hank ballard

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Larry Williams: Slow Down (1959)

Larry Williams: Slow Down (1959)

R'n'b/rock'n'roll singer-songwriter Williams didn't have a particularly long time in the spotlight -- he appeared in '57 and was effectively gone from the charts within three years -- but his small catalogue influenced a generation of British singers, among them John Lennon who was a huge fan. In fact the Beatles covered three Williams'...

Various Artists: Teach Me to Monkey (Vampisoul/Southbound)

Various Artists: Teach Me to Monkey (Vampisoul/Southbound)

Chris Kenner wasn't kidding when he wrote Land of 1000 Dances in '62 – which became a minor hit for Cannibal and the Headhunters, then the wicked Wilson Pickett and dozens of others. In the early 60s it seemed like America was kicking up a new dance craze – the Monkey, the Pony, the Jerk, the Mashed Potato, the Watusi...

Various Artists: The Rarest Rockabilly Album in the World Ever! (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

Various Artists: The Rarest Rockabilly Album in the World Ever! (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

As with the blues, rockabilly is always out there, but only occasionally gets its time in the spotlight when artists such as the revivalist Stray Cats or -- more recently -- the great original Wanda Jackson get some serious attention. Expect then for rockabilly -- the up-tempo white country-based music which was a precursor to rock'n'roll in...

Jimmie John: Solid Rock (1959)

Jimmie John: Solid Rock (1959)

Rockabilly is a genre that seems to enjoy the fact that it doesn't change or grow, develop or move too far from a simple template of a backbeat and the invitation to dance. It is shamelessly self-referential (in truth it just borrows or steals from itself) and back in the early Fifties when it emerged it didn't take it too long to establish...

Kitty, Daisy and Lewis: Smoking in Heaven (Sunday Best)

Kitty, Daisy and Lewis: Smoking in Heaven (Sunday Best)

While some have be quite taken by KD&Lewis' retro look and sound -- which is undeniably entertaining on the surface and live -- I have remained immune and indifferent to their charms. And nothing on this album of all originals can persuade me to be otherwise. These songs sound lame when they aren't just plain dull, or working out...

Jimmy Patton: Okies in the Pokey (1959)

Jimmy Patton: Okies in the Pokey (1959)

Jimmy Patton (1931-89) was never really a rockabilly singer although this, his biggest hit, was certainly a rave-up in that style. But Patton's heart had always been in hillbilly country, right up until Elvis came along. Like so many others he grabbed a backbeat and made the shift sideways into rock'n'roll, and specifically the rockabilly...

Chubby Checker: Mexican Hat Twist (1962)

Chubby Checker: Mexican Hat Twist (1962)

It's entirely possible Chubby Chcker knew his time was up when Parkway released his album Twist with Chubby Checker. On the back cover he looks alarmed. Maybe he'd seen the inner sleeve where five other of his Twist albums were advertised -- Your Twist Party with the King of Twist Chubby Checker, Don't Knock the Twist, Let's Twist Again, For...

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