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Eddie Cochran: The Absolutely Essential Collection

Eddie Cochran

Big 3

The collection of CDs made available via the Big 3 label is definitely one of the better compilations for those less initiated in the work of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll legend Eddie Cochran. In fact, to receive a more thorough overview of Cochran’s music, then you’re looking at a mortgaged-sized box set. However, if it’s value for money you’re after, and one that possesses quality of sound, then you’ve definitely arrived at the right place as ‘Eddie Cochran: The Absolutely Essential Collection’ offers a solid  overview of his career with well-known hits such as ‘Summertime Blues’, ‘Twenty Flight Rock’, ‘C’Mon Everybody’ and ‘Three Steps To Heaven’ to name but a small handful. Where this compilation excels is for its inclusion of the unrelated duo of Eddie and Hank Cochran via a selection of The Cochran Brothers songs such as ‘Guilty Conscience’ and ‘Fool’s Paradise’. Unfortunately there’s no ‘Jelly Bean’ included here, which is one of Eddie Cochran’s best numbers as well as no liner notes to consult with, but that is mere nick picking considering the aforementioned price tag and high number of songs included. ‘Eddie Cochran: The Absolutely Essential Collection’ is a worthy addition for anyone’s record collection.


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Buddy Holly: The Absolutely Essential Collection

Buddy Holly

Big 3

Life doesn’t get much better than this! Having landed on the FLW doormat this morning this essential, yes ESSENTIAL collection of Buddy Holly songs with the Crickets of course not only offers superb value for money for any prospective record buyers, but more importantly for covering a broad range of material. Sure, all of the usual suspects are here such as ‘Peggy Sue’, ‘Raining In My Heart’, ‘Maybe Baby’ and ‘Heartbeat’, but this three CD set is to be highly applauded for not only its inclusion of Buddy Holly’s rockabilly and rockin’ numbers with namely ‘Rock Around With Ollie Vee’, ‘Midnight Shift’, ‘Ting-A-Ling’, ‘Don’t Come Back Knockin’ and a wonderfully raw version of ‘Ready Teddy’, but also less obvious inclusions such as ‘Moondreams’, ‘That Makes It Tough’ and ‘Learning The Game’. If only this artist was still alive and well today, then who knows what genius he would have conjured up next because there is plenty of evidence during this compilation to suggest that Buddy Holly would have continued producing great miracles.


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Jerry Lee Lewis: The Absolutely Essential Collection

Jerry Lee Lewis

Big 3

There is no introduction required when it comes to the wild and wonderful talent that is Jerry Lee Lewis. Spread out over three CDs, and including fifty-seven tracks in total, is a variety of Jerry Lee Lewis’ hit singles from ‘High School Confidential’ to ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’Goin On’ and ‘Great Balls of Fire’. With a lot of the SUN Records era covered and therefore space for including the excellent and more bluesy feel of ‘Hello, Hello Baby’ and ‘The Ballad of Billy Joe’ showing the influences running through this man’s piano fingers, the Big 3 record label offers value for money and quality with this release. The only downside to this compilation album, and the entire series, is the lack of any information regarding the artist or tracks included, which is a shame considering the rest of the quality on offer here. However, for an introduction to the musical abilities of Jerry Lee Lewis, especially in that prime SUN Records era, then ‘Jerry Lee Lewis: The Absolutely Essential Collection’ is a fine introduction that should open the doorway to further investigation of this mercurial and wonderful talent.


