Album Reviews

Filter :

Released Out now

 

Hillbilly And Rustic Rockabilly Bop Volume 1

Various Artists

Atomicat

Launching a brand-new series on the Atomicat label that goes by the name ‘Hillbilly And Rustic Rockabilly Bop Volume 1’ offers a hefty number of tracks by artists who were in the process of bridging the gap between western swing, hillbilly bop and the first tentative steps of what became known as rockabilly. Life before Elvis certainly existed, albeit it at a slightly slower and harmonious tempo, but clearly there where signs of developing sounds that really started to rock the Honky Tonk joints they were made for. Beginning with an obvious starting point where the primitive sounds and blues held by its lyrics of Shorty Holloway and His Prairie Ramblers’ ‘Telephone Blues’, only for the rhythms to show signs of developing more details and the pace gathering at some speed. Examples of this can be identified from the Starday label with Lattie Moore ‘Why Did You Lie To Me’, and then upping the tempo considerably by lively and pickin’ rhythm of compelling country boogie that is ‘Too Hot To Handle’ from Gene O’Quin. Certainly, the words littered throughout these songs portray tales of relationship woes, but these were often (cleverly) disguised by lively rhythms gracing these songs. Jim Reeves ‘Oklahoma Hills’ is a fully developed affair where all the parts have come together and would be termed “professional” and “commercial” if released in the present, but not to be read as a negative by any means because it’s an excellent addition. Likewise, but for different reasons, the wild and untamed approach of Maddox Bros and Rose during the track ‘South’ revealing the rawer and developing sounds of the time. Special mentions go to Ken Marvin for his engaging vocals that really wrap the listener around the words that provide humour and reveal much confidence, and for the “bop” merging into “cat music” via Roy Moss and wonderful hiccupping vocals throughout ‘You’re My Big Baby Now’. Certainly, a rustic ride featuring western swing, country bop and early stages of rockabilly, Atomicat has just released what appears from volume one a fascinating new series where much anticipation now waits for volume two.


Released Out now

 

Kustom Kulture Klassics: Hot Rod Tracks From Past And Present

Various Artists

Atomicat

Revving up for the latest series on Atomicat Records is ‘Kustom Kulture Klassics: Hot Rod Tracks From Past And Present’. Hosting many tracks covering the subject of hot rod cars and associated relationships. Artists featured are those from the hallowed era of 50s rockabilly, with several inclusions from the early 60s, but also modern artists from recent times and it makes for a compelling listen. Naturally, the impression given is of exhilarating rockin’ sounds and that is more or less what you can expect, but there are also slower tracks which provides a balance to the whole album. Closer inspection of the tracks reveals songs intertwining the subject matter of the album’s title with the pleasures and struggles of relationships. First up of one such example is from the modern era featuring the always reliable Jason Lee Wilson, who conveys the importance of ‘Pure Horsepower’ when it comes to certain choices in life set to a rockabilly soundtrack and featuring use of slide guitar. Cookie Roberts’ ‘Draggin’ The Drive-Inn’s’ takes the listener back and is as incandescent as the “neon lights” of the night-time drive-inns its visiting via some lively saxophone and full of confidence demeanour. It is an absolute classic. Bobby Verne follows in similar style with a cool as ice performance during ‘Red Hot Car’ that is accompanied by a fiery saxophone and is a definite contender for track of the album. Ike And The Capers provide a reminder that this new series on Atomicat features bands from the present, but having listened to their ‘Burn It Ernie’ that is a raw shufflin’ rocker, the difference in time periods becomes rather blurred. The album closes with a compelling narrative and rhythm and blues backing from Mr. Bear and His Bearcats’ and the song ‘RADAR’, which sets this new series on course to be a classic in line with the respect given to the cars of its title.


