Album Reviews

Filter :

Released Out now

 

Hank Williams Songbook Vol.1

Various Artists

Atomicat

Ushering in another new series is Atomicat Records with their ‘Hank Williams Songbook Vol.1’. The new set of volumes looks to the songs of Hank Williams with a few additional tracks that also inspired the singer-songwriter. The rest is left to various selected artists to provide their interpretations of Hank Williams songs. Therefore, Volume. 1, ‘Rockin’ Chair Money’, focuses on numerous songs where country, bluegrass, gospel and honky tonk play their parts, for example, and often where the tempo is upbeat and lively. Step forward various artists with sizeable reputations to spread the gospel that was Hank Williams when it came to traditional country music, presented here by the likes of Moon Mullican (‘Jambalaya’), Marvin rainwater (‘Moanin’ The Blues’), Johnny Horton (‘Cherokee Boogie’), Don Gibson (‘Why Don’t You Love Me’) and The Maddox Brothers & Rose with ‘Honky Tonkin’. Much respect is given by Porter Wagoner’s version of classic ‘Settin’ The Woods On Fire’, to nothing to be ashamed of cover of ‘I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You’ by Delbert Barker. Equally competent and offering slightly different versions of Williams’ songs are Smilin’ Eddie Hill with ‘Mind Your Own Business’ and bluegrass legend Bill Monroe with ‘I Saw The Light’. With a hefty twenty-eight tracks to work through with this new release, there’s much to ponder and rejoice in when it came to the music of Hank Williams.


Released Out now

 

Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.2

Various Artists

Atomicat

Second volume of brand-new compilation series from the Atomicat label ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive’ features another twenty-eight tracks from well-established artists to a few names less so when it comes to country music. Ranging from hillbilly to western swing and honky tonk,  ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.2’ offers yet more great quality as far as the music goes, but the bonus with the second edition is the inclusion of artists who are less prominent when it comes to similar compilation albums. Therefore, step forward the likes of Curley Williams & His Georgia Peach Pickers and track ‘Texas Swing’, to other candidates Village Boys ‘Boogie Woogie In The Village’, Billy Hughes ‘Cocaine Blues’, Bill Mounce and Sons of the South ‘Kickin’ It Off’, and Big Jeff & The Radio Playboys’ ‘Juke Box Boogie’. To have a song named ‘Cocaine Blues’ was rock ‘n’ roll in itself before the genre had been invented and, without doubt, there must have been plenty of wild shenanigans predating rock ‘n’ roll judging from the lively rhythms of many of these songs. The inclusion of Grayson And Whitter’s ‘Train Forty-Five’ is a special touch with its fiddle generating the rhythm and thus providing the imaginary momentum of the train in motion, to gorgeous guitar pickin’ and storytelling via Bob Newman and pressure that’s on during ‘Haulin’ Freight’. If you’re looking for something a little different when it comes to country compilations, then ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.2’ could just be the ticket.

 


Released Out now

 

Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.1

Various Artists

Atomicat

Turning its attention to music from the American wilderness is Atomicat who introduce a fresh series focusing on ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive’. The first volume features country music from America’s Pine State and features various artists predating what was to later become rock ‘n’ roll. With the genres of hillbilly, western swing and honky tonk featured throughout this first compilation, there’s certainly something for all those country music aficionados out there. Housed in an ultra-slim digipack and remastering having taken place at Black Shack Recordings and Mark Armstrong responsible for compiling all tracks, ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.1’ provides a great introduction to those less familiar with the aforementioned genres. There are many established names represented here from the likes of Bill Haley & His Comets, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Wade Ray, Merle Travis, Hank Penny, Patsy Cline, Hank Thompson, Don Gibson, Tex Williams et al. With such an established line-up there’s much quality on offer, not to mention compelling narration via excellent ‘Hadacillin Boogie’ from the quick tongue of Hank Penny, to Johnny Bond with ‘Sick, Sober And Sorry’. The country music is often lively and upbeat but with lyrics that often reflect opposite emotions such as The Singing Rangers & His Rainbow Ranch Boys ‘Can’t Have You Blues’ or Gene O’Quin with ‘I Get The Blues’. Standout track goes to Wade Ray and ‘Idaho Red’ complete with backing singers and handclaps that are simply irresistible! Overall, this is a GREAT entry point for those looking for some genuine foundations of the artists who represented the developing country sounds.


