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Europe’s Rocking

Various Artists

Rhythm Bomb

Moving on from earlier release ‘Farewell Britain: A Rockin’ Farewell To Britain’, the fresh year brings in a fresh outlook from Rhythm Bomb Records with latest compilation ‘Europe’s Rocking’. Setting its sights on the present and serving as a link to the future as the artists featured in this compilation should warrant further investigation, the track list features numerous bands from the current scene. Leading the way is The Hoodoo Tones and their track ‘Who Thinks About Me’, which happens to be just one of many highlights from their excellent ‘Still On The Run’ long player. There’s plenty of raw and rockin’ sounds to be heard via the likes of Twisted Rod (‘I’m Gone’), Ray Black & The Flying Carpets (‘Better Way To Move’) and always reliable Vince & The Sun Bopper and selected song ‘Mama Little Chicky’. In addition to the rockabilly tracks, there are tracks to be heard with a combined blues influence from the likes of The Kokomo Kings (‘Fooled By The City Lights’), which is worthy of its inclusion for its meaningful song title alone, to other examples featuring the excellent Cat Lee King & His Cocks (‘You’re The Greatest’), The Jelly Roll Men taking one back in time via their ‘Come Back Home To Me’, and gorgeous vocals of Bonita, featuring the highly experienced The Blues Shacks, during ‘Hottest Wing In Town’. Adding to such experience is the lo-fi and raw edge of ‘So Blue’ by Little Victor, not to mention reintroduction of Fireball Steven and his ‘Thunder And Lightning’ for bringing back the rockabilly sound, ‘Europe’s Rocking’ is a prime example of everything good that is happening in today’s rockin’ scene.


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Think Me A Kiss – Rock ‘N’ Roll Songs Of Happiness

Various Artists

Atomicat

A more than appropriate album release in these troubled times comes ‘Think Me A Kiss – Rock ‘N’ Roll Songs Of Happiness’. Full of songs connected with joyful emotions, ‘Think Me A Kiss – Rock ‘N’ Roll Songs Of Happiness’ features thirty tracks from a variety of artists who plied their musical talents during the 50s and 60s. With DJ Mark Armstrong responsible for putting together the songs for this latest compilation album on Atomicat Records, there is much in the vein of traditional rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll numbers. With male and female artists showing their worth such as recording artists Ruth Brown, LaVern Baker and Clyde McPhatter all making an impact by popping up on numerous occasions throughout the setlist, in addition to providing the great cover shot for the album’s artwork. With these Atlantic Records’ recording artists featuring and being inductees of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, there’s plenty to get excited about from captivating vocal performances from the likes of  “Little” Frankie Brunson (Big Daddy) ‘How Can I Please You’ that starts the album, and continuing with more rock ‘n’ roll goodness from Sandford Clark and ‘Ooo Baby’, to Sleep La Beef with ‘You’re So Easy To Love’, in addition to Gary Dale with backing singers during ‘Pretty Baby’. There is much to enthuse over here, and the good feelings continue via the quite tender ‘My Heart’ performed by Vilas Craig and The Vi Counts, and later Dorian Burton and song ‘I Want You’ providing further evidence of the quality of these album releases with Atomicat’s usual inclusion of names less familiar from the golden era of rock ‘n’ roll. Ending appropriately on dreamy, harmonised vocals of ‘You Send Me’ from the voice of Cornell Gunter, ‘Think Me A Kiss – Rock ‘N’ Roll Songs Of Happiness’ is the perfect album to lift the current gloom and provide a large measure of happiness to all those willing to invest time in this excellent compilation.


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Cherries On The Lose Vol.3

Various Artists

Atomicat

It is the turn of Atomicat Records to provide another volume of ‘Cherries On The Lose’ featuring those artists/bands who made their first impressions on the music scene with first ever recordings and later covered by numerous others. Another handpicked twenty-eight songs, this is the album compilation series that brings you nearly a bit of everything in terms of genres associated with the rock ‘n’ roll scene. Expect to hear, therefore, such examples featuring rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, doo-wop, and rockabilly to begin with. At first glance, it’s tracks by The Crickets ‘I Fought The Law’, made popular by The Clash, to Little Juniors Blue Flames ‘Mystery Train’, which Elvis covered and made it into something equally special as its original, are two examples that grab the attention first, but further perusal reveals a setlist full of inspired choices. Look no further than the inclusion of Burl Ives ‘Riders In The Sky’ performed with, at times, delicate and full of character vocals, to more often associated with country Skeets McDonald providing a song more in tune with early 60’s pop given its sound during ‘Everglades’. From such an influence, the inclusion of Cliff Richard and The Shadows’ ‘I Gotta Know’ is a natural choice, but there are some country influenced numbers making their presence known and can be heard via hillbilly/western swing of Billy Hughes’ ‘Cocaine Blues’, compelling enough given its song title and the presence of narcotics and associated problems pre-rock’n’roll era, and late-night country serenade around the campfire from quite brilliant Wiley Walker & Gene Sullivan ‘When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again’. Something for everyone when it comes to ‘Cherries On The Lose Vol. 3’ which, if its near concluding trio of The Royals (‘Every Beat Of My Heart’), The Rivileers (‘A Thousand Stars’) and The 5 Royales (‘Dedicated To The One I Love’) fail to win you over, then clearly a trip to the school of music is highly recommended.


