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Meet Mrs. Santa Claus

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

It is not all about one Christmas compilation from the house of Koko Mojo because the record label has decided to issue another album with the holiday season in mind. As with its recent and unique take on Christmas via the album ‘Let’s Have A Funny Little Christmas’, Koko Mojo’s additional Christmas album release aims to provide a little something different with the album ‘Meet Mrs. Santa Claus’. By featuring female performers of the time, ‘Meet Mrs. Santa Claus’ gives a platform to those female singers who were equally as talented as their male counterparts, but also with a view of what Christmas time could be, and to share this with an audience. Made up of twenty-eight tracks, the rhythms vary from rock ‘n’ roll, early pop music, to rhythm and blues, and songs with a novelty edge. Keeping things traditional as far as the record label is concerned begins with the traditional rhythm and blues of ‘Boogie Woogie Santa Claus’ and sturdy vocals of Mabel Scott. The Del Vetts provide a moment of early 60’s girl-group pop with a request at Christmas of ‘I Want A Boy For Christmas’. It’s a catchy song and one followed by further good vocals, but with a difference, from Pearl Bailey and ‘Jingle Bells Cha-Cha-Cha’, which has combined jazz and Latin American influences. A compilation with a difference as other examples includes fit for a film score of the 50s with its “cute” phrasing and equally pleasant musical accompaniment of Alma Cogan’s ‘Mrs. Santa Claus’, to equally similar in its presentation and overall feel of a song set for the movies of ‘Sleigh Ride’ by The Andrews Sisters. There is an irresistible touch of class from Dina Washington and track ‘Ole Santa’, which is perfect company late in the evening. Loving the moniker and more so the doo-wop sound fuelled by The Nic Nacs and another touch of class ‘Gonna Have A Merry Christmas’ which, along with the majority of the tracks selected for this Christmas album, should be high on everyone’s agenda for those able to celebrate this year’s festival period. A different spin on the Christmas theme from Koko Mojo given the glut of festive albums available with many selecting the same tracks. ‘Meet Mrs. Santa Claus’ is not one of them and will provide a refreshing addition to listeners with a passion for Christmas albums.


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Let’s Have A Funny Little Christmas

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

It’s Christmas time at Koko Mojo and what better way to celebrate than a Christmas album with a difference. That is the intention of The “Mojo” Man who presents: ‘Let’s Have A Funny Little Christmas’ by selecting a whole roster of Christmas songs with a difference for those listeners tired with the same old compilation albums at this special time of year. With a respectable number of tracks making up this festive album (Twenty-eight to be exact), the album ‘Let’s Have A Funny Little Christmas’ focuses on novelty when it comes to its Christmas selections. Lifting one’s spirits, therefore, in time for the festive season are the likes of rockin’ ‘Jingle Rock’ by Tommy Lee & The Orbits, even wilder Little Joey Farr and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Santa’ and also adding The Four Imperials and notion that ‘Santa’s Got A Coupe De Ville’ rather than his usual method of travel by sleigh. From what can be described as perhaps more straight rock ‘n’ roll songs, the album takes a very interesting turn and guaranteed to raise a smile via examples from what every person desires at Christmas, ‘I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas’ from the vocals of Gayla Peevey, to what many feel at Christmas during spoken-word track ‘I Just Go Nuts At Christmas’ by household name (!) Yogi Yorgesson. Certainly, in vogue now, the always dependable for providing laughs comes tracks from inventive Stan Freburg ‘The Night Before Christmas’ and ‘Christmas Dragnet’ with Daws Butler & Orchestra featuring during the latter. If you thought those were the highlights and major oddities in the pack, then think again because the novelty goodies just keep on coming with standout performers Ray Stevens’ jittery and highly compelling ‘Santa Claus Is Watching You’, to clearly ahead of their time with first  Edd “Kookie” Byrnes’ ‘Yulesville’ revealing early signs of rap music if you listen closely to the presentation of its words, to cut-and-paste deejay radio edit of mind-blowing Mad Milo ‘Elvis For Xmas’. A wonderful, wonderful album that lives up to its billing of providing a Christmas with a difference.

