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Released Out now

 

Rhythm & Western Volume 2: Your Cheatin’ Heart

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Not a straightforward Country & Western album series, but one with a different take on the genre that sees the categories of rhythm and blues and C&W colliding whether directly in terms of musical representation or purely by song title and words of a song. Saddling up for the next volume of ‘Rhythm & Western’, this one is aimed straight at the emotions and classic Hank Williams territory of that condition known as a broken heart. Far from being a miserable experience in terms of listening, ‘Volume 2 – Your Cheatin’ Heart’ is certainly on the “emotional downside” in terms of its (appropriate) song titles e.g. ‘It Makes No Difference Now’ (Ray Charles), ‘Long Gone’ (Eartha Kitt) and ‘I Wanna Be Loved’ (The Lovers) for example, but when it comes to many of the songs the rhythms are lively. Take for example Clyde McPhatter and his fleet-footed version of Hank Snow’s ‘I’m Movin’ On’, or bigger band representation of ‘Whiskey, Women & Loaded Dice’ by Joe Liggins And His “Honeydrippers”. It’s such songs here that are more in vein of rhythm and blues than C&W but, as mentioned in our review of Volume 1, the album series ‘Rhythm & Western’ is not just a vehicle of direct representation of country music by African American artists because the album series is much more than that. The melding of rhythm and blues and C&W works admirably during ‘Night Train To Memphis’ where you can even hear the influence of gospel during its up-tempo rhythm that is unfussy and vocals that mirror this by Bobby Hebb. There’s a relaxed feel to Lou Rawls’ ‘If He Holds Your Hand’ that is typical of that early 60s country sound where there was a certain gloss to the overall production. The title track, ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’, is left to King Curtis who knows how to turn a song on its head and offer a unique take on the Hank Williams classic that has more in common with Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’. With “Little” Esther Phillips adding the tearjerker ‘Why Should We Try Anymore’ and add to that Ruth Brown ‘I Burned Your Letter’, before finally closing the album with The Big Three Trio and their interesting take on ‘Cigareets, Whuskey & Wild Women’, then you can safely say that all the drama often associated with country music is contained within the grooves of ‘Rhythm & Western Volume 2 – Your Cheatin’ Heart’.


Released Out now

 

Rhythm & Western Volume 1: When Two Worlds Collide

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Drumming up a new idea on the Koko Mojo label is The Mojo Man with a planned-five-series set of CDs featuring African American musicians performing country and western music. The songs selected are either classic C&W songs or songs that were issued as rhythm and blues at this time in history since they were not performed by a white artist. The album series ‘Rhythm & Western Volume 1 – When Two Worlds Collide’ will hopefully restore some form of balance by offering a platform for those African American artists who produced C&W music during the 50s and early 60s by showcasing their songs that were otherwise given less exposure and deemed unsuitable for said genre of music. With twenty-eight tracks to get the musical message across and offer an insight to the sounds of African Americans performing C&W, then the collision of rhythm and blues with country music is an apt title to begin this series. First up is The Hurricanes with ‘Pistol Packin’ Mama’ and is not only a fine introduction but also representative of typical Koko Mojo fare by being a straight up rhythm and blues track, which may leave some wondering about the song’s inclusion, but there’s more to this compilation with songs touching upon C&W influences and themes and sometimes that’s in the style of rhythm and blues. Providing the first “Yee-haw!” moment is next in the queue Long John Hunter with ‘Ole Rattler’. It’s the first stab at C&W here and is wonderfully endearing in its “rattling” instrumentation assembled and just about holding together via some sticky tape and charismatic vocals from Long John Hunter. Interestingly as well, you can hear the rhythm and blues faintly in the background, yet this is certainly more C&W. Brook Benton saunters across the prairie in fine fashion with the spoken word novelty ‘The Boll Weevil Song’, and such a performance extends to another notable performance by Scatman Crothers ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’ offering his version of this much covered C&W track. Once the album reaches its conclusion, the overall impression is that the lines between rhythm and blues and C&W are certainly blurred yet rhythm and blues often edges things where it’s more about the “mood” of a song that is fitting of a country style rather than the actual genre it’s performed in; hence the inclusion of classic country material fodder ‘Maybelline’ (Chuck Berry); ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ (Fats Domino), and ‘Sleep On The Porch’ (The Stewart Brothers).


