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Boss Black Rockers Vol.4 – Slow Down

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

A series that is raising a holler due to not only its excellent content but also for providing a piece of history that is not highlighted enough regarding the many “ACE” black musicians who laid the foundations for what became rock ‘n’ roll. With volume four in this recent series from Koko Mojo, the twenty-eight tracks on offer provide enough glimpses of the talent of the time but also for the energy and inventiveness of the rockin’ tracks. By introducing a few names that will be familiar to some i.e. Jimmy McCracklin, Lloyd Price, Otis Redding with, on this occasion The Pinetoppers and others such as Joe Tex, Gene and Eunice and Larry Williams, the inclusion of a few lesser known artists adds extra spice to the series and therefore a worthy addition to anyone’s record collection. From the very definition of “wild” rock ‘n’ roll that is the severe guitar straining number ‘Wail Baby Wail’ from Tommy Louis With Marshall And The Versatiles, to more rhythmically tight ‘Such A Mess’ but nonetheless rock ‘n’ roll given the power expressed by Lloyd Price’s voice, volume four of this series has no intention of slowing down. With so much expressed via the rhythm and blues/doo wop crossover of the vocals and rock ‘n’ roll of its guitar of The El Venos’ ‘Geraldine’ providing such a deeply textured song yet sounding free of clutter, to other tracks where the rock ‘n’ roll is absolutely flying such as the fantastic ‘Papa Lou And Gran’ supplied by Little Victor. Only four albums in and the series ‘Boss Black Rockers’ has already offered more than enough great rockin’ tracks and, even greater news, there’s still more to come!


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Boss Black Rockers Vol.3 – Rockin’ Shoes

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Keeping the rock ‘n’ roll flame well and truly alive is volume three of the current series on Koko Mojo ‘Boss Black Rockers – Rockin’ Shoes’. With the emphasis of the album title on the appropriate footwear when it comes to these latest twenty-eight slices of rock ‘n’ roll in this hot new series, “rockin’ shoes” are definitely required from the off. Such attire soon becomes apparent once the opening trio of songs from Big Al Downing and ‘Yes I’m Loving You’ opens this particular account with its straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll, to the next in line and scorching heat emanating from track ‘Itchy Twitchy Feeling’ by The Swallows, to equally thrilling Roy Gaines and ‘Skippy Is A Sissy (If This Ain’t Love). Phew! Take a breather, no chance! This is rock ‘n’ roll at its finest where the beat never lets up as evidenced by frantic rhythm of the compilation’s title track via Tony Allan. Following on from that is the powerhouse saxophone steering ‘Ain’t You Glad Nature Did It’ (Joe Perkins & The Rookies), to similar effect via the vocal of Bobby Davis and really rather prickly rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Damper Down’. Take a breather, no chance! Time to sit back and relax is not an option as ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.3 – Rockin’ Shoes’ is simply irresistible whether slippin’ ‘n’ slidin’ to charismatic vocals and lively rhythm of Larry Birdsong and ‘Somebody Somewhere’, or strollin’ via The Titans’ ‘Don’t You Just Know It’, or simply cutting loose to Etta James and ‘What I Say’, there’s no finer compilation to put the listener in the mood for some serious “Rockin’ Shoes” with volume three of ‘Boss Black Rockers’.


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Let’s Throw A Pajama Party Vol.2

Various Artists

Atomicat

Fast on the heels of the first volume in this latest series on the Atomicat label is ‘Pajama Party Vol.2’. With the first compilation being well received and shifting faster than hotcakes, the second album looks set to repeat the same success, if not surpass it. Containing enough songs to rival the average family shopping list, ‘Pajama Party Vol.2’ runs from track 01 to 30 and is filled with a variety of artists from the 50s and early 60s.Therefore, expect to have your ears filled with many delights such as classic instrumental by The Ventures ‘Walk, Don’t Run’, to plenty of teenage-light rock ‘n’ roll with examples ranging from Chico Holiday and the song ‘Cuckoo Girl’, to Johnny Tillotson and ‘Cutie Pie’. As with the first volume in this series, the current album mixes the genres and comes up trumps with traditional rhythm and blues and doo wop via The Crows’ ‘Gee’, The Cleftones’ ‘Can’t We Be Sweethearts’ and double offering from The Heartbeats with ‘I Want To Know’ and tearjerker ‘A Thousand Miles Away’. Ral Donner pops up with ‘Girl Of My Best Friend’ and provides not only fantastic vocals but the closest to the King himself Elvis Presley. Fanning the flame for female rockers is Donna Dameron, who returns the call to the Big Bopper himself via ‘Bopper 486609’. It’s a gripping track and provides enough flair and imagination to fill this entire compilation. Great value and, more importantly, great music are what to expect when dropping this soundtrack for the next party.