 


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It’s Christmas Once Again

Various Artists

Atomicat

It is that time of year once again and that being Christmas. To celebrate this special time of year, Atomicat Records issues its by now regular format of seasonal songs filled with rockin’ tracks and other similar delights via new album ‘It’s Christmas Once Again’.  A menu consisting of thirty songs, the festive album ‘It’s Christmas Once Again’ focuses on all things associated with Christmas whether it is Santa Claus, sleighbells, presents or food, there will be something for everyone who enjoys this holiday season. Getting the festivities underway is Big Bud with ‘Rock Around The Christmas Tree’ and it’s an early rock ‘n’ roll delight with handclaps and lyrics involving a whole family partying and Santa Claus riding a Cadillac and leaving his reindeer behind to continue rockin’ ‘n’ rollin. The party continues with pacy number ‘Wine Dine And Dance’ from singing couple Doug and Josie with Joe Scott Orchestra, before grinding to a much slower tempo via another food-related song from Tennessee Ernie and the main meal of the day ‘Christmas Dinner’. Entering more traditional territory regarding songs at Christmas, The Louvin Brothers offer the country-tinged ‘Joy To The World’ and followed later by Big Maybelle with Ernie Wilkin’s Orchestra and powerful presentation of ‘Silent Night’. It’s true that there are more songs associated with the fun side of Christmas, and why not as it’s nearing the end of another year and truly time to unwind. Therefore, look no further than a selection of tracks with invitations from Larry Amato ‘We’re Gonna Have A Party’, to sophisticated rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’ from Chet Atkins and His Guitar, and album standouts featuring rocker ‘Snowball’ by Faron Young and full of imagination of jazz/rhythm and blues ditty ‘Swingin’ Christmas’ from the hands of Earl Grant. It definitely feels like ‘Christmas Once Again’ after hearing this delightful playlist of mainly rockin’ yet also a few variations on the Christmas theme, not forgetting some traditional standards for good measure.


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

Various Artists

Atomicat

It has been something of a journey with ten albums in total beginning with Commandment number One, right through to the final commandment and that being Commandment number Ten. The album series that has been ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’ features for the tenth and final time another goodie bag of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues. With track selection left in the expert hands of Dee Jay Mark Armstrong, ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll – Commandment Ten’ features thirty tracks that fall in line with the latter segment of the album’s heading by failing to agree to “Shun Immoral Behaviour,” and rather that these wild rockers have only one intention and that is, “We’ll Raise A Ruckus Tonight”. Expect, therefore, songs that walk the wilder side of life where parties are in full swing, and people are having an enjoyable time. First indication of such actions comes from the rather rough source of recording, but you get the general idea of Dial Tones and ‘Rock All Night’. A compelling entrance from Dorothea Fleming and The Danny Small Orchestra suggests a song full of drama as its title indicates, and this wonderful song certainly lives up to its early billing via fine rhythm and blues and vocals that truly sell this song. Wonderful! The vocal performance of Paula Watson during rhythm and blues of ‘I Love To Ride’ is something to admire and another example where you may find yourself scratching your head and wondering where has all the imagination and talent gone in the current climate? That said, who cares when you are left with further great examples presented by Jimmy Liggins and His Drops Of Joy with ‘Nite Life Boogie’, a touch of rockabilly from Sparkle Moore and accompanied by Dan Belloc and His Orchestra during excellent ‘Skull & Crossbones’, to late-night country ‘Cigarettes, Whusky, and Wild, Wild Women’; a song filled with joy and then regrets and worth the admission fee alone for its pronunciations of the words of its title. Simply not enough room to write about all the greatness of this tenth and final album because ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll – Commandment Ten’ saves the best until last and that is high praise indeed.

 

 


