PAGE UPDATED: February 24, 2003
ROMAN SELF, A Tribute to Ronnie Self - CD
MATT LUCAS 'I'm Moving On'
Early Rock & Roll From New Zealand Vols. 5 & 6
TERRY LEE & THE WILD ONES
Rockin' 50's Fest - Oneida Casino'
Bill Haley and His Comets: 'Vive La Rock 'n' Roll'
HEMSBY #28 - In Review
HUELYN DUVALL / CDs
HUELYN DUVALL / THE HOUSEROCKERS
THE AQUATONES - '40 Years Later'
2 CD Reviews: THE ADVENGERS and THE RHYTHMAIRES
2CD: Rocky Burnette, Darrel Higham & The Enforcers
2 CD Reviews: HUELYN DUVALL
Review: Rhythm Riot No. 5
Early Rock & Roll From New Zealand Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4
Gene Vincent: "Town Hall Party TV Shows 1958/1959
Book Reviews: "The Wild One" & "Long Distance Information"
Hemsby Rock & Roll Weekender #27
VLV 4 - Five Days, Five Days of Rockin' 'n' Rollin'
EDDIE COCHRAN - Town Hall Party TV Shows 1959
ROCKIN' AUSTRALIA - PART TWO - SEVERAL CDs
EDDIE SULIK / THE ECHOES CD - 'Sweet Memories'
BILLY ADAMS CD
Winter Party Rockers Reunion Review
RHYTHM RIOT No. 04 - REVIEW
Spo-Dee-O-Dee - Texasbilly Rockers - Foggy Mountain Rockers
Archive #1 (Big)VARIOUS ARTISTS "Bop 'n' Roll Party"
CHARLIE RYAN - "Hot Rod Lincoln"
CHAS MCDEVITT SKIFFLE GROUP
Various Artists - "Teenage Cruisers"
TRITONS - "Saturday Night At The Duckpond"
VERNON TAYLOR - "Now And Then"
3 CD: Various Artists - Charlie Rich - Frankie Ford
WILD BOB BURGOS
Dick Darmron, Alvis Wayne, Kenny Vance CDs
EDDIE SULIK "A Farewell Legacy"
LARRY DONN "The New Recordings"
RAY SMITH CD - "The Complete Wix Sessions Of Ray Smith"
DALE WATSON - The Borderline, London
TRIBUTE CDs - Perkins, Holly, Presley, Cochran
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Lamar, Sutch, Wells, Pierce
GENE VINCENT & EDDIE COCHRAN - "Rock 'n' Roll Memories"
EDDIE BOND - "The Memphis Bopper"
VARIOUS ARTISTS - "Rock-A-Ballads/Rock-A-Hits"
ROCKIN' IN LONDON TOWN, July 10-13, 2000
VIVA LAS VEGAS 3 In Review
IAN CALFORD & THE BRAKEMEN: "Strapped For Cash" - CD Review
Di MAGGIO BROTHERS: "Rockabilly From The Boots Up" - CD Review
RICK HOLLOW: "Swing Your Hips" - CD Review
LEROY DAVIS: "Play It Cool" - CD Review
MOON MULLICAN & THE SHOWBOYS - and - BONNIE LOU - CD Reviews
GRAHAM FENTON'S MATCHBOX - "Rockabilly Rebel - CD Review
WANDA JACKSON - "Rock Around The Eiffel Tower" - CD Review
HAWKSHAW HAWKINS and ZEB TURNER - 2 CD Reviews
EARL LEWIS & THE CHANNELS: "The Best of Take One & Take Two" - CD Review
VARIOUS ARTISTS: "Wolf Call" - CD Review
VARIOUS ARTISTS: "Mickey B's Juke Box Review Volume 1" - CD Review
BOBBY LOWELL: "Rocka Boogie/Rocka Billy: Just Won't Stop!" - CD Review
VARIOUS ARTISTS: "Cash On Delivery" - CD Review
VARIOUS ARTISTS: "Alter Of Dreams" - CD Review
TOMMY BRUCE: "The London Boy" - CD Review
THE PLANOTONES: "Teenage Jazz" - CD Review
A Look at Gary Byrant
Various Artists - "For 20 Ar Sedan" - CD Review
The Winter Rock 'N' Roll Party - Show Review
Various Artists CD - "Talk About A Party! - The Crest Records Story"
Rhythm Riot No. 03 - Show Review
Eddie Fontaine CD - "Cool It Baby"
Huey Piano Smith - Frankie Ford - Jimmy Clanton
Various Artists - "Twistin' Time Volume 1 and Volume 2"
Bobby Lowell & Jim Cidlikn" - 3 "45s"
The Paladins CD, "Slippin' In"
Paul Evans CD, "I Was Part Of The Fifties"
Various Artists CD, Fernwood R&R
Danny Gatton & Robert Gordon
Alvis Wayne, Darrell Higham, Railmen (Show Review)
Rock & Roll Down Under - Multiple Artists
Various Artists: Mark Lamarr's Roc-King Up A Storm"
Various Artists: Hi Records-The Early Years Vols. 1 + 2
Everly Brothers: "Live In Paris"
Sonny West: Rockola "Ruby/Sweet Rockin' Baby"
Cochran/Vincent "Town Hall Party"CD Review
Golden Crest Instrumentals
30 Original Historic Rockabilly Classics Vol. 2
As Art Ontario 1957-1962/As Art Buchanan 1991-1993
32 Original Historic Rockabilly CLASSICS
Fernwood Rockabillies CD
Don Weise Hillbilly Cat CD
Gene Vincent, Vinyl
Warner Mack, CD
Mike Berry & The Outlaws, CD
Vipers Skiffle Group, Vinyl
Gary Tollet w/the Crickets, Vinyl
Wanda Jackson's Show
AMERICAN MUSIC MAGAZINE
A POTTED HISTORY
One of the foremost specialist music magazines in Europe (especially in the Scandinavia region) is the quality American Music Magazine, a non-profit making concern which is dedicated to all things real rock 'n' roll.
The magazine came about during a meeting in May 1979 between Bo Berglind, Claes-Hakan Olofsson, Erik Larsson, Bertil Jansson and Christer Malmstedt at Vessigebro, Southern Sweden with the joint intentions of spreading the word of original and true rock 'n' roll and bringing rock 'n' roll originators to Sweden. It was quickly realised by the participants that the best way of achieving these laudable aims was to launch a r 'n' r magazine and the first issue was in September 1979 - with the featured artist being rockabilly great Jack Earls.
The magazine quickly went from strength to strength and obtained a wide and steady readership in the Scandinavia area. The magazine was and is published quarterly and it is the magazine's proud boast that not one issue has been missed since its launch.
Around 1981, Bertil Jansson was unfortunately killed in an accident when his car stalled on a level crossing but his place was taken by Erik (Bad Boy) Petersson in 1982 and Erik remains a core member of the AMM team to this very day. 1982 also saw the first USA visit by Berglind and Larsson when the intrepid duo met up with Janice Martin, Mickey Hawks and Carl Perkins plus attended the Rocky Burnette "Get Hot Or Go Home"recording session - there were also numerous (mis)adventures on this trip but a veil will be drawn over those.
Larsson was struck down by the terrible M. S. disease upon his return from this trip and so had to leave the production staff of AMM. Christer Malmstedt had launched his Rock & Country Record label in the late sixties and his continued heavy involvement with releases lead to his connection with the magazine gradually fading away. However the remainder of the founding fathers remain actively involved and were joined by Tony Wilkinson as the UK representative in 1993 - as a result of a particularly wild Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Weekender. Morton Reff has also joined as the AMM man in Norway.
The magazine helped The Sun Rhythm Section become a significant touring act in Northern Europe and was instrumental in establishing Rocky Burnette as a known name. In 1995, AMM bought Jerry Jaye and Darlene Battles to 'Sweden for their first ever concert dates outside of the USA - these were followed the same year by appearances in the UK.
AMM is proud of the fact that the first major articles on many r 'n' r originators have appeared in their pages, all of which were and are accompanied by a wonderful and extensive selection of photographs (many being published for the first time) and generally a full discography. Artists who have recently been featured include Jimmy Swan, Eddie Cash, Joe Turner, Lloyd Arnold, Vernon Taylor, Johnny Kidd, Conway Twitty, Jeff Stone, Joyce Green, Bobby Wayne, Don Weise, Carl Mann, Van Broussard, Troy Shondell, Mickey Lee Lane, Vernon Green & The Medallions etc. etc. Forthcoming issues will contain the Specialty label story and similar on the Golden Crest group of labels, the last mentioned will be the first all English language issue of AMM.
The magazine has an extensive list of contacts all over the rock 'n' roll world and is really appreciative of their invaluable help and assistance, none more so than the rocker from Bono, Arkansas - Larry Donn.
If you want to join the ever increasing band of readers,
annual subscriptions (four issues) are available from
426 68 Vastra Frolunda, Sweden as follows:
For Sweden: - 150 SW. Crowns
For elsewhere in Europe (apart from UK) - 180 Sw. Crowns
For rest of the World - $30 (US)
For the UK and Ireland, contact:
4 North Street,
Southend on Sea,
Essex, SS3 OEL, England
(fax number Int. + UK Codes + 1702 218 8 50)
for which anannual subscription is £15.00 (UK).
Sample copies are available at 40 Sw. Crowns/$8.00 (US) post paid.
If any further information is wanted,
please contact the editor,
Bo Berglind, Kungsgatan 1,
432 40 Varberg, Sweden
(fax Int.+ Swedish Codes + 340 877 24).
'A Tribute To Ronnie Self'
Rockabilly Hall of Fame RABHOF CD114
Total Playing Time: 34:37
Ain't I Dandy/Bop A Lena/Long Distance Kiss/Big Fool/Rocky Road Blues/Bless My Broken Heart/Ain't I'm A Dog/Pretty Bad Blues/Big Town/Flame Of Love/Big Blon' Baby/Sweet Nothin's/You The Mama Of My Song.
A few of the offspring of the rock 'n' roll originators have tied their hand at re-creating the spirit of their dad's music but generally with a limited degree of success. It was therefore with some trepidation that I placed this shiney wonder of recordings by Roman, son of Ronnie Self - one of the true rockin' originals, in the tray and stood back for the results. I had nothing to fear as this release cooks, it rocks and contains some great music.
This is a loving tribute by Roman to his dad's music and it is all credit to him that he mixes in a few of Ronnie's more obscure tunes such as 'Ain't I Dandy' with interpretations of the well known numbers like 'Bop A Lena'. The former is taken at mid-tempo and has bluesy tinges in the vocals and backings, a tasty workout indeed. Such a collection would not be complete without serving up the aforementioned 'Bop A Lena', surely one of the wildest rock 'n' roll records ever cut in Nashville, and Roman wraps his tonsils around the ditty in no uncertain way. Perhaps not quite possessing the strangulated style of singing of his old man, he does come dangerously close and the end result is sparkling rock 'n' roll.
Similar can be said regarding 'Big Fool', 'Rocky Road Blues', 'Big Blon' Baby' (both obviously done Ronnie Self style and not that of Gene Vincent or Jerry Lee) and 'Ain't I'm A Dog'. The interpretation of 'Pretty Bad Blues' is excellent as is the frantic workout on 'You The Mama Of My Song', simply hard driving good rock 'n' roll. Both 'Bless My Broken Heart' and 'Big Town' are taken at a gentler pace and provide a nice contrast to the preceding exuberance. 'Flame Of Love' has long been one of my favourite Ronnie Self tunes and Roman's version does not disappoint. It was brave to attempt 'Sweet Nothin's' which was a big hit for Brenda Lee but composed by Ronnie. It fits in well and is done I guess as Ronnie intended, it is not a slavish copy.
This leaves 'Long Distance Kiss' which was a mid sixties song by Ronnie in the vein of 'High On Life' and here whilst Roman's vocals capture the song nicely, it is somewhat marred by too heavy and cluttered drumming. This is a minor gripe in what is a thoroughly enjoyable CD. Hope we will be able see Roman gracing a stage here in the UK before not too long, a fitting demonstration of his dad's music is long overdue. To obtain this CD, visit the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame website at www.rockabillyhall.com
© Tony Wilkinson
'I'm Moving On'
Redita 146 Playing Time: 59.39 minutes
I'm Movin' On/Water Moccasin/Turn On Your Lovelight/Tradin' Kisses/Put Me Down/ Maybelline/Ooby Dooby/Wine Wine Wine/On One Like You/Mr King Of Rock & Roll/Sweetest One/Drunkards Dream/My Heavenly Angel/New Orleans Woman/ Ubangi Stomp/Annie Had A Baby/Red Hot/Going To Toronto/Down The Line/Rock 'n' Roll Ruby/M C Twine/I Need Your Lovin'/Herpes Blues
This is a 23-track compilation overview of the recording career of Matt Lucas, one of those select few in that he is a singing drummer. He has a unique exhilarating rough roadhouse style of rockin' with bags of spirit thrown in. The selection of tracks covers the ground from his first Memphis recordings in 1959, the rockin' 'Tradin' Kisses' and the beat ballad ''Sweetest One', through his hit making days circa 1963 with his totally original and wild rock 'n' roll interpretation of Hank Snow's 'I'm Movin' On' to the salacious tough rockin' 'Herpes Blues' from a session laid down in Chicago in 1983 At all times and throughout the varied styles, the uniqueness that is Matt Lucas comes shining through like a beacon of blinding light.
'I'm Movin' On' and the flip 'My Heavenly Angel', a slow almost tender ballad, were laid down in Memphis in late 1962 at the tail end of a Narvel Felts recording session and was picked up by Smash Records and went on to peak at position # 45 in Cashbox (# 56 in Billboard) but on the continent of Europe it was a bigger hit, especially in Belgium and Holland. The follow up, a frantic workout of 'Ooby Dooby', did not fare so well as the times were a changing. Special mention must be made of the excellent flip to this record, the beat balladry of 'No One Like You' which bears overtones of Presley's 'Anyway You Want Me'. More of the same rockin' Lucas styling is evident with his interpretations of 'Maybellene', 'Put Me Down' plus the more R&B orientated 'Turn On Your Lovelight' and 'Water Moccasin'.
Matt tried his had at the dance craze in 1965 with 'M C Twine' which was recorded in Detroit in 1965 and uses Alvin Cash & The Crawlers 'Twine Time' as its inspiration. This was a localized area hit the same year. The remainder of the tracks range from 1972 through to 1983 in recording dates and cover such as the rockin' blues of 'Going To Toronto', the R&B slanted cover of Hank Ballad's 'Annie Had A Baby which really works, the Crescent City style workout of 'New Orleans Woman' and reasonably successful attempts at Memphis rockers like 'Red Hot', 'Down The Line' and 'Ubangi Stomp'.
The one guiding theme from all inclusions is that the excitement and entertainment factors do not let up for one instance. The sound of these recordings has been cleaned up for this release and is now really good. The set comes complete with interesting and informative liner notes from Adriaan Sturm and a varied selection of photographs supplied by Lucas. To sum up, a worthy release. © Tony Wilkinson
"Early Rock & Roll From
New Zealand Vols. 5 & 6"
Collector Records CLCD 7755/A/B
Total Playing Time: 119 minutes
53 tracks including: JOHNNY COOPER - Blackberry Boogie (two versions) & Pie Cart Rock And Roll/MAX MERRITT & THE METEORS - Get A Haircut & Diamond Ring/THE MAORI HI FIVE - Chariot Rock & The Hippy Hippy Shake/THE EMBASSY SIX - Hoots Mon & Loch Lomond Rock/THE SUPERSONICS - Detour & Hard Boiled Boogie/TEDDY BENNETT & THE BLOCKBUSTERS - Clap Your Hands & Where Were You On Our Wedding Day/THE ROCKETS - Nashville Boogie.
This is a further various artists collection of the early days of New Zealand rock 'n' roll from down there in the Southern Hemisphere and is a two CDs for the price of one compilation. As with its predecessors, it comprises a mixture of some outstanding sides, quite a few that are reasonably good and a few that could have done without resurrection. The time scale of these recordings ranges from 1955 through to 1963 with the majority from 1960/1961. As with the collection on Volumes 3 and 4 of this on-going series, the Kiwis were paying close attention to what was emanating from both Great Britain as well as the USA. This is clearly evidenced in the music of The Supersonics who, apart from the 'Hu-Hu Bug credited to Bas Tubert & The Tubes which is an okay vocal rocker, stick to the guitar lead instrumental side of things very much in the vein of the (UK) Shadows with 'The Frightened City' and the USA band The Ventures with a straight copy of 'Walk Don't Run'.
There are seven tracks by Johnny Cooper who was clearly influenced by the music of Bill Haley & His Comets. He sings with bags of gusto and whilst the backing is a little on the amateurish/pedestrian side, the infection of the recordings seeps through and I loved them. Max Merritt and The Meteors, with seventeen recordings, have the largest inclusion by one act. Max was one of the first rockin' teen idols from that part of the world and later on achieved fame and fortune down under. His tracks here represent the odd original but in the main are covers of American originals such as 'Weekend', 'The Way I Walk and 'Tennessee Waltz. The last mentioned is fine but the rest are generally bordering on the okay level, listen able but without being too exciting. In the good category are the Maori Hi Five with a tasty version of the Champs 'Chariot Rock' and The Embassy Six with 'Hoots Mon' and 'Loch Lomond Rock'
A couple of real clunkers are 'I Love Paris' by Mister Pedals Malloy and 'My Lovin' Boy' by Litia Daveta but more than compensating is the excellent rockin' original 'Street Corner by Gary Stewart & The Coronets with Ian Lowe & His Esquires. Quality rock 'n' roll from anywhere in the world.
To conclude, a rather mixed bag of goodies, historically important, generally interesting and representing value for money. Hopefully there will be further similar releases (and we ain't reached Australia yet).
© Tony Wilkinson
TERRY LEE & THE WILD ONES
Westcliff Hotel, Westcliff on Sea,
Sunday, 19th January 2003
My home town of Southend on Sea, England, and its catchment area, back in the late fifties and early sixties was a veritable hot bed of rock 'n' roll with groups such as The Paramounts, The Orioles and The Rockafellas. The scene was great and vibrant, it was a rock 'n' roll town. I had heard good reports on Terry Lee and the band via the pages of NDT and on the grapevine and so I just had to go along and find out if these were justified and if the band was worthy of adopting the mantle of its predecessors. In fact, Mrs. Wilkinson and daughter Colinda were sufficiently intrigued to accompany myself - the group was honoured.
Terry models himself on a young Jerry Lee Lewis and pounds the piano into submission whilst the rest of the group poured out a rock solid beat behind him. All the Jerry Lee stage tricks were served up in abundance, raking the keyboards, head held back, leaning over the piano, leg up on the keys. But Terry could play the eighty-eight keys in no uncertain way, it was just marvellous to watch and listen. He had sufficient of himself, both vocally and instrumentally in there too to prevent it becoming a mere slavish copy. The set consisted mainly of tunes from the Jerry Lee songbook plus a few original numbers from a forthcoming CD. This was rock 'n' roll in the highest Southend tradition. Indeed, Mrs. Wilkinson was impressed (another tick in the box).
The scary point about all this is that the group has only been going for just over a year now; with Terry having just turned eighteen and the Wild Things all have to be around the same age. The talent potential is awesome and, once they learn to pace their performances a bit better, there will be no holding them. If the band plays in your area, make a point of seeing them perform, as I doubt if you will go away disappointed.
© Tony Wilkinson
A WEEK OF BIPPIN' AND BOPPIN'
Rockin' 50's Fest - Oneida Casino
Green Bay, Wisconsin
7th to 13th July 2002
Bribing My Way Out There.
A few months back, word began to trickle out on the grapevine that there was going to be one heck of a big rock 'n' roll festival at the Oneida Casino, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Accordingly, one new washing machine, one dishwasher and one fridge later and Mrs. Wilkinson looking forward to twelve days of peace, my bags were packed and I was on my way to Chicago.
Rockabilly originator Hayden Thompson, and his lovely wife Georgia, who looked after Stompertime Records president Dave Travis and myself, met me. The hospitality was something else and they showed us around the windy city, a great place to visit in it's own right. But it was soon on to Green Bay, a sprawling town about 220 miles north with a population of around 100,000 and home to the Green Bay Packers (American) football team.
The casino is located on the Oneida Indian Reservation and incorporates a large Radisson Hotel. The festival was to be held in three rooms, which at times would be simultaneously operating, and so it I quickly figured it out (bright bugger that I am) that there was no way that I would get to see all of around 115 acts scheduled to appear. Accordingly I prepared a hit list of artists that I wanted to see and based myself in the main 3 Clans Stage, which was a large hall complete with excellent sight lines, a big stage and a sound system to dream of here in Europe. The following review is not therefore intended to be complete but hopefully will provide a flavour of what has to be the greatest rock 'n' roll festival yet.
Sunday, 7th July
The first act was BOBBY CARAWAY who performed his claim to rockabilly fame, 'Ballin' Keen', along with a selection of rock 'n' roll standards generally in a night club style. However next act was a personal favourite, the man from Texas, HUELYN DUVALL, accompanied by Wild Fire Willie and The Ramblers. They were fresh from a 20-date tour of Europe together and boy it showed with a seamless inspired performance. This guy just gets better with every performance and worked the ample sized stage with consummate professionalism. The set varied slightly from that recently seen here in the UK but included all the Huelyn favourites such as 'Juliet', 'Pucker Paint', 'Coming Or Goin', 'It's No Wonder' and of course 'Three Months To Kill'. He also included his interpretations of songs that were popular at the time when he was on the road as a teenage rocker like 'When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again', 'Your True Love' and 'Somebody Touched Me'. The final act for this evening was the only jump jive outfit of the festival, the ROYAL CROWN REVUE from Los Angeles. Their numbers seemed to go on for a long time, but I was tired and headed off to dreamland salivating at what was to come.
