Virgil

Frantic Flintstones

Frantic Flintstones – Bedrock!

Raucous Records RAUC002 [1987]
Bedrock – Hot Head Baby – Let’s Go Somewhere – Sugar Daddy

frantic flintstones

Released in 1987, Bedrock is the first-ever effort on wax by the Frantic Flintstones. All the ingredients are already in place: demented vocals from Chuck Harvey, furious slap bass by Gary Day, and simple but effective guitar. Three fast-paced Psychobilly tune and a slower one, Sugar Daddy, to conclude.One thousand five hundred copies were pressed; 1000 with a printed sleeve and 500 with a white sleeve.


Frantic Flintstones – A Nightmare on Nervous

Nervous Records NERCD034 [1988]
Hellfire – Monte Carlo or Bust – 44 – Please Cool Baby – Oh Baby oh Yeah – Alley Cat King – Gone Gone Well Gone – Red Chevy – Ring ring ringin’ – What the Hell – Sugar Daddy – Frantic Flintstones – Safe Surf* – Shake Your Honey Maker* – Old Jack Joe* – Jack the Ripper* – Whisky Bottle Baby* [*CD bonus tracks]

frantic flintstones - A Nightmare on Nervous

Released in 1988, A Nightmare On Nervous marks the debut of a prolific career. In a certain aspect you can compare it to an early Johnny Cash album. By that I mean that this guy turn their weak points into a strength. With a guitarist far from being a virtuoso, they build their songs around Chuck’s distinctive voice and a solid rhythm section that features Gary Day on bass. Sometimes the system shows its limits. Songs like “Sugar Daddy” and “Monte Carlo and bust“, though good, could easily be one minute shorter. But this album is full of classics approaching different styles : early psychobilly (Alley Cat King, What The Hell), neo-rockabilly (44, Red Chevy) and even a wild rockin’ blues (Billy Fury’s Since You’ve Been Gone renamed here Gone Gone Well Gone). The cd version features 5 bonus tracks recorded later with Gasty on bass : two covers played the Flintstones way “Shake Your Honey Maker” and “Old Black Joe“, “Safe Surf” a semi instrumental (Safe surf repeated a dozen times doesn’t count as lyrics, does it?) variation around “Hang 10“, “Jack The Ripper” is not Screaming Lord Sutch’s but another version of “Necro Blues“, and an excellent original “Whisky Bottle Baby” previously known in a live version on the “Live & Rockin'” album.


Frantic Flintstones – Rockin’ Out

Link Records – LINK LP 051 [1988]
Rockin’ Out – What The Hell – One Night Stand – Hot Head Baby / Chuck Blows A Fuse – Rockin’ Bones – Let’s Go Somewhere (Rockin’) – No One Stays

frantic flintstones - Rockin' Out

After a successful first album but which would have benefited from being much shorter, the Frantic Flintstones returned the following year with a new label (Link Records), a new guitarist (Jon “Pug” Peet, ex-Mysterons with Gaz Day) and an explosive new mini-album.
It’s an understatement to say that the short distance (eight tracks) suits the group better.
Surprisingly, the disc opens with a Jazzy Fever-style instrumental with a muted trumpet. But something doesn’t quite match the atmosphere: it’s Gaz’s overpowering double bass, which seems invested with a life of its own. And quickly, the group slides, or explodes, the word is more correct, towards a new frenzied version of What the Hell. The future classics follow one after the other. With this new line-up, between the rich voice of Chuck, the furious double bass of Gaz and the economical but always precise guitar of Pug, the group has found its balance. Arriving at the end of side A, the breathless listener barely has the strength to turn the record over, yet the group launches into Chuck Blows a Fuse, a furious instrumental. Three superb compositions follow, two of which were written during the Mysterons era (No One Stays and House Of Rockin’ Bones), and it’s already over.
The Frantic Flintstones have a more than impressive discography, but this record alone would have been enough for Chuck and his band to inscribe their names in the Psychobilly pantheon.


Frantic Flintstones – Not Christmas Album

Link Records – Link LP 072 [1989]
Frantic – Wider Road To Hell – Honey Maker – Necro Blues – Oh Little Town Of Bedrock – Gone Gone Well Gone (Harp Mix) / Alone Again/Round Mountain – Just Because – Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me – Santa Claus Is Back In Town – Blue Christmas – Ole Black Joe

Frantic Flintstones not christmas album

The year 1988 ends and the Frantic Flintstones seem to show no signs of fatigue. With their new double bassist, Gasty from the Blue Ridge Rockets (Martin “Griz” Smith, also from the Blue Ridge Rockets plays drums on some tracks), they entered the studio to record what would become Not Christmas Album.
With the help of its guests (saxophone, slide guitar, banjo, harmonica), the group expands its range. So the album begins with a cover of Prince Buster’s Madness, aptly renamed Frantic. The sax and slapped double bass combination gives an explosive result.
Alternating slow and threatening parts with sudden accelerations, it’s a return to Psychobilly in top form with Wider Road To Hell. Shake Your Money Maker by Elmore James is transformed into a psychotic blues that fits Chuck and his acolytes perfectly. Necro Blues, also recorded under the title Jack the Ripper, leans more towards the Rockabilly/Hillbilly side.
Oh Little Town Of Bedrock begins as a gospel song (Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem) before the group launches into a furious new version of Bedrock.
Chuck and his gang then give a new version of Gone, Gone, Well Gone (Billy Fury’s Since You’ve Been Gone), which benefits from an extended bluesy intro with a harmonica.
Alone Again begins slowly in a country blues atmosphere reinforced by slide guitar before ending with a festive Round Mountain.
Then comes an excellent version of Just Because with sax, and continuing on the Presley vein, the Frantic Flintstones play three Christmas classics played by the King, including an excellent Santa Claus Is Back In Town, bluesy as hell.
Ole Black Joe concludes this superb and eclectic album in style.


Frantic Flintstones – Live’n’Rockin

Link Records – LINK LP 098 [1989]
Alone Again – Round the Mountain – What The Hell -. Shake Your Moneymaker – No One Stays – Rockin’Bones – Necro Blues – Hang Ten – Bedrock – Old Black Joe – Gone Gone Well Gone – Playschool Baby – Just Because -. Whisky Bottle Baby – One Night Stand – Blue Christmas

live'n'rocking

The Live and Rockin’ serie on Link was mostly a poorly recorded (and often poorly played) affair. One notable exception was the Frantic Flintstone live album recorded during the Rocking Out tour in November 1988. Despite being recorded just after the departure of ace bass player Gary “Gaz” Day who is replaced by Gasty from the Blue Ridge Rockets, it found the Flintstones in top form playing classics one after another. The songs come from Nightmare on Nervous, Rockin’ Out and for the large part Not A Christmas Album recorded a couple of weeks after this gig.


Frantic Flintstones – The Nightmare Continues…Demonic Verses…Chuck’s Revenge

Link Records LINK LP 109 [1989] 
Smack Smack – Dog Rip – Bone Rest – Twisted Retard – Rasppin’ Grasses – Burned ‘N’ Turned – Dustbin Case – Five Clawed Talon – Angel – Lost Love – Astral Cowboy – Waste of Life

frantic flintstones

After a few high-end Psychobilly albums still very much influenced by Rockabilly and Neo-Rockabilly, the Frantic Flintstones released The Nightmare Continues in 1989. The album was recorded in June that year, with Gasty (ex-Blue Ridge Rockets ) on the double bass. The result may be surprising at first. If Chuck’s voice remains recognizable among thousands, the whole album is very dark. The sound is heavy and powerful, supported by one or more distorted guitars. It’s as if the Frantic Flintstones had merged with Demented Are Go. It’s pretty successful, and the graft between Psychobilly Gothic and the Frantic Flintstones works well, although it’s a bit repetitive in length. The sound homogenizes everything, and all the songs end up sounding similar.


