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Rock Ya Baby

Various Artists

Pan American/Atomicat

Continuing what has become something of a great tradition, not to mention series, the latest release on the Pan American record label is volume 45. With 26 tracks of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll goodness, the listener is spoilt for choice with newest in the series ‘Rock Ya Baby’. Whether it’s letting off some steam via Johnny Faire and wild ‘Bertha Lou’, to equally rowdy The Spades ‘Jim Dandy’, this compilation of artists will not fail to disappoint. By mixing a few NAMES with those less known or perhaps less featured on similar collections is a major appeal of this fascinating series and really brings attention through such tracks as Sonny Russell with ’50 Megatons’ and its intriguing quirks, to the slim instrumentation of ‘Baby By Rock’ by Winnie Starr And The Omaha Kid, and other places where the rockin’ beat definitely holds a swagger such as ‘Bad Bad Way’ from Rodger & The Tempests. Far more than a simple introduction to rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll, ‘Rock Ya Baby’ via PanAm certainly lives up to its title, but these songs and artists will guarantee further investigation due to a lack of familiarity and, more importantly, for being of the highest quality.


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Bop-A-Rama: King Of The Ducktail Cats

Various Artists

Atomicat

Second instalment in the new CD series for jivers, boppers and strollers of the rockin’ scene, ‘Bop-A-Rama: King Of The Ducktail Cats’ brings another thirty tracks guaranteed to keep those feet moving. The first segment of the second volume is a tougher proposition in the sense that many of the tracks focus on the rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll numbers including the likes of Buddy Holly (‘I’m Gonna Love You Too’), Sonny Fisher (‘Hey Mama’), T. Texas Taylor (‘Shake ‘Em Up Rock’), Larry Nolen & His Bandits (‘King Of The Ducktail Cats’) to name but a few. With things heating up considerably, there’s room for a little reflection with various strands of country seeping into the mix and beginning with Rudy Hanson (‘Saturday Jump’), and then curiously finding room for Bill Monroe’s ‘Lonesome Truck Driver’s Blues’, before gaining considerable momentum with more rockin’ delights from Buddy Burke to Sonny Cole & His Rhythm Roamers and appropriate offering ‘I Dreamed I Was Elvis’. Add to the list two artists from the current rockin’ scene and any listener, not to mention any person who enjoys to bop, jive and stroll, cannot fail to be impressed with the collection that is ‘Bop-A-Rama: King Of The Ducktail Cats’.


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Rock And Roll Mama

Various Artists

Pan American/Atomicat

Going from strength to strength is the latest addition to the PanAm stable and that being ‘Rock And Roll Mama’. As said in a previous review regarding this album’s predecessor is the informative findings of lesser-known artists from the genres of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll. By including a vast amount of tracks to wade through which, by the way, is never tiresome because the quality is consistently high, it’s the turn of the female with Stormy Gayle offering a powerful start with the engaging ‘Flipsville’ which, if you listen closely enough, cleverly picks parts of its rhythm from ‘Train Kept A Rollin’. There’s frantic guitars with The Sonics ‘Marlene’, to compelling vocal performances, and for different reasons, from the likes of Eddie Chase and ‘Ginger’, Stan Gunn And The Country Hepcats ‘Baby Sitter Boogie’, Russ Veers and keepin’ it on the edge of its toes rhythm ‘Warm As Toast’, and not forgetting ghostly feel of ‘Midnight Dreams’ from Tommy Bell. If you’re searching for the epitome of cool, then two such contenders can be heard via Roy James And The Rhythm Rockers ‘Rock & Roll Mama’ and soon followed by Danny And The Galaxies ‘If You Want To Be My Baby’. As mentioned earlier, this series of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll goes from strength to strength; ‘Rock And Roll Mama’ is no different as each of its 26 tracks does the Pan American label proud and will leave any listener eagerly anticipating the next volume.


