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Bop-A-Rama Vol.2

Various Artists

Atomicat

Last in the pecking order, but by no means less inferior to its two predecessors, the current trilogy of albums with nothing but dancing on their minds features final volume (for now) ‘Bop-A-Rama’. Wrapped inside a trifold digipak are the contents containing tracks to please any boppers out there whether it’s rockabilly, rhythm and blues or rock ‘n’ roll, there’s plenty here to maintain any rhythm. Mark Armstrong has provided an admiral job in stitching the tracks together and making a coherent whole, and with superb design coming from the creative hands of Henrique San, this album, like its partners, are true works of joy! Unravelling those contents, the first “fire in the hole” comes from Dale Hawkins and, appropriately, ‘Tornado’. From this gust of wind comes another in ‘Rhythm In My Bones’ by Danny Diamonds and The Rubies, who quite frankly sounds like a man living on the edge given the jittery nature of his vocals. Tommy Cassel maintains the driving rhythm and sounds like a true cool kat during rockabilly number ‘Go Ahead On’, and then followed with Al Reed and The Blue Notes picking up the baton and sustaining the energy with a blast of rock ‘n’ roll ‘I Love Her So’. The tempo takes a different turn with examples of country bop from Ben Hall and The Circle 4 Ramblers ‘Blue Days – Black Nights’, and some bluegrass from Flatt & Scruggs with ‘Six White Horses’. The inclusion of some not so familiar in these parts as the curious name badge that is Lucky Plank with primitive rockabilly ‘Hey Hey Baby’, and a true ramshackle delight in ‘Rock The Blues Away’ by Jack and The Knights. Add to the list of bands two more recent faces in much missed Carolina and Her Rhythm Rockets and, providing the last track of the album, Frantic Rockers, then you have another consistently good album of boppers that will keep the feet moving until the next volume.


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Stroll-A-Rama Vol.2

Various Artists

Atomicat

Adding to the already issued ‘Jive-A-Rama’ is the second volume in this second phase of CDs featuring tracks with specific dances in mind, and namely jive, stroll and bop. This latest album focuses on the stroll and therefore appropriately titled ‘Stroll-A-Rama’. A DeeJay’s delight (Mark Armstrong in this case) is the likely conclusion once eyes have been cast over the album’s track list because it contains some big hitters and, as per norm with these albums, plenty of the less familiar names. Starting with the rock ‘n’ roll of Bob Vidone and The Rhythm Rockers’ ‘Going My Way’ and continuing with some rhythm and blues with The Velvetones’ ‘Penalty Of Love’, the tracks soon make their mark on the senses and immediately suggest this is an album not simply confined to the dancehalls because it’s easily at home with those content on listening only. Again, top marks go to compiler Mark Armstrong for the selection of songs because there is variety and much to choose from. Believe it or not, there’s an early Scott Walker composition, but written under real name Scott Engel and fronted by The Playboys with instrumental surf and early garage rock, ‘Jungle Fever’. Excellent choices continue in the guise of Jack Scott and song ‘One Of These Days’, to Vince Taylor and proof there was life outside of ‘Brand New Cadillac’ with track chosen ‘What ‘Cha Gonna Do’. There’s room for some female rockers as well with obvious candidate Wanda Jackson (‘Cool Love’) and less obvious Judy Harriet with Hall Daniel’s Orchestra (‘Goliath’). The Crickets version of ‘Ting-A-Ling’ possesses a raw edge and is rhythmically tight and therefore portraying the emotions of the song perfectly. Closing the album are two (whisper it) modern revival bands, and two favourites here with The Round Up Boys and Vince and The Sun Boppers stepping back in time and certainly at home in that 50s era. ‘Stroll-A-Rama Vol.2’ is quite simply perfect!


