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Bakersfield Rebels, CD (£11.50)
HOT ON THE HEELS of the Garpax girl group compilation Boy Trouble" comes a new slice of honky-tonk heaven with Big Beat's Bakersfield Rebels.Producer, arranger, songwriter and label boss Gary S Paxton was ahead of the game with an ear for the mainstream, and a natural (and yet refined) taste for the eccentric novelty song. All of which led him on to new paths that few others were exploring at the time."
Alec Palao has once again plunged into the Garpax vaults for these lost 1966-1969 gems, covering Gary Paxton's early ventures into the country market, and his subsequent move to Bakersfield and the Bakersfield Sound, albeit in Paxton's own quirky way. It makes a fine companion to the previous Big Beat Bakersfield International sets-.-Guilbeau & Parsons' Louisiana Rain" (CDWIKD 219), Clarence White: "Tuff & Stringy: Sessions 1966-68" (CDWIKD 227) and the Gosdin Brothers' "Sounds Of Goodbye" (CDWIKD 235). Included are previously unissued demo cuts by the Gosdins and Guilbeau & Parsons, the latter of which saw Gib Guilbeau brought in by Alec to add a new vocal to the unfinished 1968 backing track I'll Live Today.
The set continues in the Bakersfield country-rock mode, ranging from 'progressive country' by Paxton, Kenny Vernon, the Sanland Brothers, Dennis Payne, and the Spencers (with accompaniment by Clarence White and the Reasons/Nashville West band), to instrumental treats from the late Leo Leblanc (a pedal steel players who worked with artists as diverse as Red Simpson and Beck), Hugh Brockie, and Larry Daniels & The Buckshots.
Guilbeau is also represented by the Dudes, his 1966 combo with Darrell Cotton and Wayne Moore, and the folk-beat country of their Let's Not Pretend Anymore. This gem makes one wistfully wonder what would have happened if Paxton had been let loose in the studio with the Everly Brothers in the mid-1960s, when the duo were closely listening to the British Invasion. Actually, forget that wish, as Let's Not Pretend Anymore, is probably what would have happened anyway. Just one listen to those harmonies and you'll know what I'm talking about.
Just as you think you've got it all figured out, the ladies come onto the scene, as Lorene Mercer and Jan Paxton bring the feminine touch to more of Gary's studio workouts. Is there nothing that this guy could not turn his hand to? Many a collector has had their patience tested trying to collect this lot in original vinyl, and here they are, peppered with some truly obscure marvels. We have a rare Buddy Mize outing, the strangely compelling lounge-country of the LeGarde Twins' previously unissued Night Blooming Jasmine, a sampling of the impossibly rare Jasico LP by the Bakersfield Big Guitars, and Paxton's own 1969 Bakersfield single, issued to commemorate the Bakersfield Centennial of the same year.
As always, the sleeve notes are adorned with period photos, clippings and label shots, and are rich with quotes from the main players: Paxton himself, Dennis Payne, Gib Guilbeau and the elusive ex-Bakersfield deejay, bandleader and Buck Owens employee, Larry Daniels. It's all in there, everything the gonzo country freak would want to know about the rise and fall of a mini-empire, built on someone else's turf. Look here for the true story of Paxton's connection to the Native American occupation of Alcatraz, or the life of this travelling studio whiz as he zipped between facilities, searching for the ultimate sound. Read the cautionary tale of too much Wild Turkey, No-Doz and the wheeling and dealings of the record industry, not to mention the flashing roadsign ('Paxton! Paxton!') that signalled the genesis of Bakersfield International in the city of honky-tonk. And when you've scoured the notes for every detail and had your fill, you have the music of these various artists, all brought into the studio by one man with perhaps one too many visions. Pour yourself some strong coffee, pull on the closest thing you have to cowboy boots, and surrender to the Bakersfield Rebels.
By Jason Odd"