Released Out now

 

Rock And Roll Vixens #2

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Number two in the latest series to be issued by Koko Mojo is ‘Rock And Roll Vixens’. Featuring another twenty-five tracks of all-female Afro-American artists from the 1950s – 60s, the second album features more of the same goodness as its predecessor and therefore backs up the record label’s claim, “All our Koko-Mojo releases contain only killers. We let others release the fillers”. From a powerful beginning that is ‘A Little You’ where both Dakota Staton’s golden tonsils will experience no problems attracting the listener’s attention, to another fine set of vocals from Linda Hopkins during ‘Shiver And Shake’. Reeling the senses in further via excellent rhythm and blues is Patti Anne, with compelling backing vocals from Maxwell Davis Band during ‘Shtiggy Boom’. As featured on the first volume, Etta James reappears to perform the tight, snapping rhythm of ‘Shortin’ Bread Rock’ and provides a voice that never fails. Whilst giving it some consideration, due to the voices of the Afro-American artists featured, and highlighted on several occasions in relation to ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #1’, it would seem this is where the main strength lies, and that’s not providing a disservice to the quality of the instrumentation or song structures because they are equally compelling, it is because the impact of the vocals is what makes the first impressions. Therefore, ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #2’ is equally littered with many fine vocals from Baby Washington and song ‘Medicine Man’, to Ella Johnson ‘Don’t Shout At Me Daddy’ to name but two, setting up this relatively new album series as one to acquire if rhythm and blues and similar reference points of blues, harmony groups and early soul are main staples in your music collection.


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Rock And Roll Vixens #1

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

A new series by Koko Mojo, and this time it’s the turn of black female artists to feature and goes by the name ‘Rock And Roll Vixens’. Environmentally packaged and displaying simple yet highly effective artwork, especially its grainy qualities, volume one of ‘Rock And Roll Vixens’ includes twenty-five tracks of “Movers & Shakers” who were recorded from the early 1950s to mid-1960s. Expect plenty of traditional blues, rhythm and blues and vocal harmonies such are the choices on offer during this first chapter. Jane Baker really kicks off this album in great style with highly addictive sound and irresistible chorus of ‘Boom De De Boom’. From there, the only way is up as far as this track list because there’s quality running all the way through it from intriguing vocals of Betty James during watertight rhythm of ‘I’m A Little Mixed Up’, to mixture of raw and deeper tones of star Etta James and ‘Somethings Gotta Hold On Me’. Variety, as mentioned, performs a role here as the listener will experience vocal harmony groups as The Cookies’ (‘Don’t Say Nothing Bad’) and The Teen Queens’ ‘Lets Kiss’. If you’re looking for something far wilder than those perfect harmonies however, then an ideal place to start is the fiery rhythm and blues, with jazz adding to that almost untameable flame of Lil Greenwood’s ‘Come Back Baby’. The vocals of Linda Hopkins during ‘My Loving Baby’ maintain the high-performance levels with a “knockout blow” to the senses that will stop you in your tracks. Concluding ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #1’ with the appropriate ‘Housewife Blues’ rightfully expressing discontent at so-called gender roles, The Enchanters turn in an admirable performance with influences of doo-wop and rhythm and blues. It looks like Koko Mojo can do no wrong as ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #1’ features a wealth of quality, in addition to providing a voice for black female artists who featured during a golden age of rhythm and blues and its associated influences.


