Primo el primitivo from the wilds of northern California, where Bailey's Nervous Kats ruled the rockin' roost during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Equally adept at raw instrumentals or crude and crazy rock'n'roll, this compilation features their sought-after singles and a host of great unissued sides.
This exciting release uncovers a hitherto unsung combo from rock's golden age, and is a must for any discerning fan of el primitivo 50s sounds. Bailey's Nervous Kats were a quintessential grass roots teenage outfit, high on raging hormones and rock'n'roll. The name may not have meant much outside of their hometown of Redding, California, but during the late 1950s and early 1960s the Kats were most definitely kings of their own backyard.
Actually, whilst the combo's biggest claim to fame may have been touring with Dorsey Burnette and the Fendermen in 1960, if the truth be told the Nervous Kats ruled the rocking roost, drawing thousands to their dances whilst Duane Eddy or Fats Domino flopped on the other side of town. Their style was classic rock'n'roll: raw, crude and energetic all the way. And a Bailey's dance was the highlight of the week for
action-hungry teens in the wilds of northern California.
The Kats are best known in collectors' circles for 1960's Traveling Sam on the obscure Camelia label, a cryptic slice of edgy rockabilly that is a highly rated obscurity amongst aficionados. It's featured here from master tape, along with the best of several other 45s and a slew of fabulous unreleased material. In vocalist and guitarist Bob Smith, the band had one of the wildest screamers around. His insane readings of Good Golly Miss Molly and Dance To The Bop, to name just two throat-shredding examples, should be heard to be believed. There's a stash of great originals too, such as Baby Please and Rockin' Music, which typify the band's uniquely primitive sound.
The Kats also had a neat line in similarly crazed instrumentals, such as Chong, Countdown, Nervous Drums and the spooky local hit Cobra. Other titles such as Devil's Run actually pre-date the surf style, and they're all highly recommended to fans of Link Wray, the Wailers and the crunchy instrumental sound of the period.
The booklet recounts the Kats' glory days as NorCal rock'n'roll pioneers, packed with the reminiscences of band members and tons of great pics and memorabilia. It's a feast for followers of the "cruder is better" school, but Bailey's Nervous Kats played competent, exciting rock'n'roll that is the equal of many of their better-known contemporaries. Check it out!
By Alec Palao