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Popcorn Story Vol.2

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Recognised very much by its tempo, the popcorn genre is given fresh coverage once again by way of Koko Mojo Records. More specifically, the Mojo Man is the man responsible for selecting the tracks for the second album namely ‘Popcorn Story Vol.2’. With the idea of producing a “classic” popcorn series for the above mentioned record label, having issued the first album with plenty of well-known artists offering their songs to said genre of music, Volume two repeats this with an assortment of established singers and musicians who made a serious impact on the world of music during the 50s and 60s. Considering the genre of popcorn was born in Belgium and named after a dancehall in the same country, word of this slow to midtempo style and often in a minor key started to spread and eventually reached other countries. Despite its increasing popularity, the genre continues to have the feel of an underground interest when in comparison with other genres and scenes of music. That said, and the reason why we are here, ‘Popcorn Story Vol.2’ certainly made an impact given the number of bigger names who turned their attention to this genre. For example, Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five and classic ‘Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t (Ma Baby)’ starts the album and continues with early soul of Baby Washington and ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, Ray Rivera and hit ‘Troubles, Troubles’, Charlie Rich with ‘Let Me Go My Merry Way’, and Jimmy Randolph’s ‘Summertime’. As with the previous album, the songs and song titles often hint at, or directly refer to melancholy brought on by far from straightforward love interests. It all makes for dramatic listening and with the additional influences whether rhythm and blues, early soul and/or pop references, then the genre of popcorn remains a fascinating genre of music and rightly given the attention here by the Mojo Man.


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Popcorn Story Vol.1

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

New start-up for the Mojo Man with album series Popcorn Vol.1. Having issued previous album series ‘Popcorn Blues Party’, these new CDs aim to add a bit more regarding the history of the popcorn genre and Koko Mojo’s story so far. What began in Belgium at the end of the 60s and referring to a style of music and form of dancing, the genre known as Popcorn received its name from a dancehall called, you guessed it, Popcorn. Recognisable for its melodic and often slow or midtempo beats and taking its references from rhythm and blues from the 50s and mid-60s, not to mention further influences consisting of soul, funk and instrumental tunes. Eventually morphing into a albeit slightly larger scene in various other countries, the Popcorn genre developed in popularity but has consistently remained something of an underground scene. Reviving memories of this genre then, the Mojo Man selects a total of twenty-eight tracks, and this time aiming for a “classic” feel which is recognisable from the established names from these periods in music’s history. Therefore, it is interesting to see a few bigger names offering their wares to the genre of popcorn and often coming up trumps. For example, Little Willie John begins the album by offering a version of classic song ‘Fever’, and then followed (interestingly) by Tennessee Ernie Ford and ‘Sixteen Tons’; a song easily set to repeat given its charismatic storytelling. From there J.J. Jones And Combo equally retain the interest with ‘Harlem Nocturne’, which flits between the slow to midtempo rhythms associated with the popcorn genre. Etta James appears with her customary effortless vocals such was her talents and accompanied by sweeping orchestral strings and 60s-styling backing vocals during excellent ‘Seven Day Fool’. With Barry White And The Atlantics also appearing with ‘Tracy (All I Have Is You)’, Perry Como and song ‘Glendora’, to Roy Hamilton and ‘Earthquake’, the songs really ache with emotion and will leave the listener craving more once that final track plays out during ‘Popcorn Story Vol.1’.


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Rock And Roll Floozy 5

Various Artists

Atomicat

Final addition to what has been a highly riveting series of albums loaded with many rough ‘n’ ready tunes, as well as more of a steadier tempo from the (so-called) wrong end of town. Five albums in total then, and with the previous volume being absolutely worth its weight in gold, the anticipation has been high in the FLW office. Getting off to a more than satisfactory start, the new album kickstarts the engine and allows for all hell to break loose via three scorchers and beginning with Carl Phillips’ ‘Wigwam Willie’, The Rock-A-Teens ‘Doggone It Baby’, and a little less known ditty here via Morty Marker and The Impalas ‘Tear Down The House’. Keen therefore to investigate further, the rest of the contents of ‘Rock And Roll Floozy 5′ does not disappoint, with the environment remaining familiar and represented in equally raucous fashion. What remains highly appealing are the number of musicians featured who rarely turn up on other similar compilation albums and again, it’s not simply aiming for the obscure artist and track here for the sake of it because the quality is extremely high. Look no further than excellent rockin’ tracks from Kenny Owen and appropriately fitting song title for this album series ‘I Got The Bug’, to Jack Bailey & The Naturals ‘Oh What Love Is’, The White Caps ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Saddles’, Wally Lewis ‘Lover Boy’, and Joey Du’ Ambra and His Mellow D’s ‘Come Back A-Little Baby’. It’s nearly endless and a collector’s treasure trove so to speak. Add to the album’s track list alternate versions of ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ from Gary Criss, and The Chavis Brothers ‘Slippin’ An Slidin”, and you are left with an outstanding collection of rockin’ songs.  Of course, tempos vary and bearing in mind these albums have the bop, jive and stroll crowds in mind, so there’s something for everyone. If these sounds are a true representation of the wrong end of town, then all hail a taxi right now and ask to be taken to destination ‘Rock And Roll Floozy’ because there’s no other place to be, given that the music is this good!


