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Billy Hancock

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Billy Hancock and the Tennessee Rockets – Rootie Tootie

Ripsaw 211 [1978]
Rootie Tootie / I Can’t Be Satisfied

billy hancock

For their first Rockabilly release, Ripsaw records borrowed the winning recipe that Sam Phillips used to introduce Elvis to the world. Recorded by Billy Hancock and the Tenessee Rockets, this superb piece of stripped-down Rockabilly features a hillbilly cover (Hank Williams’ Rootie Tootie) on side A, while a blues cover can be found on the flip (Muddy Waters’ Can’t Be Satisfied).
At the time of its release in 1978, it was probably the most authentic-sounding Rockabilly ever recorded since the fifties. Very few, if none, before (and even after) captured that early Elvis Sun sound – with a slight Charlie Feathers influence – like Billy Hancock. In that, he’s ideally helped by Don Mulkey on double bass and Jeff Lodsun on drums.
Also available on The Best of Ripsaw Records vol.1 (Rootie Tootie) and vol.4 (I Can’t Be Satisfied.)


Billy Hancock and the Tenessee Rockets – The Boogie Disease

Ripsaw 213 [1979]
The Boogie Disease / Knock-Kneed Nellie

billy hancock boogie disease

For his third single for Ripsaw, Billy Hancock covers Dr. Ross blues classic and turns it into a frantic Rockabilly tune. Mitch Collins on piano and Tex Rubinowitz, Little Nelson, and the Spider (co-founders of the label) on backing vocals augment the line-up of the Tennessee Rockets (Bob Newscaster, Bryan Smith, and Jeff Lodsun).
The B-side features an original song by Hancock titled Knock-Kneed Nellie written with Charlie Feathers in mind and his long tradition of impaired women (Tongue Tied Jill, Stutterin’ Cindy). Hancock gives one of his best vocals performance. In addition to the obvious influence of Charlie Feathers’ hiccups, one can also perceive a bit of Buddy Holly, another favorite of Billy Hancock, in the melody.
Also available on The Best of Ripsaw Records vol.1 (The Boogie Disease) and vol.3 (Knock Kneed Nellie.)


Billy Hancock and the Tennessee Rockets – Miss Jessie Lee

Ripsaw 215 [1980]
Miss Jessie Lee /I’m Satisfied

Another killer release by Billy Hancock. Side A is a cover of Eddie Burns (who probably took his inspiration from Sonny Boy Williamson’s Good Morning school Girl.) With its breathless vocals, Hancock’s version perfectly nails the Rockabilly’s sense of urgency. Once again, the musicians (Bob Newscaster on guitar, Bryan Smith on slappin’ bass and Jeff Lodsun on drums are top-notch.)
I’m Satisfied” is an original penned by Hancock as an answer to I Can’t Be Satisfied (see Ripsaw 211.) It’s another solid piece of rockabilly that features two pairs of guitar solos performed by Hancock and Evan Johns.
Available respectively on The Best of Ripsaw Records vol.3 and vol.4.


Billy Hancock – Redskin Rock ‘N Roll

Ripsaw Records 216 [1980]
Redskin Rock’n’Roll / Lonely Blue Boy

The A-side of this single is a solid Rock’n’roll song with piano and a final arrangement in the best Elvis tradition. Lonely Blue Boy is a cover of Conway Twitty but Hancock’s version leans more on Elvis and he delivers a superb vocal performance.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Visit the Ripsaw records website.


