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Jerry Lee Lewis

in Reissues

Jerry Lee Lewis – The ballads of Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis

Bear Family – BCD17544 [2020]
Crazy Arms – Invitation To Your Party – Born To Lose – I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You – Tomorrow Night – I’m The Guilty One – Fools Like Me – Will The Circle Be Unbroken – Sail Away (Duet With Charlie Rich) – Set My Mind At Ease (Stereo) – I’ll Make It All Up To You – It Hurts Me So – Love Letters In The Sand – How’s My Ex Treating You – You Win Again – I Know What It Means – Turn Around – The Ballad Of Billy Joe – It All Depends – Love On Broadway – Seasons Of My Heart (Duet With Linda Gail Lewis) – Someday – That Lucky Old Sun – Cold Cold Heart – Love Made A Fool Of Me – Goodnight Irene – I Can’t Seem To Say Goodbye

Jerry Lee Lewis set the rocking piano on fire, metaphorically and literally, with songs like Whole Lotta Shakin Goin’ On, High School Confidential, and Great Balls Of Fire recorded for Sun. After his fall, he made a triumphant comeback as a country singer on Smash/Mercury Records in the mid-’60s.
Of course, country music was not a new thing in Lewis’ music, and it was already a massive part of his repertoire on Sun. After all, his first recording, included here, was a cover of Ray Price’s Crazy Arms. Actually, all kind of music was part of his repertoire. Knowing that he had a rough diamond that could not be easily polished, Sam Phillips tried almost everything to see what could happen in the studio.
This 27-song compilation gathers some of the best country-tinged sides and rockin’ ballads he recorded for Phillips and Sun between 1956 and 1963. And, though I like his harder edge, I always thought that this genre suited him best, showcasing his piano playing that rolls with grace and, most of all, his great, rich, and warm voice. Those recordings reveal the great singer he was. On these country weepers, he can make the best of his crooning voice. More than that, he has a way to appropriate these songs that totally makes you forget the originals. This is not an easy task to compete with Hank Williams, Leadbelly, Lonnie Johnson, and Ray Price.
The set is complete with two duets, one with Charlie Rich and another with his sister Linda Gail Lewis.
If you don’t know this side of his art, I strongly recommend this cd. And even if you, like me, own the Sun box-set published by Bear, it’s a good thing to have these sides on the same support. And the detailed booklet is an excellent addition to the product.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

High Noon the Rockabilly trio

in Reviews

High Noon – Change

high noonSwelltune Records – SR45-007 [2020]
Change – You Done Did It

In early 2020, Shaun Young, Sean Mencher, and Kevin Smith, internationally known as High Noon, the finest purveyor of today’s Rockabilly, got back together to make their first new recordings since 2002.
You wouldn’t believe that 18 years have passed since What Are You Waiting For. The trio sounds as fresh as the first time as I heard them when they released Glory Bound on Willie Lewis‘ Rock-A-Billy Records.
When these three guys are in the same room, you can expect the best in rural bop and drummerless Rockabilly.
Each is in fine form. Mencher is particularly inspired on You Done Did It. One could complain that on Change, Youngs tends to quaver more than usual (and necessary), but that’s a minor flaw.
Both songs are originals, Young penned the side one, and the whole trio is credited for the flip.

High Noon - Flatland Saturday Night
High Noon – Flatland Saturday Night

High Noon – Flatland Saturday Night

Bear Family
Glorybound – Stranger Things – She Forgot Her Memory – When She’s Good – Let’s Go Daddy-O – Long Empty Stretch Of Highway – My Ex Is Why – Beautiful – Rock Too Slow – Rockin’ Wildcat – Rockin’ Beauty – Old Habits – Flatland Saturday Night – Bluebonnet Boogie – Not For Nothin’ – Rattlesnake Man – Mixed Signal Mama – Fishing Hole Boogie – I’m Not Blue – Gotta Lotta That – Doggone That Cat – Now You’re Gonna Be Loved – Comanche Moon – Kiss And Tell Baby – Slow Down Baby – It’s The Beat – High On A Hill – Hanging From The Old Oak Tree – My Little Thrill – Call Of The Honky-Tonk – Quick Hand (demo) – My Heart Cries Yes (demo)

If you’re familiar with the Rockabilly genre, High Noon needs no introduction. But just in case… They were with Big Sandy and the Fly Rite Trio and the Dave and deke Combo, one of the bands that led the revival of American Rockabilly and among the first in the USA to play this music as if it came straigth from the fifties.

