It is quite reasonable to associate Dot Records with names such as Pat Boone, Billy Vaughn and the Fontane Sisters, the artists who provided much of the label's income at its height. However, as this exciting and rocking 28-track collection so wonderfully proves, Dot released a rich stream of rock’n’roll from its inception.
Owner Randy Wood formed the label as a sideline from his Nashville record shop at the start of the 50s. The record business was booming and Randy utilised off-air time to cut discs at a radio station in which he had a stake. Like other independent outlets, Dot optimistically put out a variety of material including country, R&B and gospel. By 1952 the label was enjoying success with Johnny Maddox’s piano discs and the Hilltoppers, who became their first hit pop act. In 1956 Sanford Clark scored a big hit with ‘The Fool’ featuring a memorable R&B guitar riff by Al Casey. The record broke in Cleveland just as Dot was relocating to Hollywood.
Reacting to the rush of interest in rock’n’roll, Dot cut many of the artists included here, but were also active in licensing in recordings from small labels for national distribution. Their rock’n’roll catalogue is amongst the strongest around, and this 1996 compilation offers the best. Try the rocking ‘You’re Late Miss Kate’ by Jimmy Dee & the Offbeats or ‘Johnny, Johnny, Johnny’ by Kay Cee Jones as great derivative recordings, or the totally one-off ‘Tranfusion’ from Nervous Norvus. ‘Playboy’ from Bob Denton is a very commercial offering and ex-Cricket Niki Sullivan’s Lubbock-recorded ‘It’s All Over’ is similarly strong. Strength in depth is provided with the raw rocker ‘Call Me Shorty’ by Mickey Gilley, cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis, and Jimmy Newman’s Nashville-recorded ‘Carry On’ with superb rocking piano from Floyd Cramer. ‘Jitterbuggin’’ by the Five Bops is a lovely mid-tempo group number cut at Norman Petty’s Clovis studio and leased to Dot subsidiary Hamilton.
The booklet for the CD includes full stories of all the acts and many rare photos, all adding to the worth of this great issue.