Graham Reid | | 1 min read
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 the mid Fifties -- to come to the fore then in early 2011 when Jackson's much anticpated new album (mid-wifed by Jack White of the White Stripes) gets released.
Meantime though you have this 50 song double disc (unfortunately no liner notes) of names you have doubtless never heard before: Al Epp and the Pharoahs, Jimmy Patton, Jimmie John, Jimmy Lloyd, Benny Joy, Benny Ingram, Bob Dewitt, Bob Hicks . . . You get the picture.
Little Rome by Max Alexander and Hank Harral (1957) owes a debt to jump jive with saxophone; Yah I'm Movin' by Jimmy Patton ('58) is pure Elvis with a nod to Jailhouse Rock and Jerry Lee Lewis piano-hammering; Solid Rock is country rock'n'roll with a wild banjo part; Nat County weighs in with a reference to Woody Woodpecker on the inane Woodpecker Rock; Hot Rod Baby opens with a car crash . . .
Most of these songs name-check "rock'n'roll" and are big on invitations to rock or promises of boppin' all night -- and of course the genre was narrow so just about every track here is familiar in that they remind you of something by Elvis, Buddy Holly, early Johnny Cash, Johnny Devlin and so on, perhaps because most people here wrote their own songs from the template. Although these are rare tracks you can probably guess the Cramps have the original 78rpm records.
But what is also noticeable is just how many artists play the card of being jes' an innocent country boy when it comes to purty gals or the big city. Curiously though the cover looks like English rockabilly rebels more than these Southern country boys or their audience. But rockabilly was hugely popular in Britain so . . .
Interesting but hardly essential -- unless of course you want to guarantee everyone dancing at a party.