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Rock And Roll Floozy 4

Various Artists

Atomicat

An album series residing on the wrong side of the tracks, but such an existence is to its advantage because such conditions help fuel the raw edges of much of the music selected for this latest collection of rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly. Given the title ‘Rock And Roll Floozy – Dangerous Redhead’, the fourth album is rich in tracks consisting of wild and edgy moments, but it also remains balanced with other songs eager to please those more content with something a little less energetic given that the intentions of the album series are set to appeal to several different dance styles. That said, there is much energy to wring from this musical tank and comes by way of Drifting Charles’ ‘Evil Hearted Woman’, which earns extra points for some terrific razor-sharp guitar, then proceeding with equally efficient guitar and additional handclaps from Al Jones’ ‘Loretta’. A version of ‘Ubangi Stomp’ makes an appearance and this time it’s The Velaires who give their interpretation, which is reminiscent of The Everly Brothers to be honest. It certainly rocks, but not on a par with Warren Smith for example. Still, interesting to opt for the less obvious inclusion given the several different versions of said song available. Other places at the rockin’ joint known as ‘Rock And Roll Floozy’ you will hear changes in tempos as demonstrated by Lee Emerson enthusing over ‘What A Night’, and Otto Bash offering a calmer tune in ‘My Babe’. The title track is given to Jerry Raines who has a touch of “attitude” in his vocals, and by no means contrived, and the music pulls you towards its centre via its shuffling, rockin’ rhythm and additional brass, which leads one to holler, “ACE!”. Given that we haven’t touched on the jittery and raw rockabilly of Jet Powers, the more restrained yet highly effective Dick Penner (‘Cindy Lou’), not forgetting the feel-good rockin’ sounds of George Fleming with ‘The Shake’, there’s so much to consume that you’ll need to conserve your energy in order to meet the finishing line. That will be difficult, given this collection lives up to its motto, “All Hit, no filler”.


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Rock And Roll Floozy 3

Various Artists

Atomicat

Cutting something of a mysterious figure from his base in El Paso, Texas, is the man responsible for the music making up the third album in the series ‘Rock And Roll Floozy’. With no real details to go from, the compiler known as Marcus Juárez quietly goes about his business with some added assistance from DeeJay Mark Armstrong (Atomicat) to help bring these albums to life. Packed full of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll delights, and likely to be heard blaring from the local bar from a seedier end of town, these rock ‘n’ rollers feature many names and tracks less heard of when it comes to other albums of a similar build. Yes, much to enthuse over therefore, and boy do these tracks rock in the styles of jive, bop and stroll. For immediate satisfaction, then Billy Barnette and The Searchers with ‘Stomp, Shake And Twist’ is the kind of track to not only get this party started, but also provide the very definition of the wild rockin’ sounds that captures all three categories of bop, jive and stroll in one single track. It’s an electrifying start and one that continues to roll along similar lines with Jerry Fuller ‘I’ve Found A New Love’, The Coachmen ‘Merrianne’, and John & Jackie with ‘Raging Sea’. Other notable tracks include Link Wray and The Wraymen with additional vocals during ‘Mary Ann’, to a terrific performance from Jackie Cannon during ‘Proof Of Your Love’ for simply sounding nonchalant throughout. Further rockin’ nuggets chosen for their curious values as well come from Ronnie Summers ‘Lonesome Road’ with traces of Roy Orbison in his voice, to Chuck Howard sounding like a man devoid of any luck as ‘Out Of Gas’ suggests. With Bob Miller providing an excellent impression of Jerry Lee Lewis with ‘Great Balls Of Fire’, then really, what more could you demand of such a collection as ‘Rock And Roll Floozy 3’ because it delivers one great GREASY racket of rockin’ goodness (i.e. badness).