Monday, 8th July
The performances in the 3 Clans Stage started at 2.00 pm every day whilst those in the Iroquois Ballroom commenced at 6.30 pm the acts in the Purcell's Lounge kicked off at 9.00 pm. Accordingly early afternoon saw a back to form MAC CURTIS backed up by the King Memphis band with a balanced set and sharp performances. It was all here, 'If I Had Me A Woman', 'Half Hearted Love', bluesy workouts on 'Just So You Call Me' and 'Side Track Mama', together with 'Grand-daddy's Rockin', 'That Ain't Nothin' But Right'. There was also a selection of newish numbers with the likes of 'Little Mama Have Mercy', 'Keep On Rockin' Baby' and 'Rockabilly Ready'.
The next appearance was opened up by ALAN CLARK who built up the excitement by performing a few numbers prior to the ever so active GLEN GLENN taking the stage accompanied by his long time guitarist GARY LAMBERT. It was flat out rockin' with 'One Cup Of Coffee And A Cigarette', Down The Line', 'Kitty Cat', a sparkling 'Jack And Jill Boogie' (with Dave Travis on harmonica) and of course 'Lori Ann', 'Kathleen', Blue Jeans And A Boys Shirt' and 'Everybody's Movin'. Gary demonstrated his guitar picking with 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' and afterwards Glen signed autographs for 3-12 hours. This show was followed by the TRENIERS complete with magical musicianship, great vocals and polished routines. They were and remain a class act. To illustrate, the drum set partially collapsed during 'It Could Have Been The Whiskey' but they all carried on whilst the kit was being reinstated without missing a beat. Okay I, and many others, have seen this show previously but it never fails to excite. Again, it was all there with such ditties as 'Get Out Of The Car', 'Rockin' Is Our Bizness', 'Poon Tang', 'Water Melon Man' and even 'Mack The Knife' together with a second line march through the audience performing 'Be Baba Leba'.
Scheduled to appear next was the late ROSCO GORDON but he had to cancel due to ill health and sadly died three days later. As a consequence, SONNY BURGESS & THE ORIGINAL PACERS played for in excess of one and half hours - and it was powerhouse rock 'n' roll all the way. Virtually all the band stepped up and took the spotlight on numbers, including a newly added fiddle player. There had to be the inevitable medleys but the group managed to pull these off. Sonny excelled on 'We Wanna Boogie', 'Sadie's Back In Town', 'Find My Baby', 'Red Headed Woman' and 'T For Texas'. The band played an exhilarating bump 'n' grind version of 'Honky Tonk' and there was a fine version of 'Arkansas Twist'. We have yet to see this line up in the UK, fingers crossed
The COLLINS KIDS came on next backed by Deke Dickerson and The Ecco-Phonics and again it top notch rockin' excitement all the way. Lorrie and Larry's professionalism make it seem so easy but it was 100% enjoyment. The increasingly attractive Lorrie took the lion share of vocals and really excelled on 'Rock Boppin' Baby' and 'Heartbeat' but all numbers were good and all the favourites were included such as 'Beetle-Bug-Bop', 'Hot Rod', 'Party' and 'Mercy'. Larry and Deke had several duals on the twin necked guitars, this was magic to witness, and Larry played a couple of rousing instrumentals including 'All American'.
GENE SUMMERS was the next on the main stage and he sang his heart out on a selection of numbers like 'Alabama Shake', 'Lotta Lovin'/Gotta Lotta That', 'School Of Rock 'n' Roll', 'Straight Skirt', 'Twixteen', 'Nervous' and the cult 'Fancy Dan'. His performance veered towards a cabaret/night club approach with quite a bit of chat. Amongst the other acts appearing that night was England's own DARRELL HIGHAM and there was plenty of positive talk about his act the next day. The final show that I witnessed that night was WAYNE 'THE TRAIN' HANCOCK. Sounding like Hank Williams Snr. on speed, this was a unique and devastating performance. Honky tonk rockin' at its very best and he excelled on 'Flatland Boogie', 'Johnny Law', Poor Boy Blues' and 'Cow Cow Boogie'.
Tuesday, 9th July
I had quickly learnt that the way to stay this rock 'n' roll course was to have a substantial breakfast because one was unlikely to be able to find time to eat until late in the evening. This day was no exception.
At 2.00 pm, ALVIS WAYNE backed by Sweden's Wild Fire Willie and The Ramblers took the stage and it quickly become apparent that Alvis was back to his top rockabilly capabilities. This was a blinding show from a great talent. Opening up with 'Thanks A Lot', this as followed by selections from his Westport and Rollin' Rock catalogues including 'Swing Bop Boogie', Sleep Rock-A-Roll Rock-A-Baby', 'I Gottum', 'Lay Your Head On My shoulder', 'Don't Mean Maybe Baby', 'Lonely Lonely Teardrops and 'You Can Have Her'. Each act was feeding off the others and each was delivering quality shows. This was oh so apparent with the set from SID & BILLY KING, never have I seen them better. Sid was mostly up front with powerful vocals along with Billy crouching over his guitar picking great leads. Both were helped enormously by the Ragtime Wranglers on outings like the superb 'Good Rockin' Baby', 'Sad Drag And Fall', 'I've Got The Blues' and a magnificent 'Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight'.
Next up was JIMMY McCRACKLIN who served up a much better set than when he was over in the UK last November and which was in keeping for the type of festival. Out came fine rockin' R&B with the likes of 'Think', 'The Walk', 'The Wobble', 'Kansas City', 'Georgia Slop', 'Reconsider Baby', 'The Good Old Days' and a blinding 'Arkansas. A most enjoyable set from a consummate master. It was a change of styling with the next act, SANFORD CLARK with AL CASEY who came across much more confident than when I had previously seen them here in the UK. Classic Clark numbers 'Lonesome For A Letter', a pulsating 'Modern Romance', 'Nine Pound Hammer', 'Usta Be My Baby', 'Lou Be Doo' and 'Ooo Baby' were mixed in some later recordings of the ilk of 'Beverly Anne', 'Shades' and 'Son Of Hickory Hollow's Tramp (Sanford did the original). Al Casey also had his moments in the spotlight with a great 'Ramrod' along with 'Hackin' Around', 'Cookin' and '40 Miles Of Bad Road'. Of course the duo performed 'The Fool' before closing out with a rock 'n' roll medley, which did not really work.
LEW WILLIAMS had to follow and he did a great job. He has a quite unique styling and this was the most animated that I have seen him. He was simply a joy to watch as he jerkingly sang 'Bop Bop Ba Doo Bop' (twice), 'Don't Mention My Name', 'I'll Play Your Game' 'Abracadabra', 'Gone Ape Man', a marvelous 'Centipede' and 'Something I Said'. A steel guitar player and saxman were added for a truly enhanced 'Teenagers Talkin' On The Telephone'. In this set, Lew also served up a melodic 'I Saw You Crying In The Show' and the classic 'Cat Talk' (twice). I wanted more.
Backed up buy Deke Dickerson and The Ecco-Fonics, this was the first time that I had seen DALE HAWKINS in the flesh and it turned out to be a true revelation. This was just first rate, Dale was altogether and the sound behind him was spot on. He worked the stage well on such numbers as 'Little Pig', 'Juanita' and 'Tornado' and told a little story about each number. On 'My Babe' he demonstrated how the tune was derived for the spiritual 'The Train'. Dale was rockin' away like crazy and excellent song after excellent song came forth like 'See You Soon Baboon', 'Teenage Darlin', 'Don't Treat Me This Way', 'La-Do-Dada', 'Wildcat Tamer' and 'Number Nine Train'. Crikey this set was so good, he even got away with the teen beat 'A House, A Car And A Wedding Ring'. He of course had to sing 'Susie Q' and to say this went over well is an understatement. One puzzling thing was that Dale had a mobile telephone strapped to his belt. If I could have found out the number, I would have rang him to request 'Life Guard Man'.
Dashing over to the Iroquois Ballroom, I managed to catch most of MARTI BROM's show. This beautiful and talented young lady just goes from strength to strength, what a great voice and stage presence. This was clearly evident on the various stylings of 'Maybe I Do', 'Boo Hoo Boogie', 'I Really Love You Baby', 'Blue Tattoo', 'Here Today And Gone Tomorrow Love', 'Unproclaimed Love' and a stormin' 'Voodoo Voodoo'. She has all the ingredients in the right proportions to make it big time. Look forward to seeing her again.
My little legs quickly carried me back to the 3 Clans Stage, as a personal favourite was appearing next. I have written up several times that a NARVEL FELTS show is not to be missed and this was no exception. I suppose it was basically the same set as he performed over here in the UK at Hemsby last May but such was its power that it seemed as fresh as ever. Opening up with 'Go Go Go, it was then into 'Kiss A Me Baby' and 'Pink And Black Days' before slowing the pace for a spine tingling 'My Prayer' which had to be reprised there and then. The rockin' then resumed with 'Cindy Lou' and 'Tongued Tied Jill' before dropping down for a tough 'Reconsider Me'. This established the format for the show and there was not a bad number. The songs 'Since I Don't Have You' and 'Even Now' were movingly sung as tributes, especially to his late son Bubba. Narvel the Marvel closed out with 'Did You Tell Me' from his Sun Record days and then it was over, far too soon. Due slow service in the restaurant, I unfortunately missed most of CHARLIE GRACIE's show but did manage to catch his closing number, 'Shake Rattle And Roll', before he left the stage to loud cheering and applause. Upon checking, it was another stormin' show from Charlie and this was borne out by the lengthy autograph line.
Wednesday, 10th July
One of the many features of the festival was the easy access to many of the artists. Bob Timmers and his Rockabilly Hall Of Fame web site crew had a few tables in the lobby and this was one of the gathering points. Many of the acts dropped by for a chat, pose for photographs and sign autographs. A real friendly spirit pervaded throughout the week.
This days rockin' commenced with the big man from Texas, SLEEPY LaBEEF who with his own two musicians, Jerry and Jimmy, perhaps performed the most countryish set that I witnessed during this festival. It was good, enjoyable and was typical of a Sleepy set in that he appeared to make up the song list as he went along. The choice of material ranged from 'Waltz Across Texas' though 'Playboy' to 'Raining In My Heart' (Slim Harpo song) and 'Boogie Woogie Country Girl'. I do not recall when I had previously heard 'Big River' segued into 'Hand Jive' but, from Sleepy, it was pretty cohesive. He closed out with rousing treatments of 'Tore Up' and 'Standing In The Need Of Prayer'. LARRY DONN, who rocked, rolled and sang his heart out, followed him. All the Donn favourites were included such as 'That's What I Call A Ball', 'Queen Of Memphis', 'Big Fat Mama' (aka 'Rock Big Mama Roll') and 'Night Train To Memphis'. There was also a healthy selection of Carl Perkins numbers included with 'Dixie Fried', 'I'm Sorry I'm Not Sorry', 'Matchbox' and a lovely unaccompanied 'Forever Yours'. The show closed out with two versions of his cult 'Honey Bun'.
Four acts that recorded for Sun then followed and, without exception, all turned in first rate performances. The first was JACK EARLS who never fails to light my touch paper and thankfully this was again the case. The voice is still great and his interpretations on 'Flip Flop And Fly', 'Roll Over Beethoven', 'Tongued Tied Jill', 'Crawdad Hole', 'Rock 'n' Roll Ruby' and 'Sick And Tired' demonstrated a master at work. He also showed how rockabilly should be performed with 'Take Me To That Place', Hey Jim', Sign On The Dotted Line', 'Slow Down', 'Let's Bop' and 'Mary Ann' and a tribute to his wife 'My Little Mama' plus 'She Sure Can Rock Me' and 'They Can't Keep Me From You'. It looks good for Hemsby next October. Another guy who I hold in high esteem is VERNON TAYLOR whose show was spot on. Looking every bit the smart rocker, it was straight into 'Your Lovin' Man', 'Sweet And Easy To Love', 'Satisfaction Guranteed', 'Big River' and 'Why Must You Leave Me'. The easy and satisfying rockin' style continued with 'Dinah Lee', 'Today's A Blue Day', 'Breeze' before toughening up with the great 'You Better leave', 'Mean Woman Blues', a sublime 'Mystery Train' done in the style of his Sun version (but with Dave Travis on harmonica) before closing out with the appropriate 'The Great Big Rock And Roll Show' and 'You're Making A Fool Out Of Me'.
The third consecutive Sun artist was the man with the deep rich voice HAYDEN THOMPSON. Hayden turned in a class show and opened up with 'Love My Baby', 'Fairlane Rock', Blues Blues Blues', 'Kansas City Blues' and 'You Win Again'. Sitting down at the piano, he launched into his favourite medley of Johnny Cash songs that was well received before singing the sinuous 'Rockabilly Gal' and 'You Are My Sunshine'. Before closing out with 'Hound Dog', Hayden was joined on stage by Big Sandy for a rousing 'Shake Rattle And Roll''. This performance also augurs well for October's Hemsby.
The biggest crowd so far gathered around the stage for a true rock 'n' roll originator BILLY LEE RILEY and he responded with one of his best ever shows that I have seen. It was full of Riley's trademark mannerisms such as the little crouch over the microphone and he animatedly worked the stage. Unusually he opened up with 'Rock This Joint Tonight' before going into 'Rock With Me Baby', 'Trouble Bound' and a high energy 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll'. 'Good Rockin' Tonight' and 'Roll Over Beethoven', followed and Billy then demonstrated his blues prowess with 'Hoodoo Woman Blues' before returning to his Sun repertoire with 'Got Your Water Boling Baby' and 'Pearly Lee'. Along with a few digs at Sam Phillips and Jerry Lee, we were then treated to 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On' and a full blooded 'Red Hot, rock 'n' roll at its finest.
JACK SCOTT and his own band were next on stage and, again, it was an inspired rockin' music. Jack has now added a sax player/back up vocalist to his group and it made for a very full sound. If one were to close their eyes, it was oh so close to the sound on his original recordings. It was all here with 'Go Wild Little Sadie', 'Save My Soul', 'Two Timin' Woman', 'My True Love', 'Geraldine', 'Midgie' and 'What In The World's Come Over You'. Two unusual numbers for Scott to include were 'They'll Never Take Her Love Away From Me' and 'Good Ol' Mountain Dew'. 'Found A Woman', 'Patsy', Goodbye Baby' and 'Leroy' followed, along with 'What Am I Living For' (complete with a great guitar break from Steve Nadella), 'Cry Cry Cry' and 'The Way I Walk'. Jack then spotted a cute little Japanese girl aged about three in the audience who he had met previously. He held her up, posed for photographs and received a lot of oohs and ahs. After returning her to her parents, he closed out with Presley's 'Trouble', a magnificent mood swing.
Earlier in the evening, I had scooted over to catch a portion of the set by ROSIE FLORES & THE FALCONS and it was well worth the effort. She played her own lead guitar and was singing just great, especially on 'Rockabye Boogie', Somebody, Someone, Some Day', 'Shotgun Boogie' and 'Honky Tonk Man'. The Falcons proved to be a good tight band. For my final rockin' performance this night, it just had to be ROBERT GORDON who had the twin lead guitars of Marco DiMaggio and Eddie Angel behind him. This was a typical Gordon show, plenty of fine vocals once the numbers got started and bags of great musicianship. He was excelling himself on 'I Just Found Out', 'Please Have Pity on Me', 'Worrying Kind', 'I'm Gonna Be Your Lover Boy Tonight, 'If This Is Wrong', 'The Fool', 'Red Cadillac And Black Mustache'' 'Fire' and (surprisingly) 'Lonely Blue Boy' which was excellent. The main portion of his act closed out with 'Hello Walls' and 'Driving Wheel' but for encores, he was joined on stage by Billy Lee Riley and the pair dueted on 'Red Hot' and 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll. Magical rockin' moments.
Thursday, 11th July
It was evident that this was truly an international affair and I determined that people from 26 different countries were present. From the outset, it was clear that one heck of a lot of organisation had gone into the affair and as the week progressed, I cannot recall one act that failed to start on time. The change over between sets was generally limited to half hour with disc jockies filling in, thankfully playing music at listenable/dancing levels and no discordance.
Opening the proceedings on day five was one of the originators from the fifties, BILLY ADAMS and The Rock-A-Tears who is one real nice man with a superb talent. He rocked out from the start with 'Rockabilly Roll' then into 'Sweet Sugar Blues', 'True Love Will Come Your Way' and 'That's My Baby'. Billy has a nice bluesy tinge to his voice and, on this occasion, played a real thumping rhythm guitar. One of his cult tracks followed with 'You Gotta Have A Ducktail' before Larry Donn joined him on piano to perform what was fast becoming the most performed song of the festival 'Shake Rattle And Roll'. However this was a version that came close to equaling the rendition by The Comets (see later). 'Blue Eyed Ella' from his Nau Voo catalogue came next, a great piece of slow thumpin' rockin and then it was into 'Matchbox' and a truly astounding version of his Dot Records 'You Heard Me Knocking'. Apparently this was supposed to have been a split set with W S Holland but the latter was unable to make the show and so the band had to perform several unrehearsed numbers. However none of this was evident from the seamless performance that closed out with Billy's classic 'Rock Pretty Mama' and, as an encore, 'Rockabilly Special'. The portent for his October Hemsby performance is high.
The backbone musician of Rollin' Rock Records, RAY CAMPI, was next and this was up to his high standard. Good fast rockabilly on such as 'Hollywood Cats', 'Rattlesnakin' Daddy', 'Rockabilly Music', 'Eager Boy', 'Pinball Millionaire' and 'Cattin' Around' will be familiar to readers of this magazine. On 'Tore Up' Ray stood balanced on his double bass but then fell flat on to his bum. For his encore, it was the dance floor favourite 'How Low Can You Feel' and the room was shaking when it came to the stomping bit as everyone joined in. Sporting a lurid three-piece pale yellow suit and an expansive growth of hair, the Memphis maestro EDDIE BOND accompanied by Cousin Bo Jack and The Ragtime Wranglers made a welcome appearance. He opened with some delightful honky tonk music in 'Double Duty Lovin', 'Talkin' Off The Wall' and 'Love Makes A Fool Everyday' before blazing down the rock 'n' roll trail with such classics as 'I Got A Woman', Rockin' Daddy', 'Flip Floppin' Mama', 'Boppin' Bonnie', 'Show Me' (the Johnny Paycheck song), two versions of 'Slip Slippin In' and 'Monkey And The Baboon'. Believe me, his voice is in real great shape.
To quote his own words of 'bringing a little colour to the proceedings' was BIG AL DOWNING who also bought his own brand of hard piano thumping great rock 'n' roll. No frills, take no prisoners rock 'n' roll was the order of the day as Big Al tore into 'Georgia Slop', 'Yes I'm Loving You', 'When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again', 'What Am I Living For' and 'Slow Down' pounding the keyboards into submission along the way. The came his unaccompanied tribute to Elvis with 'Loving You' and 'Love Me Tender' before he returned to rockin' it out with 'Rip It Up', 'Land Of Make Believe' and 'Let The Good Times Roll' before slowing down with a great version of 'White Sports Coat And A Pink Carnation. The audience sang along to Al's doo wop medley prior to boppin' away to 'Boogie Woogie Saturday Night', 'Blueberry Hill', I'm Walking', 'Down On The Farm' and What'd I Say' Big Al closed out with an unrehearsed 'Miss Lucy' but it came across real fine. Quite the best I have ever seen him.
The biggest crowds of the festival gathered for the next two acts, the first of whom was THE CRICKETS. Comprising Jerry Allison, Joe B Maudlin, Sonny Curtis and Glen D Hardin, they rocked away with such professional consummate ease. Sonny took all the lead vocals except for Jerry on 'Summertime Blues' and Glen on his version of Floyd Cramers 'Last Date'. Most people will be familiar with the Holly and Crickets song book of such classics as 'Oh Boy', Maybe Baby', More Than I Can Say, 'Think It Over, 'I Fought The Law', 'Everyday', 'It's So Easy', 'That'll Be The Day', 'Peggy Sue' and 'Not Fade Away'. They also included 'The Real Buddy Holly Story' and 'Love is All Around', the last mentioned raising a few eyebrows but as Sonny explained, this kept him in Cadillacs.
From one long established group to another, namely THE COMETS but without Jacko Budding providing his best Bill Haley vocals. The joint was jumping as Marshall Lytle tore into the vocals on 'Shake Rattle And Roll' and 'Eat Your Heart Out Annie'. Franny displayed his guitar virtuosity on 'Steel Guitar Rag' and then Joey Ambrose took centre stage on 'I Want You To Be My Baby'. Okay the gaps between numbers were filled with corny jokes but the quality of professionalism emanating from the stage was amazing and was appreciated by the crowd. Many Haley hits were performed such as 'Crazy Man Crazy', 'Rock A Beatin' Boogie', 'See You Later Alligator', 'When The Saints Go Marching In' and of Course 'Rock Around The Clock'. However they also played several of their recent recordings such as 'Viagra Rock', a stunning 'The House Is Rockin' and 'We Ain't Dead Yet'. There were a couple of bummers in 'What A Wonderful World' and a boring instrumental but in all honesty they carried these off well. The unenviable job of following was down to MARVIN RAINWATER and he sure did try hard and in part succeeded. Kicking off with 'Whole Lotta Woman' and 'Mr. Blues', it was into 'Rovin' Gambler' and 'Dance Me Daddy' before venturing into fairly new and acceptable numbers like 'Rockin' Down The Walls', 'Gonna Get Me A Jet' and 'Rockabilly Music Coming Down'. After this it was a return to the more familiar material of 'Boo Hoo' and Kaw Liga' before we encountered a fairly dreadful version of 'Ol' Time Rock And Roll'. 'Wild Man' and a fine 'Hot And Cold' followed before we got 'Gonna Find Me A Bluebird', sung part in German and also containing an average Fats Domino impression. Thankfully we got an excellent reprise of 'Hot And Cold'.