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

Various Artists

Atomicat

Ninth album in the collection that is ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’. Commandment Nine often portrays the one-sidedness that can often be present when it comes to relationships. Providing insight of such one-way traffic is the album’s track list consisting of thirty songs and compiled by Dee Jay Mark Armstrong. With the subheading, “Fend off impassiveness, lonesome for a letter” attempting to raise a degree of hope in the love stakes, the inclusion of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues goes some way to achieving such a goal given its action-packed qualities. The songs, and more specifically the lyrics, however, portray either one-half pleading with their partner to stay or at least return at some point as detailed by the excellent rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Please Baby Come Home’ supplied by Jimmy Donley, or elsewhere a couldn’t care less attitude as expressed by Erline Harris with The Johnson Brothers Combo and free-flowing rhythm and blues of ‘I Never Missed My Baby’. Thurston Harris continues such feelings by really driving the message home that one day ‘You’re Gonna’ Need Me’ set to a fiery rhythm and blues and knockout vocals. Add Gerri Granger’s boppin’ rhythm and blues’ classic ‘(Return To Sender) Don’t Want Your Letters’, and also frantic rock ‘n’ roll from The Renowns featuring Marjorie Lake on vocals performing ‘My Mind’s Made Up’, then there is no doubting the message being transmitted here. From such brilliance develops further by way of sublime ‘Shame On You’ from Rosalle and Donell, a less featured but worthy ‘Everly Brothers track ‘Should We Tell Him’, and “Don’t we just know it” true words spoken via rockabilly ‘It Hurts The One Who Loves You’ from Ray Doggett. With this album series nearing its end, ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll: Commandment Nine’ proves a remarkably interesting addition to the series where the lyrics add just as much impact as the music where love and relationships prove to be a difficult path to follow.


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Whip Masters Instrumentals Volume 3

Various Artists

Atomicat

What was initially thought a two-album series, Volume 3 of ‘Whip Masters Instrumentals’ arrives in a very stylish colour scheme consisting of blue, black and white of its cover design. Given the slight delay since the second volume in the series, ‘Whip Masters Instrumentals Volume 3’ is most welcome given its emphasis on “instrumentals” only, albeit with occasional use of vocals, and therefore providing a different focus in relation to the rest of what’s on offer to review this month. Focusing on the tracks featured, Volume 3 begins with an absolute belter in the form of surf rocker ‘Moon Dawg!’ by Gamblers riding a wave of electric guitars, thumping piano and (whisper it) fleeting harmonised backing vocals. Jumping from this wave and onto the next one is the band with a moniker which sounds befitting of a rap artist rather than an instrumental band and that is Li’l Dynamite and The Explosions with ‘Dancin’ Little Thing’, which is a moody guitar piece and rather ace! The next stop is an altogether different composition supplied by The Aristocrats with ‘F.S.T’ and is a cultured combination of blues and jazz. Living up to its earlier volumes, the latest album continues its exploration of instrumental tracks with a difference as indicated by the straight outta Poison Ivy and Lux Interior’s box of record goodies, no doubt, with The Creeps’ ‘The Whip’; an imaginative track with twisted humour and fit for any Halloween compilation. The record goodness continues apace with The Surfaris’ surf jam ‘Jack The Ripper’ complete with compelling sections of misshapen guitar sounds for your listening pleasure, before increasing the tension further with something of a “horror” theme connection linking The Gravestone Four’s ‘Rigor Mortis’ and followed with The Crystals’ ‘Vampire’. If you are looking for a mean and moody soundtrack, then you have arrived at the right place with ‘Whip Masters Instrumentals Volume 3’, which just happens to be the best in its class so far.


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Southern Bred: Tennessee & Arkansas R&B Rockers Vol.21

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Turning its attention to the States of Tennessee & Arkansas is the album series ‘Southern Bred R&B Rockers’. A new volume and number therefore, the lastest album in this mighty fine series gets off to a flyer with the powerhouse vocals of Little Willie John and ‘Do You Love Me’. Next track worthy of consideration is Gene Allison with ‘If Things Don’t Change’, which is less “in your face” and more restrained than Little Willie John, but is equally full of energy and contains vocals that show their range and still presented in a very similar manner to the aforementioned ‘Do You Love Me’. From rhythm and blues to a straight blues affair is Chicago Sunny Boy and ‘On The Floor’, which is an instrumental and full of piping-hot harmonica and it’s rockin’! Cecil Gant’s ‘Nashville Jumps’ is a sophisticated slice of rhythm and blues and boogie-woogie piano and complete with detailed lyrics drawing one’s attention to the speaker. In other words, fabulous! Something of rock ‘n’ roll spliced with blues shows up during Frank Frost with The Nighthawks and track ‘Now Twist’. There is more rhythm and blues greatness via Billy ‘Red’ Love and His Orchestra with ‘Drop Top’ on the Chess label and reveals itself to be an early precursor to rock ‘n’ roll. With the turn of the Willies to close this first chapter in the Tennessee & Arkansas range of albums with Little Willie John popping by once again and this time with ‘Until You Do’, before the clever combination of blues and very early rock ‘n’ roll influence of Big Willie and ‘Bogey Man’. It just keeps on getting better, the album series that is Southern Bred R&B Rockers that is.