Billy Hancock – Wanted True Rock’n’Roll

Billy Hancock

Ripsaw Records 220 [1985]
Oh Caroline / All The Cats Join In / I Need You Now / I’m Free / Take Your Time / Sarah Lee

After releasing albums for Big Beat in France and Solid Smoke, Billy Hancock returned to Ripsaw in 1985 with this mini-album. The title says it all; it’s a shot of true Rock’n’Roll instead of the Rockabilly stuff he played with the Tennessee Rocket.
Oh Caroline, written by Hancock after the French tour of 1981, is a frantic piano-led rocker. Benny Goodman’s All The Cats Join In, first discovered by Billy in Disney’s movie of the same name, is turned into a wild neo-rockabilly number.
Initially done by Eddie Fisher as a pop tune, I Need You Now becomes in the expert hands of Hancock, a superb Elvis Presley type of ballad. The Velons, a Maryland doo-wop band, take in charge the Jordanaires part.
The b-side opens with a surprise: a cover of the Rolling Stones’ I’m Free. While one would expect Hancock covering one of their Rock’n’roll tunes, he chose this pop song and took the occasion to bring a good dose of Buddy Holly, one of his idol, to it.
Talking about the rocker from Lubbock next is Take Your Time. For this cover, he remains very faithful to the original, with a note for note organ part.
Sarah Lee, the closing song of the mini-lp, comes from the pen of British rocker Dave Travis. It has a very menacing edge, a bit like The Way I Walk, and features a tremendous guitar solo.

Tex Rubinowitz

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Tex Rubinowitz – Bad Boy

tex rubinowitz

Ripsaw Records 212
Bad Boy / Feelin’ Right Tonight

Tex Rubinowitz recorded this excellent single in 1979 with Billy Hancock and Bob Swenson on guitars, Bryan Smith on double bass, and Jeff Lodsun on drums.
On side A, he covers a song penned and sung by Marty Wilde in 1959. While the original version sounds rather inoffensive, Rubinowitz’s cover is quite unhealthy, full of anguish with tortured vocals. Sprinkle the whole performance with a superb honky-tonk styled guitar, and you have one hell of a song that sounds like a mix between Charlie Feathers and the Cramps.
B-side is a raw rockabilly track featuring two blistering guitar solos and a smoking vocal performance. The song proved to be popular on Ripsaw, later recorded by Martha Hull in 1981 (Ripsaw 217) backed by Tex Rubinowitz and his band, the Bad Boys, then in 2010 by Marti Brom (Ripsaw 223) with a version that has come full circle with Billy Hancock and Bryan Smith playing on it.

Side A appears on the Best of Ripsaw Rockabilly vol.1 and side B on vol. 3.


Tex Rubinowitz – Hot Rod Man

tex rubinowitz

Ripsaw Records 214 [1980]
Hot Rod Man / Ain’t It Wrong

Ripsaw 214 is another killer double-sider from Tex Rubinowitz and the label. This one has written “classic Rockabilly” all over it.
The A-side features Tex’s commanding vocal highlighted by a terrific twin guitar attack by Billy Hancock and Bob Swenson. It would later be covered by Sean Mencher and Go Cat Go.
The flip is equally good that it could as well be the A-side. First-class Rockabilly in less than two minutes. It was also heavily covered, including versions by High Noon and Ruthie and the Wranglers.

Side A appears on the Best of Ripsaw Rockabilly vol.1 and side B on vol. 2.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Visit the Ripsaw records website.

Martha Hull

in Contemporary artists/GH/Reviews/Singles

Martha Hull – Feelin’ Right Tonight

Martha Hull

Feelin’ Right Tonight / Fujiyama Mama
Ripsaw Records 217

Martha Hull first sang Tex Rubinowitz’s Feelin’ Right Tonight (Ripsaw 212) when she was singing for the punk band D.Ceats. She somehow caught the attention of Tex Rubinowitz who decided to record her.

Thus, on May 29, 1980, Martha Hull got into Bias studio to record these two tracks. The session was produced by Rubinowitz and his band, the Bad Boys (Eddie Angel, Ratso, Johnny Castle and Scotty Flowers) backed her up.

Side A is a hot rockin’ version of Tex’s song and the flip is Wanda Jackson’s Fujiyama Mama. Both are solid Rockabilly with strong vocal. One can only regret that Martha Hull didn’t record more stuff in that style.

Released on Ripsaw, the 45 is now very sought after. It now can be found on the Part reissue compilation “the best of Ripsaw”. This serie of compilations also included an alternate take of Fujiyama Mama recorded during another session.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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