One of Detroit's finest came on next, namely JOHNNY POWERS and it was into another no holds barred rockin' set with 'Mama Rock' and 'Trouble'. From the energy being expended, it was difficult to appreciate that Johnny had suffered a serious heart attack two ears ago. This was a set complete with Presley mannerisms and little subtlety. After 'You Win Again' it was back into the Power catalogue for powerful readings of 'Mean Mistreater', 'Be Mine, all Mine' 'Rock Rock', 'Me And My Rhythm Guitar', 'Waiting For You', 'With Your Love, With Your Kiss'. He then served up ''I Was There When It Happened' from his brand new CD and then it was time for his first Fortune record 'Honey Let's Go (To A Rock 'n' Roll show), before we got a beautiful new ballad in 'Three Little Words' which was ideal fifties recording material for Presley. An enjoyable set closed out with 'New Spark From An Old Flame' and 'Long Blond Hair'.
The final live music for yours truly for this night was from ERSEL HICKEY. After a stunning version of Thurston Harris's 'Do What You Did' complete with plenty of movement and the classic poise, it was into 'Bluebirds Over The Mountain' and 'Goin' Down That Road'. So far so good, in fact very good, but the set started to go to pieces with the next number, 'Mona Lisa' (Carl Mann style). The band was all over the place, this throwing Ersel. From hereon it was pretty chaotic. It was a bit difficult to hear Ersel and one number was started several times before it was nailed . I think 'Shame on Me' and 'You Threw A Dart' were included and there was a pretty wild tune with a Bo Diddley beat (possibly 'Due Time'?). After a pause, Ersel left the stage and the band performed an instrumental. Ersel came back on and repeated 'Do What You Did' and that was it, an abrupt ending. Moments of fragmentary brilliance throughout but clearly there were problems.
Friday, 12th July
The organisation at this festival was a joy. Virtually every act started and finished on time and there was no more than thirty minutes between each performance. The Casino security was evident but, apart from one incident where they got a bit over zealous with the autograph line, they kept a friendly low profile.
The day's rockin' got off to a flying start with a performance from ROCKY BURNETTE, PAUL BURLINSONN, D J FONTANA, KEN CURTIS and THE DEMPSEYS. The last mentioned were two young guys who gave a decidedly physcobilly thrash to the proceedings but the whole set went down well. All the favourites that Rocky has performed on his recent European jaunts were included such as 'Honey Hush', The Train Kept A Rollin', 'Lonesome Train', 'Tear It Up', 'You're Sixteen' and 'Lonesome Tears In My Eyes'. The only other no show was Don and Dewey, again on health reasons. Accordingly Texas band HIGH NOON filled in and then reappeared for their scheduled appearance later that night.
The next act seen was RUDY 'TUTTI' GRAYZELL (taking time out from appearing in a play on Broadway, New York) backed up by The Tin Stars and he gave his usual high energy performance working the stage like a demented maniac on 'Tutti Frutti', 'Hearts Made Of Stone', 'Why Why Why', 'FBI Story', 'There's Gonna Be A Ball', 'Money Honey', 'Let's Go Wild' and of course 'Ducktail'. A most enjoyable set from a guy who was there at the beginning of rock 'n' roll. SONNY WEST then took the stage and performed a similar set to that seen at Hemsby earlier this year. Probably it was more cohesive this time around but it was one heck of a show. He naturally featured 'Oh Boy' and 'Rave On' along with 'Cast Iron Arm', 'All My Love (Oh Boy)', 'Baby Bessie Lee' the marvelous 'I've Had It' (not the Bellnotes tune), 'Sweet Rockin' Baby' and 'Rock-Ola Ruby'. On the last mentioned, Sonny commented that to buy an original copy of the record now costs more than the session at which it was recorded. He had some boxes of the disc but misguidedly threw then away quite a while back. This was a splendid set from a real nice guy. Hope I am able to see him again.
To quote her own words, the 'mean ol' raunchy broad' JANIS MARTIN took the hall by storm and again demonstrated why she is one of the top female rock 'n' roll stars treading the boards. She was pure dynamite and one heck of a sassy lady as well. The voice was awesome and the stage presence a joy to watch. All the classics she recorded for RCA such as 'Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll', 'Good Love', 'Billy Boy', 'Oobie Doobie', 'Bang Bang', 'Let's Elope Baby', Crackerjack', Will You Willum', and 'My Boy Elvis' were featured along with a newish number 'Hard Rockin' Mama' that perfectly sums her up. Oh dear, I'm in love again.
Probably the only act to play 1-14 hours was the blond bomber from Texas, RONNIE DAWSON. As you probably know, Ronnie has been rather ill recently but he promised to make it for Green Bay and he sure made good on that promise. Backed up by High Noon augmented buy the lovely Lisa Pankratz on drums (how can such a talent look so divine?), this set was pure vintage Dawson with powerful vocals complete with all the set angular poses we have come to expect and enjoy. This was powerhouse rock 'n' roll all the way at fever pitch excitement. As for the numbers performed, well it kicked off with 'Red Hot Mama' and then into 'Shim Sham Shimmy', 'Crazy Shoes', 'It Wouldn't Do No Good', 'Congratulations To Me', 'Yum Yum', 'Fish Out Of water', 'V8 Ford Boogie', 'Knock Down Dragout', 'Veronica', 'Sinners' and 'Action Packed'. Sean Mencher of High Noon took many of the guitar solos but an unusual feature of the act was a guitar/drum duet between Ronnie and Lisa. Ronnie is back big time!
JOE CLAY had a hard job following this but he gave it a more than adequate shot. Working the stage well, it was another no frills rock 'n' roll show with ditties such as '16 Chicks', 'Don't Mess With My Ducktail', 'Jelly Bean', 'Linda Lu', 'Slippin' Out, Slippin' In' and a medley of 'Flip Flop And Fly/Shake Rattle And Roll' (I do not want to hear the last mentioned song for quite a while) before he took over on drums. Joe kept up the hard rockin' pace with 'Crackerjack', 'Get On The Right Track Baby', 'Lucille' and 'Doggone It'. On the last mentioned, he did his customary leap from the stage into the audience still singing. He closed out with a reprise of '16 Chicks'. A reformed RESTLESS were next on and gave a crowd-pleasing show.
Saturday, 13th July
Another feature of this festival had been the generally high quality of the backing musicians. I have mentioned Wild Fire Willie, Ragtime Wranglers and Deke Dickerson and to that list should be added Nick Curran and quite a few others.
This was especially true of the band backing BARRENCE WHITFIELD who was a personal first time of seeing for myself. I had heard good reports of his stage act and boy were they certainly true. This was high-energy rock 'n' roll come rhythm and blues with bags of stage presence and a powerful screamin' voice, a visual joy. Barrence took 'King Kong' up to Big T Tyler standards and there was no stopping as he rocked the stage with 'Mad House', 'Stop Twisting My Arm' and the great humorous 'Mama Get The Hammer, Fly's On Baby's Head'. Hope he can get back to Europe before not too long. Another act I witnessed for the first time was JAMES INTVELD from Los Angeles. Complete with his own musicians, this guy has star quality in abundance. I guess the closest comparison I can make is that he is in the same sort of bag as Dwight Yoakham but the voice is more powerful and not so nasally. Featuring many original numbers like 'Write Me One Sweet Letter', 'Love Calls A I Listen', 'Crying Over You', 'I Came All The Way From Memphis', 'Lets Get Started' and 'Standing On The Right', James proved to be a unique and original talent, working the stage well. He also sang some well known tunes in the form of 'Stop The World And Let Me Off', Modern Don Juan', 'Boogie Woogie Country Girl' and 'Not Fade Away' but breathed new life into each song. Watch out for him if he comes your way, you will not be disappointed.
The final act that I saw at this festival before I retired to my hotel rocked out was YOUNG JESSIE and what a great closing set he performed. He commenced with 'Hit Git and Split' and flowed on with great performances on such as 'I Smell A Rat', 'Catch Up With You Baby', 'Painted Desert', 'Mary Lou', 'Don't Think I Will, 'Too Fine For Crying and 'Don't Happen No More'. Rockin' R&B at a peak by a veritable master.
That was it, the curtain was bought down and it was all over. The conclusion has to be that this was the best rock 'n' roll festival I have ever attended. It was something else and contains oh so many treasured memories that will be with me for the rest of my days. The quality of music and performances was generally of the highest standard, something such as this I will never probably see again but I can hope.
© August 2002
BILL HALEY AND HIS COMETS
'Vive La Rock 'n' Roll'
Big Beat BBR 00073, Playing Time: 52.01 minutes
Saints Rock And Roll/Shake Rattle And Roll/Rudy's Rock/For You My Love/Beecher Boogie Woogie/I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter/Jump Children/I'm In Love Again/Mambo Rock/See You Later Alligator/Rock Around The Clock/Beecher Boogie Woogie/Rock A Beatin' Boogie/Razzle Dazzle/Tequila/Giddy Up A Ding Dong.
Any new release by Bill Haley and His Comets is always welcome, especially when it is a set of recordings when Bill was at his rock 'n' roll peak. From 'Saints Rock And Roll' through to 'Rock around The Clock' Roll', in the list of the above titles, were cut live at a performance at the Olympia Theater, Paris, France on 14th October 1958 whilst the date for the remainder is uncertain but is thought to be the next day. This was the tour of Europe that has gone down in rock 'n' roll infamy as when it wound on to Germany, there riots (especially at the Sportspalast, Berlin on 26th October 1958) during which theatres were wrecked and the resulting filmed footage still being shown to this day.
If there is any doubt that Haley and His Comets were a rock 'n' roll machine of the highest order, then a listen to this CD will quickly dispel same. This is premium quality rock 'n' roll performed by one of the originators. The band is oh so tight and the vocals, not all of which are by Bill, are spot on. This line up of the Comets consisted of Johnny Grande on piano, Billy Williamson on steel, Rudy Pompilli on saxophone, his brother Al Pompilli on upright bass, Franny Beecher on lead guitar and Ralph Jones on drums. An incendiary set of musicians if there ever was one. The music simply exudes excitement as the beat pounds along. One has to remember that live rock 'n' roll in Europe in 1958 was not exactly commonplace and when rampaging teens got at a taste of the real thing, well they rampaged.
Most of the numbers performed will not need any introduction but this set reveals that Haley & The Comets were not averse to slipping in new numbers or non hits (for them). 'Beecher Boogie Woogie' (aka 'Guitar Boogie'), blistering guitar instrumental lead by Franny is served up twice but each performance varies whilst Al Pompilli takes the lead vocals on 'For You My Love', an R&B for Larry Darnell in 1959. Billy Williamson also shares the vocal spot with good treatments of The Flamingos 'Jump Children' and Fats Domino's 'I'm In Love Again' and aurally it is him on 'Giddy Up A Ding Dong, these are all good. One other surprise is the workout on 'Tequila' lead by Rudy Pompilli. This is no slavish copy of the record by The Champs but an inspired original treatment.
The audience reaction has not been edited out and one can sense the excitement and tension building throughout. There are attempts by both Bill Haley and Billy Williamson to get the crowd to calm down - then what do Bill and His Comets do next? They launch into some more blistering rock 'n' roll, hardly crowd pacifying tactics. In terms of live rock 'n' roll performances, this has to rank up there with the best. File under essential.
The CD is generally only available by mail order and can be obtained at 23 Euros post paid from Big Beat Records, BP 27, Paris 75518, Cedex 15, France or at £14.99 from Big Beat Records, 270 Carlton Road, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, S81 7LQ, England. Alternatively contact their web site at www.bigbeatrecords.tm.fr
© Tony Wilkinson
THOMAS LA VELLE & THE WAYNE HOPKINS COMBO
The New Circle Club, Elmers End Road, Kent, England
Sunday, 26th May 2002
It was a return to The New Circle Club, Elmers End Road, Beckenham, Kent after a gap of three months to catch an in house performance by recent Hemsby headliner and general rock 'n' roll extrovert MATT LUCAS. The venue again impressed with good acoustics and atmosphere plus a well stocked bar at very reasonable prices. Audience attendance was down but this did not affect the guys performing on the stage, they gave 110% and were clearly enjoying themselves.
The opening set was by Thomas La Velle on piano along with the Wayne Hopkins Combo including the marvellous Dave Briggs on guitar and a guy by the name of Steve on harmonica. Good tight blues tinged rock 'n' roll. The guys then returned to the stage for show time, the guy with maniacal energy and a thousand stories, Matt Lucas. The drum set was positioned right up at the front of the stage which was just great as Lucas seemingly performed with even more showmanship than at Hemsby and the performance was clearly visible to all. The opener was 'Oobie Doobie' followed by 'Ubangi Stomp' and 'Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee Oh Dee' complete with high pitched squeals. The drum sticks were being wielded like a pair of whirling dervishes, the leg was being kicked out, the head held back and then held low over the cymbals. This was take no prisoners and allow no mercy straight ahead rock 'n' roll. The non-stop music continued with a frenzied work out on 'Put Me Down' and a quite unique interpretation of 'Mystery Train' with tasty controlled drumming.
This time around, Matt included a couple of blues tunes in his performance, namely 'Ugly Blues which he advised he made up on the spot and contained humorous lyrics, and an excellent 'Sweet Home Chicago'. The backing was spot on, especially with the addition of the harmonica player. But it was soon back to hard rockin' with Lucasised stylings of 'Sweet Little Sixteen', 'Down The Line' and 'Maybelline'. Regarding the last mentioned, Matt advised that he had cut this at Roland Jane's Sonic Studio on Madison Avenue, Memphis in 1962 with Travis Wammack playing lead guitar. The set then closed out with a high energy workout of Matt's biggest hit, 'I'm Movin On', originally recorded for Renay Records but then picked up by Smash Records, with plenty of vocal squeals and train imitations sounds. For an encore, it was a marvellous reading of 'Midnight Special'. The performance can best be summarised as high energy rough edged roadhouse rock 'n' roll, just as I like it. Even Mrs. Wilkinson was full of praise and that denotes the ultimate seal of approval.
© Tony Wilkinson
REVIEW: Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Weekender No. 28
At Hemsby #28, l. to r.: Narvel Felts and Lew Williams with Rod Pyke's very rare South African "78" of Cry, Baby, Cry. This is the first time Narvel has ever got to hold one of his own 78s.
Photo: Rod Pyke
THE BEST HEMSBY YET?
7th May - 12th May 2002
Once again, it was time to jump in the chariot and head up the road to the Pontins Holiday Centre at Hemsby to recharge the rock 'n' roll batteries. This one had the potential of being one of the best so far and, on reflection, it realised this exalted achievement. Indeed, it has to be regarded as possibly the best Hemsby yet. Clearly the international malaise that affected the last event, which was shortly after the shocking crazy events on September 11th, had been discarded and come the Saturday, the house full signs were in evidence.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
This Hemsby kicked off on the Tuesday evening with the appearance of HOT ROCKIN', a UK band from Norwich, who proved popular with the early arrivals. They were followed on Wednesday by THE SUGAR CREEK TRIO and GENE GAMBLER & THE SHUFFLERS. The last mentioned contained two members of The Rimshots who are one of the best bands on the UK scene. Thursday night saw the festival crank up a few gears with the appearance by THE TINSTARS from Holland who gave a lively performance with their versions of some rockabilly classics such as Wynn Stewart's 'Come On' and Roy Orbison's 'Mean Little Mama. Good lead guitar but possible a little too much thrash. The boys returned to the stage to support the first of the American visitors ALVIS WAYNE.
This guy is a true rockabilly originator from Texas and on the previous occasions I have seen him, he has turned in powerhouse performances. Sadly, this was not to be one of them. He stepped on stage with an out of tune guitar, which he corrected, and it was then into his unique brand of music with 'Swing Bop Boogie' and 'Rockabilly Daddy'. I guess that everyone has an off night and it quickly became evident that this performance was falling into that bag. The previous killer edge was just not there, coupled with a lot of talk between numbers. The set consisted of a mixture of his originals for the Westport label such as 'I Gottum', 'Lay Your Head On My Shoulder', 'Don't Mean Maybe Baby' and 'Sleep, Rock-a-Roll Rock-A-Baby' together with selections from his two albums for Rollin' Rock Records in the form of 'Here I Am', 'You Can Have Her', 'Those Lonely Lonely Teardrops', Johnny Horton's 'Honky Tonk Man' and Ernest Tubb's 'Thanks A Lot' before closing out with 'I'm Movin' On'. I look forward to seeing an on-form Alvis the next time around.
THE RIMSHOTS commenced Friday night's proceedings in the main ballroom with a really solid set. These guys just go from strength to strength and enhanced their reputation with this crowd-pleasing set. Walking onto the stage next was the Arkansas piano player TEDDY REDELL, looking totally resplendent in a white suit. He demonstrated his virtuosity on the ivories by performing solo on some untitled boogie woogie instrumentals and vocalising on such as 'Got You On My Mind', 'Baby What You Want Me To Do' and 'Sitting On Top Of The World' before being joined by the backing band, Sweden's Wildfire Willie And The Ramblers. Boy, Teddy sure can play the 88 keys but this solo section probably went on a trifle too long for a main hall performance. However this was quickly overcome as he and the boys launched into the catalogue of music that he had laid down for the Vaden, Hi, Rimrock and Atco labels in the late fifties and early sixties. Opening up with 'Knocking On The Backside', 'Before It Began (Shame Shame)', 'Corinna Corrinna', it was into such goodies as 'Gold Dust', Pipeliner', 'I Want To Hold You' and 'I Sail My Ship Alone'. This was glorious mid tempo piano lead rock 'n' roll. Next up was the newish number 'Boogie Woogie Bill From Shelby County Tennessee'. Special mention must be made of the spot on backing throughout this portion of the show from Wildfire Willie and The Ramblers, once again they had done their homework. This was followed by 'Judy', which of course has been recorded by Elvis, before Teddy closed out the set with 'Brain Cloudy Blues' and a reprise of the aforementioned 'Boogie Woogie Bill'.
The next American visitor was Memphis born extrovert MATT LUCAS. This is the first time I have witnessed a guy screamin' out exhilarating rock 'n' roll whilst pounding the drums at the same time throughout the set. Matt is a total professional and, from the outset, he gave 110% with oodles of visuals. The opener was 'Oobie Doobie' followed by 'Ubangi Stomp' and 'Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee Oh Dee' complete with high pitched squeals. The non stop rockin' music continued with a frenzied interpretations of 'Put Me Down' and 'Mystery Train' before he slowed the pace down a little with 'Baby, What You Want Me To Do. But that could have only been a pause for breath as he then launched into his own unique stylings of 'Sweet Little Sixteen', 'Down The Line' and 'Maybelline'. The in sync. backing was provided by Wayne Hopkins and The Hemsby House including Thomas Lavelle on piano and Dave Briggs from The Avengers on guitar, they were clearly all having a ball. Matt had been the drummer in the Narvel Felts band when he broke into the American charts with his styling of 'I'm Movin' On' and, for this occasion, Narvel joined him on stage to play the lead guitar, wonderful moments. The set concluded with a marvelous workout on 'Midnight Special. The whole set can best be summed up as high energy roadhouse rock 'n' roll. Performances on Friday came to an end with a fine hillbilly, rockabilly and western swing tinged set from LYNETTE MORGAN & THE BLACK WATER VALLEY BOYS. Lynette is charismatic and possessing a great voice. Hopefully she will succeed in her selected music styling. Before we leave Friday night, special mention must be made of a fairly momentous event: Dave Travis of Stompertime Records went up to the bar and bought a round of drinks. I was there when it happened!
The live music on Saturday commenced in The Queen Vic Pub, normally reserved for disc jockies to play first rate rockin' wax but at ear splitting volume. First up was The Sugar Creek Trio who had been previously seen in the ballroom. They were followed by IAN CALFORD & THE BRAKEMEN who have the Johnny Cash sound down to a fine art. Overall, a pleasing and enjoyable performance and worth a ballroom performance next time around. The show in the main hall was lead off by THE SEAT SNIFFERS (I kid you not!). This is a Belgian roots music band whose musical style is loosely in the Barrence Whitfield and Blasters bag, certainly different. Next up was Swedish band WILDFIRE WILLIE & THE RAMBLERS, an exciting band, who laid down a highly visual selection of rock 'n' roll with a mixture of originals such as 'Go Mad Cat' and covers like 'Let Me Slide'.
Then came the unique talent that is LEW WILLIAMS, backed up by The Rimshots. As one has come to expect, Lew's performance is based on his original song stylings that he cut for Flair, Imperial and Hamilton in the fifties. Impeccably dressed and looking a young 68, it was straight into 'Bop Bop Ba Doo Bop' followed by 'Don't Mention My Name' and 'I'll Play Your Game. This was Texan rock 'n' roll colliding head on with jive talk. Lew again appeared a little nervous but he had previously confided that this was his natural styling, whatever it was appealing. With short jerky movements he followed with 'I'll Play Your Game', the classic 'Abracadabra', the great 'Teenagers Talkin' On The Telephone' and the beat balladry of 'I Saw You Crying In The Show'. Lew was performing one great number after another as he served up 'Centipede', 'Gone Ape Man', 'Something I Said' and the classic 'Cat Talk'. The enjoyable set closed out with two more readings of 'Cat Talk' and further versions of 'Something I Said' and 'Teenagers Talkin' On The Telephone'. He certainly is different and totally authentic. After a break, The Rimshots returned to the stage to once again back up the show stopping NARVEL FELTS.
