Various Artists – Destination Health
Bear Family BCD17524
Rock Therapy – Johnny Burnette & The Rock’n’Roll Trio / Doctor, Doctor – Ben Joe Zeppa & The Hot Notes / Call A Doctor – The Crows / Achoo-Cha-Cha (Gesundheit) – The Andrews Sisters / Doctor Feelgood – Herbert Hunter / Quarantine – Dennis Bell / Asiatic – Ebe Sneezer & The Epidemics / Pills – Bo Diddley / Red Cherries – Flyod Dixon / Bop Pills – Macy Skipper / Boogie Disease – Doctor Ross / Boppin’ The Blues – Carl Perkins / Doctor, Doctor, Doctor – Joey Nepote with H.B. Barnum Orchestra / Doctor Jazz – Woody Herman & his Orchestra / Doctor In Love – Richard Allen / Rock Doc – Louis Jordan / Drinkin’ Hadacol – Little Willie Littlefield / Fever – The Knockouts / Satellite Fever – Asiatic Flu – Lonnie Miley / Tu-Ber-Cu-Lucas – Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & The Clowns / Medic (from the TV series) – Les Baxter & his Orchestra / Vitamina – Noro Morales / Operation Blues #2 – Homer ‘Zeke’ Clemons & his Texas Swingbillies / D.R. Rock – George Chisholm & The Blue Notes feat. Bert Weedon / Diagnosis Neurosis – Their Singing Bodies / PSA (Public Service Announcement) for Mental Health Association – Tab Hunter / Amnesia – The Mysterions / Psycho Serenade – Big Jay McNeely & Band with Little Sonny Warner / She Said – Hasil Adkins / Feelin’ Good – Sonny Burgess & The Pacers
Another excellent thematic compilation album from Bear Family, this time centred around the subject of health in all its possible forms (and styles).There’s no better way to introduce this collection than Johnny Burnette & the Rock’n’Roll Trio’s Rock Therapy. It’s a classic that we’ve heard hundreds, if not thousands, of times, but it still sounds fresh and wild.
Next is Benn Joe Zeppa, who offers a groovy rocker with a scorching guitar solo. The next tune is from the Crows, a Harlem quintet halfway between doo-wop and rhythm and blues. The McGuire Sisters are pretty strange. On the one hand, you have the lovely harmonies of these charming girls, and on the other hand, the song features a sinister organ, all that on a Cha-cha rhythm, with a string orchestra punctuated by the girls’ sneezes. After a great rocker from Herbert Hunter, you find a poor teen pop with annoying female backing vocals by Dennis Bell. Much better is Asiatic Flu, perfectly described as a Rockabilly Novelty. Bo Diddley is, as usual, excellent, and Floyd Dixon’s tune is a piano blues in the vein of Charles Brown. Following this great song is a string of three classics: Macy Skipper’s Bob Pills, an insane tune, insane enough to be covered by the Cramps, Doctor Ross’ Boogie Disease and the immense Carl Perkins with Boppin’ the Blues. Inspired by Chuck Berry, Joey Nepote’s Doctor Doctor Doctor is good, albeit a bit messy. Totally different in style, Woody Herman delivers a swing, although a bit tame compared to Jelly Roll Morton’s version of Doctor Jazz. Also heavily orchestrated is Richard Allen’s Doctor in Love, a song recorded for the movie. Think of a British version of Frank Sinatra. Next is Louis Jordan’s Rock Doc. What can I say? Louis Jordan is a genius; that’s all you need to know. Little Willie Littlefield keeps a high level of quality. Instead of a well-known version of Fever, the fine folks at Bear Family included the Knockouts version, a doo-wop with a rocking attitude, a growling voice and a mellow saxophone. That’s why those compilations work, by mixing well-known stuff with more obscure versions.
Talking about obscure, Lonnie Milley is not the kind of Rockabilly you find on your run-of-the-mill compilation. Continuing with the unexpected, Huey Piano Smith is not featured here with the hit Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu, but its follow-up (equally excellent) from 1959: Tu-Ber-Cu-Lucas and the Sinus Blues. Les Baxter is featured here with a T.V. theme. Noro Morales brings a touch of exotism with the mambo-tinged Vitamina. It’s good, but I much prefer the hot western swing of Zeke Clemmons and his Texas Swingbillies. D.R. Rock is a bouncing Rhythm’n’Blues, played by jazzmen under the name of George Chisholm and the Blue Notes. The result is a tune filled with hot solos. Completely different are Their Singing Bodies with their pre-garage Rock. After a public service announcement from Tab Hunter (thank you Tab) back to Garage with Amnesia by the Mysterions which sounds like a psychedelic nightmarish rendition of Steel Guitar Rag. Great with a capital G. As you can imagine, Big Jay Mc Neely’s Psycho Serenade is wild and could have been easily covered by the Sonics. Hasil Adkins took the musical insanity to a whole new level that still waits to be reached today. He deserved more than anyone else his place on this compilation. Bear Family decided they couldn’t let their listeners with such madness, and Sonny Burgess’ Feelin’ Good ends this collection on a positive note.
As I said, this collection works well because Bear Familyl mixes classic numbers with more obscure gems. And in the end, there’s a bit of something for everyone.
Another good point is that the compilations in that series are all at a very friendly price.