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Rock And Roll Vixens #7

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

If memory serves correct, then latest volume in the series ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #7’ is the final chapter. Presenting another twenty-five tracks of “golden era” blues, rhythm and blues, vocal group harmonies and a smattering of early soul from a whole list of Afro-American girl singers of the 50s and early 60s, ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #7’ begins with a belter from Marie Knight and ‘I Thought I Told You’. From this forceful entrance, the music continues to captivate the senses and best examples of this coming from Ella Johnson’s persuasive vocals, given added umph by the big band accompaniment during ‘Well Do It’, followed by several lively rhythms powering the likes of ‘You Shocked Me’ (Tiny Topsy), ‘Teen-Age Love’ (Miss La-Vell), and ‘I Was A Fool For Leaving’ (Vikki Nelson), suggesting that album #7 in this series is perhaps the most dynamic yet. Further evidence of this comes from Etta James and accompanying musicians during excellent ‘That’s All’, where her vocals alone steer this song to greatness, despite terrific support from the lively rhythm section. As with previous albums in the ‘Rock And Roll Vixens’ series, there’s the additional inclusion of a “surprise” track, if you will, and this honour goes to Bonita & The Blues Shacks’ ‘Momma’s Goin’ Dancin’’ with no indication whatsoever of any modern influences, and with special mention going to the electrifying guitar playing! End of an album series which has given a much-needed voice to many Afro-American female performers of the 50s and 60s who, judging by the evidence of these seven albums, thoroughly deserve all the praise and respect many of their male counterparts received during this “golden era” of music.


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Little Bitty Girl

Various Artists

Pan American

Landing in the mail and emitting a golden ray of light from the envelope, is the latest album from Pan American featuring an assortment of rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly tracks by artists who rarely got a look in first time around. Boasting twenty-six songs, ‘Little Bitty Girl’ is a rollercoaster ride of emotions where love seems to be more on the downside rather than shooting for the stars. The music is certainly red hot and of a curious nature with plenty of echo effect via the likes of John Worthan ‘Too, Too Many’; Paul Wheatley ‘I’m Not Movin’’, and instantly likeable due to its strong introduction via the vocals, ‘Please Have Mercy’ by Jimmy Dane And His Great Danes. There’s rockabilly gold from Al Ferrier With The Boppin’ Billies and song ‘No No Baby’. More superb, archived material comes from Rick Rickels And His Wild Guitar and ‘You Gonna Go Away’, which sounds like it was recorded in his front living room given the sound quality.  From two such highlights, ‘Little Bitty Girl’ never ceases to impress as other highlights include the wild rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Yea! Yea! Come Another Day’ from Tony Casanova, then slightly tamer, yet rockin’ nonetheless with plenty of detail it has to be said of ‘Let’s Do It’ by Lawrence Flippo. Another highly commendable album from the Pan American stable with enough rockin’ delights from a whole list of less familiar names to please those listeners seeking an album with something else.


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The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll: Commandment 8

Various Artists

Atomicat

Time flies so quickly, especially when you’re having fun. Such a thought applies to the series ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’ because it seems only a few weeks ago that the first “commandment” was released by Atomicat when, in reality, it was much longer. That is the beauty of such album series, especially when the compiler (Mark Armstrong in this instance) gets it right because the music to date has been exhilarating and, on multiple occasions, informative given the lesser-known artists featuring. So, with time flying fast therefore, and considering the current destination finds the listener at “Commandment 8”, the theme given to this latest album is not such an enjoyable subject if you happen to be the victim of such a dastardly act. Yes, folks the notion or actual act of cheating or, to be more precise, “adultery” is at the centre of current album ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’. Fear not because as with previous volumes, the blend of rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly and traditional rhythm and blues pep up the spirits no matter how dour those words become concerning any love that has turned sour. Step forward then Charles Glass with Orchestra and dramatically titled ‘Screamin’ And Dyin’ (And Rollin’ On The Floor)’; a song packed with a passionate punch lyrically whereby it takes no prisoners, and musically given its equally punchy rhythm. That said, there’s the briefest suggestion that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously with the vocals nearly breaking into a full-blown cackle on one occasion, and later still the realisation that the protagonist’s whiskey reserved for that nightcap has nearly gone! Sweet revenge no doubt executed with Charles Glass and Company packing up their rhythm and blues and exiting out the door to seek happier times. Oh, and the rest of the contents of this album? Well, after the essay that could have been written on ‘Screamin’ And Dyin’…’, suffice to say that rest of the contents live up to this sublime opener and therefore maintaining the grade A status of this series. Enough said.