I have seen Narvel on quite a few occasions previously and he has never failed to excite with a breath taking performance. It was no different this time and quite rightly he is known as Narvel The Marvel. The rockin' opened up with 'Go Go Go', 'Kiss A Me Baby', 'Baby Let's Play House' and 'Pink And Black Days' before slowing down for a tremendous treatment of 'My Prayer. I know that The Platters had the original on this but Narvel's interpretation makes the song his own. Looking every inch a top rock 'n' roll star and using the stage with style and high energy movement, it was quickly back up to top gear with 'Rockin' Daddy' and 'Cindy Lou' before singing a tribute to his son, the late Albert Narvel 'Bub' Felts Jr. with the moving ballad 'Even Now'. 'Foolish Thoughts' and the show stopping 'Since I Don't Have You (which had to be reprised twice there and then) came next along with frenetic vocalising on 'My Babe' and 'Great Balls of Fire' before a version of his biggest ever hit 'Reconsider Me', a tune first performed by the tan canary Johnny Adams but which has now been well and truly 'Narvelised'. The Rimshots were providing great backing as Narvel launched into 'I'm Heading Home', 'Lonely Teardrops' and another show stopper the cult 'Did you Tell Me' from his days at Sun Records. Matt Lucas then joined Narvel on the stage to play drums on 'Tongue Tied Jill' before the set closed out with an unrehearsed but near perfect treatment of Roy Orbison's 'Crying'. On a scale of ten, this show earned ten, pure magical moments. Narvel will be back in the UK in October as the support act on the Slim Whitman tour, go and see him. The final live act for the night was Chicago resident NICK WILLETT, a young singer who has all the female hearts fluttering. He is the natural successor to Jack Baymore and is loaded with talent.
Gene Gamblers & The Shufflers gave another performance in the Queen Vic Pub before the proceedings in the ballroom kicked off with THE HOEDOWNERS from Finland, a trio in the High Noon bag. They were then followed by Texas rock 'n' roll originator SONNY WEST who wrote and recorded the original version of 'Rave On' and penned another Buddy classic with 'Oh Boy'. The performance had a tentative start with three West originals 'Dire Need', 'A Bad Case' and 'The Rave Is Gone' before igniting with Sonny's work out on Peanut Wilson's 'Cast Iron Arm'. It then started to go into the stratosphere with 'Big City Woman' and 'Big Bessie Lee' before exploding with 'I've Had It'. The last mentioned is a song from Roy Orbison and Peanuts Wilson and is not the same as the hit record from the Bell Notes. Sonny has a great rock 'n' roll voice and is fortunate to have plenty of original material, none better than the dynamite versions of ''Rave On', the cult 'Sweet Rockin' Baby' and a first rate work out on 'Oh Boy'. The set finalized with two work-outs on the classic 'Rock-Ola Ruby. I look forward to seeing Sonny again over here again after the most enjoyable performance.
Although billed as the doo wop band for the festival, MAURICE WILLIAMS AND THE ZODIACS were more that that, indeed they were more than a vocal group, they were a marvelous show band. Still containing three original members from their hit making days, the outfit quickly showed why they are an in-demand must see group on the 'Shag Scene' that exists down in the Carolinas. The started with 'Shoop Shoop' from their Excello days as The Gladiolas and then went into perfect harmonies on the Drifters 'This Magic Moment'. The stage was full of changeover movements as the group, in their sparkling suits, went into 'Come Along' and 'I Remember' from their days at Herald Records and then into an extended doo wop medley of 'Tears On My Pillow/Silhouettes/Cherry Pie/For You My Love'. The harmonies were spot on and the visuals were pulsating. Seemingly back in the USA the group is a self-contained outfit providing their own backing but for this night The Swing Kings provided the backing. Uplifting the tempo a Little Richard medley followed with great treatments of 'Tutti Frutti/Good Golly Miss Molly/Long Tall Sally' before it was a return to the tight harmonies on the ballad 'We're Lovers'. Then it was the turn of Hank Ballard's 'Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go' and still there was no let up in the excitement being emitting from the stage. 'The group's performance was so polished and professional that they even got away with the rather hackneyed 'Unchained Melody' before a spell binding 'Stay' which thankfully was longer than the original 1.28 minutes of the recording. For an encore, Maurice sang 'Little Darlin', which is his original composition, before the group finally exited the stage with a short version of 'Shout'. I have said previously that the vocal group spot at Hemsby has been filled by some wonderful acts but Maurice Williams And The Zodiacs is one of the best yet. This performance was near perfect, another ten out ten. Hopefully they will be back in the UK before not too long, please Mr. Promoter.
The final live set for this Hemsby was by SOPHIE GARNER & THE SWING KINGS, a fine mixture of R&B and swing music.
To reiterate, this was a first rate Hemsby with a good selection of musical styles and a wedge of stand out performances. The line up for next October's (3rd to 7th) Hemsby is again mouth watering with Jack Earls, Billy Adams and his own band The Rock-A-Teers, Hayden Thompson, Freddie Bell, The Edsels and the original line up of Restless. I am so determined to be there that I have insisted that my daughter has her wedding the following weekend. See you there ...
© Tony Wilkinson, May 2002
HUELYN DUVALL - CDs
"She's My Baby"
Brazos Valley Records BV3020 Playing Time: 28.28
She's My Baby/Face To Face/Magic spell/My Love/It Wasn't Me/Surrounded/I Love Her So/Let's Make A Block/Does She Love Me/Hey Brutus
"The Best Of Huelyn Duvall 1957 - 1958"
Brazos Valley Records BV 3030 Playing Time: 27.59
Three Months To Kill/Little Boy Blue/Teen Queen/Comin' Or Goin'/Boom Boom Baby/Pucker Paint/Juliet/Friday Night On A Dollar Bill/Hum-m-m-m-Dinger/You Knock Me Out/Fool's Hall Of Fame/It's No Wonder/Susie's House
Hot on the heels of Huelyn's triumphant headlining performance at the UK Hemsby rock 'n' roll festival in October 2001 comes two new CD releases. "The Best Of " compilation is, apart from two tracks, taken from the master tapes of the recordings he made for the Challenge label in Nashville and at the Gold Star Recording Studios, Hollywood during 1957 and 1958. As such, the quality is crystal clear and represents some marvellous rock 'n' roll recordings. The European cult rockin' classic "Three Months To Kill" cut at his final recording session for the label never sounded better and neither has the jerky vocals on "Pucker Paint," "Juliet" or "Boom Baby" (subsequently a hit for Crash Cardiac). Also included is the great rocker "It's No Wonder" and the equally good "Susie's House," both cut in Texas in 1958. Essential.
With the new recordings on the "She's My Baby" CD Huelyn has clearly set out to capture the spirit of his fifties recordings and it is pleasing to be able to say (like the recent recordings by both Vernon Taylor and Billy Adams) he has succeeded. Recorded this year in Texas, Huelyn has employed some choice musicians including a reunion with hot piano player Charlie O'Bannion who was an original Chapparals. The title track rocks away like crazy whilst "Face To Face" is an almost chalypso number and suits Duvall's jerky vocal style as does "Magic Spell", a nice mid-paced rocker. "My Love" is a teen beat ballad and "It Wasn't Me" is a nice bouncy rockin' number. A personal favourite is "Surrounded", which is a fine up tempo rocker, whilst the rockabilly workout on "I Love Her So could have been recorded for Challenge, it is that good. More good rock 'n' roll is served up with the dance tune "Let's Make A Block" and "Does She Love Me" which is a slowish almost beat ballad. "Hey Brutus", complete with a Bo Diddley type beat, was originally a fifties demo but this time around has a fuller sound and is the better for it. A most enjoyable release which comes complete with some tasty photos from the fifties.
Both CDs can be obtained direct from Huelyn at Brazos Valley Records, P.O. Box 246, Springtown, Texas 76082, USA or check out his web site at www.HuelynDuvall.com
© Tony Wilkinson
The New Circle Club, Elmers End Road, Kent
Sunday, 24th February 2002
It was first time for rock 'n' roll at a new venue, namely The New Circle Club, Elmers End Road, Beckenham, Kent. Swine of a place to find, as is virtually anywhere in this area of south east London/Kent due to lack of sign posting, but once inside the efforts were clearly worth while. Nice acoustics and atmosphere plus a well stocked bar, near paradise.
For the opening night, the acts were THE HOUSEROCKERS and, making a quickish return visit after his successful headlining appearance at Hemsby last October, Texas rock 'n' roll legend HUELYN DUVALL. The Houserockers were first up on stage for their own set and clearly tailored their act to the audience in that it was more Rockabilly orientated than the blues driven performances by the outfit that I have seen in recent times. This was a tasty set by Rob Glazebrook and the boys, an ideal warm up for Huelyn. Their efforts were clearly appreciated by the applause gained.
Then it was time for the star of the evening, Huelyn Duvall, and from the outset he demonstrated that he was clearly enjoying himself. He kicked off with 'Susie's House' and 'Teen Queen' and then followed this with 'Let's Make A Block' from his CD of new recordings titled 'She's My Baby'. This is a fine rockin' number and Huelyn explained that the title means let's get going, the block in question being the way the streets in the USA are set out. Next was Huelyn's excellent workout on 'Friday Night On A Dollar Bill' and his interpretation of 'Bertha Lou' which he aligned with the Clint Miller version and this was good. Perhaps, Huelyn make care to record this tune one day.
By now the pattern for the night was established, a mixture of his Challenge and Starfire cuts from the fifties, selections from the aforementioned 'She's My Baby' CD and his interpretations of other rock 'n' roll classics. Duvall was perhaps even more inspired than his Hemsby appearance as his increased confidence was apparent. There were bags of his unique jerky stage movements and his voice had not lost any of its urgency from the fifties. The Huelyn originals rolled on with 'She's My Baby', his biggest seller 'Little Boy Blue', a splendid 'I Love Her So', and top notch treatments of 'Comin' Or Goin' and 'Pucker Paint' which drew an enthusiastic response from the punters at this well attended event. The backing was provided by The Houserockers augmented by Thomas LaVelle on piano who provided solid support. 'Pucker Paint', 'Juliet', 'Down The Line/Go Go Go' and 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy' came next before launching into a top notch 'It's No Wonder'. The set closed out with 'Three Months To Kill', which was slightly marred by a tempo change part way through, and a fine 'Lotta Lovin'.
I have been an admirer of Huelyn Duvall's music since I first heard 'Three Months To Kill'. This and his Hemsby performances served to cement this fondness, he is great on both record and stage. For those interested, check out his web site at check out his web site at www.HuelynDuvall.com.
The next American original to appear at The New Circle Club is Matt Lucas on Sunday, 26th May 2002, see you there.
© Tony Wilkinson,
'40 Years Later'
Debra DEB 3002 CD - Playing Time: 59.38
You/Forty Years Too Late/Seeing Is Believing/I Love How You Love Me/Crazy For You/Happy Happy Birthday Baby/What A Guy/One Little Kiss/My Treasure/Share/To Know Him Is To Love Him/Dance With Me/It's Not Easy Letting Go/Our First Kiss/It Must Have Been A Dream/She's The One For Me/Born In Brooklyn/Time Stood Still/Every Time/I Can Still Rock And Roll All Night/Baby Please (Not While I'm Driving)/I'm Movin'/Wanted
The Aquatones are back and have returned with a vengeance. The hit making vocal group who scored a big USA national chart hit in 1958 with 'You' on the small New York based Fargo label effectively disbanded in 1961, hence the title of this CD '40 Years On'. Originally founded in 1956, as an all male outfit, they subsequently added the wonderful voice of femme singer Lynne Nixon (who sadly died in January 2001) which eventually led to a recording contract with Lou Fargo and the classic 'You' which had the sweet singing of Lynne as the lead vocal. This disc was issued in Europe under the legendary London American logo where the flipside, the hard driving 'She's The One For Me' featuring the voice of Dave Goddard, achieved cult status. Six further singles followed before they called it a day although member Gene McCarthy did on occasion lead various formations of The Aquatones at concerts.
In 1999, Dave Goddard linked up with femme singer Colette Delaney and made some demo recordings of the earlier Aquatones music which received drew such a good reaction that Dave decided that it was time for The Aquatones to get back in the studio. Accordingly he and Colette along with original members Larry Vannata and Gene McCarthy laid down a selection of tracks during 2001 in Scranton, Louisville and New York, the outcome of which is presented on this CD and boy it is good.
On the vast majority of tracks the vocal group have successfully captured both the spirit and sound of the late fifties, there can be no greater praise! Some of the early Fargo recordings, such as the endearing ballads 'You' and 'Crazy For You', 'My Treasure' plus the solid rockin' 'She's The One For Me', 'Every Time' and 'Wanted (Solid Gold Cadillac)' have been re-cut for this release and they sure do stand up well. For a further selection, the group have recorded their versions of other fifties vocal groups hits such as a marvellous 'Happy Happy Birthday Baby', a haunting 'I Love How You Love Me' and 'To Know Him Is To Love Him', the up tempo 'What A Guy' and the truly harmonic 'Share' which was originally by Frankie Lymon. On all the last mentioned cuts, the voice of Colette is majestic and raises the hairs on the back of the neck. What a find.
Of the remainder, all are composed by Dave Goddard who also takes many of the lead vocals. Special mention has to be made of '40 Years Too Late', 'Seeing Is Believing', 'Dance With Me', and 'It's Not Easy Letting Go', beautiful ballads in which the feel, sound and harmonies evoke memories of the fifties recordings oh so well. 'I Can Still Rock And Roll All Night' is what many of use wished was possible (the spirit may be willing but the body ain't), a fine rockin' work out as are the humorous 'Baby Please (Not While I'm Driving)' and 'I'm Movin', a real good jiver as we used to say back then.
Hopefully we may be able to witness The Aquatones gracing the stage over here in Europe at one of the rock 'n' roll festivals but in the interim this highly recommended CD, which is well worth the effort seeking out, will have to wet the appetites. Contact Debra Records at 219-221 Linden Street, Scranton, PA 18503 (fax. 570 341 2000).
© Tony Wilkinson
'She Walks Right In'
Ray Records 101 - Playing Time: 45.16
She Walks Right In/Since I Met You Baby/Let It Rock/Boogie Woogie Country Girl/Rock 'n' Roll Dance/Lucille/My Prayer/Fannie Brown Got Married/You Got Me Reelin' 'n' Rockin'/Rollin' River Blues/Can't Believe You Wanna Leave/200lb Of Hard Time/I'm Feeling Down/Real Gone Lover/Cry Me A River
'K*** Pat Boone'
Big Hat BHATCD 001 - Playing Time: 45.25
You Need Help/Dead-End Job In A One-Horse Town/Every Night In The week/Ernest Borgine, Jack Palance And Me/Everybody's On The Make/Someone Up There Doesn't Like Me/Goodbye Ramona/I'll Walk Alone/Guilty/I Don't Believe It/Murder Ballad #3 (The Devil's Own)/Baby's Got A Thing About Pat Boone
The above are two prime examples of the good rockin' music that is coming out of the UK currently, albeit from somewhat different spectrums in that The Avengers tend to the jump jive and R&B side of rock 'n' roll whilst The Rhythmaires lean towards rockabilly. But what the heck, it really does not matter if the music is good and it sure is with both of these releases from latish 2001.
The CD from The Avengers is in essence is their current stage act and as anybody who has been fortunate enough to see them will know, it is excitement from beginning to end as lead vocalist Cliff Edmonds wails away whilst the rest of this eight piece band support with pure professionalism. The varied selection ranges from the totally atmospheric 'Lucille' and 'Can't Believe You Wanna Leave' (treatments which the great Little Dick himself will be proud of) through swinging 'n' jumping workouts on 'Fannie Brown Got Married', 'She Walks Right In', 'You Got Me Reelin' 'n' Rockin', 'Rock 'n' Roll Dance' and 'Real Gone Lover' to the pile driving rock 'n' roll of Chuck Berry's 'Let It Rock' and Joe Turner's 'Boogie Woogie Country Girl'. On the slower sides of things, there are great readings of the Platters 'My Prayer', Ivory Joe Hunter's 'Since I Met You Baby' and Julie London's 'Cry Me A River'. There is also a few originals in this set with the R&B tinged 'Rollin' River Blues' and '200lb Of Hard Time' and the more rockabillyish 'I'm Feeling Down'. All in all, marvelous stuff.
With the set from The Rhythmaires, you get a set of total original songs performed with a great rockin' beat with styles ranging from out and out rockabilly in 'Ernest Borgine, Jack Palance And Me', 'I Don't Believe It' and 'Someone Up There Doesn't Like Me' through the country tinged rockin' 'Murder Ballad #3' and blues coated 'Guilty' of to the jump jive tinged 'Every Night Of The Week' and 'Goodbye Ramona'. Whilst I normally prefer plaintive lyrics like 'I got a girl name bony Moronie, she's like a stick of macaroni' I have to take my hat off to the songs of Rhythmaires lead singer and composer Stuart Warburton, who also possesses a good hard edged rockin' nasal voice. The words are great, entertaining and often provocative. For example take the sampling of 'You Need Help' with the lines 'You've got breath like fire, hair like wire, your skin looks like a contour map of Venezuela, and your wardrobe's a failure, You need help but I don't need you' of which are set against a pounding beat . Hey what about that title, this refers to the song 'Baby's Got A Thing About Pat Boone' which too has great lyrics 'He's cheesy, queasy, he's a born again square, I pointed this out but she just don't care''. A great number and first rate rock 'n' roll as well (Thought, wonder what song Stuart could come up with about Bobby Vee?). Of the thirteen numbers on this album, eleven were composed by Stuart. A fine set, worthy of attention.
Both of these CDs are available direct from the bands themselves. For the set by The Avengers, contact Terry Earl, PO Box 2764, London N9 7XD, England (web site: www.theavengers.org) whilst the Rhythmaires CD can be obtained from Big Hat Records, P O Box 55, Bury, Lancashire, BL8 2GG, UK (Tel: 44 (0) 161 763 9169)
© Tony Wilkinson
ROCKY BURNETTE, DARREL HIGHAM
& THE ENFORCERS
'Hip Shakin' Baby' CD
Rockstar RSRCD 021 Playing time: 57.19
Hip Shakin' Baby (Rocky & Darrel)/Believe What You Say (Rocky)/Kiss Me Sweet (Rocky)/Hey, Pretty Baby (Darrel)/Here Comes That Feelin' (Darrel)/Gypsy Woman (Rocky)/Bertha Lou (Rocky)/My Heart (Darrel)/Whenever You're Ready (Darrel)/Don't Leave Me This Way (Rocky)/It's Late (Rocky)/Pure Love (Rocky)/My One Desire (Darrel)/Just A Little Too Much (Darrel)/Waitin' In School (Rocky)/One Of Those Mornings (Darrel)/Tear It Up (Rocky)/Lonesome Tears In My Eyes (Rocky)/Please Don't Leave Me (Rocky).
As stated on the cover, this CD by Rocky and Darrel is a tribute to Johnny & Dorsey Burnette as well as the talent of Rocky himself and boy does it succeed in capturing the rock 'n' roll spirit that was the illustrious and legendary Rock 'n' Roll Trio. Whilst the vocal chores are split between Rocky and Darrel, it is the guitar playing of the latter that is feature on all tracks including the three ('Tear It Up/Lonesome Tears In My Eyes/Please Don't Leave Me') cut in March 2000 for a live broadcast on Big Mike Destiny's radio show in San Francisco. Of the rest, all but five were laid down in the UK on 1st and 2nd November 2000. The remaining five ('Just A Little Too Much/My One Desire/Here Comes That Feelin'/One Of These Mornings/Hey, Pretty Baby') were recorded on 20th November 2000 at the same studio, namely 'Sweet Georgia Brown's'. Each of these rock up a storm and are totally in keeping with the remainder of music on this release.
The songs 'Believe What You Say/Gypsy Woman/Waitin' In School/Don't Leave Me This Way/It's Late' reveal a substantial raid on the compositions of Johnny and Dorsey Burnette and made international hits by the late Ricky Nelson. However, these are no slavish copies but are each provided with a fundamentally different arrangement, much as the Rock 'n' Roll Trio may well have recorded them. 'Believe What You Say' is provided with 'Lonesome Train' overtones whilst 'Gypsy Woman' is given a whole new life, marvellous stuff. The treatment provided to each of these numbers really works.
The title track, Roy Brown's 'Hip Shakin' Baby' moves along like a French express train as does the cult rocker 'Bertha Lou' and Curtis Lee's 'Pure Love', all chock full of rockin' menace and excitement. On a slightly more lighter treatment note are Bob Luman's 'Whenever You're Ready' and Johnny Garner's 'Kiss Me Sweet' whilst Gene Vincent's 'My Heart' is provided with latin overtones.
This is a great CD and should be in every rock 'n' roll collection. Crikey, 2002 has hardly started and here we have an album of new recordings which will be hard to top.
© Tony Wilkinson
Review: Rhythm Riot No. 5
Camber Sands Holiday Centre, Rye, England
23rd to 26th November 2001
By Tony Wilkinson - This year down at Camber Sands, the weather was in the main just fine and inside the halls at the Holiday Centre it certainly was "Rockin' Is Our Bizness" at the fifth annual Rhythm Riot. As usual for this event, there was a wide ranging variety of artists playing rockabilly, rock 'n' roll, hillbilly boogie, jump and jive, rhythm & blues down to the "blooze". For sure, there was some hot music and sparking performances.