Frantic Flintstones – Schlachthof Boogie Woogie

Link Records LINK LP 129 [1990]
Drugs in the Valley – Holy Sisters – Playschool Baby – Absolution – Endless Sleep – Hang 10 – Trips – Pantman – Breakout Mania – Gonna Miss Ya! – Sexy Red Number – West of London – The Race Is On – Legion Song – D.S. – Pantman

Schlachthof Boogie Woogie was released in 1990. If it contains good songs, there’s also a good dose of filler too. The whole album lacks coherence and suffers from the absence of a solid line-up behind Chuck and Johnny Pug. The group is scattered a little between the acoustics of Drugs In The Valley (Peace In the Valley), Holy Sisters, which recalls The Nightmare Continues and yet another version of Playschool Baby (this time with fiddle, perhaps in an attempt to sound like Demented Are Go?) And those are just the first three tracks on the album. The rest is of the same ilk, a catch-all mixing skabilly (Endless Sleep), tunes with a laid-back feeling (Trips), a massacre of a classic tune (The Race Is On) useless instrumentals like Breakout Mania or Pantman (aka Batman) with which we are gratified (afflicted ?) two versions. It’s not always played very well, so Sexy Number‘s double bass leaves something to be desired. The best song remains West Of London (an adaptation of John Denver’s West Virginia), but again, the group will record a superior version on Cuttin’ A Fine Line.


Frantic Flintstones – Well Gone In Europe

Kix4U KIX 3358 [1990]
Ole Black Joe – Alcohol Buzz – 44 – Honey Maker – Necro Blues – Gone Gone Well Gone – Let’s Go Somewhere – The Race Is On – Legion Song – Cryin’ Eyes (Country Mix – Broke Up (f/mushrooms Mix) – Endless Sleep (Skankabilly Mix)

frantic flintstones well gone in europe

The Frantic Flintstones released many albums often with the same songs. In the end, you keep wondering if you have another best-of of slightly different versions. This is what happens with “Well Gone In Europe.” Except if you’re a total and absolute completist, you can live without that one.


Frantic Flintstones – Take A Hike

Kix 4 U KIXCD3363 [1991]
Your Cheatin’ Heart – Dream On-Blue – Just A Dream – Sweet Nothings – So Sad – Little old Lady – Necro Blues – Burned’n’Turned – Rockin’ Bones – Frantic – Honey Maker – Gone Gone Well Gone – Blue Xmas – Santa Bring My Baby Back – Santa Claus Is Back In Town – Old Black Joe – Dream On-move

take a hike
Frantic FLintstones – Take A Hike

Though the sound is quite good, this album is far from being essential. Actually, on the 17 songs , 7 come from “Not A Christmas Album”, 3 are re-recorded versions of Flintstones classics (Burned and Turned, Rockin’ Bones, Necro blues) and in the remaining 7, Dream On is featured two times (a slow one and a fast one). That said the new versions are excellent, the group is in fine form and the Frantic Flintstones have released far worst than this album. One for the completist.


Frantic Flintstones – Rockin’ With…

Rumble Records – GANG 011 [1991]
Tom Dooley – Gotta Know – Brown Eyed Girl – Therapy

Rockin with the Frantic Flintstones

Out of the four songs that constitute this EP, only Therapy is unissued, the other three being lifted from Cuttin’ A Fine Line. It’s a Doo-Wop tune with only Chuck, a vocal accompaniment by the band and light piano.You never know what to expect with the Frantic Flintstones and that’s why they are great!


Frantic Flintstones – Cuttin’ A Fine Line

Rumble RUMBCD009 [1991]
Chilled bones – You’re the one who done it – Sweet Marilee – Jungle love – Time of day – You got me rockin’ – Tom Dooley – Gotta know – Brown eyed girl – Boneshaker baby – Slowly killing me – Don’t want you baby – Drug squad – West of London – Love me – Am I that easy to forget

frantic flintstones - cuttin a fine line

Released in the early nineties for the German label Rumble Records (Scum Rats, Rockabilly Mafia, Punishers etc.) “Cuttin’ A Fine Line” finds the band in superb form with the return of Gaz Day on bass with Rich Taylor on drums (Nitros), Pug still on guitar and of course the unmistakable voice of Chuck Harvey. This excellent album (one the very best ever released by the band) mixes classic psychobilly numbers (Chilled Bones, Don’t Want You Baby that features Gaz on lead vocals), blues (Time Of A Day), first class rockabilly (You’re The One That Done It, Sweet Marilee, Gotta Know), skiffle (Tom Dooley) and some country songs like West Of London and Drug Squad that deals with one of Chuck’s favourite subject. The selection is rounded with two acoustic numbers (Elvis’Love Me and Am I That Easy To Forget) with just Pug and Chuck that announces their following album, the all acoustic Skin Up, Chill Out, Just Buskin’ Through.


Frantic Flintstones – Skin Up, Chill Out, Just Buskin’ Through

Rumble RUMCD018 [1992]
Hello Marylou – Blue Moon of Kentucky – Will the Circle be Unboken – You Are my Sunshine – Tom Dooley – I Can’t Help it – Born to Lose – Goodnight Irene – It’s Hard to be Humble – Love me – Drugs in the Valley – Take me Home, Country Roads – I Gotta Baby – Am I That Easy to Forget

The only thing predictable with the Frantic Flintstones is that they are unpredictable. For this record originally released on Rumble Records in 1992 the band – reduced to just Chuck and Pug – went for an acoustic session. The mood is very laid back and the repertoire is made of covers of classic rockabilly and hillbilly tunes taken from the catalog of Hank Williams, Mac Davis, John Denver, Ricky Nelson, Elvis, Johnny Cash, The Carter Family and though they appear in brand new version here, some of them have been recorded by the band before. It’s not completely representative of the style of the Frantic Flintstones but it’s a nice addition to your collection.