Released 17 June

 

R&B Goes R&R 3: Dance Girl Dance

Various Artists

Atomicat

Taking a jaunt for the third time is the album series ‘R&B Goes R&R’. With its by now customary twenty-eight tracks of its playlist completing Volume 3, DeeJay Mark Armstrong is once more responsible for sourcing the material. The songs unearthed contains much familiarity but there’s also unfamiliar choices and one or two unusual additions, which is often the strength of this album series. One item which has not been mentioned yet is the quality of the artwork, which is an impressive sight and makes for an attractive addition to the quality of the music set. Moving through the years from 1955 to 1963, ‘R&B Goes R&R 3: Dance Girl Dance’ offers cover versions of rhythm and blues’ rockers performed by American and Australian artists who aimed to emulate the original performers but, in doing so, also provided further exposure of the “original” rock ‘n’ roll sound. The decision to start with Eddie Dugosh and song ‘Strange Kinda Feeling’ is prime example of the quality of the music chosen, but also for not opting for the most obvious considering there’s Gene Vincent (‘Jump Back, Honey, Jump Back’), Jerry Lee Lewis (‘Save The Last Dance For Me’) and The Everly Brothers (‘Hey Doll Baby’) all present yet not in pole position. The vintage rockabilly of ‘Strange Kinda Feeling’ is as impressive as anything the bigger “names” conjure up here and, if anything, Volume 3 certainly provides room for the lesser known/less featured artists to perform. Step forward Lawrence Shaul and primitive yet engaging rendition of ‘Tutti Frutti’, Frances Faye ‘It’s You I Love’, which is certainly more sophisticated and is music set for films of its era as well. Paul Peek maintains the less featured rhythm via his version of Ray Charles classic ‘The Rock-A-Round’ and it’s an absolute belter! Add to an ongoing list Ernie Sigley (‘The Big Beat’), Cody Brennan (‘Ruby Baby’), and Bunny Paul once again (See Volume 2) and track ‘Honey Love’, and ‘R&B Goes R&R 3: Dance Girl Dance’ is equal to its previous albums, but also adds a considerable bit more with a longer line of obscurer cover songs. Top quality from start to finish and worth far more in monetary value than its given price tag, ‘R&B Goes R&R 3: Dance Girl’ is essential!


Released Out now

 

R&B Goes R&R 2: Rock & Roll Music

Various Artists

Atomicat

Second album in the new series from Atomicat is – ‘R&B Goes R&R 2: Rock & Roll Music’. As with its predecessor, album number two turns rhythm and blues songs into rock ‘n’ roll songs and featuring several musicians from the States and Australia. The combined efforts once more make for a fascinating listen and just as Volume 1 impressed, Volume 2 proves equally compelling. Supporting this claim is the twenty-eight-track list featuring artists from Buddy Holly and Wanda Jackson to Hayden Thompson, Rusty York, Charlie Gore, Ella Mae Morse, and Marty Robbins. Again, as with the first album, there are plenty of names that feature with their versions of rhythm and blues tracks that are scarce to find on similar types of compilations. Despite being a name, Bunny Paul’s rendition of ‘Such A Night’ is one such example that doesn’t pop up when scouring the back catalogues of collected works of similar albums. Ditto Johnny Chester and more associated with Elvis ‘Milk Cow Blues’, not to mention names as The Toppers and song ‘Mr. Lee’, and The Goofers ‘Hearts Of Stone’. Beginning with such examples is a great way to approach this album when listening because there are more familiar artists as Buddy Holly, Wanda Jackson, and Warren Smith who will be known to many, but despite the familiarity, the tracks chosen are excellent additions given the rawness of Holly’s ‘Ting-A-Ling’, engaging vocals of Jackson’s during ‘Slippin’ And Slidin’, and Hayden Thompson’s rockabilly ‘Love My Baby’. Add to that group Ronnie Hawkins compelling reading of Bo Diddley’s ‘Who Do You Love’ complete with captivating guitar, and Volume Two of ‘R&B Goes R&R’ lives up to its additional heading “Rock & Roll Music” by providing plenty of fine examples of this.


