually Swiss. Just when I was thinking the songs were pretty original, I do hear one, “Oblaka”, which is apparently a translation of the Stones’ “Get Off Of My Cloud”, a song we did in my first band too. Tcy-records.com -MB

The Many Sides of The Flatfoot Shakers

RBR 5653


Australian Rockabilly quartet The Flatfoot Shakers have been active for a decade now, time for a “Best Of” album of sorts. Their first album on the Australian Preston Records in 1999 was issued on 10 inch vinyl, too. The CD “Shakin” was partly recorded at Tail Records in Sweden in 2000 and those five songs stand out a little due to their raw and somewhat lo-fi sound. There are another five songs from their latest offering “High Heeled Lovin’ Machine” from four years ago. The medium-paced bopper “No Turning Back” and the fast “Lone Gone” were taken from the Preston Rockabilly compilation. Totaling 18 tracks, all but one written by lead singer Kieron McDonald, this album never becomes boring or too repetitive. Straight authentic style Rockabilly, some boppin’ Hillbilly, a few strolls and more. It starts off strong with the fast bopper “My Little Baby”, followed by a cool stroll and the energetic rocker “Stutterin’ Cindy. Next up a haunting Western ballad, “Lonesome”. “”Gold Diggin’ Mama” has a raw Hillbilly Boogie sound and “The Love Bug” is reminiscent of Charlie Feathers hiccupping style. I love “Louisiana Mama”, a happy tune with piano. Lots of twang in the rock-a-ballad “Waiting For You”, “Be Boppin’ Baby” is a hard drivin’ bopper, “I Can’t Seem To Make It Real” has a great beat with twangy guitar work and a very early 60s feel a la Roy Orbison. There are lots of other cool boppers and rockers with the occasional Rock’n’Roll, Hillbilly and Western Swing and ballad thrown in. Fine CD. Rhythmbomb.com -GM

Tri Tip Trio / 3 of a Kind / Globe GLO – 034


Bruce Gordon, formerly with the Zydeco Flames, has resurfaced – as I knew he would, with a new CD. His trio features himself on accordion and piano, Flames’ player Lloyd Meadows on the rubboard, vocals and harp, and Tyler Eng on drums. The CD is a tribute to the great Clifton Chenier, though only 4 of the songs are Clifton’s. All of us playing this sort of music owe a debt to Clifton, and Bruce is one who has studied Chenier’s playing for a long time. The set also includes originals tunes, and familiar things like “Mardi Gras In New Orleans” (Prof. Longhair), “Got My Mojo Working” (Muddy Waters), “”Ya Ya” (Lee Dorsey), “Iko Iko” (Sugarboy Crawford), “”Oh What A Price” (Fats Domino) and “Jambalaya” (Hank Williams) in addition to Chenier’s “I’m Coming Home” and 3 others. They have a nice full sound, despite the lack of a guitar player, sax player or whatever else. I have noticed that in some of the Zydeco bands the guitar players aren’t used much other than on rhythm anyhow. They usually have strong bass players, though, and here we are relying on the left hand accordion parts. This’ll have you dancing just the same! Globerecords.com -MB

David Allan Coe + Cowboys From Hell (Pantera) / Rebel Meets Rebel / Big Vin Records


Somewhere along the line, David Allan Coe got to be friends with the Texas heavy metal band Pantera, and they decided to do some recording together. I’d heard rumors about this album for years, and now it’s finally been released. Coe wrote all the lyrics, and some of the songs (“Heartworn Highway”, “Cherokee Cry”, “Rebel Meets Rebel”) are just drippin’ with Coe’s old outlaw spirit – hard, rowdy, defiant. And any way you look at it “Cowboys Do More Dope (Than Rock ‘n’ Rollers)” is a pretty damn funny song.  But all the music is credited to Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, and it’s all real loud and real distorted. The band sounds like a deranged Jimmy Page havin’ a seizure while he’s jammin’ with Z.Z. Top on steroids, tryin’ like hell to out-do the loudest, drunkest, Southern rock band you’ve ever heard. (You sure don’t have to worry about Billy Sherrill sweetening up the music here.) Coe pretty much has to shout the whole way through, and sometimes his singin’ still gets lost in the mix. The band might be pretty good at what they do – it just ain’t my ears that they’re aimin’ at. But my 25-year old son really likes this side of Coe and company, but then again, my son really likes sniffin’ paint thinner fumes, too. Now, I’m not sayin’ that you’ve got to be a drugged-out, brain-damaged dude in your twenties to fully appreciate this album – but it would probably help. Now, like I said, there’s some really fine lyrics buried in there, but mentally it’s too much work for me to sift through all the noise to get to the meat of the songs. Then again, there’s a couple or three songs where I’m gonna have to learn the lyrics, just so I can work out my own outlaw Country arrangements of them. … Hmmm… I guess that’ll make me a modern-day version of Pat Boone doin’ Little Richard. -Hey Marc, got any white buck shoes? -© 2007 Billy Tom Hogg