Frantic Flintstones – Flesh’n’Fantasy/My Woman Is A Leach

Tombstone Records – Tomb CD 2006 [1992]
My Woman Is A Leach – J.B. Boogie – Will The Circle Be Unbroken – So Close To Heaven – Out Of My Face – Lock Me Up – Fruit Batz – Don’t The Moon Look Lonesome (Lupo) – Sweet Nothings – Gone To The Dogs – Drugged Up Fool (Bonus Track) – Stiffies (Bonus Track) – Devils Rain (Bonus Track) – Fantasize – Fantasize You (Bonus Track) – Sub-Sic-Mental-Menial (Bonus Track) – Tom Dooley (C.D.B.) (Bonus Track) – Necro Blues ’91 (Bonus Track)

We find the Frantic Flintstones, this time made up of Chuck, Pug, Jonny Bowler on double bass, and Rich Taylor on drums, but also Gaz on three tracks from a previous session and Graeme “Captain Drugbuster” Grant.
The album begins with the excellent “My Woman Is A Leach”. After the neo-rockabilly interlude on the Rumble label, we find the Frantic Flintstones more Psychobilly than ever in the vein of The Nightmare Continues. Then follows an instrumental that is not particularly original but has the merit of highlighting Jonny Bowler’s double bass (probably the “JB” of the title). The next track is the Country classic Will The Circle Be Unbroken, which the band plays over an almost Rocksteady beat. So Close To Heaven and Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome are two blues-tinged songs which allow us to hear another, more demonstrative side of Pug. Out Of My Face is a typical Frantic Flintstones song, alternating slow and fast parts. Way stranger is Lock Me Up. The music mixes Rockabilly with Samba on a House beat. It could almost work (almost), at least until halfway through, when the group abandons us, letting the rhythmic loop play ad nauseam.
The listening continues with a pair of Psychobilly tracks (Fruit Batz, Gone To The Dogs) and a more Neo-Rockabilly Sweet Nothings. Then comes a series of “bonus tracks”. The first is Don’t Be Cruel, transformed into Drugged Up Fool, which is neither original nor very good. More interesting are the three songs (Stiffies, Devils Rain, Fantasize – Fantasize You) on which Gaz Day plays and produced by Bon Boorer. We find the very dark Frantic Flintstones from Nightmare Continues. More or less in the same line, Sub Sic Mental Menial is reminiscent of Demented Are Go (One Sharp Knife), with Chuck’s voice played backwards. The album ends with Tom Dooley and Necro Blues, the latter coming from Take A Hike.
In the end, the album indeed contains good songs, even if none reach the status of the group’s classic. Still, Flesh’n’Fantasy/My Woman Is A Leach clearly lacks the direction and homogeneity to rise to the rank of some of its illustrious predecessors.


Frantic Flintstones – Rock it Boy

Rumble RUMBCD024 [1993]
Marylou – You Call Everybody Darlin’ – You Ain’t Nothing But Fine – I Cant Trust Me In Your Arms Anymore – Carry Me Back To Old Virginia – Blues Stay Away From Me – Blue Moon Of Kentucky – Your Cheatin’ Heart – I’m Walkin’ – Sweet Baby Doll – Will The Circle Be Unbroken – So CLose To Heaven – Jimmy Jazz – Love For A Nutter – Broken Heart

Originally released in 1993, this is the third Frantic Flintstones’ album for the German label Rumble records. And like “Cuttin’…” and “Skill Up…” it has a strong rockabilly flavour in it. The line-up for this one is Chuck, Pug, Johnny Bowler (Get Smart, Guana Batz) and Scag. It’s a very good album that only lacks of original songs, but with a charismatic band-leader like Chuck (and a solid band to back him) that’s not such a big problem. The band draws into the catalog of Jerry Lee Lewis, hence the presence of a piano, Ricky Nelson, Rockin’ Sydney, Johnny Burnette/Delmore Brothers, Hank Williams and delivers an excellent rockabilly version of the Clash’s Jimmy Jazz. As usual with the FF it features different versions of previously released tunes like Blue Moon Of Kentucky, Will The Circle Be Unbroken and Your Cheatin’ Heart wasted by the backing vocals. “Love For A Nutter” is a demo recorded with Alan Wilson that announces the following albums (X-Ray Sessions and Jamboree) and the beginning of a fruitful collaboration. Bowler closes the set with a vocal prestation on “Broken Heart” that won’t figure as one of the highest moment in the Frantic Flintstones history. It’s been reissued on the British label Raucous Records with a slightly different cover.


Frantic Flintstones – Jamboree

CDMPSYCHO15 [1993]
Detroit Dirtbox – Love For A Nutter – Your Time Is Up – Mean Mean Woman – Diablo – Stay With Me – Sweet Georgia Brown – Lunatics (Are Raving) – Busted – Mindkill – (To The Devil)A Son – Oh 898 – Candyman – He’s Waitin’ – Sad N’ Lonely – Suspended – Chop-Chop, Slash Slash – Honey Child – Hey Chuck – Detroit Bloodbox

Frantic Flintstones – Live and Rockin’

Previously issued in 1993 but out of print since then, Anagram had the good idea to reissue this 20 songs album in their Psychobilly serie. Produced by Sharks frontman Alan Wilson who also plays most of the guitar parts, with former bassist Gary Day back in the line-up, this is one of the 3 best album the Frantic Flinstones ever made and probably the richest in styles approached. Wilson is one hell of a guitar player and songwriter and his team with Chuck Harvey is just perfect. From “Diablo” with its surprising jazzy solo in the middle, to the country tune “To the Devil A Son”, and even a waltz (“Sad’n’Lonely”) they apparently have fun to work together and explore various kind of music. Some guests are present too. Detroit Donny plays harmonica on “Detroit Dirt Box” a bluesy instrumental and on Roy Orbison’s “Candyman”, Sonny West, who had an album on Nervous, plays some guitars and sings The Sonics’ “He’s Waitin’”. Alan Wilson sings “Mindkill” he co-wrote with Hodges. This one can be seen as the first song from the resurrected Sharks for this is during this recording that Gaz Day convinced him to reform the band. Psychobilly is present, of course, with”Your Time Is Up” which is not far from “What The Hell” on their debut album, “Sweet Georgia Brown” (not the jazz standard) and the great “Love For A Nutter”, although I do prefer the demo version issued on “Rock It Boy”. Add a bit of rockabilly (“Honey Child” and “Mean Mean Woman”) and if you still wonder why are the Frantic Flinstones so great, just ask yourself who could better than them sing a song about a psycho killer like a sixties pop ballad?

The Radioactive Kid

Victor Leed

Victor Leed – Thanks Rock’n’Roll

Big Beat Records – BB805 [1980]
But In Your Eyes – I Forgot To Love – Blue River – To Change My Life – Jenny – Don’t Be Looking For Trouble – She Don’t Care – Shy – Too Much To Be Right – Thanks Rock And Roll

Thanks Rock’n’Roll is one of the best, if not the best, Rockabilly albums ever produced in France. It can compete with everything recorded in Europe at the same time.
Victor Leed started his musical career as an Elvis Presley imitator, but soon, under the guidance of French collector Ding Dong, he found his way and oriented his style toward a more traditional and Fifties sounding style. In 1980, he recorded Thanks Rock’n’Roll with Patrick Lozac’h on lead guitar, Donald Rieubon on drums, Jean Jacques Astruc on rhythm guitar and Freddie Legendre on double bass. This album is nearly perfect. The band perfectly nails the Rockabilly sound and manages to capture the excitement of the Sun sessions without sounding like an imitation or a reconstitution. In other words, the music is lively and doesn’t sound like a museum piece. It’s also mainly due to the songs (all self-penned chiefly by the team Leed/Astruc) that capture the genre’s spirit and essence.
And, of course, there’s Victor’s voice. It’s a clear and beautiful voice, able to mix the young Elvis Presley’s energy and Ricky Nelson’s softness while remaining 100% Victor Leed. The repertoire mixes Rockabilly, country-tinged tunes, and beautiful ballads (Jenny, Shy) that are the perfect vehicle for this unique voice.
More than four decades later, this mini-album remains a timeless jewel. I can only hope that today’s young rockers will rediscover it and that Victor’s name will find the place it deserves in the contemporary Rockabilly story.
Sadly, Victor left us way too soon, dying at age 44 in 1994.

