Mac Curtis – Early In The Morning/Nashville Marimba Band
Bluelight Records – BLR 33224 2
Early In The Morning – Big Boss Man – Ain’t That A Shame – Blues Man – Baby What You Want Me To Do – Maybelline – Gulf Stream Line – Stagger Lee – I’d Run A Mile – I Got A Woman – When The Hurt Moves In – Him Or Me (What’s It Gonna Be) – Running Bear – I Fall To Pieces – Gentle On My Mind – For The Good Times – Orange Blossom Special – Spanish Eyes – Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town – Careless Hands – Help Me Make It Through The Night – Devil’s Dream – Pistol Packin’ Mama – She Knows All The Good Ways To Be Bad
In 1970 Mac Curtis recorded Early in the Morning, an album on which he revisited songs from the fifties with a Country edge. The songs came from the catalogues of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Jerry Reed, Ray Charles, Lloyd Price, etc., with a couple of originals thrown in for good measure.
The repertoire ranged from the bluesy, albeit with steel guitar, Baby What You Want Me to Do, to the Country shuffle of When The Hurts Moves In, which would be perfect for Dale Watson, with a bit of Swamp Rock in between with Gulfstream Line. The majority of the remaining songs are on a thin line between country and Rock’n’roll, and the result is close to what Carl Perkins recorded during the same period.
The musicianship is excellent throughout, but that’s not a surprise with musicians like Tommy Allsup and Leon Rhodes on guitars, Charlie McCoy on harmonica, DJ Fontana on drums, and Curtis’s deep and rich voice beautifully serves the whole album.
The following year, Mac Curtis returned to the studio to record Mac Curtis’ Nashville Marimba band in one day. This is a surprising album, to say the least. Still, with a crew of first-rate musicians, Curtis revisits a set of Country classics in instrumental versions done in an exotica/easy-listening mood. However, it features some sparkling moments on guitar and hot fiddle parts from Johnny Gimble. It’s the kind of album you’re happy to own and play to your friends to see their reaction. You really have to hear their version of Gentle On My Mind to believe it.
Two excellent Country numbers with a Rockabilly feel, recorded in 1974, rounds up the set.
All in all, you have one excellent album, a curiosity and two hot bonus tracks. That’s more than enough to make you jump on this reissue.
Mac Curtis – the Rollin Rock Recordings 1
Big D Women – Baby Let’s Play House – Heartbreakin’ Mama – Fannie Mae – Sidetrack Mama – Holdin’ On – Good Rockin’ Tonight – Amarillo Killer – Hot Rocks – Crazy Crazy Lovin’ – Wild Wild Women – You Hurt Me – Sexy Ways – Good Rockin’ Tomorrow – Wake Up Rock’n’roll Rock-A-Baby – Hard Hearted Girl – Party Line – Turn To Me – For Your Love – Rockabilly Uprising – Been Gone A Long Time – Juice Box – Gone Out Of My Mind – Wildcat Tamer – Let’s Go
Mac Curtis is a true Rockabilly legend and in my humble opinion he recorded some of the very best sides of the genre. In 1972 he got in touch with the no-less legendary Ronnie Weiser of Rollin’ Rock and Ray Campi (the full story is explained in the very informative booklet featuring notes by Mac Curtis himself) to make some new Rockabilly recordings.
The first album to result from those sessions was Ruffabilly on which he’s backed by Campi (dobro, guitar, bass), Steve Bailey (drums) and Jimmie Lee Maslon on harmonica for one track. This is superior Rockabilly music, especially if you replace it in the period (the 70’s) with powerful slap bass and at the time with the exception of Charlie Feathers very few could come closer to the real thing than Mac Curtis. The liner notes explain why there are three Johnny Carroll tunes on that album: Campi and Curtis believed that the singer had died and wanted to pay homage to him.
The second album included here is “Good Rockin’ Tomorrow” and is equally good with Campi playing all the instruments and Billy Zoom (X) guesting on saxophone. In all you have 25 recordings that are 25 little rockabilly gems that deserve to be in anyone’s collection. They also show the importance of Mac Curtis and Rollin Rock on the European scene in the 70’s from the Teddy Boys to the burgeoning psychobilly scene.