Released Out now

 

R&B Goes R&R 1: My Baby Left Me

Various Artists

Atomicat

New arrival ‘R&B Goes R&R 1 My Baby Left Me’ via Atomicat sees twenty-eight tracks of rhythm and blues given the cover version treatment! Featuring artists from both America and Australia, the songs chosen are either directly represented or reinterpreted for your listening pleasure. It makes for an interesting combination where a big band interpretation begins proceedings via Loren Becker and truly upbeat rendition of ‘My Baby Left Me’, before knocking on the neighbouring door and enquiring if Johnny Rebb would like to come out and play, with the answer being a resounding “Yes!” and then proceeding to apply a touch of grease to Chuck Berry’s ‘Maybellene’. Rock ‘n’ roll (albeit a rather clean application) applies to Boyd Bennett and his version of ‘Mumbles Blues’. Bennett’s version makes for a tight, snappy rhythm and it lingers in the mind for some time after. From there the music continues to intrigue with a stunning interpretation of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ from Helene Dixon who compels via a throaty vocal and the guitar almost too hot to handle! The company surrounding this track is equally impressive with heavyweight names adding their worth from Jerry Lee Lewis and ‘Hit The Road Jack’, Elvis Presley and great choice with Ray Charles’ ‘I Got A Woman’, Ronnie Hawkins adding ‘My Girl Is Red Hot’, and not Jerry Lee this time but Paul Wyatt offering an impressive take on ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’. With talk of a five-album collection featuring rhythm and blues tracks being given the rock ‘n’ roll treatment, Volume 1 “My Baby Left Me” in this new series certainly gets off to a flyer especially when there’s terrific rockabilly via Lou Millet (‘Shorty The Barber’), a classic from The Johnny Burnette Trio (‘Train Kept A Rollin’), and Vince Everett (Baby Let’s Play House’) and plenty of interesting versions of rock ‘n’ roll featuring David Houston (‘Sugar Sweet’) and Pete Peters (‘Fanny Brown’) for example.


Released Out now

 

120 Years Of The Cadillac Car

Various Artists

Atomicat

An album to celebrate that great invention known as the automobile but an LP with one American classic in mind and that being the Cadillac. To honour this historic motor, Atomicat Records has created a full album dedicated to the Cadillac car. Given the title ‘120 Years Of The Cadillac Car’, DeeJay Mark Armstrong handpicks thirty songs to represent the classic Cadillac with a mixture of rhythm and blues, rockers and hillbillies, and songs named directly after the car or lyrics referencing it. Beginning with a series of rhythm and blues tracks and featuring Jimmy Liggins with ‘Cadillac Boogie’, Roy Brown and ‘Cadillac Baby’ to, in demand right now, Bo Diddley with ‘Cadillac’, and Willie Brown ‘Cadillac Boogie’. The album continues its interesting and lively analysis of the Cadillac with superb rockabilly from Hal Willis and ‘My Pink Cadillac’ (They really don’t make them like they used to!), Sonny Wallace and alternative colour ‘Black Cadillac’ that really is a terrific raw and rickety rockabilly track, before adding equally compelling Joyce Green with same song title yet different song’ Black Cadillac’. The “hillbillies” featuring equally good turns by Don Churchill ‘Cadillac Blues’ and western swing Bob Wills chipping in with ‘Cadillac In Model A’, and the listener already has an album’s worth of top-quality tunes. But that’s not all folks because the musical goodness continues with the previously mentioned recognition of the classic Cadillac in song title or lyrics with pick from a very fine crop including Wanda Jackson and snappy rhythm ‘Baby Loves Him’, Young Jessie ‘Mary Lou’, The Cadillacs ‘Speedo’, and El Dorados with ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Is For Me’. An excellent collection of songs, not to mention ideas knitted together to form a complete whole that makes more than perfect sense in celebration of the American Cadillac and can be heard via ‘120 Years Of The Cadillac Car’.


