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Boss Black Rockers: Mardi Gras Rock Vol.6

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Great design and even greater music are what you can expect with the series that is still rolling ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.6’. Highlighting much needed recognition of the “original” rock ‘n’ rollers, the latest volume has a festive appeal to the tracks chosen; hence its title of ‘Mardi Gras Rock’. The names are a little more familiar as well with the likes of Joe Tex (‘She’s Mine’), Jackie Wilson (‘If I Can’t Have You’), “Big” Al Downing (‘Just Around The Corner’) and Billy Lamont (‘I Got A Rock And Roll Gal’) popping in and leaving their stamp of rock ‘n’ roll goodness. Bobby Freeman is bestowed the honour of opening this latest compilation with the title track and it’s not difficult to understand why considering the strength of the vocal delivery and guitar leading the way. It’s not all about the familiar however, because littered in between are musicians less familiar (to these ears anyway) such as the wild cat that is Pretty Boy and track ‘Rockin’ The Mule’ that is stripped down to its barest bones, to equally throaty The Blonde Bomber and bustling rhythm of ‘Strollie Bun’. Given a revival in recent times, Bunker Hill makes an appearance with ‘The Girl Can’t Dance’, which has to be one of the earliest forms of punk before it became a major talking point during the 70s. Jim Breedlove provides his interpretation of Maybelle’s version of ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’, and not to be confused with Jerry Lee Lewis’s presentation of this song. With so much good music on offer whether it’s wild and rockin’ such as Mr P. T. And The Party-Timers ‘Crazy Sadie’, or something a bit more considered like The Seniors ‘Pitter Patter Heart’, ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.6’ has something for all true devotees of rock and roll music.


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Boss Black Rockers: Just Rockin’ & Rollin’ Vol.5

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

At the fifth stage in what has been a highly consistent series of albums so far featuring many exciting rock ‘n’ roll tracks from various black artists from the “Golden Age” of American music comes ‘Boss Black Rockers: Just Rockin’ & Rollin’ Vol.5’. Packed with another twenty-eight songs carefully selected by the Mojo Man (aka Little Victor), the tracks chosen feature a number of artists that will be unfamiliar to many except for the diehard rock ‘n’ rollers who managed to tap into this particular corner of rock ‘n’ roll first time around. It must be said that elements of traditional rhythm and blues mingle with the first shoots of rock ‘n’ roll throughout this album and clearly heard via opening track ‘A Real Good Time’ by Eddie Clearwater. Following on is Frankie Lucas and the addictive ‘I Want To Rock You Baby’ with a steady flow of brass instrumentation bubbling underneath throughout. Next up is Bobby Flare and ‘Variety’ where the song has a habit of providing plenty of variety in terms of style as do the vocals with a tendency to flare up on occasion. It’s a thrilling listen and good starting point if looking for an instant fix of rock ‘n’ roll. The name Brook Benton crops up once more (See Koko Mojo album ‘Elvis Stole My Job’) with ‘Hurtin’ Inside’ and good example to see where Elvis adopted part of his vocal style. Further accusations of “borrowing” can be levelled at the white artists who made rock ‘n’ roll very popular once the singular Harvey and song ‘Da Da Goo Goo’ makes its entrance and speaks in eccentricities with Purple People Eaters among the topics. Volume five lives up to it predecessors where the rock ‘n’ roll is free flowing from top to bottom whether it’s coming from the excellent ‘(I Do The) Shimmy Shimmy’ from Bobby Freeman or The Corvairs ‘Hey, Sally Mae’ and, not forgetting, top version of ‘Lucille’ by Ike Haley & The Red Blazers concluding another compelling set.