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Supersonic Gal

Maryann & the Tri-Tones

Rhythm Bomb

There’s a storming racket blaring out of the capital of Estonia and goes by the name of Maryann & the Tri-Tones. With this album being a re-release of her debut album that apparently was restricted to a limited run, Maryann & the Tri-Tones are given a second bite of the cherry with their ‘Supersonic Gal’. Without a moment’s hesitation this second chance is seized upon via a succession of wild and rockin’ tracks that showcases a powerful set of vocal chords – having been known to draw comparisons with Janis Martin – and rockabilly soundtrack that is equally forceful. Breaking its way through from the off is the bitter parting shot of ‘Honey Baby’ with Maryann really impressing as she sheds this particular set of baggage. Impressing elsewhere is the clever manner in which some of the songs are knitted together and therefore provide a rolling commentary of the relationship(s) at hand here, where ‘I’m Moving Up’ appropriately follows the aforementioned ‘Honey Baby’ by reaffirming its independence and then seemingly mocking in superb style by incorporating a bit of Joe Bennett and Jimmy Denton’s ‘Black Slacks’. Classy, clever and cool Maryann & the Tri-Tones ‘Supersonic Gal’ is definitely an album worth owning.


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Get Up and Dance!

Various Artists

Rhythm Bomb

Compiled over five CDs is the latest collection of tracks taken from the stable at Rhythm Bomb Records. Arranged into categories consisting of Perfect for Parties; Boppers; Strollers; Jivers and Slow Down there’s definitely something here to suit fans of the genres of rockabilly and rhythm and blues. With this set following on from previous box set ‘We Got Rhythm’, there’s an incredible 125 tracks to consume and too much for one sitting! Representing more up-to-date releases with artists ranging from Aussies Hank’s Jalopy Demons (‘Damn Their Hides’); AJ & the Rockin’ Trio (‘She Do The Bop’); Twisted Rod (‘Booze Bop’) and The Starjays (‘Who Do You Love The Most’) to name but a select few, it’s pleasing to see bands and hear tracks chosen from the vaults at Rhythm Bomb with Gone Hepsville, Pete Hutton & the Beyonders, Chris Almoada, The Backseat Boogie, Mississippi Queen and Pep Torres. Limited to only 300 copies, and with far too much detail to reveal all here, ‘Get Up and Dance!’ is an essential purchase and another introduction to the array of bands releasing the goods at Rhythm Bomb. Now get going!


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Move Around (Single)

The Rockin' Combs

Enviken

Released as a 7″ vinyl and on all digital platforms, The Rockin’ Combs make their entrance with an opening bow of a cover of Groovey Joe Poovey’s ‘Move Around’ and a flipside containing a track written by Marcel Riesco from fellow rockers Truly Lover Trio by the name of ‘Pretending’. This is raw and primitive rockabilly straight from the 50s, well, 2016 actually, and that’s how authentic The Rockin’ Combs has made it sound! With this four-piece combo in the process of recording more songs for a long player, The Rockin’ Combs has started their career in fine style with this double slice of wild and authentic rockabilly.


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Shake That Thing

Kieron McDonald

Rhythm Bomb

Fourth solo album for Australian Kieron McDonald who normally can be found fronting the Flatfoot Shakers. Latest album ‘Shake That Thing’ is pretty much business as usual with Kieron recreating a genuine rockabilly sound with leading contenders for such a description via the snappy twang of opening song ‘Rockabilly High’; the lonesome ‘The Knock On My Door’ which is instantly kicked into touch by the positive upturn in fortunes of ‘Goodbye Lonesome’, before pleading once more for ‘A Little Love’ in his life backed by a rockin’ rhythm. Such knowhow when creating a long player full of original material is largely down to Kieron McDonald’s longstanding when it comes to the rockin’ scene, only this time there is additional support and creative input from fellow Aussies Hank’s Jalopy Demons and Ezra Lee. It would appear that the additional input of these musicians has added to the slightly darker edges and wilder elements that have a habit of appearing at various stages (‘The Devil’s Eyes’, ‘I’m The King of The Road’ and ‘Why’) not to mention the piano trickery of Ezra Lee capturing an old-timey feel during the excellent ‘She Means Nothing To Me’. With such good company in the rear, Kieron McDonald doesn’t forget to shine as this is after all his stage and where you can hear his influence all over the reflective ‘She Thinks of You’ and relentless beat of ‘Go Go Girl’ for example. A full pot of original material and one that requires your undivided attention because ‘Shake That Thing’ is just that record to keep the rockabilly flame truly burning.