Released Out now

 

Sadie’s Gentlemen’s Club Visit 05. Branded

Various Artists

Atomicat

It has been a while since the last visit to ‘Sadie’s Gentlemen’s Club’ but here we are again, and expectations are high given the sheer quality of said previous visit proving to be the most memorable yet. The last encounter proved delightful for living up to its billing creating much “Ecstasy” via its glorious track choices arranged by Mark Armstrong. Latest album, with its additional heading “Branded”, sees a different atmosphere created once more that provides light and shade from it numerous grooves. Highlighting such differences are tracks such as the lively rhythm and blues from Otis Riley and likely contender to become tongue-tied in its pronunciation, ‘Little Miss Bibbity Bobbity Boom’, that is full of optimism. Ditto the electric blues guitar of Otis Rush and introduction of that early sixties sound of ‘I’m Satisfied’ that sounds effortless in its enthusiastic delivery such is the talent behind this song. From these two candidates positioning themselves to be album winners, Bobby Day with album opener ‘My Blue Heaven’ is another contender for such accolades where his vocal alone is enough to drive this feelgood number. There are songs that reflect its period with the introduction of the atomic age and imaginatively represented by Chance Halladay and ’13 Women’. Mary Ann Fisher flips this position via excellent ‘It’s A Man’s World’ where her vocals really own the song. Richie Robin stumps up the album’s title track and provides a vocal turn that may not be the strongest yet makes up for it due to its unconventional qualities, which are appropriate for the setting of Sadie’s Gentlemen’s Club. It is such tracks along with other diversified songs as The Hollywood’s harmonious pop ‘Chicks Hey, Little Gigolo’, always upbeat Chubby Checker and ‘Dancin’ Party’, sultry popcorn Don Lanier ‘Need Your Loving’, and famous names dropping in with Marilyn Monroe and ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’, and it all makes for one interesting night out. With the final word given to Dinah Washington and ‘Teach Me Tonight’, then ‘Sadie’s Gentlemen’s Club Visit 05. Branded’ ends in perfect style.


Released Out now

 

Dance Craze-A-Rama Volume 1

Various Artists

Atomicat

There is a profound sense of FUN, and much to be had, when listening to the latest addition from Atomicat. With a similar album series also featuring songs associated with the dance style of “The Twist”, this time around the newest album is less specific yet broader in terms of its approach by offering a sense of the “carefree” and dance to your own rhythm. What this means is an album packed full of songs featuring a particular “dance” in mind or the mood of the song is full of celebration leaving you to decide whether you want to dance alone or with a partner. Leading the charge here is Dion with The Isley Brothers’ ‘Shout’, containing a charismatic punch from its opening discussion before launching headfirst into this number. Great start, and more to come via the tight rhythmic ‘The Wobble’ supplied by Jimmy McCracklin, to immediate appeal of rhythm and blues/rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Diddle Dee Dee’ from Bobby Dunn. Noticeably different about this companion piece to Volume 1 in the “Twist” series is that there are far more obscurer titles and artists that will be known to serious collectors, but to a lesser extent casual listeners. But it is also the eccentricity of some of the tracks with excellent and engaging piece from The Champs and ‘The Shoddy Shoddy’ with lyrics that deserve your attention, to unique titles as ‘The Whiz Wash’ (Baby Wayne), ‘The Kangaroo’ (Clifford Scott), ‘Pony Time’ (Don Covay), and The Mandels with ‘The Scotch’. Overall, a more unique take on the dance craze and expertly lived up to by the tracks chosen for this compilation because not only is it a suitable companion for the dancefloor, but it also makes for an entertaining listen in the comfort of your own home.


Released Out now

 