Fred ’Virgil’ Turgis

Rattlers (the)

The Rattlers – I Don’t Want You

Lost Moment LOM003 [1984]
I Don’t Want You – Hey Baby

Rattlers

Debut single for the Rattlers (Mark Carrington on vocals, Steve Davey on lead guitar, Nick Peck on slap bass and Graham Woodside on drums.) Both songs are originals.
A side is a good Rockabilly number with powerful slap bass and clean guitar, while B side shows some Psychobilly influences in the structure and the vocals.


The Rattlers – Scare Me to Death

Lost Moment Records – LMLP 001 [1984]
Scare Me To Death – Little Red  Mine All Mine  Kat Krept In  Hey Baby  Always Yours – Your my Baby – The Rattlin Boogie

Scare Me To Death

The Rattlers were formed in the early 1980s around Mark Carrington (vocals), Nick Peck (double bass), Steve Davey (guitar) and Graham Woodside (drums). In 1984, the group signed with Lost Moment Records and, in the wake, released their first 45 rpm. Shortly after, the Rattlers released their first album under the guidance of Boz Boorer (Polecats). Musically, the Rattlers sound like the turbulent little brothers of the Polecats (for Carrington’s voice) and the Deltas for the energy. The influence of the emerging Psychobilly scene can also be heard on their cover of You’re My Baby (also covered at the same time by Guana Batz). The group does not hesitate to cover songs more associated with the Glam scene (Cat Crept In by Mud or Always Yours by Gary Glitter). The Rattlin Boogie is an excellent instrumental with a second Les Paul-influenced guitar that bears Boz Boorer’s mark. Even though the band has an excellent guitarist and a powerful bassist, it’s sometimes a little chaotic, even shaky, but it always remains new and exciting, which is what Rock’n’roll should always be.


The Rattlers – Take A Ride

Lost Moment Records – LMLP 007 [1985]
Shake Your Money Maker  Knife Edge Baby  Life In A Coffin  Bloo Zoot  Gona Rock  007 Theme  Take A Ride  Mine All Mine  Bad Moon Rising  Blow Up Baby  She’s The One  Love Me  Bare Foot Nelly

Take A Ride

For their second album, the Rattlers are now playing as a trio. Steve Davey and Graham Woodside have both left the band. Robert Clarke is now the Rattlers’ guitarist, and Mark Carrington has moved to drums while continuing to provide vocals.
But these changes in no way affect the group’s energy and ability to play and compose excellent Neo-Rockabilly numbers.
Additionally, the band is produced by Paul Stewart, who knows how to get the most out of the trio. The production is perfect. The stripped-down quasi-acoustic sound of the double bass and drums (almost played without cymbals) contrasts wonderfully with Clarke’s inventive electric guitar. The group gets closer to the Deltas on certain songs (Bloo Zoot, Shake Your Money Maker) to switch, the next moment, to an instant Psychobilly classic (Life In A Coffin) before moving on to a Rockabilly Pop song (Gonna Rock) which, with a bit of promotion could almost have been a hit. The trio also offers an excellent version of the 007 Theme, recorded at Stewart’s suggestion because the group lacked songs to complete the album. Along the same lines, Blow Up Baby was composed in the studio, with each group member contributing to the writing.
Many Psychobilly and Neo-Rockabilly groups, from Meteors to Swamp Dogs via Stage Frite or Voodoo Dolls, have covered Bad Moon Rising (Creedence Clearwater Revival). Still, the Rattlers’ version is undoubtedly one of the best. Unfortunately, like many other bands before them, in fact, all except the Cramps, the Rattlers fail to recreate the energy and urgency of The Phantom’s Love Me. The album ends with Barefoot Nelly, a hillbilly/skiffle with banjo.


The Rattlers – Never Say Die

Nervous 052 [1989]
Crazy Love CLCD6494
Gone Forever – Cruisin` Around – For Your Love – She`s The One – Savin` It All For You – Loaded Dice – Leavin` You Behind – Never Say Die – The Man With The Twilight Eyes – For You No More – Forbidden Love – October Moon – Never Catch Me Again

The Rattlers - Never Say Die - Nervous
The Rattlers – Never Say Die – Nervous

The Rattlers formed in 1984. the band released various albums, singles, ep’s before splitting a couple of years later. Nick Peck (slap bassist) joined Paul Roman (Quakes) in Paul Roman and the Prowlers for a short time but soon re-frormed the Rattlers, with Doug Sheperd on guitar (formerly in Something Shocking and one time member of the Rattlers for the stage) and Doug McCarthy on drums. A deal was concluded with Nervous Records and they recorded “Never Say Die” with Pete Gage in 1989.
This album is really excellent and though the previous one were good it’s by far a more accomplished work (I believe that Gage is no stranger to that).
The core of the album is made of a majority of self penned neo-rockabilly numbers very well written with tight arrangement and a special care on the vocal harmonies. Peck is a more than competent singer too. A couple of songs border on psychobilly like the title track (superb) and Forbidden Love. At the exact opposite October Moon and Leavin’ You Behind find the band in a jazzy-rockabilly style similar to the Nitros.
The original pressing is now long out of print but it’s been reissue on cd by Crazy Love records and is also available as mp3 download.


The Rattlers – Never A lost Moment

Lost Moment [1991]
Tear It Up – Mystery Train – She’s My Baby – Good Rockin’ Tonight – Rockhouse – Hey Baby – Ting-A-Ling – Little Red – Your My Baby – Walkin’ Whistlin’ Blues – I Don’t Want You – Mine All Mine – Dancin’ Doll – Your My Baby – Rattlin’ Boogie – Life in a Coffin – Take a Ride – Bad Moon Rising – Love Me – 007

The Rattlers - Never a lost moment
The Rattlers – Never a lost moment

What happens when a label wants to cash in on a band’s name? They gather early recordings (very early and much uninspired), poorly recorded live songs as well as a couple of outtakes and alternate takes and the result is a 20 song album that is barely audible. It’s a pity because the Rattlers were a good band and deserved a better treatment than this hastily made compilation. For hardcore fans only (but only them!).


The Rattlers – Live in Europe

Jungle Noise – APECALL 004 [1990]
Rock On – She’s the One – You’re My Baby – Face the Fact – Running – Life in a Coffin – My Way – For Your Love – Twilite Eyes – Waiting for You – Loaded Dice – Bad Moon Rising – I Feel Fine – Forbidden Love – Friday on my Mind – I’m ready – Never Catch Me Again – Little Red – King Creole – Oh Boy

The Rattlers recorded this live album in 1990 with the four-piece line-up of the band, which is the trio of Never say Die with new member Al Dick on bass, allowing Peck to concentrate on vocals.
With 20 songs, it’s a good value for money, though the majority of them are played at the same tempo, which tends to be slightly monotonous after 12 songs. Eight songs are originals while the remaining twelve come from Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Elvis, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Easybeats, Garry Glitter, the Beatles and the Jackals, an American Rock’n’roll band that released one album on Nervous.
The sound is excellent, and the slap bass is very well recorded. It’s a nice addition to your Rattlers collection, though I prefer the studio recordings on which the vocals are better.