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Jive-A-Rama: It’s Rock And Roll

Various Artists

Atomicat

A new series arrives on the Atomicat imprint that focuses on the dance styles of jive, bop and stroll. With the first volume titled, ‘Jive-A-Rama: It’s Rock And Roll’ the songs come thick and fast and begin in some style via Arthur Lee May and The Crowns and ‘Do The Bop’, and concludes in equally fine style with The Starjays ‘Turn Down The Lights’. What’s interesting about this new CD set, which is scheduled for five releases, is that each volume includes artists from the 50s and early 60s, but also two songs from bands writing and recording in the present. Rather than give the game away, it’s up to the listener to untangle which two bands are the fresher sounding because once the 30 sides of jive, bop and stroll gets underway it’s not an easy answer to arrive at, especially for those less familiar with the rockin’ scene and therefore full credit for the authenticity of the modern bands involved. With some great names included and further interesting twists of artists and tracks chosen (i.e. Del Shannon’s version of ‘Runaround Sue’ rather opting for more obvious take by Dion), Jive-A-Rama: It’s Rock And Roll’ makes for an exciting compilation (listen to Curtis Lee’s ‘I Never Knew What Love Could Do’ for definitive proof) that will keep any dancer moving into the early hours.


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Indian Bred Vol. 2: Chief Whoopin’ Koff

Various Artists

Atomicat

The next instalment in the ‘Indian Bred’ series from Atomicat sees another jampacked compilation of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll with many familiar names, and some less featured when it comes to other collections of rockin’ tracks. It’s not only the presentation of this current series that impresses, but the attention to detail considering space and time is restricted here. The choice of tracks this time leans more towards songs directly referencing native Americans, and with roots planted firmly in the various strands of country as far as the music goes. Therefore, step forward The Miller Brothers and Their Band (‘Geronimo’), Eddie Noack (‘Squaws Along The Way’), Roy Hogshed (‘Red Wing’) and Pee Wee King with ‘Indian Giver’. There are plenty of rockers as well with the album’s title track supplied by the driving guitars of The Fireballs, and then Barry Darvell letting fly with some serious rock ‘n’ roll with ‘Geronimo Stomp’, before adding further irresistible quality by way of Larry Manuel (‘Comanche Rock ‘N’ Roll’) and electric ‘Cherokee’ from Pete Goble and Billy Gill with The Kentucky Rebels. Where else are you going to find such wonderful eccentricities as ‘Indian Boogie’ by Buster Pack and His Lonesome Pine Boys’ and then supported by more household names and rockin’ tracks from Ray Scott, Bo Diddley to Link Ray and His Wraymen? That’s right, ‘Indian Bred: Chief Whoopin’ Koff’ because it’s a mighty fine collection of songs.


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Indian Bred Vol. 1: Fire In The Teepee

Various Artists

Atomicat

A hot-rockin’ new series finds its way on to Atomicat by the name of ‘Indian Bred’. The first volume of songs features various artists with a Native American heritage performing numbers that either reflect such native links or songs reflective of the period i.e. Wild West or quite simply rock ‘n’ roll’s meal ticket of songs of love and heartbreak. Housed in a foldout digipack and with concise liner notes by DJ Mark Armstrong (Germany) of every artist featured, ‘Indian Bred – Fire In The Teepee’ is aesthetically appealing as well as informative, but does it cut the mustard sonically? Well, the immediate answer is yes, yes it does, and boy does this album deliver! From the big sound of Bill Haley & His Comets ‘Ten Little Indians’ fuelling the launch of this compilation and then proceeded by such rockin’ delights as ‘You Break Me Up’ (Ben Hewitt), wild, wild ‘Chonnie-On-Chon’ via James Brown and bristling rock ‘n’ roll of cover artist Eddie Clearwater ‘I Was Gone’, there’s much to be said of this album and it’s all positive. From its merging of predominantly rock ‘n’ roll with shades of rhythm and blues and expertly delivered by Art Neville and sublime ‘Zing Zing’ for example, to featuring country/honky-tonk troubadour Hank Williams with ‘Baby, We’re Really In Love’, proves a clever strategy as the track list functions with ease and offers great variety. There’s even room to show off here, and good reason when featuring the “ahead of its time” and fantastically oddball ‘Boo Hoo’ by Marvin Rainwater and even the King himself Elvis Presley closing out this session with ‘How Do You Think I Feel’. Quite simply, ‘Indian Bred: Fire In The Teepee’ is a red-hot long player, skilfully compiled and, if anything, a perfect introduction to some of the artists of the 50s rockin’ scene.