Johnny Bush and Justin Trevino

Texas On A Saturday Night

Heart of Texas Records HORT 121


Lone Star legend Johnny Bush and his ex-front man/bass player Justin Trevino open up their first album together by singin’ “There’s nothin’ quite like Texas on a Saturday Night.” Well, I can believe that, and they sound like thery’e having so much fun that I damn sure wish I was there with them. But that’s the last happy song you’re going to get ‘til the album’s last cut. What you get in between are some flat-out classic hurtin’ songs, with most of them bein’ of the she-left-me-so-now-I’m-a-miserable-drunk variety. They also throw in a lets-feel-sorry-for-the-lonesome-honky-tonk-bad-girl  song, for good measure. All of them damn fine songs – most written by the masters: Haggard, Willie, Hank Cochran, Buck Owens, Harlan Howard, Bill Anderson, a couple by Bush and one from Trevino. This just might be the ultimate cryin’ in your beer collection. But since we’re talkin’ Texas – it’s cryin’ in your beer while you’re dancin’.

Now these are not George Jones – Billy Sherrill style sweeping production number melodramas. These are short down and dirty little bitty barroom band numbers – just the kind of Honky Tonk dance hall stuff Johnny Bush has been doing for over 50 years. And every one of ‘em is a duet. Now I’ve been listenin’ to just about everything that Justin Trevino’s put out since he started makin’ records, and this is, by far, the most relaxed his singin’s ever been – sounds pretty much like a young Johnny Bush. You see, Trevino’s still on the young side, while Bush’s voice lets you know he’s seen it all, done it all, felt it all, and lived it hard enough to sing about it. Their voices fit together like whiskey and water.

(More Johnny Bush & Justin Trevino)

Everything on this album sounds just right – but that’s what you expect ‘cause Justin Trevino produced it, and, for my money, he’s THE best producer workin’ today when it comes to no-frills Honky Tonk. He’s also playin’ lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and 6 string bass. (what a man!) Of course, if it comes from Heart of Texas Records, they’re gonna have about the best sidemen that can still remember how to play real Country music. As always, my hat’s off to Bobby Flores – the most expressive fiddler in the business. And Floyd Domino sits in to do a little piano plunkin’. But it’s Jake Hooker on upright bass, holdin’ it all together, song after song, with his rock steady Thunka-Thunka shuffle beat. He’s so good you probably wouldn’t even need a drummer, but Jim Loessberg is a perfect fit on drums. And on steel guitar, they split it up between Ralph Mooney (who’s played with everybody from the Bakersfield boys to Ol’ Waylon) and Dickey Overbey (from the label’s own house band). But it’s Johnny Cox’s steel stealin’ the show and closin’ out the album with a kickin’ version of Haggard’s ”Swingin’ Doors”(with Cox’s steel even bringin’ back memories of Roy Nichols’ Telecaster).This song is a text book example of how fiddle, steel, and lead guitar should alternate their solos and their fills, without steppin’ on each other and without playin’ too big for the song.

The only downside: the album’s way too short – these 15 songs fly by in less than 42 minutes. Hell, I could listen to these guys all night. Anyway, Texas On A Saturday Night just might be the Countriest album this side of Ernest Tubb. …You want the real thing – check this one out... And tell ‘em Ol’ Billy Tom sent you. Heart of Texas Records, 1701 South Bridge St., Brady, Texas 76825 -© 2007 Billy Tom Hogg

There you have a batch of current reviews that we weren't able to fit innto the Fall 2007 issue of Blue Suede News! Below are some reviews from earlier issues, and a few of Dennis DeWitt's Tidbits from his long running column (issues 27 - 55 - originally called "Have You Heard The News?" NOW retring to our pages as of issue #83)