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Let’s Throw A Pajama Party Vol.3

Various Artists

Atomicat

This is the series that has a habit of throwing together some real hard rockin’ delights with equally exciting results from numerous teenage-light rock ‘n’ roll combined with plenty of teen-pop, doo-wop and rhythm and blues. ‘Let’s Throw A Pajama Party Vol.3’ makes no exception from this formula and its previous two volumes in what is proving an excellent series. The Rockin Rebels ‘Wild Weekend’ kickstarts this party with a tough instrumental and therefore living up to both titles. From there, the mood swings between teen-pop numbers ‘Your Love Is A Good Love’ via smooth vocals of Jimmy Edwards, to upping the tempo ever so slightly of ‘Zig Zag’ (Bobby Comstock), and then notching it up further during considerably wilder ‘Boppin’ Bobby’ from Jean King Victor. Well-known hits from the likes of Bobby Darin and ‘Dream Lover’ add further quality as do rhythm and blues/rock ‘n’ roll numbers from Larry Williams ‘Slow Down’ and Screamin Jay Hawkins ‘Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle’, before diverting down another alley and coming up with much drama from the vocals of Ray Peterson (‘Tell Laura I Love Her’), to The Valentines ‘The Woo Woo Train’ where the saxophone is fuelling this particular train. RED HOT! With homework done and the recipient, Atomicat, receiving an A+ for their efforts regarding this latest compilation where the listener and, more significantly, partygoer will experience a breadth of tracks that all good compilation albums should contain, especially if they want to keep the party rockin’, ‘Let’s Throw A Pajama Party Vol.3’ will have no such problems once the needle drops on this record because it fulfils all such expectations.


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Thunder & Lightning

Fireball Steven

Rhythm Bomb

The cogs are turning once more at Rhythm Bomb Records with a brand-new release issued this month. Marking the comeback is Fireball Steven with an authentic take on rockabilly via new long player ‘Thunder & Lightning’. From a fresh faced and youthful appearance adorning the cover of his latest album, concerns of growing old seem to be impacting the song writing of Fireball Steven. An example of this can be heard during the only self-penned track of the album, ‘Rheumatism Baby’, which is a crying shame considering its addictive shuffling rhythm and cool vocals that would have seen its songwriter firmly at home with the original pioneers of 50’s rockabilly. That said, the choice of covers is given careful consideration with either less obvious artists chosen or those who are more familiar it’s often a less obvious song selected for ‘Thunder & Lightning’. Paying much homage therefore, but not without adding very subtle traits of his own, Fireball Steven reinvigorates such great and interesting choices as Ronnie Self’s ‘Black Night Blues’ where piano certainly dominates, to a very live sounding ‘Everybody’s Body’ via George Hamilton IV with some great pickin’ on the guitar. The straight out of Memphis interpretation of Larry Manuel’s ‘Comanche Rock ‘n’ Roll’ sees Fireball Steven slipping comfortably into the former songwriter’s rockin’ shoes with much respect given as its inch perfect. Additionally, ditto Luke McDaniel’s ‘Huh Babe’, albeit with the smallest of margins when it comes to energy during Fireball Steven’s version. It’s more than a solid comeback from both artist and record label where Fireball Steven proves his knowledge and worth when recreating a 50’s rockabilly sound that shows great respect to former recording artists of the era, but with added bonuses where Swedish enters the vocabulary of ‘Thunder & Lightning’ (‘Söderns Son’), and the formerly mentioned own composition ‘Rheumatism Baby’ revealing a genuine song writing talent in his own right.

 


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If There Wasn’t Any Sinners The Saints Wouldn’t Look So Good (Single)

Doc & the Headshrinkers

HSM

A contender for longest song title in the history of rock ‘n’ roll music is Doc & the Headshrinkers (last?) single release from their album ‘Crashland’. To provide some insight, ‘If There Wasn’t Any Sinners The Saints Wouldn’t Look So Good’ lands on vinyl and was recorded at Studio Fflach, Cadigan, Wales with production and artwork left to the band’s frontman Dave ‘Doc’ Cutter.  Despite the lengthy title of this single release, the actual song is an altogether catchy affair that’s full of short sharp hooks, as it is filled with an abundance of details where the guitar genuinely leads this song but only made possible via support from experienced upright bass and textured drumming joining up the rest of the dots. Add to the mix a throaty roar from the vocals department that gives the impression of having experienced plenty of rumbles not to mention heartbreak over the years given its worn(out) feel, in addition to the occasional chants from spectators in the background, then ‘If There Wasn’t Any Sinners The Saints Wouldn’t Look So Good’ is nothing short of an utterly thrilling ride of rock ‘n’ roll that is smart in its thinking as it is in its musicianship.


