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Together We Made Music

Chas Hodges

Western Star

Currently touring the length and breadth of the UK due to popular demand as none other than Chas & Dave, ‘Together We Made Music’ sees Chas Hodges flying the flag alone in a tribute to some of the great musicians he has had the pleasure of working with whether as providing backing support or merely strumming a few well-known ditties with the likes of The Beatles or Cliff Richard. Such details can be garnered from the comprehensive liner notes that are as compelling as the covers selected for this solo effort such as ‘Bring A Little Water Sylvie’, ‘Crazy Arms’ and tribute to Screaming Lord Sutch ‘Don’t You Just Know It’. It remains, however, closing number ‘Where Am I Gonna Find Ya’ – a Hodges and initial starting point for co-writer Dave Peacock to pen their own contribution – that really sticks in the throat and offers a timely reminder of why the duo are held so affectionately.


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Infamy

The Sharks

Western Star

The return of Alan Wilson’s The Sharks has been greatly anticipated by the rockabilly and psychobilly fraternity, and what a worthwhile wait new album ‘Infamy’ is proving to be. If it had not been destined for the music world, then a large proportion of ‘Infamy’ could have passed for a criminology thesis concerning the causes and effects of crime, due to its tip of the hat references to the criminal underbelly of society. Despite the darker tones of the lyrical content, ‘Infamy’ is not without considerable humour as ‘House Of Wax’ gives the impression of a silent black and white film complete with hapless victims hotly pursued by a relentless killer, whereas ‘She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster-Man’ conjures up much hilarity with its sweetly seductive girl group vocals and lines offering, ‘Now the monster was weird and just a little unreal, seemed kinda short of that sex appeal’. The swinging rhythms of ‘The King Of London’ and ‘I Can’t Believe You’re Back’ details the infamous exploits of Roy ‘Pretty Boy’ Shaw and Ronnie Biggs respectively, leaving the upbeat tempo of ‘Breakin’ Bones’ to shift theme (Evel Knievel of all things!) along with the intimate ‘Desert Diamond’ making this a true return to form.


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Unfinished Business

Wanda Jackson

Sugar Hill

Hot on the heels of the Jack White-produced ‘The Party Ain’t Over’, Wanda Jackson continues her renaissance with new album ‘Unfinished Business’. This time it’s Justin Townes Earle on production duties; even contributing vocally on the quite superb ‘Am I Even A Memory?’ With ‘Unfinished Business’ being a more subtle affair than the aforementioned White project, it would seem that Jackson still has much to offer, and long may it continue, as this resurgence in creativity and recognition is much welcomed.


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Eddie Cochran Plus Singin’ To My Baby

Eddie Cochran

Hoodoo

The Hoodoo Records imprint conjures up some more magic with the double whammy that is ‘Eddie Cochran’ and ‘Singin’ To My Baby’. With a 16-page booklet providing detailed information coupled with several rare photos, both albums not only provide a healthy dose of Cochran’s well-known numbers (‘C’mon Everybody’, ‘Summertime Blues’, ‘Mean When I’m Mad, ‘Completely Sweet’’) but the bonus material also throws up some wonderful delights such as ‘Twenty-Flight Rock’ and ‘Boll Weevil Song’. Outside of Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran was definitely one of the pioneers of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll music as these two albums provide an introduction and timely reminder of the genius at work.


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Classic Rockabilly

Various Artists

Proper

‘Classic Rockabilly’ is the king of rockabilly box sets by a considerable distance. Packed with some 100 plus songs that appear to reveal something new on repeat listens due to the density on offer here, Proper Records has clearly done their homework as the usual suspects of Presley, Burnette, Perkins, Vincent, Orbison et el are present and accompanied by the lesser-known Justin Tubb, Earl Epps and Vern Pullens. However, it is not just the jaw-droppingly good music on offer here, but the equally compelling comprehensive notes detailing each and every artist and clearly setting this compilation apart from the chasing pack. Viva Proper Records!