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Boss Black Rockers Vol.2 – Bip Bop Bip

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Already shaping up to be an exciting new series is ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.2 – Bip Bop Bip’. With this being only the second album to date, and ten scheduled overall, it’s going to be a difficult job to contain the excitement judging by the quality of songs offered, but also interesting to see how this quality varies over the duration of these album releases. With the “Mojo Man” aka Little Victor at the helm once more compiling the tracks for ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.2 – Bip Bop Bip’, there’s much to consume with twenty-eight songs selected. Kicking off with The Supremes (No, not that one!) ‘Don’t Leave Me Here To Cry’ that’s upbeat despite its title and followed by the easy to remember moniker and rock ‘n’ roll stomp of Big Bob and ‘Your Line Was Busy’. In fact, the rock ‘n’ roll never lets go as the quality maintains a gold standard from Bobby Marchan’s ‘Rockin’ Behind The Iron Curtain’, Lowell Fulson’s Little Richard inspired ‘Rock This Morning’, to The Cadets fabulous vocals and fusing of rhythm and blues with rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Do You Wanna Rock’. There are familiar tracks such as the reply to Chuck Berry’s ‘Maybellene’ with John Greer’s ‘Come Back Maybellene’, in addition to the original recording of ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’ from Barrett Strong. Bringing to the attention via ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.2 – Bip Bop Bip’ of artists who were performing rock ‘n’ roll songs either before or at the same time as their white counterparts is significant for providing an accurate document on the real history of the period, but also for bringing to light so many exciting and rockin’ tracks that deserve to be heard. This series is going to be very special indeed.


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Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol.4

Various Artists

Atomicat

Final word on the series ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol.4’ arrives and is packed once more with twenty-five tracks featuring a female voice on the rockin’ front. With familiar names lining up with less familiar names, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol.4’ offers much scope when it came to those women striving to make a name for themselves in a very male-dominated industry during this particular period in history. Such mettle reveals itself early on with Betty Johnson providing a perfect blend of two genres joined at the hip of ‘Honky Tonk Rock’ and giving a powerful intro to this compilation with strong vocals and solid rhythm section. Linda Hayes adds to this determined start with equally strong vocals and the rhythm and blues track ‘Name Ain’t Fannie’, followed by Janice Martin’s version of ‘Ooby Dooby’, which by no means lets the side down because it certainly rocks. Keeping the momentum going is excellent rollin’ and country-rockin’ rhythm of ‘Sweet Talk’ supplied by Bunny Paul and followed by always reliable Patsy Cline with ‘Stop Look And Listen’. Other choice delights can be heard via breath-taking ‘Learning To Love’ (Martha Lynn) and powerhouse vocals, twice over, from Marie Knight and ‘I Thought I Told You Not To Tell Them’ and by Annisteen Allen ‘I’ve Got Troubles’. Certainly ending this series on a high note judging by yet more rockin’ tracks from Jo Ann Campbell (‘Tall Boy’), Betty James (‘I’m A Little Mixed Up’) and wildness that is ‘The Big Bounce’ (Shirley Caddell) and sublime Little Esther with ‘If It’s News To You’, there’s no doubt these women could rock with their male counterparts as ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol.4’ clearly displays.


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Indian Bred Vol.4 – Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle

Various Artists

Atomicat

With much anticipation surrounding latest compilation ‘Indian Bred Vol.4 – Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle’ after previous volume ‘War Chant Boogie’ delighted from start to finish with its many tales of conflict matched with outstanding cuts of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues. Volume. 4 ‘Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle’ immediately suggests a sense of longing for past times, with the tracks included offering a sense of determined celebration concerning heritage and pride. There’s searing rock ‘n’ roll from Premieres and ‘Firewater’, and likewise Ernest Tucker and his charismatic vocals that steers ‘Cowboy Hop’, or equally charismatic turn from the voice of Bob Landers with Willie Joe & His Unitar that offers a unique take on all things rock ‘n’ roll with fragments of Howlin’ Wolf, Hasil Adkins and Marvin Rainwater. Elsewhere, there’s western swing and early flirtation with rockabilly from Bobby Tidwell & Kiamichi Mountain Boys’ ‘Cherokee Stomp’, to more western swing and country via Sheb Wooley and His Calumet Indians with ‘Indian Maiden’, and the upbeat ‘Snake Dance Boogie’ from Roy Hogshed. As with previous compilations in this series, there’s something for everyone with the cowboy yarn of ‘Cowboy Boots’ (Dean Armstrong And The Arizona Dance Hands), rockin’ instrumental via Wes Dakus And The Club 93 Rebels and ‘El Ringo’, to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins with the album’s title track and, not forgetting tracks with a difference, Mark Devon with his interpretation of classic ‘Running Bear’ to Carolyn Gabbard and ‘Indian Rock’, which sounds ahead of its time. Another fantastic collection of songs, ‘Indian Bred Vol.4 – Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle’ makes for essential listening.