Released 7 February

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol. 2

Various Artists

Atomicat

Second volume in the series ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens’ that focuses on the female rockers of the 50s and early 60s. With no introduction needed, Wanda Jackson is the perfect start with a “takin’ it to them” attitude summed up by the dominant force of the vocals and lyrics holding strong repercussions if you choose to step on the wrong side. From such a grand entrance, the rest of the compilation has much to live up to and it certainly delivers. Reasons for this is the change in tempo and emotions expressed where one instance songs are sultry and suggestive in their desires such as Lu Ann Simms ‘I Wanna Hug You, Kiss You, Squeeze You’ and equally the mysterious and little-known Cile Turner and excellent ‘Crap Shootin’ Sinner’, before entering a world full of regret where there really is only one outcome expertly done by two rhythm and blues numbers Dolores Frederick ‘Get A Transfer’ and Rosalle & Donell ‘Shame On You’. As with the previous volume, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol. 2’ would have been wise to drop by the wayside the sickly twee offerings from Rosie & Retta ‘I’m Gonna be Loved Tonight’ and title track by Sally Starr. That said, volume two in this new series just about edges things if a winner really must be decided.


Released 7 February

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol. 1

Various Artists

Atomicat

Mapped out as a series of four CDs covering female artists from the 50s and early 60s, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol. 1 – Friction Heat’ focuses on traditional rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll. With twenty-five tracks featuring the likes of Etta James, Ella Mae Morse, Janis Martin, Patti Page et al, the first volume in this new series gets off to a flyer with Big Maybelle providing the hairdryer treatment via ‘Rock House’. There’s further quality in store with already mentioned Ella Mae Morse who provides an utterly convincing performance with the anxious emotions of excellent ’40 Cups Of Coffee’ complete with big band accompaniment. More greatness follows with rock ‘n’ roll offering ‘Let’s Elope Baby’ from Janis Martin, and rhythm and blues of Annisteen Allen’s ‘Lies, Lies, Lies’. The Ray Charles classic ‘I Got A Woman’ is given a slightly different spin by Jo Stafford by renaming it to ‘I Got A Sweetie’ that runs like a well-oiled machine, which is hardly surprising given the singer’s background as a trained opera singer. Normal rockin’ service resumes with the rickety blues of ‘Shot Gun Boogie’ that’s a real delight, especially the rawness of Rosemary Clooney’s voice. In fact, there’s only a few occasions where the compilation falls short and namely the saccharine-sweet vocals of Rosie & Retta during ‘The Hoot-Owl Melody’ and then irksome duo ‘It’s Been Said’ (Nellie Lutcher) and ‘Dance Everybody, Dance’ by Betty Madigan. Otherwise, all is well when it comes to a female front of rock ‘n’ roll and ‘Friction Heat’.


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Midnight Bus

Marti Brom & her Rancho Notorious

Enviken

Back with a new long player is singer-songwriter and powerhouse vocalist Marti Brom. Packed with no less than fifteen tracks to whet the appetite of any rockin’ aficionado and supported from the rear with “her” Rancho Notorious, latest album ‘Midnight Bus’ sees Texas artist and former Ameripolitan Award-winner Marti Brom balance a playlist between country and rockabilly. With recordings taking place in Sweden and issued under the Enviken banner, Marti Brom sets out her stall with songs of heartbreak (i.e. ‘Push Me Till I’m Gone’, ‘Lies Of A Promise’, ‘Last Ten Years With You’), in addition to remaining open to the prospects of love. Any notion of being open to love can be gleaned from confident sounding opener ‘Come Destroy Me’ that is Cramps-esque by its guitars and dark edges of its rhythm yet minus the trash, to full of endurance that exists in ‘Lovealholic’ and sounding like the kind of song Johnny Cash would have been performing in his youthful prime. In fact, the ghost of Johnny Cash makes an appearance during the previously cited ‘Push Me Till I’m Gone’ with its clickety-clack rhythm reminiscent of his Sun Records phase. Elsewhere, Marti Brom shows her versatility with traditional country one moment (‘Lasso Mr Moon’), before switching to something a little modern-sounding with influences of blues added to the rockin’ beat of ‘Ambush’; a song that would equally be at home with Imelda May. Throw into the mix a cover of Little Richard classic ‘Slippin’ And Slidin’, leaving ‘Midnight Night Bus’ as an album to be proud of due to its unwavering confidence throughout, considering the aforementioned hints of rejection of the subject matter of majority of songs, yet it also marks a serious and consistent comeback from an artist clearly finding her rhythm once again.


