Album Reviews

Filter :

Released Out now

 

Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.3

Various Artists

Atomicat

Keeping the momentum going is the third volume in the series offering various strands of country music by way of ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.3’. Traditional country in its various forms can be heard throughout with many established artists such as Red Foley, Chet Atkins, Ella Mae Morse to Bill Haley & His Comets mingling with names less familiar and that’s just one of the great intrigues with this series. Therefore, the track lists selected so far have been inspiring, and Volume. 3 shows no signs of altering this trend. First-hand evidence of this can be experienced during the opening western swing instrumental from Spade Cooley & His Orchestra with ‘Oklahoma Stomp’. Despite this collection serving early country music, there are some artists operating within the genre of rockabilly. Therefore, there’s no better place to begin with than Earl Epps excellent ‘Be-Bop Blues’. The previously mentioned Bill Haley & His Comets also reveal an early foray on rockabilly with their ‘Green Tree Boogie’, and ditto Bill Phillips’ ‘There’s A Change In Me’ with its title alone suggesting the changing times. Returning to the main theme of this album, Dave Isbell’s ‘Satisfied Or Sorry’ is beautiful as it is heart-breaking, whereas Ramblin’ Jimmie Dolan offers a compelling chattering vocal style complete with rollicking piano and steel guitar during the hillbilly boogie that is ‘Juke Box Boogie’. Such tracks representing ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.3’ reveal a wild side that was in evidence before rock ‘n’ roll had chance to fully claim this title. This comes as no surprise when songs were given titles such as ‘My Mail Order Mama’ during this era of country music, showing that there really was a lot more going on than simply great music coming out of those distant country hills.

 


Released Out now

 

It’s A Long Rocky Road – A Tribute To Johnny Horton

Various Artists

Atomicat

Offering a different slant on the “tribute” album is latest release from Atomicat Records and ‘It’s A Long Rocky Road – A Tribute To Johnny Horton’. Not only a compelling artist in his own right, and showing the reasons why with the first ten tracks of this compilation album performed by Johnny Horton himself, the rest of this album is given over to numerous artists paying their respects to Johnny Horton with their interpretations of songs performed by the artist or connections built through song writing credits or songs performed by Johnny Horton but written by other music performers. It all makes for an interesting listen and one spiced up further nearing its end with contemporary band The Ballroom Rockets providing their takes on ‘Broken Hearted Gypsy’ and ‘The Train With The Rumba Beat’. Due to Johnny Horton’s early demise, there’s several track titles making the connection with such candidates as ‘Doorway To Heaven’ (Billy Barton) and ‘Springtime In Heaven’ (Nick Williams with The Treece-Reece Trio). Other areas, you will find familiar names Johnny Cash chipping in with ‘I’d Still Be There’, Rose Maddox ‘Ole Slew Foot’ and Horton’s second wife, Billie Jean Horton, adding ‘Here Comes Trouble’. A worthy tribute to former musician Johnny Horton that provides a similar route when compiling his music to other compilations, yet one that also adds something different via numerous connections and ideas when deciding on an overall track list. Highly recommended.


Released Out now

 

Popcorn Blues Party Vol.3

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Adding to the “Popcorn” series on Koko Mojo is latest album ‘Popcorn Blues Party Vol.3’. With all tracks compiled by the Mojo Man himself (aka Little Victor) and all being remastered, there’s much for the listener to take in as with the previous two volumes with a genre of music that first originated in Belgium. For those less acquainted, the Popcorn genre blends traditional rhythm and blues with pop songs of the 50s and 60s and performed in a slow to midtempo and often in a minor key. With such details in mind, Volume.3 begins with a fine, midtempo instrumental via Mighty Joe Young and track, ‘Voo Doo Dust’, and then working its way to other choice cuts such as the passionate ‘Homework’, given its expression via great vocals (Otis Rush) and combination of roaring  brass and splashes of Hammond organ, before succumbing to the realisation of ‘One Way Love Affair’ expertly told by prominent instrumentation throughout and the vocals of  Z. Z. Hill; the latter deliberately giving the impression of being secondary in this particular tale. The inclusion of Muddy Waters’ ‘I Won’t Go On’, Howlin’ Wolf ‘Who’s Been Talking’ and others such as Guitar Slim and thoroughly engaging ‘Well I Done Got Over It’ reveal a strong blues slant to this album release. More common with the “popcorn” genre is the midtempo blues and soul combined of ‘Screaming Please’ complete with smooth vocal from Buddy Ace. What stands out most is the attention to detail of the majority of these tracks, where the music speaks just as loudly as the lyrics when it comes to informing the listener of the downtrodden tales of love often found on ‘Popcorn Blues Party Vol.3’.