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Geoff Muldaur / the Secret Handshake / Hightone HCD 8097

Geoff Muldaur has long been one of my greatest musical heroes and inspirations. He may have been the first to prove to me that a white boy could have soul. Or was it Roy Head, Elvis, Roy Orbison...? Anyhow, it was a big thrill to open a package and find myself holding his newest CD. Geoff was the most dynamic and soulful element of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, and made some acoustic blues recordings on his own in the '60s. Although his recorded efforts have been more sparse in recent years (unless there are some I don't know about), they've all been worthy of a listen. This time out Geoff has collected a batch of classic blues together with a couple originals, and rendered them lovingly, together with various helpers, including longtime cohort Amos Garrett, Stephen Bruton, John Magnie, Hal Ketchum, and several others. From the opening tune (Vera Hall's "The Wild Ox Moan") with it's soulful blues yodel, through Lead Belly's "Alberta", with Magnie's accordion and a reprise of his version of "Chevrolet" (also recorded with Kweskin as a duet with his now ex-wife Maria, and later on the Flying Fish album Blues Boy) - complete with an interlude of Don Pullen's "Big Alice", and on to the New Orleans funeral piece "Just A Little While To Stay Here", the whole work is a magical offering on the altar of the blues. He's still one of my favorites. And Dylan's remark in the promo pack that he's "The female Carolyn Hester" is an intriguing inside reference, too. Perhaps she was accused of being "the female Geoff Muldaur" way back when. The notes, both by Mary Katherine Aldin and Geoff, are the frosting on the cake. -MB

  James Harman / Takin' Chances / Cannonball Records CBD 29107

Although they didn't send me any booklet or notes with this CD, I don't need any more words on it than "James Harman" to know it's gonna be somewhere between really good and truly great. This one, with an ongoing theme of gambling, is at the latter end of the spectrum. Harman just seems to have an unending fount of great tunes, all different, with great grooves to them, coupled with the best possible taste in how to present the music. Some writers complained when he departed slightly from his patented '50s sound for one CD, but it was a real good record, too. This one's a great one, guaranteed to please. Anyone who's heard this guy has to know he's one of the best! -MB

Flattop Tom & His Jump Cats / Swing Dance Party / Palamar Records PR6178

Here are Flattop Tom & His Jump Cats again with their gutsy Swing. Serious fun for dancers (well, Tom is a swing dancer himself and knows how to please a dance crowd) and Jump Blues fans alike. They've been around for six years now and this is their third CD release. Packed with 17 songs we get to hear a few classics, among them Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88" (some say that's when R&B became Rock'n'Roll!) and another of my all time favorites of that genre, the dynamic "Don't Let Go". Flattop Tom (Hall) himself is in charge of 10 songs - perfect examples of their very bluesy west coast swing style. And he plays harmonica as well (on most of the tracks), and this alone sets him apart from most competitors in the swing scene with bands who just got started in the last two or three years who present a more modern and rocking swing. Don't get me wrong, Flattop Tom and his L.A. based band rocks, too, but in a very bluesy way with an R&B horn section, bluesy guitar, piano, harp etc. I especially love their groovy mambos "Jump Cat Mambo" and "Left Coast Carl's BBQ". This is the right CD for Jump Blues fans. See the ad. -GM

The Falcons / Queen Of Diamonds / Falcon Beach Music FBM 981

This new CD of Ventures inspired instro rock features a great knock-off of one of the Ventures LP covers (the one where the four guys are falling all over each other with their instruments behind a nice looking woman), and a bunch of fine original tunes, including two bonus tracks that feature Ventures lead guitarist Nokie Edwards on them. The Falcons are a Canadian group, and have released a cassette and a 6 song CDbefore, also performing at Pipeline Magazine's annual Rock Instrumental convention in 1995. The 14 tracks here should convince any and all of both their sincerity and their talent with instrumental rock'n'roll music. Falcon Beach Music, 35-2137 W. 1st Ave., Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6K 1E7. See their ad. -MB

 NRBQ / You Gotta Be Loose / Rounder CD 3148

NRBQ may be America's best bar band. They are tight, sound like they still love to play and they appear to have as much fun on the CD as they do in concert. This set of sixteen tunes which makes up You Gotta Be Loose suggests how tight the band has remained over the years. It is as songwriters, as well as musicians, that NRBQ excels. Johnny Spampinato's "Be Here Now" and Terry Adams' "Girl Scout Cookies," "Wacky Tobacky," "Out of Windo," "Over Your Head" and "Time To Put That Guitar Down" are examples of a band that has played so long together that songwriting and performing meld into musical perfection. With Adams and the Spampinato brothers sharing the vocals, NRBQ continues to turn out a brand of rock and roll that has everyone dancing in the aisles. You Gotta Be Loose continues NRBQ's tradition of sounding like they love to make original music. -Howard A. DeWitt

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Tidbit Jukebox

by Dennis DeWitt
(this feature began as "Have you heard the news?" and ran from issues 27 to 55 - it has returned in issue #83!!!)

