VIRGINIA ROCKS - THE HISTORY OF ROCKABILLY IN THE COMMONWEALTH (2CD)
Roy Hall, Buster Pack, Phil Gray, Jimmy Hufton, Gene Vincent, Patsy Cline, Gene Criss, Gene Simpson, Randy Spangler, The Dazzlers, Barbara Allen, Clint Miller, Hender Saul, Jay Chevalier, Doug Powell, Rock A Teens, Moon Mullins, Ronnie Dove & The Bell Tones, The Sportsters, Buddy Watson, Alden Holloway, The Newton Brothers, Barry Darvell, Earl Craig, Robert Williams & The Groovers, Bob Harman's Combo, Nat Robertson etc etc.
Rockabilly was invented by southern kids who grew up listening to pure old country music and blues and eventually decided to mix the genres into a rockin' mixture of country boogie and hard blues rhythms and it came out a whooping, hollerin' stuttering, hiccoughing mess of music that lasted but a few short years in the mid-fifties before it mutated into what became known as rock'n'roll. In most southern states, rockabilly bands left behind some cracking music on obscure labels and that's what fills this great little 2CD set.
You get to hear early boppin' tracks from Janis Martin, Wayne Newton, Mac Wiseman, Link Wray, Roy Clark and Gene Vincent when they were just kids but to be honest, it's the unknown elements that tear up the most, capturing all the rawness, slapping rhythm and emotive language that made rockabilly so exciting in the first place.
Mysterious performers like Buster Pack and The Lonesome Pine Boys attack ‘Indian Boogie' with an engaging primitiveness, throwing devious lines on the guitar alongside some of the weirdest fiddle licks since Hoyt Ming made the ‘Indian War Whoop' in 1928 - a song that surely must have inspired these kids.
Fifteen year old Phil Gray and The Go Boys repackage ‘That's All Right Mama' as ‘Bluest Boy In Town' complete with a nervous crack at a wavering Elvis impersonation. The more experienced Clint Miller and his band lay down a blistering beat while Clint, full to the brim with testosterone trails Bertha Lou like a panther on heat bawling ‘Bertha Lou, I wanna conjugate with you / You know my blood is running wild / and I know you ain't no child'. Quite...
One of the most vital recordings here is ‘Rock Everybody' by Leon and Carlos which gallops along with the frantic acoustic guitar flailing over the squealing pedal steel licks while Leon Woodward snarls out the lyrics. But even this is overshadowed by Warren Miller's scorching ‘Everybody's Got A Baby But Me', which is a thundering good bit of blustering boogie thanks to the wild piano, the rollicking rhythm section , crazy lead guitar and of course, Warren's terrific vocals.
If you want a truly dangerous piece of rockabilly try Moon Mullin's ‘Bip Bop Boom', a number dominated by Mullin's throaty roar and a combustible combo that knows exactly how to rock with rasping saxes, pounding drums and pumping pianos competing with the glorious clanging lead guitar. It lasts just ninety seconds long but what a ninety seconds!
More of my faves are Robert Williams & The Groover's tribute to hot rodding on ‘Loud Mufflers' and Barry Darvell's comments on a local public health scare in ‘Cranberry Blues'. Then there's Buddy Watson with Tommy Riddle's Band ripping into the powerful rocker ‘If I Had Me A Woman' and The Hi-Tombs ‘Sweet Rockin' Mama' which sounds like the Big Bopper meets Jimmy Reed! Fabulous!
There are 61 tracks here all well documented in the superb 72 page booklet written by Don Harrison and Brent Hosier who compiled it and did the research. Christopher King remastered the music from original analogue sources and got the best sound you could imagine. This is a seriously great package you must not miss!
Ask for JSP6201 - Red Lick price only £11.00 plus p&p
Review Date: July 2009