For any true Rockabilly lovers, High Noon almost sounded too good to be true: Shaun Young’s voice conjured the memories of the great Texas Rockabilly singers (among them a certain guy from Lubbock). Sean Mencher’s bag of riffs seemed bottomless. Unlike too many Rockabilly guitar player who were happy to copy Hank Garland or Scotty Moore, Mencher developped his style by listening to the generation that came before like Merle Travis but also Oscar Moore or Charlie Christian. And there was Kevin Smith who showed everybody what “slapping a doghouse bass” really meant (and he was more than able to sing harmonies too.)

Like an aknowledgement to their contribution to this music, High Noon now receives the Bear Family treatment, a well deserved treatment to the legends they are.

Except for the two demos (Quick Hand and My Heart Cries Yes) all songs (32 !) here are lifted from their Goofin’ records. So don’t expect to find songs recorded for Willie Lewis’Rock-A-Billy records or songs from their mini-album Texas style that saw High Noon playing with steel, fiddle, banjo and accordion (maybe for volume 2, who knows?)

Anyway if you don’t own anything from this great band, this is the best introduction you’ll find with a thick 40-page booklet (though the interview with shaun Young looks exactly like the interview I did with him a couple of years ago).
Read more at:

High Noon ‎– What Are You Waiting For?

high noonGoofin’ Records ‎– GRCD 6116 [2002]
Let’s Go Daddy-o – Hanging (From The Old Oak Tree) – Old Habits – Prelude To The Blues – Bayou Beauty – Not For Nothin’ – Railroad Crossing – Beautiful – Yard Dog – I’ve Never Felt As Lucky – Kiss And Tell Baby – Comanche Moon – Gotta Love That – Misunderstood – It’s The Beat

Between Stranger Things in 1995 and this album, the three members of High Noon kept themselves busy. Shaun Young recorded a solo album, formed the Jive Bombers, and played with the Horton Brothers. Sean Mencher toured with Wayne Hancock and also produced bands. In the meantime, Kevin Smith lent his talents to many artists, including the Brian Setzer Orchestra.
Set to appear at the Green Bay 50’s Festival in 2002, High Noon decided to record a new album to present new material on stage.
Recorded and produced by Billy Horton, “What Are You Waiting For?” contains 15 original songs. All their various experiences nurtured the sound of the trio and expanded what they started with Stranger Things.
From the boppin’ Let’s Go Daddy-O to the Cajun tinged Bayou Beauty, with the excellent Travis/Atkins instrumental Comanche Moon and the beautiful ballad Not For Nothing, the band goes from style to another with class and refinement.
But in case you’d forget that High Noon is “the Texas Rockabilly Trio”, listen to songs like Hanging (from the old oak tree) with its powerful slap bass, Misunderstood, It’s the Beat, the Holly-esque Beautiful and Railroad Crossin with its guitar solo evoking Grady Martin.
Young’s tremolo makes wonder on slow songs like I’ve Never Felt As Lucky. Kevin Smith proves one more time that he’s the undisputed master of the slap bass. He provides the backbone of the sound with, here and there, some short and brilliant solos. On guitar, Sean Mencher enlightens the whole album with his amazing licks, quoting Paul Burlison, Grady Martin, Chet Atkins, and Merle Travis.
What are you waiting for? Buy it!

