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The Johnny And Dorsey Burnette Song Book

Johnny And Dorsey Burnette

Atomicat

A surprising absence until now of an appreciation of the rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll legends that were the Burnette brothers – Johnny and Dorsey – on the Atomicat label. Arriving in style via colourful and stylised artwork and housed in a threefold digipak complete with liner notes from the pen of Dee Jay Mark Armstrong, the “Song Book” in question here is not so much about what the Burnette brothers achieved when powering away as the Rock ‘N’ Roll Trio more that this collection of songs concerns their song writing skills and those numbers bequeathed to others. Whether contributing songs to other artists as a song writing duo or operating alone or with an additional writer, Johnny and Dorsey notched up an incredible number of songs with many included here. Naturally beginning with a joint Johnny & Dorsey Burnette composition ‘Kiss Me Sweet’, the rest is left to Johnny Garner to provide some fine rock ‘n’ roll. Equally convincing and another joint effort from the Burnette’s is Myron Lee’s take on ‘School’s Out’ where his vocal impresses greatly, in addition to a compelling rockin’ guitar break. The inclusion of Ricky (Rick) Nelson appearing on three occasions via the tail end of the 50’s duo ‘Don’t Leave Me’ and ‘One Of These Mornings’, to 60s era ‘Gypsy Woman’ sees Dorsey Burnette along with Joe Osborn responsible for song writing duties, with Dorsey going alone for ‘One Of These Mornings’, and in the first instance a Johnny Burnette solo effort. In fact, perusing down the track list for this current album is testament to the song writing skills of Johnny & Dorsey because many established artists of the periods in focus included Bob Luman, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Frankie Lymon and Roy Brown all of whom applied their talents to recognised quality when they saw it. Leaving the finale to a momentary flurry of the Burnette brothers in action really was the right decision considering the glut of compilation albums available featuring their own music. Truly an album for all supporters of the greatest duo (trio) from the era of rockabilly and early rock ‘n’ roll simply for assuming a different angle to present their sublime song writing skills.


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Spotlight On Clyde McPhatter – The Voice Of R&B

Clyde McPhatter

Koko Mojo

Updating their series of albums focusing on artists who made a serious impact in terms of their music is Koko Mojo’s latest featuring the singing talent and rhythm and blues artist that was Clyde McPhatter. The album ‘Spotlight On Clyde McPhatter – The Voice Of R&B’ contains thirty-two tracks from the 50s and early 60s and work from record labels of Atlantic, Federal, MGM and Mercury. The beginning of this compilation features Clyde McPhatter during stints with The Dominoes and The Drifters and therefore shining a light on his involvement within a group setting and providing further evidence of his work. The solo tracks, however, arrive thick and fast starting with ‘Such A Night’ before hopping over a couple of Drifters’ numbers (‘Honey Love’ and ‘Bip Bam’) and landing on another solo excursion ‘Hot Ziggity’ and then ‘What ‘Cha Gonna Do’ with The Drifters once more, before going it alone for the rest of this album. Gifted with a “high tenor vocal” and inducted on two occasions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, first as a solo artist (1987) and a year later as a member of The Drifters. Such was McPhatter’s impact on the American public and recognition for his musical exploits that the United States Postal Service bestowed him the honour of his own official stamp in 1993. Easy to see why once the tracks contained within ‘Spotlight On Clyde McPhatter – The Voice Of R&B’ get underway from rockin’ ‘I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday’, Ray Charles’ classic ‘What’d I Say’, and another group who also made the song famous ‘Honey Hush’. There’s plenty here to keep the listener entertained, especially the wonderful voice that was Clyde McPhatter.