It is always difficult being the opening act at any festival of this ilk but THE HI-FLYERS from Italy kicked off the event with an acceptable performance. They are a jump jive R&B band with a greater accent on the musicians rather than the vocals. Featuring some originals, there was a heap of covers such as "Boogie Woogie Country Girl", "Rocket 69", "Good Rockin' Tonight" (Roy Brown style) and a great "That Mellow Saxophone". The next act up was THE LARIAT 5 from Scotland who I suppose could be best described as electric bluegrass meeting rockabilly. They featured a mandolin as one of the lead instruments and were lead by an attractive young lady vocalist. Theirs was an okay set with songs such as "Mr. Whizz", "Four Big Brothers", "Shame On You", "Crazy Over You" and "Lovesick Blues". They could probably do with a bit more rehearsal and would do well to drop the fake American accents.
A 72 years young CHUCK RIO of The Champs was the first of the visiting American acts and I had the pleasure of talking with him. Both he and his wife are real lovely people. Backed by the hard working house band, The Rhythm Riot Kings Of Rhythm, it was a fine selection of numbers mainly from the Champs catalogue. Opening up with "Tequila", it was swiftly followed by hard rockin' latin tinged rockers such as "Sky High", "Too Much Tequila", "Night Train", "Midnighter", "Train To Nowhere" "Sombrero" and "La Cucarcha". Every year the Rhythm Riot features a saxophone player of repute and Chuck can justifiably stake his claim with those who have preceded him, his musicianship was great. There was a splendid workout on "Margarita" and "Chariot Rock", the latter including a vocal version lead by his wife. For Chuck', his only vocal number of the night was "Don't Go Baby" which he released under the name of Danny Boy. The enjoyable set closed out with a reprise of "Tequila" but not before Chuck was presented with his certificate of entry, along with The Champs, into the NDT Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame. With the aid of the backing band, this was as close to the sound of the Champs that one could have hoped for and it was good. Hopefully Chuck will visit these shores again soon.
The closing act on Friday was American KENNY BLUES BOSS WAYNE who now bases himself in Canada. He appeared at the Rhythm Riot two years back and went down a storm. This time around, he passed all expectations with a performance that can only be described as faultless. Dressed in a bright red suit and hat together with a shirt that one had to wear sunglasses to look at, he came on playing by walking through the crowd. Once on stage, he played a New Orleans style number albeit with sparse vocals but in essence a pounding piano lead boogie woogie instrumental. He then followed this with a Fats Domino styled tune "Don't Knock On My Door", great voice, and a real extended but totally exhilarating "Blues Boss Boogie" in which he pounded the piano into submission. He was working The Rhythm Riot Kings of Rhythm hard but clearly they were really enjoying themselves. This was followed by "She's A Potential Danger" and his own song "Nadine" (not the Chuck Berry tune) which segued into "Jambalayua" During the show, he picked up a somewhat peculiar instrument which was a miniature keyboard with a sax/flute type arrangement on the top. Blowing, singing and playing, he left the stage followed by the two sax men and paraded through the crowd for an extended "When The Saints Go Marching In". For an encore, he returned to the stage for a great jump blues boogie number and a sparkling rendition of Blueberry Hill". He left the audience yelling for more, no mean feat at 3.00 am in the morning. He is a master showman.
The opening act for Saturday was THE ALABAMA SHAKERS, who sadly I missed but reports were that they were good. They were followed a new to myself act, namely MISCHIEF from Holland. These guys were a rockabilly trio, with the guitar player handling the lion share of the vocals and he has a good r 'n' r voice. Plenty of energy and good stage presence with numerous Carl Perkins wiggles thrown in. The act was a mixture of originals and covers with "I Can't Fly", "Wake Up" and "Maybe Baby" (not the Holly song) as examples of the former and fine readings of "I'm Coming Home", "Hot Rod", Hey Mae" "Sweet Love On Your Mind", "Rip It Up" (Everlys style) and "Justine". Certainly a band with potential and one to look out for.
I was not too sure what to expect from THE BOBBETTES but any doubts were soon dispelled. They are now down to a foursome with two original members plus the sister of another original. Dressed to kill, the girls started off with "Ain't That Good News" which was followed by "Revival Days". The vocals were spot on and the songs were performed with fine co-ordinated routines. These were followed by "Zoomy". "You Are My Sweetheart", "Rock And Ree-Ah-Zole " and "Don't Say Goodnight". This was a finely balanced set between rockers and ballads as was amply demonstrated by "Come-A, Come-A", "Look At The Stars", "Have Mercy Mercy Baby" complete with gospel overtones and "Oh Mein Papa" which worked surprisingly well. A highlight of the set was "Dance With Me Georgie" but "Mr. Johnny Q" and Speedy" should also not be overlooked. The lead vocals alternated between the various members and this splendid set climaxed with "Mr. Lee" linked straight into "I Shot Mr. Lee". Come back real soon please ladies, you are the business.
Maybe I was expecting too much from JIMMY McCRACKLIN, but in all honesty he was disappointing. There were good moments for sure but the set came over as somewhat self indulgent and disorganised, certainly he and the band were not as one at times. He started off with "The Wobble" before sitting down at the piano for "Reconsider Baby" and ten into "The Walk". This was followed by "After Hours Blues" and "Baby What You Want Me To Do" before following with "Georgia Slop". In reality, this was thrown away as he performed it standing up whilst the song demanded his good piano playing. "Think" came next before he then re-performed "The Walk" (better this time around) and "After Hours Blues". Other numbers performed included "I Gotta Know" and "Every Day I Have The Blues". The final act of the night was RAY COLLINS HOT-CLUB, a jump jive outfit from Germany who were entertaining.
Sunday saw BIG JOE LOUIS perform a solo set at lunch time although he was joined towards the end by Rob Glazebrook and his fellow Houserockers. This was good. The evening's entertainment commenced with JP & THE WISEGUYS, a British R&B / jump jive group who were just fine on "JP Boogie", Mad At You", "Bim Bam" and a first rate "Mambo Rock" complete with the sax player laying on his back honking away. They were followed by the UK roots blues outfit THE MARQUES BROTHERS whose set got better as it progressed.
Next came another highlight act, the undisputed queen of rock 'n' roll, WANDA JACKSON. Backed up by the house band, she launched "Rockabilly Fever" complete with raunchy strutting, she carried on with "Stupid Cupid", "Mean Mean Man" and "Hot Dog That Made Him Mad". Boy, her strangulated tonsil style of made this old man feel young again and smile knowingly at She Who Must Be Obeyed. These were followed by her tribute to her roots with moving song tributes to Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams before launching into "I Gotta Know". At this point, she received her plaque denoting her entry into the NDT Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame, the elite body for real rock 'n' roll. Gaining further inspiration she carried on with. "Funnel Of Love" followed by "Riot In Cell Block No. 9", "Right Or Wrong", a good workout of Presley's "One Night" and an absolutely splendid "Fujiyama Mama". She then performed her normal religious number 'I Saw The Light' with the set then going into the stratosphere with a dynamic "Let's Have A Party" and closing out with 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On. Baby, that was rock 'n' roll.
The final American visitor for this festival was H BOMB FERGUSON. He is a great entertainer wearing various coloured wigs throughout his set which contained his interpretations of songs made famous by others mixed in with a selection of his own material. In essence, he is a blues shouter extraordinaire who plays a good piano. This was amply demonstrated on "Please Me", "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" and "I'm In Love Again", the last mentioned undergoing subtle lyric changes into "I'm Drunk Again". H Bomb was accompanied by The Rhythm Riot Kings Of Rhythm and his own guitarist Lance Boyd who sang a couple of numbers such as "Kansas City". The set also included "Midnight Ramble", "Baby What You want Me To Do", "Bad Bad Whiskey", "No More Dogging", "I'm Walking", "Fine Brown Frame" "I Ain't Mad At You" and "Romp Baby Romp. With the band all wearing sparkly wigs, he concluded with "Shake Rattle And Roll" and Tutti Frutti" complete with his own lyric transformations such as "got a gal named Ida who smells like apple cider". Good entertainment from a fine artist, performed with bags of humour and plenty of facial expressions. The festival closed out with THE RHYTHM RIOT RHYTHM & BLUES REVUE, basically the house band (they sure did work hard over the weekend) with guest appearances from the likes of the aforementioned Big John Lewis of the Rimshots. Overall it was a splendid event.
Rhythm Riot 6 is to be held at the same venue between 22nd and 25th November 2002. Headliners so far announced are Lewis Lymon and The Teenagers and Jimmy Cavello but I understand that negotiations for several other top acts are well advanced and should be announced soon. Telephone (0)20 8566 5226, fax (0)20 8566 2525 or contact the web site www.rhythmriot.com for information and booking details.
© Tony Wilkinson
American Music Magazine
"She's My Baby"
Brazos Valley Records BV3020 Playing Time: 28.28
She's My Baby/Face To Face/Magic spell/My Love/It Wasn't Me/Surrounded/I Love Her So/Let's Make A Block/Does She Love Me/Hey Brutus
"The Best Of Huelyn Duvall 1957 - 1958"
Brazos Valley Records BV 3030 Playing Time: 27.59
Three Months To Kill/Little Boy Blue/Teen Queen/Comin' Or Goin'/Boom Boom Baby/Pucker Paint/Juliet/Friday Night On A Dollar Bill/Hum-m-m-m-Dinger/You Knock Me Out/Fool's Hall Of Fame/It's No Wonder/Susie's House
Hot on the heels of Huelyn's triumphant headlining performance at the UK Hemsby rock 'n' roll festival in October 2001 comes two new CD releases. "The Best Of " compilation is, apart from two tracks, taken from the master tapes of the recordings he made for the Challenge label in Nashville and at the Gold Star Recording Studios, Hollywood during 1957 and 1958. As such, the quality is crystal clear and represents some marvellous rock 'n' roll recordings. The European cult rockin' classic "Three Months To Kill" cut at his final recording session for the label never sounded better and neither has the jerky vocals on "Pucker Paint", "Juliet" or "Boom Boom Baby" (subsequently a hit for Crash Craddock). In essence this is a reissue of the CD "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't" which appeared on the US Sundazed label in 1996. However the alternative versions of "Teen Queen" and "Fools Hall Of Fame" have been dropped in favour of the great rocker "It's No Wonder", which was released on the Starfire label, and the equally good "Susie's House", both of which were cut at the Clifford Herring Studios, Fort Worth, Texas in 1958. This is the best that they have ever sounded. Sleeve notes this time around are by Dave Burgess, the head honcho for The Champs, who remarks that Huelyn was on the final yell on "Tequila" and was one of the back up vocalists on the flip "Train To Nowhere". File under essential.
On the CD of new recordings, "She's My Baby", Huelyn has clearly set out to capture the spirit of his fifties recordings and it is pleasing to be able to say (like the recent recordings by both Vernon Taylor and Billy Adams) he has succeeded. Recorded this year in Azle, Texas, Huelyn has employed some choice musicians including a reunion with hot piano player Charlie O'Bannion who was an original Chapparals. The title track rocks away like crazy complete with a pounding of the eighty eights and some great lead guitar from John MacDonald. "Face To Face" is an almost chalypso number, written by a very young Johnny Vallis, and suits Duvall's jerky vocal style as does "Magic Spell", a nice mid-paced rocker. "My Love" is a teen beat ballad and "It Wasn't Me" is a nice bouncy rockin' number. A personal favourite is "Surrounded", which is a fine up tempo rocker, whilst the rockabilly workout on "I Love Her So could have been recorded for Challenge, it is that good. More good rock 'n' roll is served up with the dance tune "Let's Make A Block" and "Does She Love Me" which is a slowish almost beat ballad. "Hey Brutus", complete with a Bo Diddley type beat, was recorded as a demo in the fifties but on this occasion has a fuller sound and is the better for it. Huelyn's voice has got a little deeper since he first recorded but is still packed with his unique styling. A most enjoyable release which comes complete with some tasty photos from the fifties.
Both CDs can be obtained direct from Huelyn at Brazos Valley Records, P.O. Box 246, Springtown, Texas 76082, USA or check out his web site at www.HuelynDuvall.com
© Tony Wilkinson
Early Rock & Roll From
New Zealand Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4
THE KEIL ISLES
"Early Rock & Roll From New Zealand Vols. 1 & 2"
Collector Records CLCD 7753/A/B
Total Playing Time: 137 minutes
60 tracks including: Say Mama/Bullmoose/Flip Flop & Fly/Ruby Ann/Twist and Freeze/ Be Bop Boogie Boy/Crazy Dream/Don't You Know/Pretty Susie Sunshine/Please Don't Tease/Cinnamon Cinder/Say Yeah/Come On And Get Me.
"Early Rock & Roll From New Zealand Vols. 3 & 4"
Collector Records CLCD 7754/A/B
Total Playing Time: 124 minutes
54 tracks including: SAM MATAPARAE - Rockin' Rockers/RON MAXMAN - Cool 'n' Crazy/MAORI TROUBADORS - Shakin' In The Shaky Isle/RED HEWITT - DJ Blues/CLYDE SCOTT - Gravediggers Rock/BOBBY DAVIS - Able Mable/TONI WILLIAMS - Is A Blue Bird Blue/MEL ROGERS - China Doll.
It used to be said that New Zealand was about five or six years behind the UK but these two collections of rockin' sides from the Windy Isles, generally dating from the late fifties/early sixties, show that often they were the equivalent of the musical output of Great Britain at the time. There are some outstanding cuts, many sides that are reasonable to good and, as is generally the case with collections such as these, a few clunkers.
The Keil Isles were lead by the Keil Brothers, who were born in the Samoa Islands, and this is a collection of their early sides mainly recorded in Hamilton, New Zealand. There are some sparking cuts such as their workout on Gene Vincent's "Be Bop Boogie Boy" (two versions included), their interpretations of the Conway Twitty songs "Crazy Dreams" and "Don't You Know" and the original sax lead instrumental "Shakey". Whilst the notes claim that 20 tracks were either previously unreleased or alternative takes, noted New Zealand rock 'n' roll historian John Fletcher puts the total at considerably less. However that is really a moot point as most of the material will not have been heard far outside New Zealand which is a shame as the band certainly had a rockin' talent. A tasty release.
Volumes 3 and 4 in this series is a various artists collection and the musical quality fluctuates considerably more from the excellent to the plain bloody awful than the release by The Keil Isles. When it is good, it is like Mae West, very good but when it is bad, then it is simply dreadful. "Rockin' Rockers" by Sam Mateparae with the Rockin' Rockers is a crude slow pounding rocker but reeks atmosphere. This track is probably worth the double CD alone. The same band, this time lead by Roy Steedman also turn in a most creditable version of The Champs "Subway". The Kiwis also had their own answer to Brenda Lee in the delectable Carol Davies who is represented by five tracks including the nice bopper "Little Bit" Red Hewitt & The Buccanneers come up with a real nice treatment of "Tennessee Waltz", owing a passing debt to the Bobby Comstock treatment, whilst "Bluebird" by Clyde Scott & The Clansman is a great moody mid-paced rocker. There is quite a bit of very obscure rock 'n' roll on this release but do be prepared to hit the reject button on occasion.
Both these double CD compilations retail for the price of a single CD release and so overall represent good value for money. I look forward to more in the series.
© Tony Wilkinson/ October 2001
Review: GENE VINCENT,
"The Town Hall Party TV Shows
Rockstar Video RSRV 2002
Introduction (Jay Stewart) / Be-Bop-a-Lula / High Blood Pressure / Rip It Up / Introduction (Jay Stewart) / Dance To the Bop / You Win Again / For Your Precious Love / Introduction (Jay Stewart) / Rocky Road Blues / Pretty Pearly / Be-Bop-a-Lula / Introduction (Jay Stewart) / High School Confidential / Over The Rainbow / Introduction (Jay Stewart) / Roll Over Beethoven / Over The Rainbow / She She Little Sheila
Approximate Viewing Time: 45 minutes. Hot on the heels of the Eddie Cochran "Town Hall Party TV Shows 1959" video (Rockstar RSRV 2001) comes a follow up starring one of the greatest rock 'n' roll originators, Gene Vincent. Our thanks have to go to the good people at Rockstar Records for their considerable effort in overcoming the numerous obstacles and making this video available to us, the panting rock 'n' roll fraternity. This issue contains three performances by Gene on the famous Town Hall Party television show broadcast from Los Angeles, and the first is oh so historically important as it features Vincent with one of the line-ups of the famous Blue Caps.
First broadcast on 25th October 1958, it has Johnny Meeks on lead guitar, Grady Owen on electric bass, Clyde Pennington on drums and Cliff Simmons on piano and they rock out well on a selection of six numbers, two of which were not normally associated with Gene. These are "You Win Again" (performed a la Jerry Lee Lewis style) and Vincent's hair tingling vocalising on "For Your Precious Love," a vocal group classic which was originally by The Impressions featuring an 18 year old Jerry Butler.
The other songs comprise two of the more obscure songs from Vincent's catalogue, "High Blood Pressure" and "Rip It Up" (obscure as they are better known by versions from Huey Smith and Bill Haley/Little Richard respectively) and two of Gene's classics in "Be-Bop-A-Lula" and "Dance To The Bop." The sound and vision are a trifle dodgy on this set but it does not hardly detract from the electictyfying performance being played out before our eyes as frontmen Vincent, Meek and Owen bop away with Messrs. Simmons and Pennington providing the beat. The video is worth it for this set alone.
The last mentioned numbers were all included on the CD issue "The Town Hall Party TV Shows" (Rockstar RSRCD 016) but that is not the case with the second performance from 25th July 1959. On this occasion, Gene was backed up by Town Hall Party regulars such as Merle Travis on lead guitar, Jimmy Pruitt on piano, Harold Hensly on fiddle and saxophone, Cliff Crawford on trumpet, Johnny Bond on rhythm guitar, Skeets McDonald on electric bass, Pee Wee Adams on drums and Rose Maphis providing the hand claps. From the performance, it can be assumed that little or no rehearsal tookplace as the backing musicians are somewhat all over the place. That is apart from Jimmy Pruitt who on more than one occasion holds the song together with some masterful pounding of the 88 keys, especially outstanding on "Rocky Road Blues." Again a mixture of numbers, some well associated with Vincent such as the afore mentioned and a further "Be-Bop-A-Lula" workout whilst "Over The Rainbow" and "Pretty Little Pearly" are lesser known. That does not detract from Gene's performance and indeed it is good to see such numbers, especially the former which suits Vincent's ballad styling oh so well. Regrettably "High School Confidential" does not really work.
For the third set, which was shown on 7th November 1959, Jimmy Pruitt and Pee Wee Adams are retained but Gene's friend Jerry Merritt takes over on lead guitar whilst the bass guitar is played by Pat Patterson and the hand clapping is provided by Fiddlin' Kate and Jeannie Sterling. Of the three shows, this is probably the most satisfying with both Gene's vocals and Merritt's guitar playing being absolutely spot on. All three numbers, "Roll Over Beethoven" / "OverThe Rainbow" / "She She Little Sheila," are excellently performed by all concerned, a real joy to watch and listen to.
Like the previously mentioned Eddie Cochran video, this part of rock 'n' roll history and is available in both VHS PAL and American formats. Copies can be obtained from Rockstar Records, c/o 96D Southchurch Road, Warrior Square East, Southend on Sea, Essex, SS1 2LX, England at £14.50 (UK) or £16.00 (Europe), both prices include postage. These two videos are pretty much fundamental.
"The Wild One - The Life And Times Of Johnny O'Keefe"
by Damian Johnstone & published by Allen & Unwin.
"Long Distance Information - Chuck Berry's Recorded Legacy"
by Fred Rothwell & published by Music Mentor.
In recent times there have been all too few good books about real rock 'n' roll and especially it's originators. However there are two recent exceptions which are real beauties. which can proudly sit up on the shelves along side the ground breaking works of such as Peter Guralnick and Nick Tosches.