High Noon - Texas Style
High Noon – Texas Style

High Noon – Texas Style

 Exile Records ‎– EX10EP09 [1994]
Crazy Mixed Up World – He Won I Lost,  She’s Found – Across the River – My Heart Cries Yes (but my mind whispers no) – Movie Magg – Red Barn Boogie

The Texas Rockabilly trio released this 10″ mini album in 1994. First, look at that cover! It’s perfect! Congratulations to Carlos Fernandez who captured the band in action. Then the music… For this one, High Noon took a slight departure from their usual brand of stripped down rockabilly and brought some guests to the party.
The opener is a cover of the Willie Dixon song made popular by Little Walter. The trio with the help of Alvin Crow on fiddle and John Ely on steel turns it into a superb hillbilly bop with Shaun Young yelling the name of the musicians in the great Bob Wills tradition. As usual Shaun’s vocals are superb, Sean Mencher’s guitar inventive and Kevin Smith provides the perfect backbone with his slap.
Next is He Won, I Lost, She’s Found, penned by Mencher. This Honky Tonk with steel, fiddle and harmony vocals (provided by Brent wilson of the Wagoneers) is sure to make you cry in you beer. The side A closes with Across the River, another Mencher original. It’s another fine ballad enlightened by Mike Maddux on accordion.
Side B opens with My Heart Cries Yes. Can these boys play bluegrass. You bet they can! With the help of Danny Barnes (Bad Livers) on banjo. Perkins’ Movie Magg is here to remind you that High Noon is one of the very best (if not the best) Rockabilly band of the late 80’s/early 90’s. Finally the steel and the fiddle return for Hank Harral’s Red Barn Boogie to conclude this mini album in beauty.

Big Joe Turner

in Reissues

Big Joe Turner – The Complete Boss Of The Blues

Big Joe Turner

Bear Family BCD17505 [2020]
Cherry Red (Stereo) – Roll ‘Em Pete (Stereo) – I Want A Little Girl (Stereo) – Low Down Dog (Stereo) – Wee Baby Blues (Stereo) – You’re Driving Me Crazy (Stereo) – How Long Blues (Stereo) – Morning Glories (Stereo) – St. Louis Blues (Stereo) – Piney Brown Blues (Stereo) – Pennies From Heaven (Stereo) – Roll ‘Em Pete (Take 4) (Mono) – Roll ‘Em Pete (Take 5) (Mono) – Cherry Red Blues (Take 1) (Mono) – Cherry Red Blues (Takes 2 and 3) (Mono) – Morning Glories (Takes 1 and 4) (Mono) – Low Down Dog (Take 4) (Mono)
Cherry Red (Mono) – Roll ‘Em Pete (Mono) – I Want A Little Girl (Mono) – Low Down Dog (Mono) – Wee Baby Blues (Mono) – You’re Driving Me Crazy (Mono) – How Long Blues (Mono) – Morning Glories (Mono) – St. Louis Blues (Mono) – Piney Brown Blues (Mono) – Pennies From Heaven (Mono) – Testing The Blues (Mono) – St. Louis Blues (Take 1) (Mono) – You’re Driving Me Crazy (Mono) – I Want A Little Girl (Takes 1 and 2)

What an excellent idea that Bear Family had to reissue this album initially released in 1956.
If you remember (so to speak), in 1956, Big Joe Turner was almost synonymous with Rock’n’roll. In January, Elvis Presley had played Shake Rattle and Roll and Flip Flop and Fly on TV. Later that year, Johnny Burnette would record Honey Hush, and of course, Bill Haley made regular incursions in Turner’s repertoire, whether on disc or stage.
Oddly enough, at the same time, Turner and his label Atlantic decided to revisit his roots and recorded “The Boss of the Blues Sings Kansas City Jazz.”
He reunited a cast of veterans whose names were associated with Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey. But the key ingredient was the presence of Pete Johnson, the pianist with whom he started to sing in Kansas City in the late twenties.
To complete the cast, Basie’s arranger, Ernie Wilkins, was drafted in to write the charts.
And of course, what steals the show is Turner’s voice: powerful as a trumpet, subtle as a reed. Turner was the man who swung the Blues and put the Blues in the swing.
With such a cast, who learned its chops by playing endless jam sessions in the smoky bars of Kansas City, it was not difficult to recreate that atmosphere in the studio, and one can hear that everyone was relaxed. Not only is the listener treated with some of the very best blues recorded at the time, but he also has the feeling to witness a reunion of old friends. This feeling runs through the whole record. Furthermore, with no commercial restrictions in mind, the band can go beyond the three minutes mark if necessary to leave more room to the soloists.
This reissue proposes the original album in two versions: the stereo mix on CD1 and the mono mix on CD2. One studio track (Pennies From Heaven) that didn’t make it in the final album is included here, as well as alternative takes, falses starts, and rehearsal. Not only you have one essential record, but you also have the chance to sneak through the door of the studio and assist in the music in the making.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

