If you promised yourself that you would never buy another rockabilly CD, then maybe this beauty might help you change your mind. It's packed from cover to cover with a collection of fine, fine, superfine rockabilly tunes played by some of the guitar totin'est good ole boys you're likely to encounter south of the Mason Dixon line. Sun Records' stalwarts Billy Lee Riley and Jack Earls rub shoulders with Ronnie Self from Columbia, Al Ferrier from Goldband, Pat Cupp from RPM, Happy Wainright from Mobile-based Sandy Records, Sonny Fisher from Starday and many others of equal stature. And the sound quality on this CD is superb-.-we moved mountains to get the best tapes for each master and then set our audio wizards in Sound Mastering to work so that you can enjoy this compilation in the highest possible fidelity.
Although these sides were cut in a more innocent age, they still generate more than enough energy to blow anything that's come since clean off the stage. These cats are having fun with their vintage Gibsons, Fenders and Epiphones (and maybe a Danalectro or two), singing songs about gals, cars, threads, dancin'and makin' out. Mind you, it's not all plain sailing as some of them are getting a real hard time from their women.
Poor old Wayne McGinnis is left sitting lonely and blue in Memphis 'cos his baby's gone away and left him with The Lonesome Rhythm Blues. That doesn't worry Glen Glenn out in sunny California, in fact he's glad his baby's gone away and left him "free as the breeze and rockin' all night" because his new lady friend is "shakin' her thing to help him celebrate". Nice one Glenn! Meanwhile down in Houston, Sleepy La Beef has had more than enough grief from his ex as he sings "She's gonna wish to goodness that she'd been true, when she finds out, what I'm a goin' to do. I just ain't gonna take it no more". These sometimes maudlin' themes are given a sonic boost by the musical setting as it's all primo rockabilly with frantically slapped bull fiddles, the neatest lead guitar breaks from the likes of Hal Harris, Carl Perkins and Sleepy La Beef and enough energy being used up by rhythm guitarists and percussionists to blow all the fuses in the Grand Couley Dam.
But lyrically speaking, it's not all bad news. On this CD, most of the guys are more than happy with their romantic arrangements. Pat Cupp singing about That Girl Of Mine relates "Everybody knows she's driving me crazy. She's got pretty brown hair...dark brown eyes, when she rolls them, then man alive...! Mel Robbins also seems fairly satisfied as he pants greedily to his girl "Save it baby, Save it all for me...You don't know how I crave it". Listeners will not be surprised to hear him elaborate, "It shakes me up to see you walk, it tears me up to hear you talk".
Billy Lee Riley on Sun 277 sings My Gal is Red Hot to which his Little Green Men respond "Your gal ain't doodley squat", but Billy doesn't care because "She ain't got no money, but man she's really got a lot". Let's leave that one to the imagination. Meanwhile his label mate Jack Earls adopts a more cautious approach as he advises his babe "You're livin' too fast, you've got so much class, slow down, baby, slow down".
Much of the action is taking place on the dance floor. Tommy Spurlin accompanied by his Southern Boys tells us "My fav-our-ite pastime is to slip a nickel or a dime in that old jukebox machine and grab me a kitten with tight blue jeans". Whitey Pullen advises everyone to get on down to that joint on the edge of town where "You'll really know you're in the groove, 'cos everybody's rockin' to the rhythm and blues". Ronnie Self can't wait to get Bopalena down to the shack to shake it all about 'cos he wants to see her "do the bebop like a pogo stick". Meanwhile sultry Sparkle Moore issues an invitation that few red -blooded males could resist, when she sings "Well a-you lost your shoes, but that ain't news, come on rock a bop with me".
Cars also feature heavily on some of these tracks, Red Smiley sings "I got some money in my pocket and a tank full of gas, I'm just looking for a woman who won't give me no sass". Richard Turley also needs his car because he can't wait to see his gal, "Well now I hung up the phone, went and jumped in my car...shot down the street like a shooting star, knocked on the door with both of my hands, I said a honey well here I am". Al Ferrier sings "Got the car, got the mon, oh my baby, let's have some fun and let's go boppin' tonight". Meanwhile poor old Jimmy Carroll who is not in the driving seat is out of luck 'cos he "Saw his baby in a big green car, goin' to ride away".
This bunch of Rockabilly classics comes from 20 different labels and was recorded between 1955 and 1964. It's great for dancing, it's great for copping cool guitar solos and riffs from and it's great for just listening to and reliving those fabulous 50s when rhythm & blues and hillbilly boogie was coalescing into a unique new sound.
By Ted Carroll