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One In A Million

Twisted Rod

Rhythm Bomb

Proudly waving the flag for Rhythm Bomb is Czech Republic outfit Twisted Rod. A three-piece setup consisting of guitar, bass and drums, Twisted Rod not only write most of their own material via the pen of Filip Nesvadba but have a habit of producing the goods every time there’s a new album release. New offering ‘One In A Million’ is further testament of the qualities at the centre of this band; a thirteen-track album teaming with red-hot rockers such as addictive ‘She’s A Hurricane’, brawling rhythms of ‘Wait A Minute Honey’ and ‘Rainy Days’. In fact, most of this long player is full of attitude (‘I Wanna Bop’) but also knows when to let go and enjoy the good times (‘The Place Was Jumpin’) as well as providing some light relief during the album’s title track. If you need further convincing of the qualities laid bare, then ‘Pretty Baby’ should tick all the boxes as it’s a song that proudly projects its emotions and convinces greatly. Twisted Rod has certainly done it again and produced a whirlwind of rockin’ rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll with current album ‘One In A Million’.


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With This Ring

Various Artists

Atomicat

A romantic theme (and the fallout for some) sets up the collection of songs ‘With This Ring’. With songs focusing on the fascinating topics of love and relationships, where better to start than a positive beginning than Sam Butera and popcorn induced ‘Love Charm’. From there on, the tracks provide doses of rock ‘n’ roll with great examples coming from The Super-Phonics light rockin’ ‘Teenage Partner’, to thoroughly engaging Darrell Glenn and ‘Congratulations To Me’, and later on one half of the Burnette brothers, in this instance Dorsey, with ‘Let’s Fall In Love’. The song title alone of Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps entry is enough to claim this compilation but that would be a disservice to the rest of the contents where great country turns from Hank Snow (‘Honeymoon On A Rocketship’) and Dave Rich (‘Tuggin’ On My Heart Strings’) show up. There’s even the inclusion of female performers such as Bunny Paul and the snappy rock ‘n’ roll/early pop of ‘Baby Sitters Blues’. With the final word of this compilation reserved for Patsy Cline’s ‘A Church, A Courtroom, Then Goodbye’, there’s much to ponder which, for most of its contents, it’s all positive as far as the music is concerned.


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Satan’s Holiday: The Devil’s Jukebox

Various Artists

Atomicat

Even baddies get the blues. Latest compilation from the stable that is Atomicat is ‘Satan’s Holiday: The Devil’s Jukebox’. With the meanest dude of them all spinning a playlist of rockin’ delights, you can expect to hear a few of the usual suspects and lesser known artists committing their wares to wax. There are many welcome choices made with Gene Vincent’s ‘Race With The Devil’ or Al Jones ‘Mad, Mad World’. The less obvious choices prove inspired decisions as well, with The Zanies ‘Mad Scientist’ revealing influences of rhythm and blues and horror movies straight from the 50s. Other instances reveal more serious turns such as the frantic rock ‘n’ roll of Myron Lee, in addition to The Caddies ‘Homicide’. Raising it a few notches higher on the wild scale is rhythm and blues rocker ‘Wail Baby Wail’ by Tommy Louis with Marshall and the Versatiles. The definition of scintillating rock ‘n’ roll continues via The Rhythm Rockets and ‘My Shadow’, and then throws up a well-known artist, Chuck Berry, but with less obvious track ‘Downbound Train’, which makes for an interesting diversion. There’s room to breathe via Ella Mae Morse and the big band accompaniment that is ‘Rip Van Winkle’, whereas “Scat Man” Crothers excellent take on ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’ adds variation. This is one jukebox that will keep minds and hearts warm during the winter months with its diverse range of artists and piping hot tracks.



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