Released 12 February

 

Stain Remover (Single)

This Sect

Sect Appeal Records

It has been a while since Norwegian’s This Sect made something of an impact on home soil, not to mention reaching the perimeters of the UK with their debut album ‘Shake The Curse’ (2014). Since that period, the six-piece has been busy writing and recording, in addition to its various members pursuing other musical goals. Step forward however, and there’s a brand-new single, and promise of a second album in the offing. First song to be lifted from sophomore album ‘Everything We Know Into A Black Hole’ is ‘Stain Remover’. Instantly, the song reveals This Sect on a much subtler path than before, where it is clear the twin-turbo of vocals and guitar often highlighting the caustic, jagged edges of their debut record are toned down somewhat without losing any of the former’s close associations to such post-punk references as The Chameleons. ‘Stain Remover’ is the sound of a band moving on from this debut, but it remains a record that never forgets its past, with the difference being the understated way it goes about its business. Older and wiser therefore, but there is an anger that still simmers beneath this first single that becomes more apparent in the steady progress of its rhythm, which accumulates in layers and quickens in tempo and identifiable in the almost overlapping vocals and swirls of instrumentation. People friendly ‘Stain Remover’ most certainly isn’t as far as its words detail, rather a more telling sign of a figure scraping away at the innermost layers of humanity in the hope of finding something constructive. The wait, however, may be a while. ‘Stain Remover’ is the perfect response from a band which has taken an awful long time to reply to that echo that called out for a new release which, on this hearing, This Sect is certainly forgiven. Welcome back!


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Boss Black Rockers: Cool It Vol.8

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

As series go, ‘Boss Black Rockers’ is up there with the best of them when it comes to compiling rockin’ track lists. Reasons for this include the songs selected blazing a trail of wild rock ‘n’ roll that not only excites the senses, yet also educates considering the general lack of coverage regarding black artists during rock ‘n’ roll’s formative years. With the Mojo Man responsible for piecing together the many artists who have graced the albums making up this series, the final note in this chapter suggests for harmonious times with its subheading ‘Cool It’. The music on offer is often more of a fiery nature than the ‘Cool It’ of the album’s subtitle, but it is more in line with the music presented here to tame the listener’s senses where the only thing to occupy the mind are the rockin’ tracks on offer. Captivate, they most certainly do, as songs scorch and sizzle on hot coals of rock ‘n’ roll via Esquerita’s ‘Getting Plenty Lovin’, and Bobby Freeman with ‘Little Girl Don’t You Understand’. The inclusion of Johnny “Guitar” Watson and song ‘The Bear’, and Joe Tex with ‘Cut It Out’ adds further quality, but also helps to bridge the gap for those not in ownership of these tracks from Koko Mojo’s back catalogue of 45” vinyl releases. Consideration should be given to ‘I Wanna Know’ from Eddie Daniels, which is an excellent slice of rock ‘n’ roll with a hint of Gene Vincent about it (Or is it the other way around?), and also deserving of the 45” vinyl reissue treatment. There is a rockin’ instrumental with influences of jazz running through it, ‘Tim Tam’ by A. Tousan (Allen Toussaint), to odd titles as Ben Hughes’ ‘Sack’ that requires further investigation regarding the song’s meaning, to female rockers as LaVern Baker popping by with ‘Hey Memphis’. Once more, ‘Boss Black Rockers’ delivers with the compelling swansong ‘Cool It’ that is an album offering many enthralling moments, in addition to a few surprises, which end the album series on a mountainous high.


Released 22 January

 