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Crashland

Doc & the Headshrinkers

HSM

Arriving late to this particular party, Famous Last Words caught wind of the wild rock ‘n’ roll antics of Wales based rock ‘n’ rollers, Dave & the Headshrinkers, via a live festival performance that appeared to shake the very foundations it was staged, in addition to waking up the local neighbourhood. Fast forward a year or two and the band’s sophomore album ‘Crashland’ has firmly established them as talented songwriters and a force to be reckoned with. Given the three year gap it has taken FLW to catchup with this branch of rock ‘n’ roll, any concerns regarding time lost is instantly forgotten once the opening salvo of ‘Mrs Tolley’, ‘I’ve Got Something Good For You’ and ‘High School Reject’ unleash their raw rockin’ sounds and lyrics that veer between revenge and steely determination. It makes for an impressive start  where Tchaikovsky is mentioned in the same breath as Chuck Berry (‘Mrs Tolley’) and traditional elements of rockabilly, spliced with rock ‘n’ roll, can be heard (‘I’ve Got Something…’), in addition to Doc & the Headshrinkers own take on these genres and best highlighted by the bruised yet still bustling ‘High School Reject’. It’s rock ‘n’ roll at its fullest attitude. Such feelings continue apace via the combined mouthful of words and frantic rhythm of ‘It Got In The Way’ that sees the band swinging from the chandeliers which, had it been a recent single release, could have been the party anthem to end this turbulent year given its punk-a-billy feel and open interpretation of its title that certainly applies in the present. As ‘Crashland’ continues to unravel its contents, the impression given is one of an album that improves with each and every layer where songs become even more considered ‘I’ll See You In Hell’, ‘Love Lies Lost’ and the tightly knitted rhythm and vocals of ‘Dig A Bone’ to cite a few. The influences are wide (Rockabilly, country (& spaghetti western), rock ‘n’ roll, punk, etc.) but often expressed subtly throughout ‘Crashland’. Therefore, accusations of straying from its main source (i.e. rock ‘n’ roll) is unwarranted, more that Doc & the Headshrinkers is a band open to ideas and free of fear when it comes to writing their own compositions. Long may that continue as the second album is a raging success with plenty of creative threads to pursue if the trio decide to undertake album number three.


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Up and Down

Ramblin Bandits

Rhythm Bomb

With the occasional exception, it has been something of an age since Rhythm Bomb issued an album from a band with most of their wares showing life of new and original material. Good to see therefore, the record label back on familiar territory promoting an album by the lively and energetic combo The Ramblin Bandits. With ‘Up and Down’ being album number two after debut ‘On A Hill’ from the Danish rockabilly trio, the latest release reveals similar traits to its well-received debut. With beards completely shorn or noticeably trimmer, The Ramblin Bandits continue their combined use of influences of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and a hefty dose of blues where their sound can be compellingly gruff and raw as depicted by the album’s title track. Such is the brooding, menacing ferocity of this opening song that had it been released during the outset of 50’s rockin’ music, it would have instantly received a banning order. From such tension and where this album differs, albeit slightly to its predecessor, is the variation in tempo of one or two tracks. This makes for a welcome feature as it’s not all foot-to-the-floor belters with an inspiring and intriguing turn, partially explained by its delivery of near-threadbare instrumentation of ‘Four Ounce Bobby’ where the holler from this side of the fence is, “More of this please!” Delta blues plays its part with noticeable use of slide guitar during ‘Crazy Little Mama’ and ‘Squeeze You In’, the latter of which sounds more contemporary purely for reminding of Seasick Steve. However, rioting is part of their game and something The Ramblin Bandits do best with team attitude and effort in abundance during ‘We Are The Ramblin Bandits’ and, next in line, ‘Rough Enough’ which, again, contains much tension judging by its revengeful sounding chorus that barks out its feelings. As far as second albums go, The Ramblin Bandits show no signs of fatigue during ‘Up and Down’ because it’s simply engaging from start to finish, and contains shoots of creativity with clear indicators of future directions if the band choose to pursue such avenues.