The Rattlers – Gangsters and loose Women

Count Orlock R.O.C.K. XII [1991]
Rock On – Change Your Mind – It’s All Over – What Have I Done? – The Chase – Ring On The Other Hand – Back Of My Hand – Through The Curtain – The Race Is On – Haunted Hill – Win Or Lose – Lux Luther Blues – She Don’t Love Me – Beat Out My Love – All The Tears – King Creole

the rattlers gangsters and loose women

With Gangster and Loose Women, the group moves from the neat Neo-Rockabilly of Never Say Die towards a lively and sometimes melodious Psychobilly. The compositions are quite good but, overall, lack a bit of variety both in rhythms and in sound.
Never Say Die benefited from Pete Gage’s presence and experience as a producer. He knew how to get the best out of the group, extending their style while renewing it. Here, the absence of a real producer (the album is produced by Sheperd, Peck, and the sound engineer) is cruelly felt.
Unfortunately, the songs all end up looking a bit similar, although some of the tunes stand out from the rest. We will note the excellent Lex Luther Blues (with harmonica), which recalls the first incarnation of the Rattlers, the acoustic and tuneful All the Tears (although a little weak in terms of vocals), the frantic and excellent The Chase (already released as a single) and a handful of others. But the album, which still contains sixteen tracks, ends up seeming long, which is a shame for a Rock’n’Roll album. The group would have been wiser to leave the often unnecessary covers (Rock On and King Creole being already present on the live album and Beat Out My Love that sounds terribly thin, especially compared to what the Cramps did of that same song) to have a tighter and ultimately more effective record.


Rattlers promo card
Rattlers promo card – first line-up

Lost Souls (the)

Lost Souls (the) – Erazer Head

Tombstone Records Tomb-Disc 698 [1991]
True Love – Dead Or Alive -(Get Me To The) World On Time – Hell Train – Spiral Dreams – Angel Of Death – Lysergic Acid – Erazer Head – Tomorrows Fool – S.O.A.P.Y – Witch Hunt – Doctor Death

lost souls - erazer head

Released shortly after their debut album, Erazer Head showed some changes in the sound of Lost Souls. The group’s sound has asserted itself, mainly the guitar, which has a more Metal tone and takes a more prominent place than on Chasin’ A Dream. The album also benefits from a better production. Roughly, one could say that if Chasin A Dream was close to the Mark Cole era Krewmen, Erazer Head is closer to Tony McMillan’s Krewmen. We can also hear the influence of emerging groups such as Nekromantix. This influence is also felt in the compositions, notably the two-part vocal parts of Hell Train. Overall, the sound has toughened up, making the group more aggressive and “in your face”. Likewise, the group introduces changes and breaks in rhythm (Spiral Dreams, Lysergic Acid), which bring the Psychobilly of Lost Souls into the 90s. Broome really delivers on double bass, ideally supported by the drums that followed the general evolution with a fat sound (and sometimes bordering on Punk). In the end, Lost Souls delivers an excellent nervous Psychobilly album, very representative of its time.


Lost Souls (the) – Chasin’ A Dream

Nervous Records NERD054 [1990]
Chasin’ A Dream  All Day And All Of The Nigh – Prisoner Of Love – Dancing With Myself – Still Feel The Pain – Only One For Me – Dead Stay Dead – Devil in Disguise – Surf Bitch – She’s Gone – Skid Row – Never Gonna Stop – Death Bone Alley – Lost Souls

Lost Souls

Lost Souls began in the mid-80s as a four-piece band. They then evolved as a trio and were discovered by Roy Williams, who sent them to Madhouse studio to record their debut album produced by Mickey Mutant (Meteors, Coffin Nails, Restless). The lineup on this album consists of Mark Broome on double bass and vocals, Neal Hattersley on guitar and vocals and Ian Lydell on drums.
Released in March 1990, Chasin’ A Dream is very representative of the Psychobilly sound of the era, namely a wicked and raspy voice, a light electric guitar (sometimes similar to the early Frantic Flintstones) and a powerful rhythm section led by an even more powerful and fast slap bass. 
The majority of this album is rather good and very pleasant, with excellent compositions. Moreover, the group has a good idea to add covers that have not been played ad nauseam, such as Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself and The Kinks’ All Day And All Of the Night.
There are a few weaker songs and a bit repetitive, but it’s a detail, and the whole thing is more than successful.

Hypno-Coin

Hypno-Coin – High Tension

[2023]
No She Never – Required Etiquette – Bomber – London Dungeon – Jet-Engine Supperclub – La Cumbanchera

hypno-coin

Hypno-Coin: Behind this name hides Jake Yergs, who has recorded and played all the instruments. Hypno-Coin is not your run-of-the-mill Rock’n’Roll band and is definitively not for purists of any kind. Yergs creates his style by mixing a wide array of influences.
No She Never, the opening track is a middle pace tune, a bit wonky, that sounds like a Rockabilly rendition of Tom Waits, with gritty sound on the vocals and the electric guitar. Next is Required Etiquette, an atmospheric Blues that is almost creepy in places.
If you’re interested in lo-fi, you may remember a band called Doo-Rag; you can find a trace of this band in Hypno-Coin’s rendition of Motorhead’s Bomber. After an intro that makes you think of a post-punk/early New-Wave band of the 80s, London Dungeon evolves into a Dark Country tune. As an Angelo Badalamenti fan, I really enjoyed Jet-Engine Supperclub, which sounds a bit like the Twin Peaks theme but as if a mean and wicked Rock’n’Roll gang played it. With its disturbing sax, heady riff, and different layers of music, La Cumbanchera also sounds like film music. This instrumental has strong evocative power and brings forth in the listener’s head images of a potential B series, which we like to imagine is a tad dirty.
I’m not sure a physical copy of that excellent mini-album exists, but you can stream it on YouTube and Apple Music.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Brits Are Rocking

The Brits Are Rocking Vol. 10
Cliff Richard – Dynamite

Bear Family BCD 17729
Nine Times Out of Ten – Never Mind – My Feet Hit The Ground – Pointed Toe Shoes – Don’t Bug Me Baby – Blue Suede Shoes – Mumblin’ Mosie – I Cannot Find A True Love – Move It – Tough Enough – Got A Funny Feeling – High Class Baby – Gee Whiz It’s You – Choppin’ ‘n’ Changin’ – Livin’ Lovin’ Doll – Ready Teddy – Mean Streak – She’s Gone – What’d I Say – Apron Strings – Down The Line – Twenty Flight Rock – Dynamite – Baby I Don’t Care – Mad About You – We Say Yeah – Please Don’t Tease – Mean Woman Blues – Whole Lotta Shaking Goin’ On – The Snake And The Bookworm – Forty Days – Do You Want to Dance – My Babe – No Turning Back

Cliff Richard

Between the moment Elvis Presley lit the fuse of Rock’n’Roll and the tidal wave of Beatlemania, Cliff Richard reigned almost unchallenged over the English Rock scene. And even if his music, like his idol Elvis Presley, quickly softened to capture a wider audience, Richard’s influence on British music and that of his group, the Shadows, is immense.
This compilation covers the career of Harry Roger Webb, Richard’s real name, from his beginnings to the end of 1961. The selection focuses on the most rock-oriented tunes, and leaves aside pop material. The songs are very intelligently distributed in a non-chronological order to avoid feeling too strongly about the singer’s pop turn.
First attempt and first masterstroke with Move It. This song alone would almost be enough to make Cliff an essential artist. The song is a superb Rockabilly full of contained rage and tension, counterbalanced by Ernie Shear’s dazzling guitar. Move It is the work of Ian Samwell, originally Richard’s guitarist but relegated for the recordings to the rank of rhythm guitarist. He wrote Richard’s best songs, and let’s hope his pioneering work will one day be recognized for its value.
High-Class Baby and My Feet Hit The Ground were equally successful, both written by Samwell and recorded less than three months later. Cliff’s voice mixing the energy of Little Richard, the warmth of Elvis and the sweetness of Ricky Nelson works wonders.
The following month (November 1958) saw a significant change in Richard’s career. He enlisted the services of a new group, which would become the Shadows, with Hank Marvin and Bruce Welsh on guitars and Jet Harris on bass.