King Size Taylor

in Reissues

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

king size taylor

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

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.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Eddy and the Backfires

in Reviews

Eddy and the Backfires – Twenty Fight Years

eddy and the backfires

Bear Family BCD 17514 [2019]
Rockin’ Beauty – Tornado – C’mon Pretty Baby – A Cat Called Domino – Highspeed Daddy – Hot Boilin’ Engine – I Feel Rockin’ – Rock, Baby, Rock – Teen Queen – Rock & Roll Guitar – Slipped My Mouth – The Tempter – My World Is You

There are not many different manners to play Rockabilly. You can consider it with all the respect it deserves, and play by the rules set by Elvis, Carl Perkins, or Charlie Feathers to name but three. Or you can play it like a genre that never ceased to evolve. Eddy & the Backfire opted for that second option. Their music is traditional yet very modern.
Eddy and the Backfire formed in Hanover, Germany, at the end of the last century. They celebrate 20 years of existence with their fifth album on Bear Family, no less. It’s surprising since a label like Wild records would seem more appropriate, but it’s also a seal of approval to be signed on that legendary label.
This album includes eight originals and five covers from Johnny Powers, the Giants, Roy Orbison, Johnny Knight, and Carl Silva. This is far from being pa detail to find them covering a modern band like Carl and the Rhythm All-Stars. It’s another proof that the group wants to anchor its music in the 21st century.
Musically speaking, they take things where Johnny Burnette and the Rock’n’roll Trio left them. They play wild, frantic, explosive and white-hot Rockabilly. Though they manage to keep things interesting throughout the album by changing paces (no one wants to hear 13 full-speed rockin’ tracks) and they even add a welcome touch of Country and Western with the final track of the album.
Twenty Fight Years was released on vinyl and cd. The cd comes with a complete booklet featuring numerous photographs of the band.


Eddy and the Backfires

Bear Family

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

That’ll Flat Git It

in Reissues

That’ll Flat Git It – Vol. 33 – Rockabilly And Rock’ n’ Roll From The Vaults Of Renown & Hornet Records

That’ll Flat Git It - Vol. 33 - Rockabilly And Rock’ n’ Roll From The Vaults Of Renown & Hornet Records

Bear Family Records – BCD 17589 [2020]
Betcha’ Didn’t Know Wayne Handy – I Want Everything My Baby’s Got Jim Thornton – Buzz Me On The Telephone Irving Fuller & The Chorvettes – That Other Woman Buck Tickle – Somethin’ Special Don Duncan – Stop Walking All Over Me Harold Pope – Bad Boy Steve France with The Hornets – Say Yeah Wayne Handy – Silly Dilly Don Ray with The Hornets – Upturn Eddie Smith with The Hornets – Cold North Wind Lonnie Dee – Who Put The Pep In The Punch Joe Franklin & The Hi-Liters – The Pad Bobby Strigo with The Blue Notes – Do You Ever Think Of Me Clyde Moody – The Day I Die Daryl Petty – I’m Going Home Hughie Owens with The Blue Notes – Problem Child Wayne Handy – Our Southern Way Of Living Jim Thornton – Tears Falling Down, Down, Down Harold Pope – Border Beat Eddie Smith with The Hornets – Dream Boy Steve France with The Hornets – Traveling Blues Dannie Maness – Making Fun Of Me Bobby Rose – True Blue Joe Franklin & The Hi-Liters – I’m Not Ashamed Lonnie Dee – I’ll Never Be The Same Wayne Handy – Baby Let Me Powder Your Nose Jim Thornton – Flaming Love Daryl Petty – Love Is A Flame Ken Willette with The Blue Notes – Hobo Bill Dannie Maness – Seminole Rock’n Roll Wayne Handy & The Melody Masters – Dance Me To Death The Hi-Liters – I Think You Oughta Look Again Wayne Handy – You Turn Me On Steve France & The Varatones – Repeto The Varatones