Twist-A-Rama Volume 1

Various Artists

Atomicat

Ushering in a new album series is Atomicat with ‘Twist-A-Rama’. The first volume focuses specifically on, you guessed it, “The Twist” which was the dance of the 1960s. Therefore, in line with the fashionable dance of the time, and naturally still popular throughout dance halls today, ‘Twist-A-Rama Volume 1’ features various artists from the periods 1959 through to 1963 with songs often upbeat in style and plenty of “twists” in their titles! So, expect to hear songs relaying the glories of this popular dance, to memories of this time in history combined with themes of love and romance. It’s a glorious album from start to finish and one that is packed with much energy and enthusiasm. It’s the kind of album that immediately puts a smile on your face with opening song ‘Kissin’ Twist’ by Jack Hammer proving this with its infectious rhythm and charismatic vocals. From there, the mood continues to be infectious with tracks by Herbert Hunter and ‘Twist It Up’, to an instrumental from The Champs (‘Tequila Twist’), and teen-pop by Jo Ann Campbell and ‘Let Me Do My Twist’. Packed with lively numbers by the likes of Hank Ballard and The Midnighters and specifically for the dance in question ‘The Twist’, which made a name for Chubby Checker who, on this occasion, pops up with ‘My Baby Cares For Me’ and shares vocals with Bobby Rydell. Once again, Atomicat does its research and plunges for the less obvious choices when selecting its track list and opts for interesting turns from Chuck Berry and ‘I’m Talking About You’, Kay Armen ‘I Wanna Twist’, Brice Coefield ‘Cha Cha Twist’, and U.S. Bonds (Interesting moniker!) ‘New Orleans’. If you want to move to songs predominately featuring “The Twist”, then you have come to the right place because ‘Twist-A-Rama Volume 1’ is an irresistible force that will have you dancing the night away at your local dance hall.


Released Out now

 

Nights Come Alive

Damokles

Vinter Records

Supporting a strong work ethic which has seen the components of debut album ‘Nights Come Alive’ assembled in a time that the Guinness Book of Records should consider for an award, given that the band known as Damokles have only been in each other’s pockets since late 2019. Such an incredible feat once you consider all the restrictions a pandemic has wrought upon this world, and associated problems this has created for many. It’s no wonder that once ‘Nights Come Alive’ gets underway, it immediately gives the impression of a band having strained at the leash for too long, given the wave of emotions that pour out and with only the ventilation holes of its ten-track playlist offering an outlet to do so. No matter, as the short, sharp bursts of post-punk, mixed with indie-rock and emotional 90s post-hardcore provide ample coverage to what lies at the heart of this Oslo-based five piece, which may not always be easily decipherable, but makes it even more fascinating and worthy of repeat visits. Cryptic tales abound therefore, but there are signs pointing to feelings associated with alienation, boredom, and despair. For those in recent memory, debut single ‘Closing Time’ was an angular blow to the ribs and one powered by 80s grunge merchants The Afghan Whigs to those in positions of power and tempted by corruption. Further similarities arrive with even more recent, ‘Bodies Get Bored’, and again the dishevelled overcoat of The Afghan Whigs proving a source, in addition to mining energy from At The Drive-In, with lyrics purporting to similar concerns of dishonesty and its repeated cycles as indicated by its impressive words, “The parasite is as good as its host, The fruit is ripe, Let’s dictate its cost”. Music for the current times without doubt, and with lyricist Gøran Karlsvik possessing an uncanny habit of “right place, right time” mentality when it comes to his creativity and the rest of his projects. With Damokles providing the outlet on this occasion, there appears to be something of the “personal” amidst the growth of ‘Miniature Gardens’, which is also the band’s most marketable commodity given its accessibility via its alternative-rock leanings. ‘Breathtaker’ offers another side to the Damokles’ sound with its considered approach, before collapsing under a familiar weight of post-punk noise. It is from these shoots of creative differences which helps spawn the gothic, theatrical moments of the album’s title track, to quite different yet remaining an irritable ball of noise that is the excellent ‘Ms. Misanthropy’. Damokles has clearly enough ideas in their tank to maintain their current level of output, but one that has by no means reached anywhere near its zenith. Amen to that because album #2 is already in production, suggesting Damokles is already straining at the leash once more. Turbulent times it most certainly is, but with Damokles providing the soundtrack there is much that will resonate here and comfort to be found in this terrific debut.