Released Out now

 

Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party Vol. 2

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Second volume in the series ‘Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party’ sees another twenty-eight tracks of early soul music. Developing its sounds from the foundations of gospel, rhythm and blues and jazz music, the early pioneers of this evolving sound can be heard during ‘Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party Vol. 2’. With established names such as The Isley Brothers leading the charge with rather well-known ‘Twist and Shout’, which helped put a certain beat combo of the 60s on the road to success, and followed by artists as Ray Charles (‘What’d I Say’) Esther Phillips (‘Release Me’) and Little Junior Parker (‘Driving Wheel’). With the emphasis of this series being the early stages of soul, it’s always fascinating to hear the first stages of artists such as James Brown, featured here with The Famous Flames and the track ‘Night Train’. Elsewhere there’s a few lesser known delights to be found via intriguingly named Birdlegs and Pauline ‘Spring’ that is as fresh and bright as its title due to combined female/male vocals and infectious midtempo rhythm, to equally captivating moniker Prince La La with ‘She Put The Hurt On Me’. Interesting lyrics, not to mention excellent vocals from Irma Thomas dominate ‘Don’t Mess With My Man’, in addition to other impressive numbers by way of the Midas touch given to ‘Release Me’ by Esther Phillips and accompanying musicianship. The list goes on as far as the overall quality of this latest volume of ‘Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party’. For best results, simply invest in this album and hear for yourself the consistency of greatness selected because you will not be disappointed.


Released Out now

 

Sweet Nothings (Single)

Seed Husk

OWN LABEL

Testament that alternative indie guitar rock is not a dying art can be heard via latest single from alternative rockers Seed Husk and ‘Sweet Nothings’. Continuing a run of recent new recordings before a full-blown album not too far down the pipeline, the new release speaks of a fracturing relationship that is about to free fall with rivalling sides expressing their views where honest admissions are given and the regret that comes with this as one dissected example shows: “I can admit I overdid it, Some brutal wind went over me”. The accompanying video directed by Nora Niemispelto supporting ‘Sweet Nothings’ has a darkened fairy-tale quality reminiscent of Radiohead’s gothic trip into blackened woodland of ‘There, There’, and thus falling in line with the reference points Seed Husk continue to pick away at circa 80s-90s alternative bands. It’s the layers Seed Husk build into their songs with ‘Sweet Nothings’ being no exception from this rule where chirping, echoing guitars are present one moment only to run a more ragged course along with tumbling drums and impassioned vocals stressing the anxiety felt at the heart of this song. If ‘Sweet Nothings’ is the sound of what is to come regarding the band’s impending sophomore LP, then the long wait will be utterly worth it.


Released Out now

 

Paying For More (Single)

Jo Below

Inverse Records

Flipping through the catalogue of rock music’s past, and then applying their own modern twist on the genre, is Finnish (alt) rockers Jo Below. Surfacing in 2017, the four-piece band quickly got to work writing and recording tracks that will feature as part of a forthcoming EP scheduled for release in September 2020. Providing a flavour of this upcoming record is the track ‘Paying For More’, which is available now via all good digital streaming platforms. The song itself is an energetic rocker that melds the previously mentioned influence of traditional rock music, but with something more modern where rock and punk music fuse and produce something akin to the likes of Blink-182 largely due to the melodic passages appearing in various places of ‘Paying For More’. From such a confident beginning, the anticipation for the rest of Jo Below’s debut EP is greatly anticipated when that arrives this autumn.


Released Out now

 

Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.8

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Rather like a good novel that you do not want to end, the same feeling applies to the series ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers’ such has been the high level of quality of music throughout this series. With Volume eight being the latest and last in the series, the songs featured showcase various artists and songs developed to a far greater level than the raw primitive blues of before. Living up to the album’s additional title ‘That’ll Get It’, any listener can therefore expect a large slice of traditional rhythm and blues. Featuring no less than twenty-eight tracks, ‘Texas R&B Rockers Vol. 8’ certainly goes out on a high with such sophisticated numbers as those delivered by the likes of Calvin Boze and His All-Stars ‘Baby’ You’re Tops With Me’, sounding not too dissimilar to Dave Bartholomew, and equally similar Roy Gaines with ‘Loud Mouth Lucy’. There is a definite influence of jazz and big band music at various stages of the album, and indicated by such examples as ‘Mean Little Girl’ and ‘On My Way’ performed by Roy Hawkins, to the Jesse Powell Orchestra and song ‘Hot Box’. Not everything possesses a polished exterior as Smokey Hogg provides a finger pickin’ delight in the shape of ‘Baby Shake Your Leg’ and sounds like an improvised piece given its raw qualities. There’s a Chuck Berry composition ‘Come Back, Maybelline’ performed by Mercy Dee and is a response to Chuck’s hit song ‘Maybellene’. There’s more rock ‘n’ roll feeling by way of excellent ‘Skippy Is A Sissy’ from Roy Gaines, to Big Walter & His Thunderbirds with ‘Six Weeks Of Misery’. If there’s one series that could run and run, then it would be ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers’ because it has been a captivating ride of blues and rhythm and blues from its first volume until its last. Volume eight and ‘That’ll Get It’ completely captures the moment and provides a fitting end to this remarkable series.