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The Emperor’s New Clothes

Jack Rabbit Slim

Western Star

In a recent interview, Bob Butfoy of Jack Rabbit Slim disclosed that the title of the band’s new album had no bearing on the decision-making process of two of its recently departed members but more in conjunction with the rockabilly scene the band continually find themselves lumped in with. In an attempt to move away from said scene, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ reveals itself as something of two components, with one half still rooted in a rockabilly/rock ‘n’ roll rhythm whilst the other taking on more diverse sounds such as the indie sounding ‘Thinkin’ Of Leavin’. It is the latter component that will no doubt win over new fans whereas the more traditional leanings of ‘Rock n Roll Shipwreck’ and ‘Come Back Baby’ will help to retain the purists.


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Wild Streak Vol. 2

Various Artists

Vee-Tone

Hot on the heels of Volume One, the encyclopaedia of 50s music-related knowledge that is Mark Lamarr compiles another set of frantic rock ‘n’ roll for Vee-Tone Records. There is much to be found here and in particular Rocky Holman’s truly eccentric ‘Wild Boy’ that will leave you grinning long after its conclusion. The equally manic ‘Drummer Boy Rock’, replete with backing hollers and drumrolls, from Gene Watson & The Rockets’ maintains the flow and appropriately followed by the guitar-ringing ‘Six Long Weeks’ and the hip-swinging moves of Hank LeGaults’ ‘I Knew’. Only the more formulaic ‘High School Caesar’ slightly takes the edge off of proceedings to an otherwise enthralling compilation.


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Kat Men

Kat Men

Foot Tapping Records

With a balance of original compositions and cover versions, The Kat Men’s much sought after debut album is reissued on Foot Tapping Records with several added additions. As mentioned elsewhere, and kicking-off proceedings, ‘Domino’ sets the benchmark in the rockin’ stakes with its raw guitar assault and pulsating rhythmic beats providing serious competition for Roy Orbison’s original composition. With no time to come up for air, ‘Dark Haired Woman’ and ‘A Heartache I Can’t Bare’ continue in similar fashion, providing convincing evidence that Darrel Higham should really pen more of his own material because these songs, along with the gripping ‘That Sounds Like Fun’, stand up on their own merits.


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Dead Man’s Shoes

The Lucky Bullets

Grappa

As far as rockabilly revival bands go, The Lucky Bullets are actually worth the attention. Spanning not just rockabilly music but blending Western-style influences with added Mexican flavour, ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ is littered with an assortment of hapless figures and chancers compellingly told by the charismatic Tank Harvey. Whether it’s the guitar twang and bubbling under the surface brass of title song ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’, evoking images of deserted towns and rolling tumbleweeds, to the leading bass tempo of love-struck ‘Bosses Daughter’ or the Johnny Cash inspired ‘Heavy Load’ , The Lucky Bullets possess a deft touch when it comes to songwriting. Defining moments, however, are left to the darkly comic film noir that is ‘Mrs B. Have’ and still essential ‘Fire Below’.


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Eight Classic Albums Plus Bonus Singles

Elvis Presley

Real Gone

Free of any pretence, Real Gone has put together a mammoth box set covering eight classic albums of Elvis Presley spanning from 1956 – 1960 with additional singles included for good measure over four CDs. With minor gripes being a lack of any detailed information regarding the recording sessions  during these years or about the man himself let alone a series of photographs to give the listener some inclination of the King’s inner sanctum, the sound quality and of course the rockin’ tracks more than compensate for any such grievances.


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The Complete 50s Masters

Elvis Presley

Sony

A nicely packaged and comprehensive examination of Elvis Presley’s Sun Records phase which takes the listener into the RCA sessions until the latter end of the 1950s. The compact set consists of five CDs and a reasonably detailed booklet detailing all of the recording sessions with added extras. If you are a fan of early period Elvis, then ‘The Complete ‘50s Masters’ is definitely a wise acquisition even if the songs contained within are more than familiar to even the most hardened Presley aficionados.


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Great Rockabilly Vol. 6

Various Artists

Smith & Co

Still going strong, the ‘Great Rockabilly’ series has now reached Volume 6 and there is still plenty to offer here from not only the usual suspects of Cochran, Burnette, Vincent et al but also some lesser-known cuts from the likes of Bobby Lollar, Leon and Carlos, Red Sovine, and John Hampton. Pick of the bunch however, is the wild and frantic ‘Love Me’ by The Phantom, which predates the raw intensity of punk music by some considerable years.



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