Released Out now

 

Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.6

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Another volume in the Southern Bred series arrives and this time focus is given to the region of Texas and those “R&B Rockers” who plied their trade there. With the by now obligatory twenty-eight tracks featuring established artists in addition to those lesser known, the quality has been consistently high throughout this series to date. The sixth volume shows no signs of faltering regarding such standards with Little Esther offering her interpretation of classic ‘Hound Dog’ that gets this album off to a flyer. From then on, the quality of rhythm and blues continues to ascend skywards with Joe Tex (‘She’s Mine’), Little Willie Littlefield (‘Rockin’ Chair Mama’) and his rockin’ piano that most likely sparked Jerry Lee Lewis’s interest in the instrument judging by the similarities, and the smooth ride, complemented with additional handclaps, of The Medallions’ ‘Buick ‘59’. There is a real sense of optimism to the majority of tracks presented here, where rhythms are often lively as portrayed by the saxophone of King Curtis and ‘Rockabye Baby’, to the bigger sounding ‘Shake, Pretty Baby, Shake’ of Eddie ‘Tex’ Curtis & His Orchestra, and hotly pursued by piano-pumpin’ ‘Amos’ Boogie’ (Amos Milburn) and too hot to handle ‘That’s What You Think’ by Freddy King. It’s The Medallions, once more, who provide much to smile about when it comes to this latest compilation with their inventive presentation of ‘Speedin’, in addition to superb vocals from Fluffy Hunter during ‘The Walkin’ Blues (Walk Right In, Walk Right Out)’ with musical accompaniment supplied via Jesse Powell Orchestra which, along with the rest of the artists representing this latest volume, leaves a huge task to fill when the next album in this series arrives in terms of matching the astounding selection of ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.6’.


Released Out now

 

Stroll-A-Rama: Jump and Bump

Various Artists

Atomicat

Third volume in the series that likes to introduce the tracks that will transfer avid listener into avid dancer, ‘Stroll-A-Rama: Jump and Bump’ is that record. In addition to a more than wholesome thirty tracks, this is also the compilation series that doesn’t necessarily play by the rules as it introduces two tracks from contemporary artists yet who operate within the original 50’s blueprint of music. Add to the roster artists from various continents such as British talent Marty Wilde and song ‘Jezebel’, and French singer Richard Anthony with a rendition of ‘The Wanderer’ (‘Le Vagabond’), then clearly this collection is content with providing a little something else. Such tactics work tremendously as there is variation from the traditional rhythm and blues end such as The Drifters ‘Honky Tonk’ and The Flares charming ‘Jump And Bump’, to guitar and  brass duel of ‘Midnite Creep’ (Al Bruno), surf instrumental from German band Spo-Dee-O-Dee, and tight rockin’ numbers by the likes of Fention Robinson ‘Crazy Crazy Loving’. Jittery Jack’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ gives the game away only slightly when it comes to identifying the modern artist, but it’s a glorious stompin’ racket that provides much spice. It’s not only the rhythms (Bobby Doyle’s ‘Hot Seat’ is simply irresistible!) that entice because the majority of the lyrics grab the attention as well, with examples from ‘When Will I Be Loved’ (The Everly Brothers) to ‘What A Lonesome Life It’s Been’ (Skeets McDonald) that declares this album a true all-rounder.


Released Out now

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol.3

Various Artists

Atomicat

Third instalment in the series featuring all-female rockers from a bygone era is ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens – Shakin’ The Blues’. Bringing light to an area of rock ‘n’ roll that needs highlighting, the latest volume focuses on the “Blues” of its title in more ways than one. By bringing to the listeners attention songs with blues references, albeit rhythm and blues from Etta James ‘Good Rockin’ Daddy’ and big band sound of ‘Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad’ from Betty Hutton, the blues also refers to emotional blues whether given the ‘Run Around’ via Valli Hilton or more positive outlooks by way of female trio Nita, Rita & Ruby and ‘Baby You’re The One’, to celebratory ‘Lover Boy’ from Carol Jarvis. As with previous volumes, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens – Shakin’ The Blues’ is packed full of rockin’ tunes, but also songs that show a variety of musical influences than being a straightforward rock ‘n’ roll compilation.