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Gone For Lovin

Vince & the Sun Boppers

Rhythm Bomb

Highly experienced in their line of work, Vince & the Sun Boppers issue a twelve-track album full of original material. Borrowing a couple of players from Dale Rocka and the Volcanoes and The Ballroom Kings, this is not entirely a newly assembled line-up as there have been previous releases elsewhere. The album itself has been described as capturing the sound and spirit of 1950s Sun Studio when music really was king. Fast forward to the present however, and such an assertion is justified when hearing the authentic rockabilly of ‘Gone For Lovin’ captured by producers Axel and Ike. Whether it’s the charming stroll of ‘Lone No More’ or the alluring draw of ‘Devil Eyes’ Vince & the Sun Boppers is a band comfortable and most certainly confident in their abilities as this music is quality assured. For those seeking their rockabilly with a bit more urgency, then ‘Gone For Lovin’ knows how to rock with the best of them as does ‘Dance With Sally’ which possesses a gritty edge throughout. The 50s originals can never be surpassed, and that is certainly not the intention of ‘Gone For Lovin’. However, Vince & the Sun Boppers do a fine job of recapturing that ‘special’ sound and energy with a series of tracks from a time now sadly consigned to the history books.


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Space Invaders

The Kings of Outer Space

Greystone Records

Having avoided the prospect of a truly gruesome demise via the walking dead in the heart of the West Country (see accompanying video to earlier single ‘Zombie Walk’), The Kings of Outer Space made their escape in order to add the finishing touches to their third long player. While it may seem business as usual considering the title of the band’s new album ‘Space Invaders’ – the obsession with UFOs and space travel continues  – this is a fresh start of sorts for The Kings of Outer Space as the band hail a new line-up, with frontman Giggsy being the sole survivor, as well as switching to a new home with Greystone Records. Despite the changes, The Kings of Outer Space remain difficult to pin down in terms of their overall sound, which is always a positive due to embracing elements from a variety of genres – predominately rockabilly and psychobilly yet with strong ties to post punk and to a certain degree mid-80s indie obscurities. It makes for a flavoursome musical fest without ever sounding muddled, but where latest album ‘Space Invaders’ differs from their previous albums is that you can hear a considerable amount of space between the ideas in the songs where ideas sound less hurried and the songs benefit due to being given more time to breathe. Despite these noticeable differences the band retain their identity as there is no seismic shift in style(s) as ‘Space Invaders’ still sounds like a Kings of Outer Space album with rockabilly running ragged through ‘Cosmic Boy’, to the almost western film score parking up during ‘Remainder Men’ that lingers long in the memory afterwards with lines such as, “When the sun goes down for the very last time, You’ll never see me again”. Bookending the other side of this is the garage rock of ‘Lucky escape’ that reveals an upturn in fortunes for the character at the centre of this song. It’s not all positive, however, as the title track attempts a similar sounding feat but, in the process, sounds tepid in comparison and tired as far as the fresh ideas go. Thankfully ‘Crocodiles’ snaps its heels and wakes up the creative department once more by way of the ska-driven beat and creative use of the title serving as a metaphor for the bitter side of life. ‘Ciao!’ reverts to film score territory once more only this time involving a duet with Giggsy and Lula D, and it’s a song that never pulls any punches when pointing the finger of blame for this particular relationship demise. Despite various similarities in sound, The Kings of Outer Space has delivered quite possibly their strongest musical statement yet, which benefits due to less haste but also by incorporating new ideas where the lyrics in particular take five minutes to live with humanity rather than partying with little green men from dusk till dawn. ‘Space Invaders’ could just be the ticket to launch a whole new series of missions for The Kings of Outer Space where non-intergalactic travel is just as essential as the missions to outer space.