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The Many Sides Of Buck Owens – Right After The Dance

Buck Owens

Atomicat

The timing seems to be right for an appreciation of country music artist Buck Owens. Boasting thirty tracks to get its message across just how good Buck Owens was, ‘The Many Sides Of Buck Owens – Right After The Dance’ shows how versatile he could be as well. Examples of his song writing prowess can be associated with a brief flurry with rockabilly, serving as a session musician, providing songs for other performers, and not forgetting being a part of the now famous Bakersfield Sound. Beginning with eighteen tracks solely associated with Buck Owens, and the rest of this album being divided into a compilation of artists who’ve either been influenced and/or associated with Buck Owens or performing one of his own songs. It makes for an interesting listen, especially first song from Buck Owen’s alter ego Corky Jones and rockabilly ‘Hot Dog’ displaying much energy, only to be surpassed by more considered rockin’ slice of ‘Sweet Thing’. Turning a corner, the country sides of Buck Owens show themselves, beginning in superb fashion with ‘Excuse Me’ where you can hear genuine sadness in Buck’s vocal especially during its chorus. A powerful instrument without doubt was the vocals of Buck Owens as it steered many of his songs and almost akin to spoken words poetry (‘Under Your Spell Again’). The latter half is filled with the likes of Tommy Collins (‘Whatcha Gonna Do Now’), Tommy Sands (‘Hey, Miss Fannie’), Bakersfield resident Bill Woods and rockabilly ‘Bop’ as well as Corky Jones making another appearance with utterly raw ‘Rhythm And Booze’. A fine collection with a difference to celebrate the music of Buck Owens is “The Many Sides of…” with plenty of interesting twists and turns that will see the listener coming back for more.


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Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.15

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

The subtitle of latest addition in the ‘Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.15’ via Koko Mojo ‘I Hate To See You Go’ was the feeling many expressed when this consistently high-quality series appeared to reach its end. Thankfully, the good folk at Koko Mojo decided to reach back into their vault of musical treasures and ended up developing more volumes in this R & B Rockers series. By turning its attention to the blues’ sounds emanating from Louisiana and New Orleans, and probably just edging it compared to previous series because of the inclusion of Smiley Lewis, Richard Berry, Dave Bartholomew, Fats Domino and Larry Williams. Volume fifteen features a few of these artists and continues its tradition of adding more obscure artists and tracks than those normally featured on similar compilations. By beginning the album with the lesser known Blind Billy Tate and His Orchestra and ‘Love Is A Crazy Thing’ and concluding with the more familiar Huey “Piano” Smith and His Clowns (‘Don’t You Just Know It’), ‘Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.15’ is justified in its decision making given the charming raw qualities of this opening number, but every right to feel full of confidence given the quality of previous volumes and this now longstanding series. Drifting Charles is another inclusion that is less familiar yet has more qualities of swamp blues and rockabilly attached to the contents of ‘Evil Hearted Woman’. Wading through this lengthy compilation the rewards keep on coming with the jazz and rhythm and blues fest of ‘Good For Nothin’ Man’ complete with glorious vocals from Mickey Champion, which also extends to the voice of Richard Berry and ‘I Want You To Be My Girl’. Its motto, “Killer and no filler” applies once more to the fifteenth album of the ‘Southern Bred: R&B Rockers’ series.


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Whip Masters Instrumentals Vol.2

Various Artists

Atomicat

The first volume in this new addition to the Atomicat label proved a resounding success with a variety of instrumental tracks from rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll and surf rock. Volume 2 of ‘Whip Masters Instrumentals’ looks set to follow in its footsteps, but with even greater wildness given some of its description: “There is nothing sweet and innocent within this album, it’s packed with attitude for bad boys and girls!”. To live up to such a message, ‘Whip Masters Instrumentals Volume 2’ has plenty of opportunity to do so given its track list containing an impressive total of thirty songs. Demonstrating such wildness in sound is the opening salvo ‘Tomahawk’ by Teddy and The Rough Riders, and then followed by the consistently reliable ‘Tornados with ‘Scalping Party’, which is not for the fainthearted given its hollering screams adding to the tension found in its guitars and suggestive of early punk rock. Variety is certainly the spice here as there are variations between each instrumental with examples as Latino-influenced The Royaltones’ ‘Tacos’, to blending of hot rod and surf music instrumental from wild in name and sound Johnny Zorro and ‘Road Hog’ (Listen out for that red-hot saxophone by the way!).  With The Champs in highly creative mode during ‘Panic Button’ where the musical notes genuinely give the impression of trying to explain its identity without the use of words, and the second album in the ‘Whip Masters Instrumentals’ series more than matches its debut when it comes to thrills and spills and seriously great music.