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Boss Black Rockers Vol.4 – Slow Down

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

A series that is raising a holler due to not only its excellent content but also for providing a piece of history that is not highlighted enough regarding the many “ACE” black musicians who laid the foundations for what became rock ‘n’ roll. With volume four in this recent series from Koko Mojo, the twenty-eight tracks on offer provide enough glimpses of the talent of the time but also for the energy and inventiveness of the rockin’ tracks. By introducing a few names that will be familiar to some i.e. Jimmy McCracklin, Lloyd Price, Otis Redding with, on this occasion The Pinetoppers and others such as Joe Tex, Gene and Eunice and Larry Williams, the inclusion of a few lesser known artists adds extra spice to the series and therefore a worthy addition to anyone’s record collection. From the very definition of “wild” rock ‘n’ roll that is the severe guitar straining number ‘Wail Baby Wail’ from Tommy Louis With Marshall And The Versatiles, to more rhythmically tight ‘Such A Mess’ but nonetheless rock ‘n’ roll given the power expressed by Lloyd Price’s voice, volume four of this series has no intention of slowing down. With so much expressed via the rhythm and blues/doo wop crossover of the vocals and rock ‘n’ roll of its guitar of The El Venos’ ‘Geraldine’ providing such a deeply textured song yet sounding free of clutter, to other tracks where the rock ‘n’ roll is absolutely flying such as the fantastic ‘Papa Lou And Gran’ supplied by Little Victor. Only four albums in and the series ‘Boss Black Rockers’ has already offered more than enough great rockin’ tracks and, even greater news, there’s still more to come!


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Boss Black Rockers Vol.3 – Rockin’ Shoes

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Keeping the rock ‘n’ roll flame well and truly alive is volume three of the current series on Koko Mojo ‘Boss Black Rockers – Rockin’ Shoes’. With the emphasis of the album title on the appropriate footwear when it comes to these latest twenty-eight slices of rock ‘n’ roll in this hot new series, “rockin’ shoes” are definitely required from the off. Such attire soon becomes apparent once the opening trio of songs from Big Al Downing and ‘Yes I’m Loving You’ opens this particular account with its straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll, to the next in line and scorching heat emanating from track ‘Itchy Twitchy Feeling’ by The Swallows, to equally thrilling Roy Gaines and ‘Skippy Is A Sissy (If This Ain’t Love). Phew! Take a breather, no chance! This is rock ‘n’ roll at its finest where the beat never lets up as evidenced by frantic rhythm of the compilation’s title track via Tony Allan. Following on from that is the powerhouse saxophone steering ‘Ain’t You Glad Nature Did It’ (Joe Perkins & The Rookies), to similar effect via the vocal of Bobby Davis and really rather prickly rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Damper Down’. Take a breather, no chance! Time to sit back and relax is not an option as ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.3 – Rockin’ Shoes’ is simply irresistible whether slippin’ ‘n’ slidin’ to charismatic vocals and lively rhythm of Larry Birdsong and ‘Somebody Somewhere’, or strollin’ via The Titans’ ‘Don’t You Just Know It’, or simply cutting loose to Etta James and ‘What I Say’, there’s no finer compilation to put the listener in the mood for some serious “Rockin’ Shoes” with volume three of ‘Boss Black Rockers’.


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Let’s Throw A Pajama Party Vol.2