The first of these is 'The Wild One - The Life And Times Of Johnny 'Keefe' by Damian Johnstone. For far too long, the contribution to rock 'n' roll music by artists in the southern hemisphere has been sadly neglected and overlooked. There were some great r 'n' r originators down under such as Col Joye and The Joye Boys, Johnny Rebb and Johnny Devlin but the guy who stood head and shoulders above the chasing pack was Australia's Johnny O'Keefe. Boy, from his recordings it is clear that O'Keefe could rock out with the best of them and indeed he is credited with originating one of the classic songs, 'Wild One' - which is perhaps better known as 'Real Wild Child' from the recordings by Jerry 'Ivan' Allison and Jerry Lee Lewis. It is clear from the text, which really flows, that author Damian Johnstone has really done his research on the subject and the results come across as a real labour of love, albeit a sympatheticwarts 'n' all portrait of O'Keefe. He really gets under the skin of the singer and as such his talent and frailties are revealed to all. This is no coffee table book but is a serious and always interesting attempt to tell the story of O'Keefe. The book chronicles Johnny's early days from when he started out as a Johnny Rayclone through his development into a rock 'n' roll singer and his successful attempts to introduce the big beat into the land of Oz. Along the way, Johnstone vividly paints a portrait of the Australian music scene in the fifties into the sixties and beyond. It is all here in the book, O'Keefe's rise to fame, the struggles along the way, near fatal car accident, several nervous breakdowns, career nose-dives and the fights back to the top again. It is evident from the story that Johnny, whilst perhaps being somewhat neurotic, tested himself to the limit in pursuit of his career and at times was his own worst enemy. A particularly significant aspect of the book deals with O'Keefe's attempts [in reality all unfortunate failures] to establish himself as an international star, especially his visits to Great Britain and the USA. During the latter, he was signed by Liberty records and Snuff Garrett assigned to manage the wayward protégée. Clearly Snuff could not handle the Wild One and the story relates several incidents which, in hindsight, are hilarious. All in all, this is a cracking god read and congratulations are due to Damian Johnstone for scribing one of the best books of its kind in recent years. Available from all good book importers or direct from the publishers Allan and Unwin at web site www.allenandunwin.com
The second book under review here is 'Long Distance Information - Chuck Berry's Recorded Legacy' by Fred Rothwell. Over the years there have been several attempts at telling the story of Chuck Berry, including his own autobiography but, all in all, they failed to reach the mark as they either concentrated on his life [including various unsavory incidents] tot he detriment of his music or contained in accuracies which cast doubt on the authenticity of the story. With Mr. Berry, the thing that matters most is his recorded legacy for without doubt it is one of the most important in the history of rock 'n' roll. He was responsible for creating many r 'n' rclassics and it was his music that influenced oh so many others, not his personal life style. In this book, author Fred Rothwell concentrates on this aspect and through it manages to convey the musical importance of Chuck. However, the Chuck Berry story has to be put in its correct perspective and in a few short pages, Rothwell succinctly tells the tale including briefly telling about the spells in prison and outlines the reasons why. However thereafter, and for the vast bulk of the book, Fred analyses each and every Chuck Berry recording session from the first in August 1954 in St. Louis, where Chuck was a sideman on a Joe Alexander session, through to that in August 1998 in Esbjerg, Denmark. Some 93 sessions in all. Each session is detailed into the date(s), which musicians participated, where held and the tracks cut. This is then followed in each instance by a critical and fair review of the musical content together with a commentary on important and related facts. As such, I feel this book provides a better insight into Chuck Berry than any other book that has gone before, fascinating and interesting stuff. Author Rothwell clearly knows his subject and imparts the knowledge in a clear and concise but readable fashion. The book also includes the most complete Chuck Berry discography that I have ever seen together with summaries of Berry's chart successes and television, film and video appearances. In addition there are short chapters on important cover versions of Chuck Berry songs and the artists/songs which influenced our Chuckie boy. It is all pretty fascinating stuff, very interesting and never dull. It probably cannot be read and absorbed in one or two readings but as a reference book with a good cross index, it is invaluable. It should be available from any decent book shop but can also be obtained direct from the publisher at Music Mentor Books, 69 Station Road, Upper Poppleton, York YO26 6PZ or contact web site go.to/musicmentor.
Hemsby Rock & Roll Weekender #27
4th October to 7th October 2001
The six months since the last Hemsby came around all to quickly but that did not prevent the relish and anticipation of witnessing some first rate rock 'n' roll performances plus meeting up with old buddies again. We were not disappointed. Numbers attending were slightly down on the October Hemsby in year 2000 but that has principally to do with all the craziness going on in the world at this time, it certainly had nothing to do with the strength of the bill as will be revealed during the following commentary.
This Hemsby kicked off on the Thursday evening with the appearance of THE PROWLERS, a UK outfit who played with plenty of vigor, thrash 'n' bash. They were followed by one of the most seasoned veterans on the rock 'n' roll scene, namely CHARLIE GRACIE, a guy who first toured Great Britain back in 1957, honeymooned in the UK in 1958 and in recent years has been a regular visitor to these scepter isles. This was a consummate, enjoyable and totally professional show. Charlie, backed up by the Hemsby Houseband, tore into "Rockin' Is Our Business" and "Jump Jive And Wail" before performing one of his hits "Just Looking". This established the pattern for the performance, a couple of his more obscure numbers and one of his chart successes (all the latter were included in a lengthy but varied compilation). He rocked; he rolled and played a masterful lead guitar, this being particularly evident on the work out of "Honky Tonk". The set also included a couple of numbers from his latest CD including "I'm Gonna Love You" and the title track "I'm All Right", a tribute to Eddie Cochran, before concluding with real rock out treatments on "Tootsie", Heart Like A Rock" and "Shake Rattle And Roll. I have seen Charlie on stage quite a few times but this was one of his best shows.
The Friday's night show in the main ballroom had CHECK CROSBY & THE RED HOT WRANGLERS, a new band fronted by Paul Crosby who has lead Rusti Steel & The Tin Tacks, as the opening act. They were followed by the first of the evening's headliners, JOHNNY VALLIS from Canada. Johnny is a youngish guy who clearly has a passion for rock 'n' roll music. Backed up by The House Rockers, he sang well and utilised the stage to a maximum with an energetic performance on such numbers as Ersel Hickey's "Goin' Down That Road", Glen Glenn's "Blue Jeans & A Boy's Shirt", "Rock Around With Ollie Vee", "You're So Square" and "Was It Something I Said". I know that Vallis was a personal friend of the late Buddy Knox and Johnny included a selection of his songs with "Rock Your Little Baby To Sleep", "Hula Love", Rockhouse", "Party Doll" and Somebody Touched Me". The set closed out with a reprise of "Blue Jeans And A Boy's Shirt" to enthusiastic applause and squeals from the fairer sex, no doubt there were some moist knickers around after this show.
Next up was show business veteran YOUNG JESSIE who was making a welcome return to England since his last appearance at the Electric Ballroom in 1983. Backed up by the excellent Swing Kings, he turned in a first rate performance of rock 'n' roll, R&B and outright blues concentrating on the sides he recorded for Modern in the fifties. Opening up with "Hit Git & Split" this was followed by "Don't Happen No More" and then the highlight of this performance, a marvelous work out on ""Lonesome Desert". Boy, this slowish blusey number amplified the considerable talents of Obediah Jessie and the band really cooked. Other numbers included "Do You Love Me", "Don't Think I Will" "Oochie Coochie", "Mary Lou" and "Here Comes Henry". I think "Rabbit On A Log" was there before Young Jessie looked at his watch and concluded with "I Smell A Rat". There was to be no more, not even "Shuffle In The Gravel", but despite this somewhat abrupt ending it was a fine fine show. The evening closed out the BLUE STAR BOYS, a good UK rockin' band who seemingly are on the point of dissolving.
Onto the third night, Saturday, and the rockin' live shows commenced with SNAKE HIP JAKE, a British swing and Jump jive band who are known for their high energy performances. On this particular date, 6th October 2001, England owes two debts of gratitude to Sweden. One is for the Swedish coach of the English football (soccer to our colonial friends) who helped our national team reach the World Cup Finals next year that day. The other is for the Swedish band The Ramblers who provided the backing for visiting star HUELYN DUVALL. They had really done their homework and everything was spot on, the guitar breaks were note perfect and where a song called for vocal back up, it was there in faithful recreation. This clearly inspired Huelyn into giving, for this writer, the stand out performance of this Hemsby. It simply was brilliant from beginning to end. All the jerky stage movements were there and Huelyn's voice was just like his recordings. The set started out with "Susie's House", "Teen Queen" "Boom Boom Baby" (a hit for Crash Craddock), "Friday Night On A Dollar Bill", his original version of "Modern Romance (made famous by Sanford Clark), "You Knock Me Out" complete with great vocal harmonies from The Ramblers, "It's No Wonder", "Little Boy Blue" and then really ignited on "Juliet". The jet propelled show carried on with "Pucker Paint", "Coming Or Going", "Sweet And Easy To Love" (the Roy Orbison tune) before concluding with the classic "Three Months To Kill". However such was the audience reaction that Duvall had to come back on and perform no less that four encores. These were "Humdinger", "Hey Brutus", "Blue Lawdy Blue" and "She's My Baby", the last mentioned being from his CD of new recordings available November 2001. A great great show.
The next act up only served to increase the excitement; ROBERT GORDON clearly was in a good mood and intent on enjoying himself. Backed by Rob Glazebrook and The House Rockers, Gordon was in great voice and this was amply demonstrated on a wide and varied selection of numbers such as "I Just Found Out", "Hello Walls", "I Was The One", "The Fool" and The Worryin' Kind". "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was followed by a magnificent "Driving Wheel" before Gordon sang a request of Marty Wilde's "Bad Boy". The set included some first rate up tempo rock 'n' roll in the form of "Bertha Lou", "Look Who's Blue" and "Rockabilly Boogie" which sounded better than the record. At times Robert forcibly grabbed the band into jumping around the stage with him, this served to uplift the witnessing pleasure. The set closed out with "The Way I Walk", "Look Who's Blue" and "I Was The Last One To Know". "Red Hot", which sadly did not come off, and "Mystery Train" were encores and then sadly it was all over. Robert was a real crowd pleaser. The final act for Saturday was DALE ROCKA & THE VOLCANOS from Sicily and, clearly, they too gave a rousing show as mention of their performance was being made the next day.
The final nights show opened up with THE ROCKATS, a four piece band with two members from London and the other two from New York City. They played with plenty of visuals and dancing on a varied selection of original songs and covers, mostly up tempo, such as "Driving Wheel", "Downtown Saturday Night", "Blue Tears", "Rockabilly Doll", ""Rocky Road Blues" and "Crazy Baby". A tight band who gave a good show. The vocal group spot at Hemsby this occasion was taken by WILLIE WINFIELD & THE HARPTONES. The group comprised three original fifties members, Willie Winfield, William Dempsey James and Raoul J Cita plus Marlowe Murray who has been with the group for 27 years and the lovely Vicki Burgess. However the performance was cabaret inclined and even included three Tamla Motown numbers plus one of Chuck Jackson's soul efforts. The show was a bit slow paced and only really included one jump jive number in "High Flying Baby", performed excellently. They sang well and in fine harmony on numbers such as "The Shrine Of Saint Cecilia", "Sunday Kind Of Love", "Since I Fell For You", "Life Is But A Dream" and "Three Wishes". Vicki Burgess gave a sharp outing on "My Foolish Heart" but overall the performance from the group was a trifle flat. Certainly it was not up to the standard set by the likes of The Jacks/Cadets or The Calvanes. The concluding act for this Hemsby was the SMOKIE MOUNTAOIN BOYS, a British yodeling hillbilly outfit and who provided a good contrast to the preceding acts of this evening.
Overall this was a first rate Hemsby with a good selection of musical styles and some really stand out performances. The line up for next May's Hemsby is mouth watering with Teddy Redell, Narvel Felts, Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs, Lew Williams, Alvis Wayne, Sonny West and Matt Lucas headlining. See you there.
© Tony Wilkinson
Photos: Rod Pyke
Five Days, Five Days of
Rockin' 'n' Rollin'
VIVA LAS VEGAS 4 The Gold Coast Casino and Hotel Las Vegas 12th - 15th April 2001. Whilst I and younger offspring were all for returning to the bright lights of Las Vegas for the rockin' delights Viva Las Vegas 4, She Who Must Be Obeyed was not quite so enthusiastic. However steady cajoling and some outright bribery worked wonders and the end result that was that we were Vancouver and Las Vegas bound at the beginning of April. After spending a week sampling what the marvelous city of Vancouver and surrounding area had to offer, including acouple of visits to 'Krazy Bob's' at Langley, pure vinyl heaven and whose proprietor had a great line in chat such as 'how do you confuse the lead guitarist of a rock band? - put some sheet music in front of him', we boarded the aircraft for the flights to Vegas. Once there, we were again the guests of Chuck and Linda Baker. Chuck played on the session that produced Hugh Barrett's & The Victors 'There Was A Fungus Amongst Us' for Madison Records and he also produced the Barrett follow up on Lucky Four Records as well as making the answer version 'Return Of The Fungus'. Today he is a respected writer, journalist and TV presenter as well as running his own newspaper for US armed forces veterans.
Thefirst of five days rockin' in Vegas commenced with a pre-festival party and a meet 'n' greet session at Ronny 'Rollin' Rock' Weiser's rancho on the Wednesday afternoon at which all were made welcome. Paradise, meeting personalities such as Matt Lucas, sipping beer in pleasant sunshine and watching the gathered musicians jamming together.
That night at Gilleys in the Frontier Casinoon the strip, this is the establishment where Elvis made his first Vegas appearance, there was a five act line up headlined by HAYDEN THOMPSON. This was a particularly good set from Hayden and covered the majority of his Sun / Phillips International recordings. He was backed up by a trio lead by UK's Malcom Chapman and together they shone on 'Love My Baby', 'Fairlane Rock','Blues, Blues, Blues' and 'Rockabilly Gal'.
The'Viva Las Vegas 4² festival commenced at the Gold Coast Casino on Thursday, 12th April and at checkin, it became apparent that the event was a sell out. Up in the ballroom, performances commenced with 13 STARS who were followed by the HAYWOODS, both being young rockabilly bands from California. The latter was especially good on 'Drinking, Crying And Moaning' and 'Broken Hearted' and bodes well for their forthcoming UK appearance. This evening was closed out in the ballroom by the British act CARLOS & THE BANDITS who turned in a performance that was still being talked about at the end of the weekender.
However as with last year, the Rockabilly Internet Hall Of Fame were also staging shows in the West Lounge and for this evening they included DAVE CRIMMEN, THE LUSTRE KINGS, MARCO DiMAGGIO and, for myself a real revelation, BILLY ADAMS. For some time now there has been considerable confusion as to whether Billy was still with us or had departed this earth. The truth of the matter is that there were at least two Billy Adams. One recorded for Sun and Pixie Records and it was he who unfortunately died in 1986. The Billy who is still with us is he of 'Rock Pretty Mama', 'You Heard Me Knockin', and 'You Gotta Have A Ducktail' fame, all of which he performed with consummate rockin' perfection. Boy, this guy is good and possesses a powerful voice together with playing a mean marvelous lead guitar. On the guitar boogie instrumental 'Mama Don't Allow', he really shone and I noticed Paul Burlinson in the audience looking on with keen interest. Billy looked every inch of a fifties rocker and was dressed in a white jacket and shoes with black trousers and shirt. He sang and picked great versions of 'C C Rider', '9-lb Hammer' and 'Mystery Train' which were served up with originals such as 'Honey Bee', 'Sweet Sugar Blues', 'If You Run With The Wolves', 'I Feel Old Memphis Calling Me', 'That's My Baby' and 'I'm Gonna Leave This Lonesome Town'. For sure, he is areal rockin' talent and thankfully for us in Europe there is talk of a possible UK appearance next year.
Friday saw the festival accelerate away at a pace that was to be continued for it's remainder, literally there was rock 'n' roll music everywhere you turned. The main shows were held in the upstairs ballroom whilst new bands were demonstrating their talents in the downstairs dancehall together with afternoon performances taking place in the east lounge. In the west lounge, Bob Timmers and the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame [RHOF] crew continued with their evening shows featuring a mixture of seasoned veterans and new acts. Like last year, most of my time was spent dashing between the upstairs ballroom and the afore mentioned west lounge which was at the other end of the casino. By the end of Viva Las Vegas [VLV], I certainly ended up a slimmed down sex machine but was bloody nackered at the same time.
A suggestion for next year, the wealth of talent on display in the West Lounge makes it worthy of moving this part of festivities to a larger hall within the Gold Coast. People were tripping over themselves at times in the West Lounge.
Up in the ballroom, the evening show kicked off with the SKINNY McGEE AND THE MAYHEM MAKERS who were followed by Britain's own BLUE STAR BOYS. They have impressed previously but on thisoccasion they pulled out all the stops demonstrating their authentic sound and are one of the few acts not to include a drummer. Their set was nice and varied in tempo and included a mixture of covers and originals such as 'Rock 'n' Roll Ruby', 'I'd Rather Be Safe Than Sorry', Long Gone Daddy', 'If You Don't Know, 'All I Could Do Is Cry', 'Half Hearted Love' and 'Love Love Love'. Next up was the legendary MARVIN RAINWATER who commenced his set with rather subdued interpretations of 'Roving Gambler [Gamblin' Man]','Whole Lotta Woman' and 'Mister Blues'. It then kicked up several gears with 'Dance Me Daddy' which Marvin explained had originally been titled 'Rock Me Daddy' but the executives at MGM fearing charges of contaminating American youth insisted on the change. The pace and uplifted excitement continued with 'Rockin' Down The Walls' a new number from his forth coming CDa nd then went into a tasty bluesy feel with 'Why Did You Have To Go And Leave Me' and 'Moanin' The Blues'. By now the set was rattling along nicely and nearly went into orbit with 'Boo Hoo' but then went off boil with 'Gonna Find Me A Bluebird' which was served up complete with changes in tempo and a Fats Domino impression. However it was back to full throttle with 'Hot And Cold'. After a short break, it was another new number 'I'm A Wild Man' followed by reprises of 'Rockin' Down The Walls' and 'Hot And Cold'. Overall, an enjoyable set but I have seen Rainwater better.
However the direct opposite has to be said for the next turn in the ballroom, MARTI BROM. I first saw her at the Vegas festival in 1999 and was bowled over then. In the ensuing two years, she has come on leaps and bounds and is now an even better performer on stage. She looks delicious and has a singing voice that angels would kill for. Backed up by The Barnshakers, she launched into 'Welcome To The Club' and followed this with a great mixture of numbers like 'Crazy For Loving You', the immaculate 'Blue Tattoo' and 'No Good Lover' Demonstrating her full versatility, she sexily strutted around the stage singing Eartha Kitt's 'Loving Bug Itch' before switching the pace again for 'Love Hound', 'I'm Drinking Too', a marvelous 'Tom Cat' and a great interpretation of Loretta Lynn's 'Fist City'. The set rolled on and on with the audience getting more and more enthusiastic as Marti performed her own' Unproclaimed Love', 'You're The Boss, a tremendous workout on Joyce Green's 'BlackCadillac' and LaVern Bakers 'Voodoo Voodoo' before climaxing with 'Boo HooB oogie' and 'Here Today and Gone Tomorrow Love'. Marti Brom is a natural successor to the likes of Wanda Jackson and has talent by the bucket load. The final act in the ballroom for this evening werethe FLEA BOPS who came complete with a lady upright bass player. This gave a whole new connotation to the word slap.
However things had also been rockin' away nicely back at the RHOF presentations in the West Lounge all evening. LOU HOBBS came on and performed a few numbers. Clearly he is an unwell man and it took a lot of courage to stand up there and perform. He did a reasonable version of 'Great Balls Of Fire' as well as a selection of his own numbers. He was followed by the by MARCO DiMAGGIO who picked away nicely at a selection of Eddie Cochran numbers before being joined on stage by GARY LAMBERT. The pair of ace pickers performed a selection of dueling guitar instrumentals as well as 'Mystery Train' (this had to be the most repeated number during the festival, I must have heard at least ten different interpretations of it). On their final number, they were joined byt he sax player from the Lustre Kings and collectively they knocked out a powerhouse performance and duly received astanding ovation.
After a respectable interval to cool things down a bit, MATT LUCAS stepped foot on the stage. He socked out a selection of rock 'n' roll standards such as 'Roll over Beethoven', 'Kansas City', 'Memphis', 'Ruby Baby',' Roll Over Beethoven' together with his unique interpretations of 'Oobie Doobie' and 'I'm Movin' On' before finishing with 'Matchbox'. Matt told me that he is UK bound next year and based upon this performance, I will be there for sure.
The final act that I saw for this night was a portion of ROCKIN' ROARYfrom Germany. He worked hard and eventually won the crowd over with a performance based on the boogie side of rock 'n' roll. I went to bed a tired but happy bunny.
Due to personal considerations, I had to miss the first two acts in the ballroom on Saturday who were the Denver based BLUE RIBBON BOYS and CAVE CATT SAMMY but was there for the performance by the FABULOUS HARMONAIRES from Dallas, Texas. These are a young multi-racial doo wop group, dressed in plaid jackets and really looked the part. Their harmonies on 'Shrine Of St. Cecilia' were spot on. They then attempted a few original numbers such as 'It's Been Too Long' and 'You Want To See More Of Me' but they and the backing band were at odds on occasion which detracted from otherwise excellent performances. Observing this, the group stuck to tried and tested numbers like 'When You Dance', Little Girl Of Mine', 'Gee', Tell Me Why' and 'Daddy's Home'. However the co-ordination problem with the backing band continued which presumably more rehearsal would have solved. The Fabulous Harmonaires have the potential to be a killer act but do need to learntheir trade a bit more.
Next on stage was BIG SANDY AND THE FLYRITE BOYS (2001) including the great Jimmy Roy on steel guitar. Previously I haven ot been too sold on Big Sandy's performances but on this night he won me over completely, especially with the new Flyrite Boys line up who were so slick and competent. Gone was the frantic thrash to be replaced a balanced set. There was a tasty mixture of western swing and honky tonk boogie with ditties such as 'Blackberry Wine', 'It's A Mystery', 'Honky Tonk Queen', 'True Blue Poppa', 'The Greatest Story Ever Told', 'Hot Water','Let's Drink Some Juice' and 'I Can Hear Tequila Calling'. These were followed by 'Hey Girl, Hey Boy' and 'Baby, Baby Me' a couple of real nice duets with a delightful young lady whose first name was Vicki, and a doo wopish ballad in 'I Can't Believe I'm Saying This To You'. The set concluded with a great workout on 'Jumping From Six To Six'.