· What was the first country tune played on the radio's Lucky Strike Hit Parade? The song was "There's A Star Spangled Banner Somewhere" written by the state of Maine's Paul Roberts circa 1940's.

· First time the term honky-tonk was used in a country western song title?Try Al Dexter's "Honky-Tonk Blues" in 1936.

· Before MTV and VH1 there was the Midnight Special every Friday night. The first Midnight Special was Feb.2, 1973, had Helen Reddy as the host and musical guests like Ike and Tina Turner, Don McLean, Curtis Mayfield, Rare Earth. The last Midnight Special was hosted by Skip Stephenson? on March 27, 1981, with guests Waylon Jennings, Creedence Clearwater Revival (isn't this a few years after they broke up? -ed) - and all this after 400 episodes and nine years on the tube - not a bad ride.

· Richard Berry of "Louie-Louie" fame had a wife who was a Raylette with the Ray Charles show.

· File this next one under - Lord, help us all for we have sinned - like bigtime! Here goes, the first 45rpm to go platinum for sales. "Disco Lady" in 1976 by Johnny Taylor. Now the good news - platinum singles were not issued until 1976.

 · The great Doo-Wop group Sonny Till and the Orioles appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts in the 1950's and lost! A juggling dog or something like that won that week's contest.(unreal).

· Many music people consider the Carter Family recordings from Bristol, Tennessee in 1928 to be the start of recorded country music, but it really was a cowboy from Texas named Eck Robertson in 1922 for the new Victor label.

· Fats Domino's last hit record? (recorded alone). Here's a surprise, in 1981 Fats had his last hit record entitled "Whiskey Heaven" number 51 0n the country charts. (He charted again in Germany due to a TV comercial for an oil company with "I'm Walking" in the early 90's! - GM)

· Even better how about "Truck Driving man" - Dave Dudley's last country hit? The song was "Rolaids, Doans Pills And Preparation H" in 1980 on the Sun Records label out of Nashville and run by the guy who purchased Sun records from Sam Phillips - former employee Shelby Singleton. I'm not making this one up - I swear!

· Naomi Judd had an acting part in the George Lucas movie "More American Graffiti".

· The shortest hit top 40 vocal record? "Bluebirds Over The Mountain" by Ersel Hickey in 1958 at 1 minute and 27 seconds - the instrumental record is held by a Duane Eddy tune "Earthquick" at one minute and 17 seconds.

 · Billy Fury and Cliff Richard were the best British rockabillies from the 1950's, but only Cliff Richard came to the United States to tour. In September of 1962 , Cliff and his band the Shadows appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show - their first time on American television and you guessed it! No cigar. When the Beatles hit on Ed Sullivan only 14 months later Cliff Richard was quickly forgotten - too bad . The rockabilly of Cliff Richards from 1958-63 is still the best British rockabilly ever recorded on this planet and has held up and passed the test of time. When was the last time you played your Beatles records?

· The first black women to publish a gospel song? Lucie Campbell of Memphis, Tennessee in 1920.

· The first song the Beatles ever sang live on stage in America? On Feb.11, 1964 the Beatles played Washington D.C. and the first song was not even one of their own! The first tune that fateful day was "Twist and Shout". Now anybody care?

· When Hee-Haw comedian String Bean was murdered at his home in 1973 it was Grandpa Jones who found the body the next day.

· Who was the first singing cowboy elected to the country music hall of fame? Tex Ritter in 1964.

· 70's retro-rocker Dwight Twilly's first band? An acoustic duo with Phil Seymore called Oister in 1967.

· British invasion group The Walker Brothers, who were really from America, had singer Scott Engel. Engel was the original bass guitar player in the Routers. This band had a Top 20 1962 instrumental hit - "Let's Go" - small world.

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