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Boss Black Rockers Vol. 10 Eeny Meeny Minie Moe

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

OK, let’s begin by mentioning what an exhilarating series ‘Boss Black Rockers’ has been. A comprehensive look at a variety of black artists making their marks on an often-perceived genre of music thought as being the domain of white musicians only. Think again. This is where history truly comes alive and reveals its hunger and passion for music and particularly rock ‘n’ roll music, but one featuring numerous black rock and rollers who tore up the scene with bouts of wild rock ‘n’ roll music. Given the research conducted for this album series, there is much to consume with many unknowns rubbing shoulders with established artists. This makes for interesting listening especially given the rhythm and blues of opening song ‘You Made A BooBoo’ from Bob and Earl that whilst not rock ‘n’ roll, it’s certainly the beginning of this genre. Big Boy Myles & The ShawWees’ ‘The Girl I Married’ is more in line with the definition of rock ‘n’ roll with its lively guitar stealing the limelight. In other places expect to hear some punchy brass fuelling Elton Anderson’s ‘I Love You’, and later a grizzly turn from King Coleman with ‘Black Bottom Blues’. The inclusion of Richard Berry and track ‘Yama Yama Pretty Mama’ shows off the versatility of this performer considering his presence during other compilations from Koko Mojo and perhaps time for an album of his own?  The Cadillacs really turn up the heat during ‘Holy Smoke Baby’, and equally Al Garris ‘That’s All’ with gruff vocals, parping saxophone, and what sounds like an improvised turn from the piano given its free-flowing pattern. In fact, a perfect place to step off and look back over the complete ‘Boss Black Rockers’ series because volume ten ties up any loose ends and packs a powerful punch in many of its songs that says nothing but these ‘Boss Black Rockers’ certainly knew how to rock and roll.


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Beware The Sleepwalking Woman

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Making the right decision to resurrect the rhythm and blues series on Koko Mojo sees another album in quick succession after previous ‘Do It Up Right’. This time around the album features a collection of “novelty” songs from the Golden Age of American Music. In addition to the black musicians featured here, the creator responsible for this compilation i.e., the Mojo Man made the decision to include white artist Stan Freberg and his version of doo wop smash ‘Sh-Boom’. The reason for the inclusion is not only for his admiration of this particular version, but also the fact that African Americans were also buying records by white artists such as Freberg. With the music being the main focus, the list of tracks features plenty of names that will be unknown to a few music collectors. That’s the beauty with such albums and especially with ‘Beware The Sleepwalking Woman’ where you have wild rocker Esquerita and ‘Esquerita and The Voola’, Bo Diddley (‘Say Man’), and Huey “Piano” Smith and His Clowns (‘Beatnik Blues’) one moment and then fewer household names the next with Big Bob Kornegay (‘The Man In The Phone Booth’) and Yochanan (‘Hot Skillet Mama’). A genuine mixture of interesting oddities where paranoia seems to be lurking via formerly mentioned Big Bob Kornegay and song ‘The Man In The Phone Booth’, to intriguing moniker Pig Meat Markham and ‘Your Wires Have Been Tapped’. But it’s also the manner in which some of these songs are presented with compelling spoken word of ‘Stranded In The Jungle’ by The Jayhawks, similarly but far slicker Dr. Horse ‘Jack, That Cat Was Clean’ and fantastic storytelling by Boogaloo and His Gallant Crew with ‘Cops and Robbers’. In fact, the whole album smacks of originality from clever cutting and pasting of tracks of the era during ‘The Old Sparrow’ from Dave and Bob to genuine oddity ‘Hot Skillet Mama’ from earlier mentioned Yochanan who makes Screamin’ Jay Hawkins sound relatively normal. A fantastic album with a treasure trove of songs that will require some serious crate digging to find these gems.