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The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll: Commandment 7

Various Artists

Atomicat

Another album series from the stable of Atomicat which has been consistently good, great, MAGNIFICENT (Take your pick!), is ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’. With ten albums scheduled, we find ourselves at album number seven or more specifically, ‘Commandment 7’. Filled with a blend of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues, these songs aim to provide the feelings associated with every album title. This time around, ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll – Commandment 7’ is all about understanding, or a lack of it, as it reads “Be Empathic She’s A Flirt”. Tongue planted firmly in cheek of course, this latest album provides more lows as far as success in relationships go, but no matter as the tracks selected are red-hot! The task of compiling these albums goes to DeeJay Mark Armstrong who does his homework with no stone left unturned by bringing for your listening pleasure an assortment of rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, doo wop and rhythm and blues delights. There is the most direct connection to the album title from Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps and ‘You Told A Fib’, and Jerry Lee Lewis adds more weight to the accusation with his usual charismatic and wild nature of communicating a song via ‘Mean Woman Blues’. That said, Wanda Jackson throws one back for the female contingent and equal match in the charisma stakes with rockin’ tough, ‘Mean, Mean Man’. It’s not all about the usual suspects with these collections as Jim Wilson with The Flares comes alive with fine rockabilly number ‘Have A Tear On Me’, and fresh to these ears Steve Schickel with rock ‘n’ roll ‘Don’t Lie’. There’s rhythm and blues with Roy Brown and His Mighty Men ‘I’ve Got The Last Laugh Now’, The Checkers ‘You Never Had It So Good’, and The Ravens featuring Jimmy Ricks and song ‘Bye Bye Baby Blues’. With an even balance when it comes to men and women in terms of relationship blues and plenty of rockin’ tracks to whet your appetite, “Commandment 7” is one of this series best yet.


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Spotlight On Frankie Lymon & Lewis Lymon – The Harlem Hotshots

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

An important part of the fabric of music’s historical past is honoured by Koko Mojo Records and latest instalment in the label’s “Spotlight” series. New album ‘Spotlight On Frankie Lymon & Lewis Lymon – The Harlem Hotshots’ features the brothers Frankie and Lewis Lymon who were considered by many as one of the early stars of doo-wop music. Boasting a track list of twenty-eight songs, the tracks selected for this compilation of the singing duo’s works features Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, Lewis Lymon and The Teenchords, and additional solo material from Frankie Lymon. With both Lymon siblings considered equal in the vocals department, it was Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers who experienced greater success, internationally, and thus becoming famous as a result of this appreciation, compared to Lewis Lymon and The Teenchords recognition mainly stemming from New York City. Any differences in terms of credit received have no bearing on the talents of both singers as the album, ‘Spotlight On Frankie Lymon & Lewis Lymon – The Harlem Hotshots’, displays a number of the brothers songs dating from 1956 and concluding in 1961. Beginning with the instantly recognisable and smash hit ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love’ from Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers and continuing with another six songs of the same line-up and with pick of the bunch going to ‘Who Can Explain’ and ‘The ABC’s Of Love’ where you can really understand how much Frankie’s vocal equalled the momentum of the instruments (Listen out for some great saxophone here!). The song ‘I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent’ must have been a reaction of the times considering the hysteria Elvis was experiencing and those less in favour of the developing rock ‘n’ roll culture with Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers protesting their innocence. Either way, it’s a journalist’s dream song because of its sociological references and fit for an interview if only the clock could be turned back. Other coverage is given to Lewis Lymon and The Teenchords where you can hear there’s less “sweetness” to the vocals and a bit more organic in its presentation with two belters in ‘Your Last Chance’ and ‘I’m Not Too Young To Fall In Love’. There is much to write about the collection ‘Spotlight On Frankie Lymon & Lewis Lymon – The Harlem Hotshots’ and not enough space to cover everything. Simply put, buy this compilation to experience the magic yourself.



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