There’s Gonna Be A Ball – Rock ‘N’ Roll Español

Various Artists

Atomicat

Reviving a scene, if you will, from the archives of rock ‘n’ roll is ‘There’s Gonna Be A Ball – Rock ‘N’ Roll Español’. Lovingly realised by means of a three-disc box set, containing an eight-page booklet with information detailing the artists and recordings researched by Mark Armstrong, the mammoth 84 tracks filling out this new compilation album will keep any listener entertained for hours. With this being a three-album overview of Chicano rock, There’s Gonna Be A Ball – Rock ‘N’ Roll Español’ offers a fascinating insight concerning Mexican American groups, who were present from the beginning, and ongoing rock ‘n’ roll scene during the 50s and early 60s. Expect a diverse collection of rock ‘n’ roll songs featuring Spanish and English narratives and original rock ‘n’ roll numbers, in addition to cover songs. Considering the generous level of artists and bands featured, there is plenty of room to provide enough examples of the influences and differences in rock ‘n’ roll being performed in this developing Chicano rock scene. Therefore, expect songs running close races with their American counterparts from engaging rockers as ‘Sugaree’ by Carlos Diaz with The Royal Tones, and more familiar Rudy Gray claiming album title rights with excellent rockabilly ‘There’s Gonna Be A Ball’. Songs incorporating the Spanish language can be heard during some interesting takes on established tracks as ‘Lonesome Train’, translated as ‘Tren Solitario’ by Los Boppers, and later a fuelled-up version of ‘High School Confidential’ given by Los Teen Tops translated as ‘Confidente De Secundaria’. Other covers feature several interpretations of ‘La Bamba’ from Carlos Brothers, complete with added strings, to a far more ramshackle sound, yet no less enthralling version of the same song by Los Rebeldes del Rock. With further surprises coming by way of inclusion of UK rockers’ Cliff Richard and The Drifters’ ‘Move It’, given an equally wild rendition by Los Locos del Ritmo (‘La Mantequilla’). The same band, Los Locos del Ritmo, emerges again for another fine turnout via ‘La Chica Alborotada (Tallahassee Lassie’) and enough evidence, therefore, to warrant further investigation of said line-up. In other quarters you will experience a Chicano rock version of ‘All Shook Up’ from Los Llopis (‘Estremecete’), and even The Big Bopper’s hit single, ‘Chantilly Lace’, via Baldemar Huerta (‘Encaje De Chantilly’). More than enough rock ‘n’ roll to please fans of this genre from a developing Chicano rock scene of the 50s and early 60s, which provides much entertainment as it does insight in terms of those artists involved. More notably however, this box set of Chicano rock provides a different angle on the ubiquitous rock ‘n’ roll compilation from an overlooked corner of its market, and therefore should be a welcome addition to any supporters of the rock ‘n’ roll genre.


Released 22 January

 

Billy Strange: Climb Aboard The Hell Train

Various Artists

Atomicat

Following on from the successful first volume supplied by Grady Martin’s hot guitar, comes volume number two featuring another guitar maestro, Billy Strange, who welcomes you to ‘Climb Aboard The Hell Train’. A thirty track collection, ‘Climb Aboard The Hell Train’ features a variety of artists and numerous styles that showcases the talents of Billy Strange who, like the aforementioned Grady Martin, knew his way around a song and therefore seemingly born to rock ‘n’ roll as his skills as a guitarist and vocalist were in demand during the 50s supporting country acts on the radio and television, and later as a session musician during the 60s, in addition to lending his experience to Hollywood serving as musical director for two Elvis Presley films. With the first clutch of songs dedicated to the main musician of its album title ‘Climb Aboard The Hell Train’, Billy Strange gets to work during such numbers as western swing and country boppers of ‘(When The Dawn Comes) I Gotta Be Gittin’ Home’, ‘Let Me In There Baby’, and terrific vocal duet with Speedy West during ‘Barracuda’. Adding a cover of the previously mentioned Grady Martin’s ‘Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves’ shows a touch of class and respect to one of his peers with Billy Strange offering a compelling rendition with his guitar greatly expressing the details of the song alongside his vocals. The second half of this compilation allows for other artists such as Skeets McDonald (‘Scoot, Git And Be Gone’), Tommy Collins (‘Oklahoma Hills’), Wanda Jackson (‘You’re The One For Me’), instrumentalists The Ventures with ‘The 2,000 Pound Bee – Part 1’ and same title with ‘Part 2’, not forgetting Elvis Presley with The Mello Men (‘One Broken Heart For Sale’), and Dee Jay Mark Armstrong has compiled a detailed and wonderfully engaging collection of songs that touches upon the gifted talents of Billy Strange as guitarist, singer and composer during ‘Climb Aboard The Hell Train’.


Released 22 January

 

Hillbilly And Rustic Rockabilly Bop Volume 4

Various Artists

Atomicat

Fourth addition to the album series ‘Hillbilly And Rustic Rockabilly Bop’ is ‘The Barnyard Hop’. Such is its subtitle ‘The Barnyard Hop’, one would expect songs only associated with festivities. Such is the diversity on offer, however, that the latest volume opens its doors to broader themes involving songs connected to work and travel such as Charlie Adams and The Lone Star Playboys’ ‘I’m A Railroad Daddy’, to ‘Gotta Travel On’ by Rose and Cal Maddox and The Jack Wayne Band. In addition to such themes, and interestingly, songs often reflect more than one facet as you will find heartbreak and loneliness attached to the previously mentioned themes of work and travel, and best demonstrated by Toby Stroud’s compellingly told tale of frustration ‘Tear Down The Mailbox’, and more direct narrative of a relationship gone south by “Little” Jimmy Dickens’ excellent country ditty ‘Talking To The Wall’. With ‘The Barnyard Hop’ following protocol with another attractive design and layout with additional details supplied by Dee Jay Mark Armstrong, this series, as with other Atomicat releases, is given much love and respect as there is something for everyone considering the “big-hitters” littering the playlist (i.e., Johnny Cash, Wanda Jackson, Lefty Frizzell, Eddie Bond et al) to less obvious figures as Jenks “Tex” Carman and unusual take ‘Hillbilly Hula’. All in all, the fourth album in the ‘Hillbilly And Rustic Rockabilly Bop’ series lives up to its predecessors in terms of quality, intrigue, and thrills when it comes to the music, with the only downside being there is only one volume left before waving goodbye to this latest flame.