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A Drive-By Love Affair

The Kokomo Kings

Rhythm Bomb

Seeking affection is The Kokomo Kings via their new long player ‘A Drive-By Love Affair’.  Featuring great artwork and twelve new songs to peruse over, the album title suggests a more carefree attitude and with the band in something of a mischievous mood given the album’s front cover. Opening the contents, the music reveals itself to be raw and often roomy in terms of its presentations of rockin’ blues that dominates the majority of tracks present. Songs either rattle on hinges and swing in the breeze or are incendiary in their delivery like ‘The Wonder Man’; a rattle & roll burning blues number complete with slide guitar and it’s really rather terrific! ‘The Smile Of A Shark’ is Chuck Berry-esque in its delivery of rock ‘n’ roll blues and natty lyrics. ‘A Million Stars’ is the kind of track that would appeal to the likes of the Rolling Stones (Think this has been mentioned before concerning an earlier Kokomo Kings album, therefore suggesting a supporter in the camp) with its straight-ahead, no-nonsense double barrel of rock ‘n’ roll blues where feet will definitely be tapping. From there, sister song ‘Too Late To Grow Up’ reveals the band’s humorous side and their ability to not take themselves too seriously, not that the song is in anyway a throwaway number, more like a companion piece to the aforementioned ‘A Million Stars’. ‘Jump Like A Chicken’ is as jittery sounding as its title suggests and an excellent combination of blues and rockabilly. The closing, ‘Drinking Fire And Eating The Ash’ reveals itself to be a huge curiosity given its seriously raw presentation and sense of never-ending rhythm and words that leave one to ponder that someone or something has completely given up. Never ones to disappoint, The Kokomo Kings produce an album of strong compositions in ‘A Drive-By Love Affair’ with much to consider from its department of lyrics that will find you coming back for more given its rich overall feel.


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Hallowscream!

Various Artists

Atomicat

It’s that time of year again when things that go bump in the night stage their own party. Commemorating the annual event that is Halloween is the album ‘Hallowscream!’. At the helm is DeeJay Mark Armstrong who, along with illustrator Henrique San, have conjured up an album package containing plenty of rockin’ tunes housed inside very appealing artwork. With all things relating to Halloween, it remains a most promising night for the likes of witches, spooks, and ghouls, and for serious acts involving murder and mayhem to take place. Expect, therefore, much weirdness, (dark) humour and scintillating red-hot rock ‘n’ roll. Getting the darkest of festivities underway is ‘Mad Witch’ supplied by Dave Gardener who rolls out the words in a spoken fashion and backed by a rhythm that is from the stable of Country & Western. Backing this up in equally compelling style is rockabilly rattler ‘It’s Witchcraft’ from The Blue Echoes. With not a Bo Didley or Screamin’ Jay Hawkins or Purple People Eater in sight, let alone earshot, the album ‘Hallowscream!’ is a welcome addition given the refreshing choices of its track list to what is a hefty pile of Halloween compilations already in circulation. That is down to the album’s curator where time is given, but also a pre-existing knowledge of a wide music base. Inducing a smile is the intro and, in fact, rest of the contents of imaginative ‘Wolf Man’ performed by Laurie Allen. There’s some early 60s splashes of music from three-quarters instrumental ‘Hocus Pocus’ with vocals added, but more in a background kind of way, from The Shouters in support of main performer Buddy Lucas. A more serious note swings by via rock ‘n’ roll instro that is mean and moody and targeted for a film noir soundtrack from the Chess label with The Nite Caps’ ‘Haunted Sax’, which really sums up the diversity on offer. Further explanations of this wonderful compilation would end up running into the wee small hours because there is so much to consume from its thirty-song track list and those hours, really, are reserved for the various nefarious characters celebrating their favourite date on the annual calendar. Expectations are therefore extremely high when any suggestion of a second volume in this series being a “No brainer” when that time arrives next year. Happy Halloween everyone!