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The Mojo Man Special Volume 4: Voodoo Man

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Shaping up into what has been a very engaging series so far is ‘The Mojo Man Special’. Latest in this collection is ‘The Mojo Man Special Volume 4: Voodoo Man’ featuring twenty-four tracks of traditional rhythm and blues for both your dancing and listening pleasures. With Little Victor Mac at the centre of this series and in full control of song selections, the “Each and every tune here is a “fine frame, no part lame” platter that matters”, certainly rings true from previous listening of earlier volumes. It would appear that such words can be applied to Volume 4 once such choice cuts as excellent ‘Whatcha’ Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You’ from Chuck Willis to The Dodgers harmonious ‘Let’s Make A Whole Lotta Love’ tracks get underway. There are instrumentals from Rodney & The Blazers with ‘Oriental Nightmare’, which is a raw guitar affair complete with saxophone and filtering in oriental sounding effects. There are songs which can be applied to the current times from The Majestics performing with such great authority during ‘Hard Times’. The Nite Riders clear any fog with a wild rockin’ performance that is ‘Women And Cadillacs’, before Marie And Rex take over in similar manner with ‘I Can’t Sit Down’. It looks like the “Mojo” Man has done it again and worked the magic with an expert eye for detail and consideration of song inclusion because ‘The Mojo Man Special Volume 4: Voodoo Man’ is certainly a “platter that matters”!


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Rock And Roll Vixens #5

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Next in line of an exceptionally fine series is ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #5’. Showcasing all female talent from the 50s and early 60s, with the occasional inclusion of a surprise guest from more recent times yet sounding in line with said earlier periods, the album collection, ‘Rock And Roll Vixens’, has been an educational insight regarding blues and rhythm and blues Afro-American female musicians. Reaching #5 of this album series shows its popularity with those listening but also the wealth of talent that was present during these particular periods in music. Beginning with Dee Dee Warwick and ‘You’re No Good’ is full of vocal harmonies that drive its chugging rhythm. Similarly, the powerful tonsils of Fontella Bass keep the momentum going via excellent ‘My Good Loving’. There is more of a refined feel to the music during Hadda Brooks ‘Jump Back Honey’ with its stylish guitar licks, then leading up to sultry atmosphere of ‘Sugar Daddy’ from Priscilla Bowman. Further great highlights include the rhythm and blues of ‘Disgusted’ with Mabel Scott in determined mood. More bustling rhythm and blues follows with The Teen Queens’ ‘Rock Everybody’, The Hearts’ ‘Talk About Him, Girlie’ and Yvonne Fair & James Brown Band and song ‘I Found You’ making #5 in this series of albums just as essential as its predecessors and something that should not be missed. An important part of music’s history and the significant part African American women played in terms of blues and rhythm and blues with plenty of magical talent on display that is Rock And Roll Vixens.