Released Out now

 

Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.7

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

With expectations high and much to live up to after Volume.6 offered so many great highlights of blues, and rhythm and blues all the way from a 50’s period Texas, the latest volume of this magnificent series to date is clearly under pressure! However, early signs appear promising once the inventive and full of momentum and threadbare at best beginning of Amos Milburn and His Aladdin Chickenshackers with track ‘Greyhound’ gets underway. Moving on, the songs arrive thick and fast where rhythms are often energetic and there exists a sense of optimism to some of the song’s narratives. Such examples can be discovered by Joe Tex and clearly hungry ‘Yum, Yum, Yum’, to celebratory feel of ‘I’m From Texas’ from Lee Graves (with Henry Hayes and His Rhythm Kings). Of course, this wouldn’t be a “blues” album without a little doubt creeping in, not to mention love existing in the gutter, and ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.7’ provides plenty of examples. Clear from its title alone, ‘Dirty Mistreater’, engagingly relayed via equally capturing namesake “Smokey” Hogg, is one such track. Ditto, ‘Getting Drunk’, convincingly told by the guitar and vocals of Young John Watson. In fact, there’s so much goodness here, musically and lyrically, and with twenty-eight tracks to experience the many and varied delights of this compilation album which, by the way, even reveals a caring side (i.e. Roy “Mr. Guitar” Gaines ‘Worried ‘Bout You Baby’), you simply cannot fail to fall in love with the sounds of ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.7’ because it certainly lives up to its previous volume and therefore maintains the excellent high quality.


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

 

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

 

Popcorn Blues Party Vol. 2

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Beginning a new series on Koko Mojo is ‘Popcorn Blues Party’. With volume two arriving fresh for review, the numerous artists featured are handpicked by the Mojo Man himself (aka Little Victor) and with all tracks receiving the remastering treatment, there’s much care and attention to detail given. Originating from the land of Belgium, the Popcorn genre as it is known blends traditional rhythm and blues with pop songs of the 50s and 60s and performed in a slow to midtempo and often in a minor key. Therefore what the listener can expect with the current album in this brand new series are such atmospheric slow burners as ‘My Baby’ performed by Nappy Brown, to infectious grooves with a slightly higher tempo as Bo Diddley’s ‘I Can Tell’, ‘Had You Told It Like It Was’ (Albert King) and ‘Icy Groove’ via Albert Collins. In fact, the entire long player is an eclectic mix of styles where one moment songs are pounding out rhythms via bongos and blues harmonica (‘Made It Up In Your Mind’) and the next slinking along to a forceful rhythm and blues beat and largely aided by convincing vocals from Piney Brown during ‘Sugar In My Tea (Cream In My Coffee). It’s the slower tempo songs that appeal most, especially when both music and vocal deliveries equally match one another, but that’s taking nothing away from what is an interesting and very engaging compilation of a genre that has much to offer.


Released Out now

 

Blink Before Christmas

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Arriving just in time for Christmas is the compilation ‘Blink Before Christmas’ from Koko Mojo. With a series of songs based on the usual and not so usual yuletide themes, and backed with traditional rhythm and blues, the thirty tracks selected offer much choice. From happy beginnings via James “Sugar Boy” Crawford and ‘White Christmas’, to humorous tale of an inebriated ‘Santa Claus Came Home Drunk’ by Clyde Lasley, ‘Blink Before Christmas’ immediately suggests not only a carefully selected playlist but one that will deviate from the norm to provide a different perspective of the Christmas festivities. With big names offering their musical wares such as B.B. King (‘Christmas Celebration’), Louis Armstrong (‘Zat You, Santa Claus?’), to superbly told narratives involving ‘Santa’s Secret’ (Johnny & Slam) and a rockin’ Santa Claus as featured by The Voices’ ‘Santa Claus Boogie’ and Babs Gonzales ‘Rock and Roll Santa Claus’. However, the main present arrives during delightful talkie that is the album’s title track, compellingly told by Phil Moore, making this a truly wonderful Christmas present for any record collection.


Released Out now

 

The Twelve Rockin’ Days Of Christmas

Various Artists

Atomicat

Labelled ‘The Grown-Up Christmas’, ‘The Twelve Rockin’ Days Of Christmas’ is an apt description considering the period of the music selected that’s not going to appeal to your average teenager in the current scheme of things. The millennials loss is the “grown-ups” gain as ‘The Twelve Rockin’ Days Of Christmas’ unveils a combination of rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues just in time for the festive season. Take your pick from such rockin’ delights featuring The Sabers’ ‘A Cool, Cool Christmas’ that is a cool swinging rhythm and blues sound, ditto Otis Williams and His Charms ‘Little Turtle Dove’, to the blues guitars of The Jive-A-Tones’ ‘Wild Bird’ and perky ‘Reindeer Rock’ via The Sportsmen. A smooth compelling tone arrives via Big Joe Turner with ‘Christmas Date Boogie’, and Tiny Topsy’s ‘Ring Around My Finger’ sounds larger than the performer behind it. A different version of ‘Rocking Goose’ arrives by Steve Stannard but, unfortunately, it’s the song rather than any artist behind it that grates, with the same fate falling to Bobby Helms’ ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’. Fortunately, there’s much to feel merry about with this compilation with a string of country influenced songs from Hank Snow ‘Reindeer Boogie’, Reece Shipley & The Rainbow Valley Boys’ ‘Milk Bucket Boogie’, before flicking the switch back to normal service of stonking rhythm and blues from Jack Hammer and ‘Girl, Girl, Girl’.



Back To Top