Launched by Bear Family many moons ago, this series chose the quality over the exhaustivity; thus, each album contains all killers and no fillers. By volume 27, they expanded the “Rockabilly from the vault of” subtitle to “Rockabilly and Rock’n’roll from the vault of.” And here we are, with the 33rd volume, dedicated to Renown and Hornet Records (the latter being a subsidiary label of the former) from North Carolina.
Wayne Hardy is the Renown artist who was the closest to have a hit with “Say Yeah.” Paradoxically, this is not the best of his six songs included here, but the guitar solo is worth the inclusion of the song. More interesting are songs the blues-oriented stuff like “I’ll Never Be the Same” or the Indian-tinged Seminole Rock’n’Roll.
By the time he recorded for Renown, Jim Thornton could be considered as a veteran. Nevertheless, his “I Want Everything My Baby’s Got” is a fantastic Rockabilly stomper, whereas his other two sides are more in a Hillbilly vein, though with some Rock’n’Roll in it for “Our Southern Way Of Living.”
Another veteran is Clyde Moody, who played with Bill Monroe in 1940. He revives the old 1920s standard “Do You Ever Think Of Me,” also covered by Jimmie Davis and turns it into a pop-rocker with sax, prominent bass, and galloping guitar.
Also on the rural side of the label is Dannie Maness. Both songs, a cover of Jimmie Rodgers and an original waltz in the style of the early Ernest Tubb, sound quite anachronistic here. Harold Pope seems slightly more modern. His two songs mix timeless hillbilly with a sixties sounding pedal steel for great effect.
In a more country-pop manner, Lonnie Dee contributes with two superb songs. “Cold North Wind” evokes the great Roy Orbison while “I’m Not Ashamed,” and its Spanish guitar leans more toward Marty Robbins.
Buck Thickle also shows some Orbisonian influences, but more from the Sun period, combined with a hot rocking saxophone. Also worth noting is the sharp guitar solo.
Don Duncan’s “Something Special” is really, well, special. The kind of weird Rockabilly that one can find on “Songs the Cramps Taught Us.”
Darryl Petty’s sixties rocker “The Day I Die” conveys the same kind of strange atmosphere. By comparison, his other tracks, a good, albeit classical, doo-wop, seems a bit tame.
Petty also played piano and occasionally sang with Joe Franklin and the Hi-Liters. “Who Put The Pep” could be just another rocker before a wild and frantic piano erupts and takes the song to a whole new level. The same piano can be found on “Dance Me To Death” that lives to its title.
Steve France is one of the most exciting artists in this collection. His “Dream Boy” has hints of Elvis’ Money Honey but with a severe dose of angst and gloom. “Bad Boy” is a threatening Rock’n’Roll with a mean guitar. He also recorded a single with the Varatones in a Surf vein. The B-side, “Repeto,” also included here, is an instrumental drenched with reverb and screaming saxophone.
That leads us to Eddie Smith, who recorded with the Hornets, one instrumental single. “Upturn” is a fast-paced number that kicks off with a similar intro than “Beat Out My Love” and then evolves into a half surf/half garage terrific tune. The flip, featuring a superb snare part, is a medium-paced instro that shows the influence of Link Wray.
The remaining tracks contain pop-rocker (Don Ray) Rhythm’ n’Blues with juicy sax in the style of Fats Domino (Hughie Owens with The Blue Notes) and, yes, even a song with a Cha-cha beat (Bobby Rose.)
Except if you don’t listen to anything beyond 1958, there’s plenty to discover and enjoy in this compilation.

Order it here.

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