The Flyrite Boys returned to the stage to back the next act, the incomparable WANDA JACKSON who can do little wrong in my book. Opening up with 'Rockabilly Fever' complete with slinky movements, she then proceeded into 'Stupid Cupid', 'Mean Mean Man' and 'Hot Dog That Made Him Mad' in which her growling tonsils were well to the fore. Boy the hair on the back of my neck was standing upright by this time. To change the pace, she then went into intense tributes to Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams before launching into 'I Gotta Know' which drew such a crowd response that the number had to be instantly reprised. Wanda was well and truly cooking by now and number after number followed in her own inimitable manner. 'Tunnel Of Love' was followed by 'Riot In Cell Block No. 9', 'Right Or Wrong', a splendid 'Fujiyama Mama', 'Hard Headed Woman', a bluesy workout on 'Trying To Get To You' before her normal religious number 'I Saw The Light'. The set exploded into a savage 'Let's Have A Party' and concluded with 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On. Without doubt, she is the Queen of rock 'n'roll. The shows in the ballroom concluded this evening with performances bythe ROYAL CROWN REVUE and Sweden's own JACK BAYMORE. Many described the last mentioned as having a great stage presence with an excellent sound.
However things had not been quiet at the RHOF stage in the West Lounge. The first act that I was able to catch herewas part of a set by SUE THOMPSON, a lovely friendly lady to talk to and who performed her hits. Next up was GLEN GLENN who, backed up by GARY LAMBERT, rocked his little socks off. For sure, 'Everbody's (was) Movin' with 'One Cup Of Coffee' along with 'Laurie Ann' in 'Blue Jeans And A Boy's Shirt' whilst 'Baby Let's Play House' concluded the set. Good stuff indeed.
There then followed a number of acts under the general heading of the 'Rollin' Rock Review' who were there to celebrate thirty years of the existence of Rollin' Rock Records. RAY CAMPI performed at the Vegas festival for the first time and pulled all the stops out with his crowd pleasing performance. Newish Rollin' Rock artist RIP CARSON gave his all whilst JOHNNY LEGEND came across as acomplete nutter. A totally wild and original act, this was top notch enjoyment and concluded with 'Rockabilly Bastard'. They don't make them like Mr. Legend anymore, sad to say. The Rollin' Rock tribute concluded with a sparkling rockabilly set from ALVIS WAYNE who seemingly goes from strength to strength. Opening up with 'Swing Bop Boogie', he proceeded to fully arose the crowd with 'Rockabilly Daddy', 'Here I Am' and 'Thanks A Lot'. He then performed a couple of duets with Jessica Ruth on 'These Lonely Teardrops' and' You Can Have Her' before throwing the set list way and graciously letting Jessica sing a solo 'In Care Of The Blues'. We then got the classic 'Sleep, Rock-A-Roll Rock-A-Baby', 'Lay Your Head On MY Shoulder and 'Don't Mean Baby. People were standing, dancing and cheering. A standout performance.
The last act that I saw on Saturday night in the West Lounge was a complete surprise, and a most welcome one at that. The legendary band THE FIREBALLS stepped onto the stage lead by George Tomscoand with Chuck Tharp, Paul Goad and Dan Aguilar. They looked every inch seasoned professionals and presented themselves in matching outfits, even down to the guitar straps. The set was a mixture of vocals like 'Bottle Of wine', Rockin' In The 50's', 'Oobie Doobie', 'That'll Be The Day', 'Susie Q', 'Sugar Shack' and a number they credited to The Crickets 'Most All Of The Time'. Instrumentals obviously could not be left out and these included 'Vaquero', 'Bulldog' and 'Torquay'. These were played with routines described as being those originally performed on Dick Clark's 'American Bandstand'. Certainly it made one wonder if the Shadows had ever seen these little workouts as they did bear similarities. A nice tight set which sent me off to dreamland in a happy frame of mind.
I also caught part of the [American] Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame induction show on television. The Flamingos were on and sang an emotional 'I Only Have Eyes For You'. In addition, Paul Simon was being inducted and his thank you speech, he made several references to Alan Freed. He said that in return for a cash payment and signing over the composers credits to the flipside, Freed played their [Tom & Jerry] first record 'to death' and thus 'Hey School Girl' became a hit. He concluded by saying that he wished that the same scene existed today. Paul Simon also declared that it was his wish that one day he will make the peace with his long time singing partner but then added, after a pause, 'no rush'. I switched off when Aerosmith started to crucify 'The Train Kept A Rollin'.
Sunday,the final night of the festival saw acts such as CARI LEE, the BARNSHAKERS [great set], the SATELLITES and the FLATFOOT SHAKERS [both from Australia] plus the INFERNOS and the RACKETEERS rockin' away in the ballroom. However when one of the all time great groups of rock 'n' roll, the CADILLACS bounded on to the stage, it was obvious that we were in for something special. Lead by Earl 'Speedo' Carroll, the four man outfit were nattily dressed in lilac pink suits and had their own musical director and band. What a performance, undoubtedly the best ofthe whole VLV, they rocked, they rolled and sang their hearts out complete with great stage presence and routines. Opening up with 'Peek A Boo' and 'No Chance' it was great to see that they were oh so tight with the band and arrangements. This was followed by some great harmonies on 'The Girl I Love' before rockin' out again on 'Zoom' and the ballad 'You Are'. Next up, Earl Carroll demonstrated the years he spent as part of the Coasters by taking the lead on 'Yakety Yak' and 'Charlie Brown'. These were great performances for sure but I personally would have preferred numbers such as 'Please Mr. Johnson' or 'Jaywalker', however that is rather churlish of me and is a only a minor gripe. The set continued on with rockers and ballads such as 'Betty My Love' which was announced as an answer version to the Teen Queens 'Eddie My Love', 'Down The Road' and 'Gloria' before climaxing in 'Speedo' which segued into 'Shout'. The audience was going wild and each movement was being rapturously received, the Cadillacs were in total control. Sadly there was only one encore, 'Speedo Is Back' but what an act, what a performance. Literally, showstoppers.
Meanwhile back in the West Lounge, RUSTY EVANS commenced the proceedings with a very very Johnny Cash style show. I think this is the same guy who recorded 'I Got My Eye On You' for Eagle Records back in the fifties but tonight it was J C style all the way and he turned in a pleasing and relaxing performance with numbers such as 'Five Feet High And Rising', 'Big River', 'Get Rhythm', 'Sea Of Heartbreak', Ring Of Fire and 'Cocaine Blues'. There were first rate versions of 'Ghost Riders In the Sky' and Folsom Prison Blues'.
Next up was veteran RUSTY YORK who performed okay versions of many rock 'n' roll standards like 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy', 'Peggy Sue', 'Teen Angel', 'Oh Boy' and 'The Girl Can't Help It' before really igniting on 'Sugaree'.
There then followed another musical highlight of VLV. Backed up by the likes of Rick Keen on rhythm guitar and harmonica, one time Blue Cap Bill Mack on bass and Marco DiMaggio on lead guitar and, wearing a pork pie hat, BILLY SWAN took the stage and produced a spell binding set. Starting out with 'Spoonful', he proceeded with 'My Bucket's Got A Hole In It' and a powerful 'Rockhouse' before taking over the piano. He then tore into' Lover Please', 'Shake Rattle And Roll, 'I Love Paris' [from the forthcoming' Sunatra' album] and a slow jazzy workout on 'Heartbreak Hotel'. Reverting to a guitar, it was time for 'Bop To Be', 'Driving Wheel', Since I Met You Baby' and 'I Can Help' His section of the show concluded with a pounding Jerry lee style interpretation of 'Me And Bobby McGee'. This guy is so talented, I only hope we can get him over here again before not too long.
The RHOF shows at VLV closed out with another set from MARCO DiMAGGIO during which he was joined by ROCKY BURNETTE and PAUL BURLINSON for fine versions of 'Tear It Up' and 'The Train Kept A Rollin'. That was it for another year and once again, it was a fine fine festival which rocked from start to finish. Hopefully we shall be able return.
The Town Hall Party TV Shows 1959"RockstarHome Video RSRV 2001
Approximate Viewing Time: 30 Minutes
Introduction (Jay Stewart)/Instrumental (Dick D'Agostin & The Swingers) /Introduction (Dick D'Agostin) /C'mon Everybody/Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/Don't Blame It On Me/Summertime Blues/Interview (Johnny Bond)/Introduction (JayStewart)/Night Walk (Dick D'Agostin & The Swingers) /Introduction (DickD'Agostin)/School Day/ Be Honest with Me/Money Honey/C'mon Everybody
Well after over two years in the making, to use movie speak, the long promised footage of Eddie Cochran backed by Dick D'Agostin & The Swingers recorded live at The Town Hall Party on 07 February 1959 is finally available for all to savour, drool over, enjoy and perhaps regret that Eddie is no longer with us to realise the esteem in which he is held. I am aware of many hurdles that have been placed in the way of Rockstar Records in trying to release this video and our thanks has to go to all concerned that we are able to hold the finished product in our grubby mitts. The footage is in monochrome but that only adds to the atmosphere that oozes from the screen, for sure this is the real thing. Genuine fifties live rock 'n'roll from one of its leading exponents ably backed by Connie 'Guybo' Smith and Dick D'Agostin & The Swingers. The show is split into two shows, both initially introduced by a cool looking JayStewart and on each occasion this is followed by an instrumental from Dick D'Agostin & The Swingers. The first has no known title but the second is the tight raspy sax lead menacing 'Night Walk'. For the first show, after a brief welcome from Dick D'Agostin, Eddie Comes on an launches into the classic 'C'mon Everybody'complete with the aforementioned D'Agostin pounding away at the piano which certainly enhances the performance. This is followed by a meaningful reading of the ballad 'Have I Told You lately That I Love You'. Next up is a powerful rendition of Fats Domino's 'Don't Blame It One Me' complete with growling vocals. Eddie breathes life into this song, simply an outstanding performance. The first set closes out with a rockin' treatment of the teens call to arms 'Summertime Blues'. At the mid-way point, there is a back stage interview between Eddie and Johnny Bond together with Dick D'Agostin and one of the Swingers. Nothing too starling in this but they do talk about Jimmy Rodgers and others. Bond unfortunately comes across as somewhat 'squareish' and radiates an image of a country singer who as late as 1959 could not really come to grips with this new fangled rock 'n' roll music as late as 1959. This is all the more surprising from the guy who went on to record and hit with 'Hot Rod Lincoln'. However it was soon back to rockin' and, after a muffled start, the sound and sight of a sparkling work out by Eddie on Chuck Berry's 'School Days' is evident. This is followed by another ballad, this time Gene Autry's 'Be Honest with Me' complete with a tasty sax break from D'Agostin. It is then time for a raunchy and bluesy treatment of 'Money Honey' before closing out with a reprise of 'C'mon Everybody', which at the time was Eddie's current release. This material is historically important in rock'n' roll history but, above all, it is oh so enjoyable. [This augers really well for the Gene Vincent video, due in early June, which will feature live performances from the same TV show]. Whilst this video is available in European VHS PAL format, North American fans need not despair, as it will shortly be in also in their NSTC system. The video can be obtained from Rockstar Records, c/o 96D Southchurch Road, Warrior Square East, Southend on Sea, Essex SS1 2LX, England at £14.50 (UK) or £16.00 (Europe), both prices include postage.
To paraphrase Gene Vincent,'Get It'
ROCKIN' AUSTRALIA - PART TWO
JOHNNY O'KEEFE & THE DEE JAYS"Rockin'" Spin D46 109
Total Playing Time: 114.23
JOHNNY O'KEEFE - You Hit The Wrong Note Billy Goat/Am I Blue/Over The Mountain/The Wild One/Lawdy Miss Clawdy/I'm Still Alive/So Tough/That'll Be Alright/I Ain't A Gonna Do It/Peek-A-Boo/What Do Ya Know/You Excite Me/Swannee River/Shout Parts 1 & 2/Just A Closer Walk With Thee/What'd I Say/Jubilee/Shake Baby Shake/Flip Flop And Fly/Diana/Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On/Ain't That A Shame/Silhouettes/Little Bite Pretty One/Six O'clock Rock/Rock Time/Roll Over Beethoven/Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/Comfort In My Heart/By The Light Of The Silvery Moon/Save My Soul/Ooh Poo Pah Doo
THE DEE JAYS - Twistin' Drums/Off Shore/Big Daddy/Topsy Parts 1 & 2/Straight Flush/Hoots Mon/It Must Be Love/California Sun/When The Saints Go Marching In/Scanlen's Twist Medley
COL JOYE AND THE JOY BOYS:Spin D80665
"Yes Sir That's My Baby"
Total Playing Time: 176.46
64 tracks including: Bye Bye Baby Goodbye/Rock 'n' Rollin' Clementine/Oh Yeah Uh Huh/Teenage Baby/Bad Man/Makin' Love On A Moonlight Night/Yes Sir, That's My Baby/Sweet Little Sixteen Twist/Goin' Steady/Today's Teardrops/Sweet Dreams Of You/Living Doll/Starlight Of Love/Just A Little Too Much/Hermit Of The Rose Tree/Mary Ann/You're The One/Take Me Back To Rock 'n' Roll/Be My Girl/Raining In My Heart/Love Me/Fraulien/That Rugged Old Cross/Sixteen Candles/Goin' Down Town To See Miss Brown/Ah, Poor Little Baby/Be Bop A Lula/Dance To The Bop/Rocky Road Blues/Melbourne (Kansas) City/Keep On Rollin' N.S.W./Trouble/The Bluebird, The Buzzard And The Oriole/Movin' On/This Little Boy's Gone Rockin'/Pretty Girls Everywhere/Stagger Lee.
VARIOUS ARTISTSSpin D46097
"Bandstand's Singing Sweethearts"
Total Playing Time: 150.39
60 tracks including: CANDY & MANDY LEE, Clickety Clack/THE TAYLOR SISTERS, He Is The Boy/THE TUNETTES, I Wonder If I Care As Much/THE PONI-TAILS, Mexican Drummer Man/LANA CANTRELL, Mama May I/RONNIE & THE RAJAHS - Never Leave Me/TONI LEONARD, Bye Bye Love/ROBYN ALVAREZ, Love Of The Loved/DONNA GAYE, Norman (Normie)/SANDY EDMONDS, When You Walk In The Room/JANICE SLATER, Don't Let Me Misunderstood/JUDY CANNON & THE THUNDERBIRDS, Laughin' On The Outside/DIANNE HORDER, Don't Bother Me/THE EXECUTIVES with CAROL KING, Sit Down I Think I Love You/SHARON BLACK, Someday Soon
VARIOUS ARTISTSSpin D26299
Playing Time: 77.13
JOHNNY CATFISH PURSER, Topsy Parts 1 & 2/LAURIE THOMPSON, Sing Sing Sing & Golden Wedding/JOHN BOGIE & MILAN TROHA, In A Persian Market/JOHN BOGIE, Caravan/THE JOY BOYS, Istanbul & Skin Deep & (Theme From) Anthill/THE DEE JAYS, Drums Are My Beat & Twisting Drums/LEON JACKSON & THE DEATHBARRELS, Let There Be Drums/SONNY PRATT, Little B. & Besame Mucho/THE ATLANTICS. Bombora & Stompin' Time/Keith Hammond Wipe Out/PAUL KNIPE, PETEHOOD & STEVE HOPES, Star Wars/TERAPAI RICHMOND, Snare And The Pussycat & Surf Dub 2000/ZEEL'S BEEK U, Want Chilli/MARLO MILLO & THE MEN FROM MARS, Horsemen To Symphinity
NOLEEN BATLEY "Australia's Little Miss Sweetheart"Spin D46113
Total Playing Time: 155.47
66 tracks including: Barefoot Boy/When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold/Starry Eyed/Soldier Won't You Marry Me/Steady Johnny/A Letter Full Of Tears/Don't Play No. 9/September In The Rain/Little Sir Echo/Surfer Boy/Baby I'm Losing You/Don't Say Goodnight And Mean Goodbye/Over The Rainbow/Evening Star/Padre/You Made Me Love You/When You Wore A Tulip/Meet Me In St. Louis
When we last reviewed a batch of releases onthe Australian Spin label of Oz rock 'n' roll from the fifties and early sixties, mention was made of the fact that this southern hemisphere arena of rockin' music was unjustifiably overlooked. This viewpoint is totally substantiated by these new issues as some of them rock like crazy. The leading talent in Aussie r 'n' r simply had to be the late Johnny O'Keefe who died on 06 October 1978, a sad sad loss. From the opening note of his cover of Bill Haley's 'You Hit The Wrong Note Billy Goat to 'Ooh Poo Pah Doo', some 32 tracks later, this guy belts out his rock'n' roll message like a screamin' messiah. It is not often one is able say that such a vast array of tracks covering various facets of rockin' music, with the one exception of 'Have I told You Lately That I Love You' where he goes horribly off key, are of such aconsistently high standard. No O'Keefe collection would be complete without a version of his calling card song 'The Wild One' (probably better known as 'Real Wild Child') and here we have a live interpretation which rocks like nobody's business. Other O'Keefe originals such as 'That'll Be Alright', 'I Ain't A Gonna Do It', 'Rock Time', 'Six O'clock Rock' and 'So Tough' are just so good. He also obviously carefully selected numbers to cover and turns in marvelous versions of Jack Scott's 'Save My Soul', 'Flip Flop and Fly' with a passing nod at the Johnnie Ray interpretation, the Cadillacs 'Peek A Boo' and Johnny And Joe's 'Over The Mountain'. Indeed with Frankie Avalon's 'You Excite Me', O'Keefe knocks spots off the original. This set proves that Johnny O'Keefe can rightly take his place on the podium with other rock 'n' roll originators, he was that good. The O'Keefe double CD is rounded out with ten tracks by Johnny's backing group The Dee Jays which in the main are tasty instrumentals and include a surprising cover of Lord Rockingham's XI 'Hoots Mon'. I guess that Johnny's big rival in the popularity stakes in the land of Oz had to be Col Joye. If O'Keefe were to be compared in wildness terms with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, then Col's style would be in the same bag as Ricky Nelson or early Cliff Richard. This 3 CD set covers a whole range of styles with each CD developing a theme of it's own. The first disc deals with the hit Aussie 45's whilst the second tends to deal with ballads and the softer side of rock 'n' roll.
The third CD is titled Rockers & Rarities and as this suggests contains some sparkling rockin' performances. Included is Col's cover of the UK smash hit by Cliff Richard, namely 'Living Doll', which has more rockin' guitar picking that Cliff's. 'Bye Bye Baby Goodbye' is in a similar vein whilst 'Oh Yeah Uh Huh' would have been suitable for Adam Faith. There is a good cover of Ricky Nelson's 'Just A little Too Much' and his interpretation of the Gene Pitney song, made famous by Roy Orbison; 'Today's Teardrops' is fine. 'Rockin' Rollin' Clementine' rocks alongj ust fine but the best rocker of the lot is 'Goin' Down Town To See Miss Brown', boy this is good. Also worthy is Joye's version of Crash Cradock's 'Ah Poor Little Baby'. Col clearly was a Gene Vincent fan and turns in sparkling treatments of 'Be Bop A Lula', 'Dance To The Bop' and 'Rocky Road Blues. The 3 CD set is titled 'Yes Sir That's My Baby' and his hit version is naturally included. Very similar in treatment to the rocked upstyling provided in the UK by Johnny Kidd And The Pirates, it is a first rate reading. In fact, if memory serves me right, Col's record was issued in the UK on the Top Rank label. Overall whilst not as strong as the O'Keefe compilation this set has some great moments. Both the 'Bandstand's Singing Sweethearts' and the Noeleen Batley sets are femme teen beat come girl group sounds and eac hcontains some entertaining moments. Certainly they will appeal to collectors of those genres. Toni McCann has tough voice and her treatment of the Drifters 'If You Don't Come Back' is good. I never thought that the Animal 'Please Don't Let Me Be Understood' would be turned into a soft lush ballad but it is by Janice Slater Both the two tracks by The Executives, Sit Down I Think I Love You/Friday's Child' feature Carole King, but it is not the American singersongwriter of the same name. That said, this Carol has a beguiling style. The Everley Brothers 'I Wonder If I Care As Much' is provided with a Chordettest reatment by The Tunettes whilst The Poni-Tails come across similar to the femme chorus on Duane Eddy's 'Dance With The Guitar Man'. The Taylor Sisters on 'He Is The Boy' and Jackie Weaver with 'Something's Got A Hold On Me' could easily be American girl groups; they have so effectively captured that sound. Noeleen Batley is afforded a 2 CD set in her own right and was a household name in Australia. She scored many hits down under and was the first Australian lady to have issued an LP. This compilation reveals a lady with a teen beat styling and anyone who likes the music of Linda Scott, Joanie Summers or Marcie Blaine will enjoy this set. Her cover of the Gladys Knight and The Pips song 'Letter Full Of Tears' was quite unique. The liners notes inform us that she is married and settled in the county of Essex in the UK, crikey we might even be near neighbors! Instrumental sets are not that uncommon but such a compilation featuring the drums, apart from the odd Sandy Nelson release, as the lead instrument is pretty rare. Unlike most of the releases on the Spin label, which are solidly locked into recordings from the fifties and sixties, this release starts out in those eras but then proceeds on with a selection of tracks right through to the year 2000. Johnny Catfish Purser was the drummer with Johnny O'Keefe's backing group The Dee Jays and here he serves up tasty renditions oft he Cosy Cole hit 'Topsy Parts 1 & 2' plus Sandy Nelson' 'Drums Are My Beat'. Also by Catfish is 'Twistin'Drums' which, despite its title, is more a kin to a jump jive tune. John Bogie was the man on the skins behind Col Joye and his work here is represented by rather jazzy 'In A Persian Market', Caravan', 'Istanbul' and 'Skin Deep' whilst '(Theme From) Anthill' owes more to bongo player Preston Epps. The two Laurie Thompson tracks 'Sing Sing Sing' and 'Golden Wedding' are much in the combo sound of someone like Gene Krupa or Louis Prima. If drums are your beat music wise, then overall this CD is a fine set.