 


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Wolf Pack

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

CD two giving further coverage to the harmonica and another serious workout is the album ‘Wolf Pack’. Great artwork imagery leads one to the contents containing twenty-eight tracks of mainly blues material. There’s red-hot harmonica in abundance with, leading the way, Walter Horton and ‘Have A Good Time’, and then followed by Sonny And Jaycee ‘You Keep Dogging Me’ and Jesse Perkins and The Bad Boys ‘One More Kiss’. From there, the music continues its feisty streak with Drifting Slim and ‘My Sweet Woman’, Harper-Brinson Band with ‘Harpers Return’, Lightnin’ Slim’s ‘Rooster Blues’, and Billy Bland with ‘Chicken Hop’. Adding variation to the up-tempo numbers can be found during one of the album’s highlights that is Willie B. and nearly drifting off to sleep ‘This I Gotta See’; a song full of originality with its dreamlike qualities making it utterly essential listening. Further variation is heard via wonderful ramshackle presentation of ‘Stack Of Dollars’ from Joe Williams, before welcoming some traditional rhythm and blues during ‘I Ain’t Got No Money’ with Billy (Boy) Arnold providing compelling narration throughout. Honour of the title track is bestowed to Kid Thomas, and there are serious guitar and harmonica workouts from back-to-back songs Whispering Smith ‘Live Jive’ and Eddie Taylor ‘You’ll Always Have A Home’. There may be some familiarity here, but there is certainly plenty of less familiar tunes to make ‘Wolf Pack’ an essential purchase for those who love a bit of the blues.


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Go Away

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Two albums with the harmonica in mind (The next is to follow) from Koko Mojo. First consideration is the not so amicable reception of the album title ‘Go Away’. Delving into the album contents, however, provides a less frosty reception with a mouth-watering twenty-eight tracks consisting of blues and rhythm and blues for your enjoyment. Once underway, and eventually reaching its conclusion, the latest in this album series reveals there’s not a dud track in sight. First is Willie Nix and the wiry texture of ‘Just Can’t Stay’. From there it is left to numerous quick tempos of excellent ‘Uncle Bud’ by Sonny Terry and with the harmonica providing the fuel, to genuine feel of wheels in motion via puff and smoke ‘Goin’ Back To New Orleans’ from Jesse and Buzzy, to more lively additions by way of Buster Brown and track ‘Two Women’ and Joe Hill Louis with ‘Hydramatic Woman’. It’s a real blues fest of an album to be honest with the harmonica on fine form and giving added oomph to many of the lively rhythms on offer, which leaves ‘Go Away’ as another notch on the post labelled “highest quality” of this exceptionally fine series.


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Rockin’ Rollin’ Covers Vol. 2

Various Artists

Atomicat

Part two of what is all ready shaping up to be an extremely fascinating series is the “new one” on Atomicat Records, ‘Rockin’ Rollin’ Covers’. By focusing on musical talent outside of Europe and specifically turning its attention to the countries of America and Australia with a little bit of New Zealand filtered in, the compilation ‘Rockin’ Rollin’ Covers Vol.2’ does exactly what is says on the tin and provides a plethora of tracks that made the grade back in the day and, since that initial breakthrough, a succession of artists tried their hands at covering these original hit songs. Expect plenty of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and some rhythm and blues from the USA and land of OZ. With rockers as Delbert Barker opening this album’s account with an excellent version of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’; a song made famous by Elvis and written and first recorded by rockabilly maestro Carl Perkins, Barker’s version has more in tune with the song’s originator and it is an impressive cover. Another rockin’ number arrives in the shape of ‘Life Begins At 4’O Clock’ covered by Ronnie Diamond, and later similar feats are recreated by Jim Lowe with really fine ‘Rock-A-Chicka’. Impressing elsewhere are the likes of Rusty Draper with a slightly cleaner version of Sammy Masters rockabilly classic ‘Pink Cadillac’, to originally performed by Cab Calloway and His Orchestra ‘Minnie The Moocher’ given over to Barry Martin on this occasion who is equal to the task by offering the correct definition of a true cover song. With much on offer, namely rhythm and blues meeting of rock ‘n’ roll that is The Mike Pedicin Quintet performing ‘Shake A Hand!’, one of SUN Record’s recording artists Ray Smith chipping in with ‘Little Miss Blue’, and a cover of Little Richard classic ‘Tutti Frutti’ from The Jesters who bring their own qualities. Every bit as good as the first album, and with plenty to enthuse over is the album ‘Rockin’ Rollin’ Covers Vol.2’ that hollers, “Go grab yourself a copy now!”.



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