Released Out now

 

Boss Black Rockers Vol.1 – She Can Rock

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

As the end of the sleeve notes to this brand-new compilation from the Koko Mojo label declares “Dig It!” there’s no wiser words to adhere. Titled ‘Boss Black Rockers’, the first volume provides an array of tracks from the vaults of a 50s era, in addition to touching upon the fringes of the early 60s. There’s a heavy dose of rhythm and blues mixed with the raw edges of what became known as rock ‘n’ roll throughout this volume, and it shines bright once the likes of The Upsetters, featuring Little Richard, get underway with ‘I’m In Love Again’ or The Cues delivering a nifty racket via ‘Killer Diller’. The tempo loosens further with a raucous ‘She Can Rock’ supplied by Little Ike and attention-grabbing ‘Comin’ Around The Mountain’ from appropriately named Johnny Two-Voice. In fact, the tempo of this album never really lessens as examples from Dee Clark, Frank Ballard, Four Scores and Bobby Flare amply provide, only this is often a controlled rhythm yet equally red hot to those cooked up by the more known white rock and rollers of the period. Where the edges become frayed, and this being a definite positive, then look no further than Leon and the Hi-Tones’ ‘Rock And Roll In The Groove’ and downright mischievous ‘Love Bandit’ by The Cadets which, along with the other twenty-six tracks making up this collection, cries winning score all round.


Released Out now

 

Climate (Single)

Rylos

Rylos Music

Another release that rightly feels the urge to address the current environmental issues that are constantly in the media right now. The band in question is Rylos who hail from Helsinki in Finland and their new single, appropriately titled, ‘Climate’ is a rather catchy affair. With its sound crossing borders between alternative rock and hard rock, ‘Climate’ introduces itself via tumbling drums, buzzing guitars and near-operatic vocals, before taking a moment to catch its breath and then continue its journey with a hard-hitting message to basically take care of this planet. ‘Climate’ was recorded at Astia Studio with Anssi Kippo in early January 2020, and it’s recorded completely using analogue recording technology. With the band adding to the mix new bassist, Riina Suikkanen, it looks like 2020 is going to be a serious year for Rylos judging by the energy and addictive qualities of latest single ‘Climate’ that combines its efforts equally between being a compelling tune and one with a conscience.


Released Out now

 

Blues For Mother Earth / Freak Knowledge

the Harvey Steel show

Sell Out! Music

Arriving in the form of two albums, yet packaged as a single release, are the brand-new offerings from the Harvey Steel show. Leading the way from Norway when it comes to raising awareness of social, political and environmental issues via their brand of DIY psychedelic folk art rock or whatever label one deems fit to apply to the band’s musical creations, the Harvey Steel show continue their musical exploration with a vinyl edition presented as a double A-side showcasing ‘Blues For Mother Earth’ and ‘Freak Knowledge’. Running first with ‘Blues For Mother Earth’, this side of the album reveals contents lighter in textures of folk, jazz and acoustic rock that eventually make their way to its centre masterpiece, and that being the album’s title track. Unfolding in 14 minutes, ‘Blues For Mother’ (track) goes through musical transitions involving folk and near gospel, to orchestrated jazz and breaks of psychedelic rock that remain under control nearing its conclusion. Lyrically, the song is worth adhering to if the present stranglehold of environmental pollution is ever going to be resolved. “Snap, snap, snap,” goes the flipside ‘Freak Knowledge’ that maintains the same A-sided status as ‘Blues For Mother Earth’ yet is the more aggressive sibling of the two. That’s not to say that we’re entering post-punk territory here, far from it, more that ‘Freak Knowledge’ is a little rougher around its edges as it pays its respects to those free spirits of this world prepared to open their minds and buck the norm of following trends. The Harvey Steel show certainly open their DIY box of creativity where blues, jazz and garage rock are on the menu. Former single, ‘Honey Voodoo’ is one such candidate that fits such a description as everything but the kitchen sink gets tossed in where, for example, you’ll hear more than one set of drums, distorted bass, harmonica, keys, saxophones, strings, vocal harmonies and an overload of guitars. Compelling chaos in other words. Less is also more here, with songs more concise as the short-sharp stabbing rhythm of ‘Artsy Crocodile’ with its protest-sounding vocals and bluesy harmonica are a match made in heaven, and one that would make PJ Harvey proud. There is only one way for the Harvey Steel show to go, and that is to continue pursuing their own musical destiny because this double A-side long player is a triumph.


Released Out now

 

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.


Released Out now

 

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’.


Released Out now

 

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.



Back To Top