Released Out now

 

Sweet Dreams Forever

Various Artists

Atomicat

An album to commemorate four major stars of country and western music who died in tragic circumstances is issued by Atomicat Records and under the banner ‘Sweet Dreams Forever’. The four country stars celebrated by this album release are Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, Randy Hughes, and Hawkshaw Hawkins who lost their lives in 1963 when a small plane they were travelling in crashed on their way back to Nashville after a concert. With country music losing such talented musicians, their music remains alive and well and worthy of such tributes bestowed upon them such as Atomicat’s ‘Sweet Dreams Forever’. It remains the sweetest of dreams with the album coming in a threefold digipak complete with tasteful, and representative of its time, poster design, with the rest left for Dee Jay Mark Armstrong who supplies the liner notes and track list. Focusing on the songs, those that feature is taken from the years 1948 to 1962, with this being prime up-tempo country and western music of course and most definitely the authentic kind! With all four country stars – Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas, Patsy Cline, and Randy Hughes sharing the same billing, the album, ‘Sweet Dreams Forever’, divides their tracks, but is done based on the year of each song release. Chronologically selected therefore, the songs chosen beginning in 1948 as mentioned above, with Hawkshaw Hawkins making the opening appearance with the fine ‘Dog House Boogie’ that should be considered prototype rockabilly. From this position, Cowboy Copas present C&W ‘Hangman’s Boogie’, before sidestepping and making way for Randy Hughes and His Band and fascinating, not to mention ahead of its time anecdote of the ‘Tattooed Lady’, which raises further intrigue given there is no writer assigned to this song. A quick perusal of the song list suggests Randy Hughes edges it with most of the songs for this collection, with more brilliant examples as the romantic ‘My Little Country Rose’, hillbilly boogie ‘Tapping That Thing’, and another eccentricity on the back of local homebrew ‘When Elephants Start To Roost In Trees’. The rest of the album then ping-pongs between Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas, and Patsy Cline, with the latter artist performing trademark ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’ and established ‘Stop, Look And Listen’ which surely gave those rockabilly cats a run for their money with its sharp, snappin’ rhythm and strong, dominant vocals. Excellent performances all round, with a good representation of their works considering there is only twenty-nine tracks to do so, ‘Sweet Dreams Forever’ is therefore a remarkable album and one that remembers these four stars of country music in style, not to mention offering terrific value for your money. Essential listening.


Released 1 April

 

Sadie’s Gentlemen’s Club Visit 04. Ecstasy

Various Artists

Atomicat

Preparation for the next visit to ‘Sadie’s Gentlemen’s Club Visit 04. Ecstasy’ involves songs chosen to bring joy to those who inhabit such establishments where the music will thrill, excite, and provide much pleasure and create an overall state of “Ecstasy”. That looks set to be a done deal for those entering ‘Sadie’s Gentlemen’s Club Visit 04. Ecstasy’ where from its attractive layout created by Gito Lima and housed via trifold digipak with the songs compiled by Mark Armstrong, the feeling is that any visitor is already in safe hands. Beginning the evening’s proceedings with a Ray Charles and His Orchestra number and one that should be known to all, ‘Hit The Road Jack’, provides further reassurance that “Visit 04” will live up to its previous visits (albums). The sweeping orchestral strings backing Jamie Coe’s ‘Cleopatra’ is the kind of track such albums as ‘Sadie’s…’ was built for, given its flamboyant and noirish flavours, not to mention suitability for a 60s film score. Next up is Chuck Daniels and The Downbeats with ‘Tiny Tim’, which is an excellent slice of popcorn with its mood intentionally underplayed. The greatness continues via personal touch of ‘Cry To Me’ with a sublime performance by Solomon Burke, and then more fine vocals from The Chantels and ‘Well, I Told You’. New experiences for some punters can be heard during compelling Sam Butera and song ‘Equator’; a song fascinating for its approach that is one moment pared back with strong vocals driving, then more of a full band sound joining in, and ends up sounding authentic as it does thoroughly modern. There’s no doubting the origins of Bull Moose Jackson’s traditional rhythm and blues ‘I Want A Bowlegged Woman’, likewise the excellent turn from Wynonie Harris with ‘Bite Again, Bite Again’ which is among the highlights of many throughout this latest album. Add to that instrumental ‘Drumble’ from interestingly named Dennis and The Menaces, and a title track offering from always reliable Ben E. King, without neglecting appropriate for the album ‘Pills’ from Bo Diddley, and there is ecstasy supplied on many, many levels during the fourth visit to the engaging club known as “Sadie’s Gentlemen’s Club”.



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