Little Lovin’ Doll is successful and pleasant but nothing more, the success once again coming from a composition by Samwell, Mean Streak, with its heady and disturbing riff.
Cliff’s first album was recorded in February 1959 in live conditions, in front of a select audience, and the atmosphere of a club was recreated in the studio. Exhausted by the intensive touring pace, Richard arrived at the sessions with laryngitis. However, to hear the energy released, you wouldn’t believe it. This compilation offers a selection of six tracks (My Babe, Down The Line, Baby I Don’t Care, Readdy Teddy, Don’t Bug Me Baby, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On). Although most tracks are covers, Cliff’s voice and the Shadows’ musical inventiveness are enough to make the difference.
The group returned to the studio the following month. Among the tracks recorded, Bear Family selected Never Mind, another brilliant demonstration of Ian Samwell’s talent.
The following session is devoted to recording three songs by Lionel Bart. The two selected for this compilation are No Turning Back, which offers an insane bass part that fits perfectly with the singer’s voice, and Mad About You, which is much more shaky in its structure (what a strange break in the middle) and suffers from the comparison.
September saw Richard and the Shadows record a series of covers (Twenty Flight Rock, Blue Suede Shoes, Mean Woman Blues, Pointed Toe Shoes) which struggled to reach the level of the original versions. Recorded during the same sessions, Dynamite, once again written by Ian Samwell, eclipses all the other songs with its dazzling success. It is one of Richard’s masterpieces. But despite this last stroke of rock’n’roll genius, we feel the end of an era for the singer and the beginning of a new career.
It was not until the beginning of 1960 that Cliff Richard recorded original material again. In the meantime, Samwell threw in the towel, perhaps tired of being relegated to the background, forcing the Shadows to compose for their leader. However, he remains present on Gee Whiz It’s You, a rock ballad composed with Hank Marvin, perfectly served by the Shadows and the suave voice of Richard. With the help of Jet Harris, Marvin composed She’s Gone, a pretty ordinary blues and Bruce Welsh and Pete Chester wrote Please Don’t Tease, a nice and harmless twist. If the quality of the compositions declines, the vocal and musical levels remain. Finally, at the end of March, they recorded a composition by Samwell (I Cannot Find A True Love), which raised the level and put Richard and the Shadows back on the right path of Rock’n’Roll. The song is a Rockabilly gem with a Milk Cow Blues type of break. Likewise, Choppin’ n Changin’, recorded in June, returns to the heyday of Move It and Dynamite.
By comparison, the covers of Johnny Otis (Tough Enough and Mumblin’ Moise) seem very tame, and What’d I Say should be forgotten as quickly as possible. The rest of the selection follows the downward slope that has begun, however, with one last burst of brilliance, which shines all the more given its entourage, the excellent We Say Yeah.
This new volume in the series is once again perfect. It places the importance of Cliff Richard on the emerging British Rock’n’Roll scene, which his long career and ennoblement had perhaps displaced. As with the others, the disc is accompanied by a copious booklet and a detailed discography. I don’t know who the next artist will be selected for the next volume, but there is no doubt that it will be exciting.

Available here.


The Brits Are Rocking Vol.8
Vince Taylor – Brand New Cadillac

Bear Family BCD17646
Brand New Cadillac – Long Tall Sally – Rocky Road Blues – What’cha Gonna Do (Southern Love) – I Like Love – Sweet Little Sixteen – Endless Sleep – Baby Let’s Play House – Jet Black Machine – Shaking All Over – Ready Teddy – Move Over Tiger – So Glad You’re Mine – Lovin’ Up A Storm – My Babe – Right Behind You Baby – Twenty Flight Rock – Blue Jean Bop – I’ll Be Your Hero – C’mon Everybody – Don’t Leave Me Now – Mean Woman Blues – B. B. Baby (Big Blond Baby) – There’s A Whole Lot of Twistin’ Goin’ On – Love Me – Rip It Up – Have I Told You Lately That I Love You – Mimi – Peppermint Twist – Part I – Peppermint Twist – Part II – Pledging My Love – Don’t Ever Let Me Go

Vince Taylor

Vince Taylor had an undeniable charisma and the magazines knew how to exploit his half-angel, half-demon image. This same charisma, combined with a good dose of energy gave dazzling stage performances. Unfortunately, all this does not necessarily show through on his recordings.
His recording career begins with a very good Rockabilly-inspired single, the excellent Right Behind You Baby coupled with I Like Love on the B side. This one benefits from the presence of Tony Sheridan on guitar and Brian Benett (Shadows) on drums. Benett is renewed for the next session in February 59, and was joined by the excellent Joe Moretti on guitar. The result gives the dazzling Brand New Cadillac (the only composition by Vince Taylor on this compilation). This single piece would be enough to leave him a place in the pantheon of Rock’nroll. Success did not come, Taylor changed label and after Parlophone joined Palette for which he recorded another excellent single I’ll Be Your Hero with the wild Jet Black Machine on the B side. But already, we can see an evolution in the sound. After another solid single for Palette, Taylor found refuge in France and signed for Barclay. If the accompaniment always remains of quality, the inspiration seems to disintegrate and very often the listener has the impression of hearing an imitator of Gene Vincent or Eddie Cochran without the flame of genius that makes the difference. Taylor sings well, sometimes overdoes it, but too often settles for the bare minimum. The last period covered by this CD, corresponding to the year 1962, sees Taylor evolving towards Twist and a rather uninteresting pop-Rock.


The Brits Are Rocking Vol. 5
Lee Curtis & the All Stars – Let’s Stomp

Bear Family BCD17626
Boppin’ The Blues – Let’s Stomp (1st Version) – I’ve Got My Eyes On You – Jezebel – Boys – Irresistible You – Nobody But You – Memphis Tennessee – It’s Only Make Believe – A Mess Of Blues – My Baby – Sticks And Stones – Stupidity – Hello Josephine – Stand By Me – Slow Down – Shot Of Rhythm And Blues – When I Get Paid – Can’t Help Falling In Love – Let’s Stomp (Second Version) – Little Egypt – Blue Suede Shoes – One Night – Exstacy – Wooly Bully – Mohair Sam – Jezebel (Live At The Cavern) – Skinnie Minnie (Live At The Cavern) – Um Um Um Um Um

 The Brits are Rocking Lee Curtis & the All Stars

The fifth volume of this excellent series sheds light on Lee Curtis (real name Peter Flannery), a minor hero of the Mersey scene. His band once featured Pete Best, who almost became a Beatle and was signed to Decca. The label that refused the Fab Four probably tried to find a band with a similar potential. Lee Curtis and his All Stars were once voted second in a music poll, just behind the Beatles, but one must admit that today, except for true amateurs, his name is almost forgotten.
There are many reasons for that: some missed opportunities from Decca, a lousy schedule and poor management. And the material was also a problem. If Curtis was a good singer, he didn’t write his own songs and thus, stuck to covers.This album gathers the best sides recorded for Decca and Star Club. There’s a good dose of danceable and uptempo numbers. Though enjoyable, they are not all that original, and the similarity of repertoire with King Size Taylor is not always in favour of Curtis. But Curtis had a magnificent and powerful voice that shone through some slower tunes. He’s perfect on Exstacy, It’s Only Make Believe, Stand By Me, Irresistable You, and Little Egypt. Even Jezebel, albeit a tad emphatic, is perfect. This song, along with Bill Haley’s Skinnie Minnie, also appears in live versions recorded at the Cavern. Both are excellent, and one can regret that more live recordings don’t exist. Lee Curtis and the All Stars were a terrific live act by all accounts. Anyway, if you’re not a real completist of the British scene of the early 60s, 29 songs might be a bit too much. But if you’re curious and open-minded, you’ll find some good tunes on this volume. As usual, the booklet is quite impressive, with a biography, press clips and plenty of photos.