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Indian Bred Vol.3 – War Chant Boogie

Various Artists

Atomicat

Shaping up to be a class series, with a brief history lesson thrown in, is Indian Bred. Third instalment, ‘War Chant Boogie’, gives an idea of what to expect when it comes to the slices of rockin’ tunes found under its cover, and the automobile was set to leave the horse as means of transport well and truly behind. If you want tracks that represent a sense of “Feuding, Fussing and Fighting”, then you’ve come to the right place.  Beginning with a song about notorious outlaw ‘Billy The Kid’, The Raves open in style with rhythm and blues and doo-wop backing vocals. From there the history lesson gathers pace with everything from ‘Custer’s Last Stand’, compellingly told by Rose Maddox and respectful backing from the band, to songs celebrating moments of downtime via Whitey Pullen’s ‘Moonshine Liquor’, and then inspiration from piano rocker ‘Firewater’ from Rusty Isabell. It’s incredible to think that an entire compilation could be built from songs about conflicts concerning Native Americans and European Settlers, in addition to tales of outlaws who were up to no good. But that’s what occurs throughout this latest volume of ‘Indian Bred – War Chant Boogie’, which also provides an indication of the topics songwriters of the 50s were inspired by, in addition to bringing a whole host of rockin’ goodness to the table as well.


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Let’s Throw A Pajama Party Vol.1

Various Artists

Atomicat

Bringing more new titles to their record label is Atomicat and it’s time for a party, but with a difference! The official title for this release, ‘Let’s Throw A Pajama Party Vol.1’ offers an abundance of tracks that begins with an instrumental by way of The Champs and ‘Midnighter’, and concludes, appropriately, via the upbeat rhythm and strong vocals of Freddie North with ‘Ok, So What’. The track list naturally supports the title of this latest compilation with examples including Ernie Fields Orchestra ‘In The Mood’ supplying the big band treatment that will keep any party going, to fuelling the rhythms further with rock ‘n’ roll ‘I Go Ape’ (Frankie Tyler), ‘Under The Moon Of Love’ (Curtis Lee), and Priscilla Bowman’s ‘A Rockin’ Good Way’ where edges blur between rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll. That remains one of the key highlights of this new compilation because residing under the banner ‘Let’s Throw A Pajama Party Vol.1’ the listener will discover plenty of teenage-light rock ‘n’ roll with tougher rockers such as the excellent Bob Corso’s ‘Bad, Bad Woman’ mingling with other genres of rhythm and blues and doo wop. It’s left, however, to The Flamingos ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ to present the diamond in the pack here (other opinions welcome of course). Another series, and another success, ‘Let’s Throw A Pajama Party Vol.1’ is a party that will not disappoint due to its sheer variety and seriously engaging track selection that lives up to the concept chosen for this brand-new series.


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Stroll-A-Rama: Jump and Bump

Various Artists

Atomicat

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


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Rock ‘n’ Roll Kittens Vol.3

Various Artists

Atomicat

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


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Boss Black Rockers Vol.1 – She Can Rock

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

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


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Rock Ya Baby

Various Artists

Pan American/Atomicat

Continuing what has become something of a great tradition, not to mention series, the latest release on the Pan American record label is volume 45. With 26 tracks of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll goodness, the listener is spoilt for choice with newest in the series ‘Rock Ya Baby’. Whether it’s letting off some steam via Johnny Faire and wild ‘Bertha Lou’, to equally rowdy The Spades ‘Jim Dandy’, this compilation of artists will not fail to disappoint. By mixing a few NAMES with those less known or perhaps less featured on similar collections is a major appeal of this fascinating series and really brings attention through such tracks as Sonny Russell with ’50 Megatons’ and its intriguing quirks, to the slim instrumentation of ‘Baby By Rock’ by Winnie Starr And The Omaha Kid, and other places where the rockin’ beat definitely holds a swagger such as ‘Bad Bad Way’ from Rodger & The Tempests. Far more than a simple introduction to rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll, ‘Rock Ya Baby’ via PanAm certainly lives up to its title, but these songs and artists will guarantee further investigation due to a lack of familiarity and, more importantly, for being of the highest quality.



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