Released Out now

 

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.


Released Out now

 

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.


Released Out now

 

Elvis Stole My Job

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

For those who thought Elvis Presley came first when considering the genre of rock ‘n’ roll, then you would be mistaken. Fresh from the vaults of Koko Mojo is the album ‘Elvis Stole My Job’. The idea behind this latest collection of artists from blues and rhythm and blues backgrounds, is to highlight the important roles and influences these artists had when it came to the King of rock ‘n’ roll. Largely taking inspiration from musicians Elvis held much admiration and respect for such as Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, Roy Brown, Lloyd Price and Clyde McPhatter by imitating their styles whether vocally or physically when it came to his live persona. At the helm of this new album is Little Victor (aka The Mojo Man) who compiled all tracks, in addition to writing the liner notes for ‘Elvis Stole My Job’. The selection of songs earmarks the greatness that came before Elvis with, leading the way, the formerly mentioned Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup and ‘My Baby Left Me’, to rhythm and blues of Wynonie Harris ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’. To Elvis’s credit and the writers involved in terms of his recorded output, it wasn’t simply a question of repeating identical versions because history shows that was never the case, but the King certainly added much to these former records, in addition to raising the profiles of these black musicians to wider audiences, especially those of white ethnicity. With this album being concerned with music and not politics, the choices selected are top level with, by now, more familiar names and tracks featured such as Smiley Lewis and ‘One Night’, The Orioles ‘Crying In The Chapel’, Jackie Wilson (‘Right Now’) and Otis Blackwell (‘Make Ready For Love’). What stands out, however, and mentioned by The Mojo Man, is the fact that several of these songs are less familiar when it comes to similar compilations. Therefore, ‘Elvis Stole My Job’ also includes artists with no direct connections to the King yet their resemblance to the artist is clear. With Elvis revealing influences ranging from rhythm and blues to doo wop and ballads such as those by key influence on his career, Roy Hamilton, featured here with the song ‘Don’t Let Go’, the music and inspirations fuelling Elvis Presley were definitely not blinkered choices. Great album and selection of artists where Elvis was guilty of stealing the limelight, but not without confessing his love and admiration that created a wider platform in terms of recognition of these former great artists.


Released Out now

 

Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Drumming up ideas for new series is all in a day’s work when it comes to the folks at Koko Mojo Records. Fresh out of the stable is latest series ‘Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party’. Consisting of various artists from the 50s and early 60s, the attention to details is ever-present where music of the blues was transforming, and rhythm and blues really took hold and continued evolving to the point where the early stages of soul music were beginning to show. The compilation ‘Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party’ focuses on these musical developments with “soul” being the emphasis here, albeit in its early stages. Bringing together an interesting mix of major players within the genres of blues, rhythm and blues and early foundations of soul music you will find well-established artists and tracks. Such examples can be cited from the album’s initial stages with none other than John Lee Hooker’s utterly compelling ‘Boom Boom’, Little Eva with ‘The Loco-Motion’ and probably two of the clearest definitions of early soul music via J.J. Jackson (‘Oh My Liddy’) and Bobby Lewis (‘Tossin’ And Turnin’) where bright rays of sunlight were beginning to break through.  The golden tones of Sam Cooke during ‘I’ll Come Running Back To You’ cement such feelings, albeit at a much calmer pace and, likewise, the ubiquitous airplay of the song ‘Stand By Me’ from Ben E King. Packed therefore with established names from Marvin Gaye (‘Pride And Joy’), Jackie Wilson (‘Baby Workout’), Gino Parks (‘Don’t Say Goodbye’) and Etta James (‘Somethings Got A Hold On Me’), it’s testament to the irresistible charms of soul music where a lot of these tracks lie deep in the psyches of many people where, for example, The Mar-Keys instrumental ‘Last Night’ reminds of a certain BBC comedy and fond memories associated with this. That is the power and popularity of this genre of music because it will last for a lifetime.


Released Out now

 

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.


Released Out now

 

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.

 



Back To Top