The Brits Are Rocking Vol. 4
Colin Hicks – Sexy Rock

Bear Family – BCD 17582 [2020]
Giddy Up A Ding Dong – Empty Arms Blues – Wild Eyes And Tender Lips – Sexy Rock – MeanWoman Blues – Oh Boy! – Love’s Made A Fool Of You – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On – Hanging Around – Tallahassee Lassie – Jambaylaya (On The Bayou) – Blue Moon Of Kentucky – That Little Girl Of Mine – lea lea – Robot Man – Put Me Down – Lovin’ Up A Storm – A Teenager In Love – Book Of Love – Hallelujah, I Love Her So – Brand New Cadillac – All Because Of You – Impazzivo Per te – Johnny B. Goode – Tutti Frutti – Twenty Flight Rock – Hung Up My Rock And Roll Shoes

 The Brits are Rocking   Colin Hicks

Here’s volume four of this excellent and exciting new series on Bear Family. This time, you have a full album dedicated to Colin Hicks covering the period from 1957 to 1961. Some of you may not know him, and to be honest, until I received this cd, I had never heard about him. Colin Hicks is none other than Tommy Steele’s little brother, who is also part of this series, but his name seems to be reduced to a footnote in British music history.
The reasons are multiple. Hicks never achieved the same degree of success as his older brother at least in England. Both looked very similar, and even sometimes their voices could sound the same. So maybe England was too small for two Hicks/Steele. And when success knocked upon his door, it was in Italy.
It has to be said; Hicks didn’t have the talent of his brother. Some of the songs recorded here are pretty average. He also lacked original material, and most of his covers are very well known. It probably didn’t allow him to create a personnal sound. And if his approach of Blue Moon of Kentucky is very original, one can forget in the minute his version of Johnny B. Goode. But the curious listener and the amateur of British Rock’n’roll will find pretty to enjoy here. If Hicks is not Steele, it doesn’t mean he’s an average singer. Far from that. He can rock like none other, and, to pursue the comparison with his older brother, he seems more free, even wilder, in his approach.
Like on many of Bear Family reissues,you’ll aso find rare tracks. Among them are Hicks debut single for Pye Nixa recorded by Joe meek in 1957, or Impazzivo Per Te that was released as a flexi disc in an Italian magazine in 1960.
This compilation is an excellent occasion to rediscover an artist that should receive more credit. Taken separately, this one is maybe not as essential as the first three volumes, but as a whole, its place is fully justified.


The Brits Are Rocking Vol. 3
King Size Taylor – Doctor Feelgood

Bear Family BCD17603 [2020]
Heeby Jeebies – All Around The World – Dr. Feelgood – She Said Yeah – Hippy Hippy Shake – Hello Josephine – Slow Down – Sweet Little Sixteen – Never In A Hundred Years – Money – Bad Boy – Sherry Baby – Whole Lot Of Lovin’ – Stupidity – Long Tall Sally – Domino Twist – Short On Love – Memphis, Tennessee – Mashed Potatoes And Hot Pastrami – Lipstick, Powder And Paint – Slippin’ And Slidin’ – Twist And Shout – Dizzy Miss Lizzy – I Can Tell – Fortune Teller – You Can’t Sit Down – I’m Late – Sad And Blue – Saw My Baby With Another Guy – Matchbox – Good Golly Miss Molly

 The Brits are Rocking king size taylor

For their third volume in their series The Brits are Rocking, Bear Family decided to put the spotlight on King Size Taylor and his band the Dominoes. It’s somewhat surprising as one could expect more familiar names like Marty Wilde or Wee Willie Harris. But it’s also an excellent thing since Taylor needs to be rediscovered.
If you, like me, think that the Beatles never sounded so good than when they were five angry (and hungry) lads struggling in Hamburg, this cd is sure to please you.
This compilation covers the period 1963-1964 and contains all his recordings made for Philips, Polydor, and Ariola. It also includes four demos from 1958. Except for these four songs, the tracks were all recorded in Hamburg, Germany, in the studio or on stage.
Associated with the Beat bands of the Merseyside, King Size Taylor and the Dominoes developed a more aggressive sound than many of their counterparts and stayed true to Rock’n’roll and Rhythm’n’Blues. Unfairly they never reached commercial success in their own country.
Except for their first single, which was more pop-oriented, King Size Taylor and the Dominoes were a beautiful war machine, blasting killer rhythm’n’ blues tunes with a rocking edge one after another. Whether in the studio or on stage, they took no prisoners. Ted “Kingsize” Taylor was probably one the best British singers, but sadly remains one of the unsung heroes of the period. He had a powerful and expressive voice that was ideally suited for material by Larry Williams, Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Solomon Burke. The band was equally amazing with sharp guitar parts and for the live recordings two saxophones blowing scorching riffs and solos.
With all those qualities, why didn’t they achieve international success? Maybe they lacked a good manager to get them a good contract. Probably they were too busy in Germany to develop something ielsewhere. And perhaps the fact that they didn’t have originals didn’t help either.
Anyway, this well-deserved cd (and the 36-page booklet that comes with) is the perfect object to rediscover this artist. Maybe Taylor didn’t have originals, but I wouldn’t trade the 2 minutes and 14 seconds of his version of Short On Love (way better and meaner than Gus Backus inoffensive original version) for any of the LSD influenced stuff that their most famous counterparts later recorded.