Released 22 January

 

Hillbilly And Rustic Rockabilly Bop Volume 3

Various Artists

Atomicat

A clear favourite at Famous Last Words (FLW) is the relatively new series ‘Hillbilly And Rustic Rockabilly Bop’ from Atomicat. Featuring another twenty-eight tracks is volume three in the series, with numerous artists who made their mark on a fledgling country music scene back in the day. With clues in the album title, these songs are about as authentic and rural as it gets, and genuine cause to celebrate traditional country music the way it should be performed given recent developments in the present era which have strayed too far from country music’s origins. Grumbles aside concerning the present state of country, compiler Mark Armstrong has done his homework, once more, in choosing a delightful selection of tracks from such musicians as Tibby Edwards, Glenn Barber, Lefty Frizzell and Johnny Cash. Other fine examples can be found during the opening ‘I’m Losing You’; a song that really gathers momentum from Lefty King and His Rangers with vocals by Jimmy Clee that suggests western music. Phil Brown with Bill Woods Band and the song ‘You’re A Luxury’ absorbs the senses further with a real dose of swinging hillbilly. Elsewhere, there is a lonesome feel to the words of ‘Somebody’s Been’ and sense of Charlie Gore strictly going solo considering the plain instrumentation. Despite this, Gore manages to turn the song into a genuine toe-tapper that is a tad more upbeat. The rockabilly found in the title of this album is definitely in its early stages throughout. This is much of the appeal as songs provide a fascinating listen with some familiarity and others completely new. In safe hands when it comes to ‘Hillbilly And Rustic Rockabilly Bop Volume 3: Rattlin’ Daddy’, and hardly surprising given the inclusion of names as Dude Martin and song ‘Pistol Boogie’ (Try keeping a straight face during its chorus) that lends a feeling of invincibility to the album’s entire contents.


Released 22 January

 

Hillbilly Deluxe

Various Artists

Atomicat

When it comes to any new album, sometimes it is the album’s artwork that communicates to the listener first before dropping the needle on the track list. New compilation ‘Hillbilly Deluxe’ provides such a feeling where its warm and classy cover of a bygone era of cowboy singers and a guitar full of romance and lovingly suggestive of simpler times. Thankfully, the contents also live up to such feelings where the Atomicat time ship transports the listener back to the front porch adjoining the ranch where country and hillbilly numbers are dusted down and cranked up to the max for your listening pleasure. Whilst there’s suggestion of first forays into rockabilly and bordering rock ‘n’ roll, without ever really becoming either genre as we know it today, a very potent initial whiff of rockabilly can be heard underscoring the rhythm of ‘Dance With Her Henry’ supplied by Tommy Scott and His Ramblers with vocals by Tex Harper. Other places you will discover pure hillbilly via the creaky, rusty-sounding strings of ‘Boogie Woogie Blonde’ from attractively named Johnny Daume and His Ozark Ridge Runners, to a dominating fiddle performance of ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ from Claudie Ham, and then a threadbare performance of instrumentation, complete with flashes of harmonica from Bill Tutt and ‘Sixty Days’. There is an overall feeling, as suggested earlier, that you are on to an incredibly good thing when it comes to ‘Hillbilly Deluxe’, even before a single note has been played, such is the confidence of hearing country music the way it should be played. Supporting this feelgood factor is Art Gunn and The Arizona Playboys and ‘Sugar Cane Boogie’ who, once more during this album, raise suggestion of the first tentative steps towards rockabilly, but without Art Gunn and The Arizona Playboys getting out of their rockin’ chairs to do so. With Leroy Jenkins and His Texas Showboys’ ‘Too Fat Boogie’ being a genuinely raw and rustic affair, and others such as The Tennessee Haymakers, Tommy Kizziah and His West Coast Ramblers, and Corky Edminster and His Kans Corral Gang excellent ‘Twin Guitar Boogie’ sounding like a homage to Bob Wills given the similarities, then quite frankly there is only one place to rest this evening and soak up traditional country music, and that is at the ‘Hillbilly Deluxe’.



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