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The Quarantine Tapes

Cat Lee King

Rhythm Bomb

Missing in action since the full debut ‘Cock Tales’ with his band Cat Lee King & His Cocks, band leader turns solo performer for latest creation ‘The Quarantine Tapes’. The clue is most definitely in the title of this brand-new album in terms of the conditions under which this record was written and recorded, and no doubt impacted on any decisions to venture this project alone given the necessity and restrictions of recent lockdowns. Despite these restrictions, Cat Lee King comes out on top with ‘The Quarantine Tapes’ in a combined track list of covers and self-penned songs. Choices of song inclusions are given via excellent reworkings of Hank Williams’ ‘Hey Good Lookin’ that reveals plenty of raw guitar and feint yet distinct background hollers, to equally compelling covers of ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Business’ featuring dextrous guitar work and eerily close to the original blues/rhythm and blues of ‘Meet Me Half Way’. Considering the DIY nature of this recording, Cat Lee King really shows off his musical chops by offering a musical class in different instrumentation, to overall production that provides no impression of this album being recorded “inhouse” given the often classic old-jazz clubhouse feel to most of the contents here. Special mention goes to those original compositions, particularly ‘Whoever Made You’; a warm jazz number with attractive supporting vocals (courtesy of his friends) complementing the deeper tones of the main man at the helm and that being none other than Cat Lee King. The platform is certainly there for Cat Lee King once the greenlight is given for all to venture outside, judging by the quality of ‘The Quarantine Tapes’ under current restrictions because the next creative output from Cat Lee King should be close to a masterpiece judging by the high quality evidenced here, and not forgetting the restraints of the underground conditions. Truly remarkable!


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Wine, Whiskey & Wimmen

Little Hat

Rhythm Bomb

Coming from the house of Rhythm Bomb Records is the debut record from the trio known as Little Hat. Despite this being a fresh line-up, Little Hat’s members including Machiel Meijers (vocals/harp), Blues Hall of Fame inductee (Netherlands) Willem Van Dullemen (guitar), and Paolo de Stigter (drums) possess enough musical nous between them to suggest the band has been active for a considerable number of years. Presenting their first album under the heading ‘Wine, Whiskey & Wimmen’ and containing a total of fourteen tracks of established and lesser-known blues songs, Little Hat get to work immediately via rockin’ blues opener ‘Clema’. It’s the rawness of Machiel Meijers’ vocal, sounding as if braised chiefly in blues music, but singed ever so slightly with the attitude of punk that immediately attracts attention and tugs at the senses, pulling you into this world of a well-worn rockin’ blues. It makes for a fantastic beginning, and one that only rises in temperature, and clearly demonstrated by the wild, swirling rock ‘n’ roll blues of ‘Cutie Named Judy’, which is considerably more accomplished than the ramshackle, yet still mightily compelling original from Jerry McCain & His Upstarts. The choice of covers reveals impeccable taste as Little Hat know a good song when they hear one and know how to move through the gears to provide variety. Maintaining the listener’s interest therefore are such examples as ‘Big John’, which performs to a strollin’, moody tempo illustrated by its use of harmonica and guitar, and then later much reflection given by way of ‘Ora Nelle Blues’ and superb guitar work. Continuing the joyous vein is the rollicking rhythm and humorous take that is ‘Gimme Me Back My Wig’, which is an audacious record given its original release date and one Little Hat give much respect to. There’s no finer place to discover a full house of raucous blues music with plenty of variation between these wilder cuts than from a modern band that sounds distinctly authentic during ‘Wine, Whiskey & Wimmen’.


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The One That Won’t (Single)

Three Star Riot

OWN LABEL

Fast becoming something of a favourite at Famous Last Words (FLW), and clearly showing signs of rising in stature is Three Star Riot. Swiftly moving on from last month’s digital single release ‘Golgotha’, latest offering ‘The One That Won’t’ sees the trio from Finland moving from first, to second, and now third base in rather quick succession as this new single is equally on par with its predecessor, but also unveils another facet of the band’s song writing. Playing to a similar beat, ‘The One That Won’t’ ticks all the right boxes as far as their punkabilly references go, with a fine melody woven into its fabric and a chorus that reveals links to their past with earlier line-up TimeKillers. Despite any similarities, its strengths are those moments where the pace of the rhythm diverts itself, and the lyrics make strong decisions about the direction this subject is heading. Already proving themselves to be a three-piece with more than one creative string to their bow, Three Star Riot is a band to keep a close watchful eye on judging by the compelling goodness of ‘The One That Won’t’.



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