The Brits Are Rocking Vol.2
Billy Fury – Wondrous Place

Bear Family Records – BCD17583
Gonna Type A Letter – Baby How I Cried – Comin‘ Up In The World – Wondrous Place – Don‘t Leave Me This Way – Colette – Keep Away – Running Around – Bumble Bee – Nothin‘ Shakin‘ (But The Leaves On A Tree) – My Advice – Don‘t Say It‘s Over – Unchain My Heart – Sticks And Stones – Twist Kid – Push Push – Baby Come On – What Did I Do – If I Lose You – One Kiss – Play It Cool – Sweet Little Little Sixteen – Don‘t Knock Upon My Door – That‘s Love – Don‘t Jump – Tell Me How Do You Feel – Talkin‘ In My Sleep – I‘d Never Find Another You – I‘m Moving On – It‘s You I Need – Phone Call – Turn My Back On You – Alright, Goodbye – You‘re Having The Last Dance With Me

 The Brits are Rocking Billy Fury

After Tommy Steele, the second volume of this series is deservedly dedicated to Ronald Wycherley, better known as Billy Fury. I personally hold “the Sound of Fury” as one of the best pieces of Rockabilly ever recorded. Billy Fury had it all, the look, the voice, and above all, he could write his own songs (and he was good at that!). This 34-song collection focuses on Fury’s most upbeat material and avoids the hits and the well-known songs like “Halfway to Paradise” or “Maybe Tomorrow” (which is a good thing if you ask me.)
To compose a varied compilation, Bear Family chose to present the songs randomly, but for this review, we’ll take them chronologically in the order of the recording sessions.
“Gonna Type Me a Letter” was originally the b-side of Maybe Tomorrow. It’s a solid rocker, though the typewriter gimmick can be slightly annoying.
Asked about his influences, Fury answered, “I was most of all an Eddie Cochran fan. I was an Elvis Presley fan second, and then I liked Dion.” If you can, without a doubt, hear some of the latter two throughout this collection, “Don’t Knock Upon My Door” is pure Cochran.
“Colette” was obviously written with the Everly Brothers in mind. “On Baby How I Cried,” a plaintive ballad, his voice channels the best of Gene Vincent while the Vernon Girls enhance the performance with their backing vocals. “Turn My Back On You,” recorded during the same session, is a pure Rockabilly masterpiece and will appear on “The Sound of Fury.” Eight out of ten songs of that essential album are included here. From the Buddy Holly tinged “My Advice” to the bluesy “Phone Call,” those songs are worth the price of that compilation alone. They also benefit from the superb guitar work of Joe Brown. For the anecdote, Andy White, the session drummer, is best remembered for having replaced Ringo Star during the recording of “Love Me Do” (and he also married Lyn Cornell one of the Vernon Girls.) Also, since the art of the slap bass was yet to be discovered in Albion, two basses were used: one electric bass to play the notes and an acoustic to record the slap.
In June 1960, Billy Fury cut his masterpiece, Wondrous Place, an eerie ballad with sparse backing, sounding like a mix between Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Crawfish.” Even more provocative, listen to that breath just before he drops ‘Wondrous Place.’ Bear Family made an excellent choice by including the first version rather than over-arranged one recorded in 1963.
By comparison, “Push Push” with its semi Calypso beat seems pale while “You’re having the Last Dance With Me” adds nothing to the glory of Fury.
Penned by Gene Pitney, “Talkin’ In My Sleep” brings a little more blues, and “Comin’ Up In The World” offers a superb contrast between the singer’s voice and the screaming sax.
Backed by a Duane Eddy sounding twangy guitar and an ethereal female vocal at the right moment, “Don’t Jump” is a splendid melodramatic tune. “I’d Never Find Another You” is another highlight thanks to Billy, of course, but also to the arranger who kept it simple despite the presence of strings. Just compare to Paul Anka’s version to see how a poor arrangement can waste a good song. From the same session comes “If I Lose You,” a soulful ballad that shows the other side of Fury’s voice, the rough one.
The next pair of songs, both written by Norie Paramor, are far less successful. On “Play It Cool,” the mix between strings and Rock’n’Roll doesn’t work very well, whereas “the Twist Kid” proves that even Fury couldn’t turn lead to gold.
The Presley-esque “Running Around” finds him in better form with a song more suited to his voice. “One Kiss” sees him returning to his idol Eddie Cochran, in a laid back jazzy manner.
“On Keep Away” and “What Did I Do,” the singer is backed by the Tornadoes of “Telstar” fame. The former shows the inspiration of Elvis’ “Stuck On You.”
After a session without the Tornadoes to record Laverne Baker’s “Bumble Bee,” the band returns to record the live-in-the-studio album “We Want Billy.” Five songs are lifted from that album (Sweet Little Sixteen, Baby Come On, Sticks and Stones, Unchain My Heart, and I’m Moving On.) The singer is wild and more rhythm ‘n’ blues than ever, and the Tornadoes are excellent throughout.
“Tell Me How do You Feel,” recorded in 1963, continues with the rhythm ‘n’ blues vein with organ, sax, and a trumpet solo.
The compilation ends with “Nothing Shaking (But The Leaves On The Tree)” on which one can hear some Mersey echoes.
As usual with Bear Family, it comes with a thick 40-page booklet containing photos, informative liner notes, record covers, and detailed sessions. Highly recommended.


The Brits Are Rocking Vol. 1
Tommy Steele – Doomsday Rock

The Brits Are Rocking  Tommy Steele

Bear Family BCD17581
Rock Around The Town – Giddy-Up A Ding Dong – Teenage Party (LP version) – The Trial – Tallahassee Lassie – Give! Give! Give! – Build Up – Knee Deep In The Blues – Rock With The Caveman – Take Me Back, Baby – Time To Kill – Hair-Down Hoe-Down – Swaller Tail Coat – Drunken Guitar – Kaw-Liga – Elevator Rock – Grandad’s Rock – Puts The Lightie On – On The Move – Cannibal Pot – Hollerin’ And Screamin’ – (The Girl With The) Long Black Hair – Rebel Rock – Two Eyes – Hey You – Happy Go Lucky Blues – Singing The Blues – Butterfly – Doomsday Rock – Razzle Dazzle – Come On Let’s Go – Honky Tonk Blues – Young Love – You Gotta Go

2019 saw Bear Family launching a new series called The Brits are Rocking dedicated to the British pioneers of the ’50s and 60s.
They couldn’t choose a better artist than Tommy Steele (real name Tommy Hicks) to begin this series with. If he wasn’t the best nor the most rocking, Steele was one of the first – if not the first – and he had a strong British identity to boot. Above all, unlike Tony Crombie, who was already 30 when he jumped on the Rock’n’roll bandwagon, Steele was a teenager singing for the teenagers.
Steele began his musical career by singing Hank Williams tunes and playing guitar various bands. George Martin signed him. He later recalled: “We sat with our coffee and watched this genial young man bounce on to the stage with his guitar over his pelvis, and my immediate impression was that he was a blond cardboard imitation of Elvis Presley. Tommy had a lot of energy, but he didn’t sound too great.
Fortunately for the young lad, people at Decca saw some potential in Tommy and, following his test audition, they almost immediately signed him. Two days later, Steele was in the recording studio to cut his debut single “Rockin’ with the Caveman / Rock Around the Town.”
This 34-song/71 minute compilation album spans the years 1956 to 1960. It shows how versatile Steele was, playing styles as various as pop-tinged stuff, country and western, novelty songs, and more. But, of course, the most exciting songs, were his Rock’n’roll sides. Steele was a credible rocker, and tunes like Teenage Party, Rock With the Caveman, Doomsday Rock, Two Eyes are small classics. This album also proposes good live versions of Freddie Bell’s Giddy Up Ding Dong and Haley’s Razzle Dazzle and the weird and Link Wray sounding semi-instrumental Drunken Guitar.
At first, I was surprised that the songs were not in chronological order, but it happened to be a good idea. It avoids the problem of too many compilations, especially when they are copious like this one, to have ten solid rockin’ tracks at the beginning and, as the years pass, you find mellower material. This is not the case with this compilation, which alternates styles and paces as well as studio and live recordings.
As usual with Bear Family, it comes with a 40-page booklet richly illustrated, though, for some reason, there’s no sessionography.
This album definitely proves that the Brits, and Tommy Steele, could easily rock like their American counterparts.
Hopefully, this is the beginning of a long series.

Available at Bear Family