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Boozin’ & Boppin

Twisted Rod

Rhythm Bomb

Returning with a second album is Prague rockabilly trio Twisted Rod. The sophomore album goes by the name ‘Boozin’ & Boppin’, and is the follow up to the rather successful ‘Bring It On Home!’ that brought much attention for the band with appearances at some of the best-known festivals and weekenders all over Europe. With an increased level of confidence, Twisted Rod continue their formula for wild and raw rockabilly with ‘Boozin’ & Boppin’ (Well, if it ain’t broke…), but there is a sense of even greater confidence here as songs fly out of the traps at pace, and with great expertise, via such examples as ‘Come On’ and ‘Rock & Roll Guitar’, as well as providing variety in their overall sound with the blues influenced ‘Why Did You Leave Me’ and lighter rhythm of ‘Ol’ Barn Stomp’. It is the intelligent manner in which Twisted Rod tackle their rockabilly by resisting the temptation to plunge for the obvious sound (i.e. ‘Thunder and Lightning’ is not as raucous as one might expect), in addition to remaining humble enough to heed some advice because ‘Baby Me And You Are Through’ could so easily be Marc & the Wild Ones. It’s like they’ve never been a way as ‘Boozin’ & Boppin’ retains much from their previous long player, but with a few added extras that definitely takes Twisted Rod to the next level.


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Howlin’ At The Moon

A.J. & the Rockin' Trio

Rhythm Bomb

Coming from a far sunnier climate and with a rockin’ beat to match the scorching temperatures of their native Portugal is A. J. & the Rockin’ Trio and their debut album ‘Howlin’ At The Moon’. A passionate and raw rockabilly sound that reveals itself from the start with the trio of songs ‘Waiting For You’, Hot Rockin’ Mama’ and ‘She Do The Bop’. However, there is more to this four-piece band than simply creating a wild racket as indicated by the excellent ‘Lonesome Sinner Blues’ with its welcome interruptions of brass instrumentation, to the sultry rhythm of ‘Hey Senorita’, and appropriate Western (film) flavour of ‘Gunfight At O.K. Corral’. The rockabilly maintains its pace however, and reveals A.J. & the Rockin’ Trio as true experts in their field with such infectious delights as the boppin’ ‘Baby Baby’ and detailed textures of ‘Miss Bobbie Sox’. With a dry sense of humour closing this set via ‘Even The Blues Don’t Wanna Get Along With Me’, this album is highly recommended if you enjoy your rockabilly on the wild side but also one that has the nous to change direction every so often to add variety in terms of its output.


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The Weather Vane

Coral Lee Farrow

Rhythm Bomb

Apparently known for her blue eyes and Australian passport, there is far more to Coral Lee Farrow once the contents of her sophomore album infiltrates your senses and works its way deep inside your soul. For this is an album full of musical promise with its various temptations and influences ranging from rockabilly to swing to country to tempt your musical senses. The laidback intro of ‘All I Can Do Is Sing’ is the perfect start to this album, in fact any album, as Coral Lee Farrow consigns a relationship to its past where the lyrics talk of its history, just as much as the instruments play their part in relaying this particular story. Elsewhere, ‘Big Wide World’ chugs out a mild rockabilly beat with some fine guitar and steel guitar making their marks on this song. The open heart confessions of ‘My Sweet Baby’ reveal a song with nothing to hide, and it’s a delight to hear with the vocals raw and passionate and the song’s rhythm chipper in its expression. Later on you will hear songs about the blues, complete with handclaps (‘Black Cat Blues’), and joyous occasions that involve ‘Boppin’ On The Moon’, and probably a first in terms of naming a song ‘Rodney’, which sounds far more glamourous than its name suggests with its details regarding “waiting for the train to Sydney…”. ‘The Weather Vane’ is a record that remains loyal to the various genres incorporated in its sound, but it is one that brings a freshness to its lyrical themes, and that is to be applauded.



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