Various Artists

Atomicat

Fast on the heels of the first volume in this latest series on the Atomicat label is ‘Pajama Party Vol.2’. With the first compilation being well received and shifting faster than hotcakes, the second album looks set to repeat the same success, if not surpass it. Containing enough songs to rival the average family shopping list, ‘Pajama Party Vol.2’ runs from track 01 to 30 and is filled with a variety of artists from the 50s and early 60s.Therefore, expect to have your ears filled with many delights such as classic instrumental by The Ventures ‘Walk, Don’t Run’, to plenty of teenage-light rock ‘n’ roll with examples ranging from Chico Holiday and the song ‘Cuckoo Girl’, to Johnny Tillotson and ‘Cutie Pie’. As with the first volume in this series, the current album mixes the genres and comes up trumps with traditional rhythm and blues and doo wop via The Crows’ ‘Gee’, The Cleftones’ ‘Can’t We Be Sweethearts’ and double offering from The Heartbeats with ‘I Want To Know’ and tearjerker ‘A Thousand Miles Away’. Ral Donner pops up with ‘Girl Of My Best Friend’ and provides not only fantastic vocals but the closest to the King himself Elvis Presley. Fanning the flame for female rockers is Donna Dameron, who returns the call to the Big Bopper himself via ‘Bopper 486609’. It’s a gripping track and provides enough flair and imagination to fill this entire compilation. Great value and, more importantly, great music are what to expect when dropping this soundtrack for the next party.


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Boss Black Rockers Vol.2 – Bip Bop Bip

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Already shaping up to be an exciting new series is ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.2 – Bip Bop Bip’. With this being only the second album to date, and ten scheduled overall, it’s going to be a difficult job to contain the excitement judging by the quality of songs offered, but also interesting to see how this quality varies over the duration of these album releases. With the “Mojo Man” aka Little Victor at the helm once more compiling the tracks for ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.2 – Bip Bop Bip’, there’s much to consume with twenty-eight songs selected. Kicking off with The Supremes (No, not that one!) ‘Don’t Leave Me Here To Cry’ that’s upbeat despite its title and followed by the easy to remember moniker and rock ‘n’ roll stomp of Big Bob and ‘Your Line Was Busy’. In fact, the rock ‘n’ roll never lets go as the quality maintains a gold standard from Bobby Marchan’s ‘Rockin’ Behind The Iron Curtain’, Lowell Fulson’s Little Richard inspired ‘Rock This Morning’, to The Cadets fabulous vocals and fusing of rhythm and blues with rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Do You Wanna Rock’. There are familiar tracks such as the reply to Chuck Berry’s ‘Maybellene’ with John Greer’s ‘Come Back Maybellene’, in addition to the original recording of ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’ from Barrett Strong. Bringing to the attention via ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.2 – Bip Bop Bip’ of artists who were performing rock ‘n’ roll songs either before or at the same time as their white counterparts is significant for providing an accurate document on the real history of the period, but also for bringing to light so many exciting and rockin’ tracks that deserve to be heard. This series is going to be very special indeed.


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Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol.4

Various Artists

Atomicat

Final word on the series ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol.4’ arrives and is packed once more with twenty-five tracks featuring a female voice on the rockin’ front. With familiar names lining up with less familiar names, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol.4’ offers much scope when it came to those women striving to make a name for themselves in a very male-dominated industry during this particular period in history. Such mettle reveals itself early on with Betty Johnson providing a perfect blend of two genres joined at the hip of ‘Honky Tonk Rock’ and giving a powerful intro to this compilation with strong vocals and solid rhythm section. Linda Hayes adds to this determined start with equally strong vocals and the rhythm and blues track ‘Name Ain’t Fannie’, followed by Janice Martin’s version of ‘Ooby Dooby’, which by no means lets the side down because it certainly rocks. Keeping the momentum going is excellent rollin’ and country-rockin’ rhythm of ‘Sweet Talk’ supplied by Bunny Paul and followed by always reliable Patsy Cline with ‘Stop Look And Listen’. Other choice delights can be heard via breath-taking ‘Learning To Love’ (Martha Lynn) and powerhouse vocals, twice over, from Marie Knight and ‘I Thought I Told You Not To Tell Them’ and by Annisteen Allen ‘I’ve Got Troubles’. Certainly ending this series on a high note judging by yet more rockin’ tracks from Jo Ann Campbell (‘Tall Boy’), Betty James (‘I’m A Little Mixed Up’) and wildness that is ‘The Big Bounce’ (Shirley Caddell) and sublime Little Esther with ‘If It’s News To You’, there’s no doubt these women could rock with their male counterparts as ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol.4’ clearly displays.



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