The other new release in this series is a 3 CD set by song thrush Judy Stone entitled '4,003,221 Tears From Now' (Spin D46112). Apart from the Jo Ann Campbell inspired 'You're Driving Me Mad' and 'Mommie & Daddy Were Twistin', this set is fairly firmly rooted and competently performed in a middle of the roadcome sixties ballad styling. Nothing wrong with that if it's your bag but it ain't rock 'n' roll.
Now back to play that Johnny O' Keefec ompilation, that does warm my rockin' soul. I understand that Spin Records are planning to shortly release a CD of Johnny Devlin's Prestige label rockin' sides, me I cannot wait. All of the foregoing available from:
P O Box 16, Pyrmont
New South Wales 2009
EDDIE SULIK / THE ECHOES
HardRock Hattie LS 1000-002
The Echoes: Bye Bye My Baby/Do I Love You?('Deed I Do)/Loving And Losing/Ecstasy
Eddie Sulik: Wishing (I Wish)/My Lonely Heart/Who/Mmm-Hmm, Oh Boy/Loving And Losing (demo)/Just A Dream/Do I Love You? ('Deed I Do) (demo)/You Oughta' See My Baby/Bye-Bye My Baby( demo)/Andrea/Sweet Memories
I first became aware of the considerable talents of Eddie Sulik when I received, listened to and raved about the first release ('A Farewell Legacy' - Hard RockHattie LS 1000-003) of his music last September. At the time there was mention of a follow up release to including the tracks that Eddie recorded as part of the Echoes duo in November 1959 and released on the Columbia label in 1960. Well this has quickly come to fruitionand the results are this impressive shiney wonder which includes all four tracks released as the Echoes plus a further eleven solo Sulik recordings. All titles are presented in re in crystal clear sound quality. The Echoes sides, on which Eddie is partnered by George Kiriakis, reveal an Everly Brothers styling especially on the first rate plaintive ballad 'Loving And Losing.' The issued cut of 'Bye-Bye My Baby' is a snappy light rocker whilst 'Do I LoveYou? ('Deed I Do) is more solid and features a cracking guitar break. Wonderful stuff. The remaining Echoes title is aptly described by the printed Billboard review as a Latin tinged relaxed ballad with a nice harmony reading in front of guitar support. I cannot top that description except to say that this is somewhat understated. All of these four tracks were recorded in Nashville accompanied by Hank Garland and Grady Martin on guitars, Buddy Harmanon drums and Joe Zinkan on bass. Each of the afore mentioned titles is also included in their demo mix form and stand up in their own right. Clearly the aforementioned cuts were indicative of the Eddie Sulik special ability as more of the same is served up on the remaining titles. 'Wishing (I Wish)', 'Mmm-Hmm, Oh Boy' and 'You Oughta' See My Baby' are all good country tinged rockers with tasty backing. However the fine Marty Robbin-ish emotive quality of Sulik's voice really shines through on the ballads which are represented by 'My Lonely Heart', 'Just A Dream (not the Jimmy Clanton number but a Sulik original) and the title track 'Sweet Memories'. These are just fine, especially the last mentioned, and makes one wonder what would have been if Eddie's talent had become better known. For sure, it wast here in bucket loads. However from a record collectors point of view, the best has been saved to last and this is the packaging on this release. All comes complete in a 45 rpm size gate-fold sleeve with good informative notes on Eddie and the track selections plus some very tasty colour photographs. Inside, there is a foldout poster containing some more photographs and a made up jukebox strip. Then as an added bonus, there is a special edition vinyl 45 record of 'Bye-Bye My Baby' and 'Do I Love You? (Deed I Do)'. Believe me, this is something else and is a fitting tribute to the voice of Eddie Sulik. The CD is available from Hard Rock Hattie Productions, LLC, P O Box 147, Plymouth, Connecticut 06782. USA who can also be contacted by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a web site at www.eddiesulik.com which is worth a visit.
© Tony Wilkinson
I'm Gonna Keep A Knockin'/Honey Bee/That's My Baby/Sweet Sugar Blues/Uh Uh Honey/Hey Jesus/I'm Gonna Leave This Lonesome Town/Goodbye Loraine/Rock Pretty Mama/If You Live With The Wolves/Hold On/I Feel Old Memphis Calling Me/You Gotta Have A Ducktail/I'm Walking/Tougher Than Nails/Rockabilly Special/You Heard Me Knockin'
There has been a mystery for quite a while nowregarding whether Billy Adams was still with us or had departed thisearth. This was not helped by the issueof the LP 'Rock Pretty Mamma' on Domino DLP 1012 a few years back which categorically stated that he had died on 03 December 1984. Recently the above CD was issued and oncontacting Billy, it was determined that obviously, and thankfully, he was and is still with us. The explanation is that there were at least two Billy Adams, the one who made this CD and who recorded for Nau-Voo, Dot, Decca and the Memphis based guy who recorded for Sunand Pixie. It is the latter who has unfortunately died (the aforementioned Domino LP had tracks by both Billys). That said, the musical content of the CD under review is high quality rock 'n' roll and rockabilly. It contains some of the best tracks of this genre laid down in recent times. It was recorded at the Sun Studio, Memphis and all titles were composed by Billy with the exception of the Fats Domino song 'I'm Walking' which is given an inspired rockabilly style workout and is closer to the Ricky Nelson version. One of Billy's cult recordings is the mid-tempo bluesy 'You Heard Me Knockin' which is not only revisited to fine effect on this set but is supplied with the answer version 'I'm Gonna Keep A Knockin'. Billy also retreads his 'Rock Pretty Mama' and 'You Gotta Have A Ducktail', both of which rock out well especially with the sympathetic and understanding feel provided by the backing band lead by James Lott on lead guitar.
© Tony Wilkinson
Winter Party Rockers Reunion Review
Rivermead Leisure Complex, Reading, England
Saturday, 20th January 2001
Chris Black and Blackcat
by Tony Wilkinson
This is the second time that the annual Rockers Reunion has been held at the Rivermead Leisure Complex which is a relatively spacious centre about 30 minutes drive/train ride west of London and easy to get to. The acid test, after the move to this venuelast year, was whether a large audience would again be attracted for a one off show outside the capital. Thankfully this proved to be the case, indeed there was an increased attendance and generally a fun time was had by all. The sound system was just fine and security was efficient but friendly.
Complications prevented myself arriving in time for the first two acts and consequently I missed the Welwyn Garden City outfit PINK CADILLAC making their farewell performance plus sixties hitster TOMMY BRUCE. By all accounts, both gave competent performances with Bruce achieving a reasonable rapport with the audience, especially with his 1960 million seller 'Ain't Misbehaving'.
Next act up was CHRIS BLACK and BLACKCAT or Chris Black and Orchestra as the compere announced. Whatever, the band tore into fine versions of 'Peter Gunn' and Johnny and The Hurricanes 'Crossfire'. This was followed by the likes of okay versions of 'No Particular Place To Go'. 'The Wanderer' and 'Tore Up'. This group, which included two good saxophone players in its line-up, shonebetter on rockin' instrumentals, especially with their work out on The Champs 'Midnighter'. Towards the end of theact, Chris Black announced that they would perform a tribute to the late Screamin' Lord Sutch and were joined on stage by a guy dressed in a leopard skin coat and top hat who was announced as Gerald Lucifer and in straight Sutch style launched, or perhaps shouted his way, into 'Roll Over Beethoven' and 'Great Balls Of Fire'. Gerald then grabbed his big sword for Sutch's biggie showpiece routine 'Jack The ute has possibilities but does require some more work. Before Black closed out his act, he was joined on stage by WEE WILLIE HARRIS for 'Bony Moronie' and 'Johnny B. Goode'. Willie announced that there was a good possibility that he will be performing at next year'sRockers Reunion backed by the Alabama Shakers.
A solo GRAHAM FENTON backed by Rob Glazebrook's Houserockers was the following act. In essence this was a tribute performance to the late great Gene Vincent and boy did Graham carry it off well. He worked the stage and gave out with exemplary treatments of Vincent classics such as 'I Got A Baby', a great 'Rocky Road Blues', 'She She Little Sheila', 'Blue Jean Bop' and the rockers anthem 'Be Bop A Lula'. Mixed in with this were great treatments of Billy Lee Riley's 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll, Carl Perkins 'Put Your Cat Clothes On' and the Johnny Burnette Trio's 'Please Don't Leave Me' plus the inevitable 'Rockabilly Rebel'. A high energy performance, which gained good audience reaction, from a guy who clearly lives rock 'n' roll.
The star of this Rockers Reunion was the r 'n' r originator SONNY BURGESS who was, like Fenton, backed by The Houserockers. From the outset, the magic was there with Sonny in fine voice and the band totally with him. Burgess roared into the likes of 'T For Texas', 'My Bucket's Got A Hole In It' and the rarely performed 'Find My Baby For Me'. Believe me it was worth being there just to hear the last mentioned number. The set was blazing away like a forest fire when Thomas Lavelle came on stage to pump the ivories for an exceptional treatment of 'We Wanna Boogie', this was straight ahead no hold barred rock 'n' roll at its finest. The tempos were finely judged and a few slower country tinged numbers such as 'The Chokin' Kind' and 'Wings Of An Angel' worked nicely into the set. However the rockin' carried on like crazy with 'Shake It Up And Go' plus 'Red Headed Woman'. There were plenty of visuals onstage as well as fine fine music with Sonny performing his little jump dance and on occasion sitting on the edge of the upright bass playing a blistering solo whilst Wayne, the bass player, was lying horizontal on the stage plucking away for all he was worth. Towards the end of the set, Bob Fish of Johnny & The Roccos joined the assembled multitude on stage and sang lead on 'Good Rockin' Tonight'. The set closed outwith a medley of 'Tear It Up/Shake Rattle and Roll/Jenny Jenny/Red HeadedWoman'. I have seen Sonny perform quite a few times but believe me, this was one of the best shows - simply rock 'n' roll as it should be from a true master of his craft. Rumour has it that Burgess and The Pacers may well be appearing at the Americana Festival in 2002, now that should be something else based on their performance in Las Vegas at Easter 1999.
The final act of the evening was The Rapiers. Now these guys are a competent and professional band and are good at what they do. However what they do is, in essence, sixties beat music and so I left with my sweet memories of Sonny's show unsullied.
Overall a thoroughly enjoyable evening and well worth making the little bit of effort to get out of London for. I look forward to next year's Rockers Reunion but of course there is plenty of good rock 'n' roll heading our way before then, especially Hemsby in May.
©Tony Wilkinson - January 2001.
RHYTHM RIOT No. 04Camber Sands Holiday Centre, Rye, England
26th to 29th November 1999
The catch phrase adopted by the Rhythm Riot is "Rockin' Is Our Bizness" and this was clearly demonstrated at the fourth annual event by a whole slew of acts encompassing rockabilly, rock 'n' roll, hillbilly boogie, jump and jive, rhythm & blues right down to gut bucket blues. Whilst the rain poured down outside at times, in the main hall the temperature was constantly soaring from good music.
The opening act on Friday night was the five piece German jump and jive outfit BIG DEAL. It is always difficult to be first on the bill as friends greet each other and chew the fat over. The band gave a solid and workmanlike performance, without setting the woods on fire, featuring such numbers as "Mama We're all Crazy Now", "My Babe" and "Juke Joint Jumping". However things improved considerably with the Dutch hillbilly boogie outfit THE BARNSTOMPERS. This was an enjoyable set from beginning to end and the band had an oh so tight sound. The tunes ranged from "Luther Played The Boogie" through great interpretations of "Whirlpool Of Love", "Dig Boy" and "Weep and Cry". Most numbers were served up with lashings of steel guitar and a sparkling lead guitar. A fine group.
The Barnstompers returned to the stage to back up the first of the American visitors, SID & BILLY KING. An added touch was the band being augmented by two saxophone players from The Rhythm Riot Kings Of Rhythm when the original recordings featured this instrument. Sid and Billy rocked out with a great sound, Sid being in fine voice and Billy demonstrating some mean rockabilly guitar picking. The set opened up with "Purr, Kitty Purr" and bopped along with fine renditions of such goodies as "I've Got the Blues", "Booger Red", "Put Something In the Pot Boy", "Good Rockin' Baby" and "Drinking Wine Spoli Oli". Billy's great musicianship was amply demonstrated on the instrumental "The Little Willie Boogie". The set blazed away with "I Like It", "Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight" and "Sad, Drag And Fall" before concluding with "Oobie Doobie" and "Flip Flop And Fly". Friday closed out with a performance by DIZ WATSON (previously with Diz and The Doormen) locked solidly in New Orleans style sounds and featuring classics such as "Sick And Tired" and "Blow Wind Blow". The piano playing by Diz was well to the fore, especially on "The House Is Rocking" and "She Walks Right In, She Walks Right Out".
Saturday lunchtime witnessed a solo performance by Johnny Bach who is better known as John Lewis, lead singer with The Rimshots. I was unable to make it along but I am assured by reliable sources that it was one heck of a pleasing performance. The same can be said for Saturday's night opening act GOOD ROCKIN' TONIGHT who put over a straight ahead no nonsense rock 'n' roll performance including a nearly note perfect version of Rusty And Doug Kershaw's "Hey Mae". They were followed by HIGHWAY 51. This is a band fronted by House Rockers Rob Glazebrook and was locked solidly in a Chicago blues format. Opening up with a solo number by Glazebrook, he was then joined by a harmonica player and the duo performed together before being joined by an upright bass player and drummer. It was blues, blues blues all the way except for a rockabilly tinted version of Slim Harpo's "Shake Your Hips". Part way through their act, the sound system seemingly experienced a power surge, which had a profound effect on the next act THE MEDALLIONS. Their stage entry was delayed whilst the sound men tried to sort out the problems Eventually they appeared looking very natty in white suits and went straight into the up tempo "Speedin'". For this performance The Medallions were fronted by Billy Foster, as Vernon Green is still seriously ill, with some lead vocals also being handled by Billy Brown. The last mentioned totally looks the part and in fact could be brother of the late Kid Thomas and at various time has appeared with The Rivingtons, The Coasters and The Dukes. It is a known fact that the line up of doo wop groups are somewhat interchangeable and this was clearly demonstrated by this line up which included two members of The Jacks/Cadets who were seen over here last month at Hemsby. As with The Medallions set in as Vegas last Easter, it was a mixture of up tempo numbers such as "Push Button Automobile", "Coupe de Ville Baby" and "I Wonder Wonder Wonder" together with moody slow ballads like "Magic Mountain", "The Letter" and an extended work out on "Did You Have Fun". There were bad sound problems throughout their act and this at times seem to unsettle the group; certainly their stage co-ordination was occasionally somewhat disjointed. Still overall, it was enjoyable especially with Billy Brown's lead vocals on the jumping "Give Me The Right" and "Seven Steps". No Medallions performance would be complete with the classic "Buick 59" and "Volvo 59" and these were served up with plenty of visuals. Having seen SAM BUTERA & THE WILDEST in Las Vegas a few years back, I was tuned into what their performance would be and I was not disappointed. From the outset, these guys demonstrated pure 100% professionalism and what a tight sound they had. Earlier I had the opportunity to chat with Sam and I remarked that I had seen and spoken with him in Las Vegas when he was with Keely Smith. He told me I was wrong; Keely Smith was with him - a smacked wrist for this reviewer. The performance had little to do with rock 'n' roll, apart from two renditions of "Bim Bam", but boy it was exciting and very much in a Las Vegas style. The set opened up "When You're Smiling" and was followed by "White Cliffs Of Dover" and a superb "Jump Jive And Wail". There were a couple of splendid instrumental workouts on "Night Train" and "Tiger Rag". No Sam Butera performance would be complete with "Just A Gigolo", "Marie", "Angelina", "Robin Hood" and "Buena Sera". Also featured was a great version of "The Closer To The Bone, The Sweeter The Meat". Sam was finally permitted to exit the stage after a rather jazzy version of "Down At Mabel's Grill". This was undoubtedly the crowd pleasing highlight act of the whole weekend.
The final act for Saturday was Italy's STARLITERS who are a five piece band complete with steel guitar. Like The Barnstompers, theirs was a rockabilly come hillbilly boogie set including "Catfish Boogie" and "Let's Take The Long Way Home".
Sunday's first act was THE RAILSPILITTERS and they were followed by THE BLUE FLAMES who came across as a white rockabilly band playing blues but very well. An entertaining set. Next up was the penultimate American star of the weekender, namely HAL SINGER who of recent years has concentrated on jazz but for this occasion was playing R&B, albeit with a pronounced jazz tinge. Let there be no doubt, he is a brilliant honker but the numbers such as "Whisky Drinkin' Mama", "Elmer's Tune" and "Everyday I Have The Blues" did tend to go on for rather a long while and thus loose their cutting edge. All together, there was around eight numbers in a 45 minute plus set. He was followed by the great ROSCO GORDON, a guy who started out in Memphis way back when but who has resided in New York since 1963. Pumping away at the piano and backed by The Rhythm Riot Kings Of Rhythm fronted by Big Boy Bloater, Rosco's opening tune was "Just A Little Bit" which was followed by "Honky Tonk Woman" and "I Want To Get Her". Boy this guy was cooking and demonstrating his experience earned by many years in show business. I particularly enjoyed the number from his Sun days, "Cheese And Crackers" and "No More Doggin'" was sublime. I have often thought that Rosco's music shows some Jamaican stylings and this was well evident in the jumping "Surely I Love You". This was followed by several blues tunes and then it was into "Rosco's Boogie" and "Down In New Orleans". There the set should have finished but the crowd reaction was that such that he had to reprise "Just A Little Bit", Surely I Love You" and Honky Tonk Woman". A veritable show from a consummate performer. The final performance was by THE EXTRAORDINAIRES, the UK's own doo wop cum jump jive vocal group. They gave it their all and have really improved since I last saw them, they are now really getting close to that New York sound. A good close out act, plenty of tasty vocals and good stage presence.
That was it for a fine three days of music but Rhythm Riot 5 is to be held at the same venue between 23rd and 26th November 2001. Whilst the line up has not been announced, I understand that negotiations for several top acts are well advanced and should be announced soon. Telephone (0)20 8566 5226, fax (0)20 8566 2525 or contact e-mail address email@example.com for information and booking details.
© Tony Wilkinson
Spo-Dee-O-Dee - Texasbilly Rockers - Foggy Mountain Rockers
'Nite-Out In Coolsvile'
Part LP 335.001
Dear John/Coolsville Bop/Bandstand Doll/Thinkin' Man's Woman/Rockin' With Rhythm & Blues/All Night Long/A Too Fast Past/Foolish One/Dear Hearts And Gentle People/Flat Tire Boogie.
THE TEXABILLY ROCKERS
'There's Gonna Be A Ball withÉ'
Part LP 338.002
There's Gonna Be A Ball/Jump From Six To Six/When I Found You/Hold Me Baby/In The Mood/Draggin'/Who Was That Cat?/56 Days/Snake Dance Boogie/Mr. Whizz
FOGGY MOUNTAIN ROCKERS
Part LC 5767 Teddyboy Rocker/A Piece Of Heaven/Don't Hang Around Me Anymore/Try To Be The Only One
Three pieces of vinyl freshly available from the German Part label. The 12" album from Spo-Dee-O-Dee is a piece of modern rockabilly cum rock 'n' roll by the trio and consists of a number of originals together with their interpretations of some numbers from quite a way back.
In the former camp, "Flat Tire Boogie" swings like crazy, "Coolsville Bop" has a tasty riff throughout whilst "Rockin' With Rhythm & Blues" is okay but a little too derivative of many other numbers. With regard to the updates the opening track "Dear John", originally by Tex Ritter, is a real tour de force being turned into a mid tempo piece of rockabilly really worthy of the name. "A Too Fast Past", from the pen of Merle Travis, and the cover of Carl Mann's "Foolish One" together with "Dear Hearts And Gentle people" are served up as country tinged gentle-ish pieces of music and are most enjoyable. Whilst the cover of Johnny Carroll's "Bandstand Doll" loses its Gene Vincent influence, nevertheless it really works and comes across as a moody rocker complete with a sparse backing. "Thinkin' Man's Woman" has duet for lead vocals and chugs along nicely. The final track "All Night Long" is okay and has a good dance beat but does sound like a lot of other numbers. Overall, a most satisfactory LP.
"There's Gonna Be A Ball With" The Texabilly Rockers is a ten track 10" album and opens up with a version of Rudy Grayzell's "There's Gonna Be A Ball which moves at a fast tempo. This is true for much of the rest of the titles and unfortunately one number does tend to blur into the next. However one cut that does work is the rockabilly treatment given to the standard instrumental "In The Mood". This is really different, quite original and probably worth the whole album for this one track. The L.P is well produced and will appeal to fans of modern rockabilly music.
The Foggy Mountain Rockers are a five piece band and serve up a tasty E.P. of rockabilly tinged rock 'n' roll. Again this is modern music and is good, not too frantic and the finished output shows that care was taken with the recordings. Stand out track is "A Piece Of Heaven" which has a Johnny Cash chicka boom rhythm with a muted vocal and an unobtrusive chorus.
Oh, before I forget, the previously reviewed album from the soundtrack of the movie "Teenage Cruisers" is also available in a limited 500 copy 10" vinyl edition. That is worth getting for sure.
All the foregoing can be obtained from Part Records, Waldstrasse 10, 69234 Dielheim, Germany. Their web site and ordering facility is www.rockin-rollin.com
© Tony Wilkinson
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