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Rhythm Bomb

Buck Owens

Buck Owens – The Many Sides Of Buck Owens

Atomic ACCD 027
Hot Dog – Sweet Thing – Excuse Me – Foolin’ Around – Above And Beyond – Kickin’ Our Hearts Around – Down On The Corner Of Love – Nobody’s Fool But Yours – It Don’t Show On Me – Right After The Dance – Second Fiddle – The House Down The Block – Under The Influence Of Love – You’re For Me – Under Your Spell Again – Save The Last Dance Dance For Me – Mental Cruelty – Loose Talk – Bop – Go Crazy Man – Looking Back To See – Goose Rock – Sad Singin’ And Slow Ridin’ – Whatcha Gonna Do Now – Flash Crash And Thunder – Hey, Miss Fannie – I Gotta Know – Rhythm And Booze – Take Me

Buck Owens

As its title indicates, The Many Sides Of Buck Owens covers the whole career of Buck Owens. You’ll find his recording debut for Pep records in 1956, heavily influenced by Hank Williams (but who wasn’t), his first-class 1957 Rockabilly single under the name of Corky Jones, the development of his trademark Bakersfield sound, and some excellent duets with Rose Maddox. There are also plenty of songs with Owens as a session man on guitar, ranging from hillbilly (the Farmer Boys, Jean Shepard), proto Rock’n’roll (Bill Woods) to Rockabilly (Tommy Sands, Wanda Jackson). One could argue that this compilation doesn’t include any song with Gene Vincent (Buck played on Gene Vincent Rocks and the Blue Caps Roll), but frankly, I know you already have this album in your collection. Why complain? A superb compilation from start to finish.

Fred ”Virgil” Turgis

Willie Lewis


Billy & the Bob Cats – Charlene

Rock-A-Billy Records R112 [1991]
Billy & the Bob Cats – Charlene / Willie, Kevin & Todd – Be My Baby

Billy & the bop cats

Another little gem from Willie Lewis’ Rock-A-Billy records, this time coming in pink vinyl.The A-side is by Billy & the Bop Cats, namely Willie Lewis on vocal and rhythm guitar, Derek Peterson on guitar and David Peterson on double bass, both from Kidd Pharoah. Willie Lewis wrote Charlene for his grandchild. As usual with Willie Lewis, this is top-notch Rockabilly, close to the bone, with a superb guitar part from Derek Peterson.
The B-side was recorded when Kevin Smith (High Noon) visited Willie Lewis. They messed around with this song just for fun. The same day, Lewis had a recording session with the Bop Cats. The session didn’t work that well, and while the band took a break, Smith suggested they record the song they played together. In two takes, both equally good, the song was recorded. Todd Wulfmeyer (the Jinns, Marti Brom and Her Jet-Tone Boys, Shaun Young band) later overdubbed the steel guitar part. The result is one of the best hillbilly bop recorded since the genre’s heyday, with a fantastic slap bass. The original take, without the steel, can be found on Willie Lewis the early, rare and wild sides on Bopland records (BL 702)

Willie Lewis - Pullin' Time With…
Willie Lewis – Pullin’ Time With…

Willie Lewis – Pullin’ time with…

Rock-A-Billy Record Co. {2014}
Jailbird Bill & The Jailbirds / Pullin’ Time –  Willie & The Stablemen / Long Gone Lonesome Blues –  Willie Lewis / The Unemployment Blues –  Willie & The Rhythm Razors / That Hurt Gert –  Willie & The String Poppers / Rock Me Little Mama –  Tennessee Bill & The Tennessee Boys / At The Hoedown –  Delmer Spudd & The Spuddnicks / The Ramblin’ Blues –  Elrod Tyler & The H-Bombs / Boppin’ Little Mama –  Willie & The String Poppers / The Crazy Boogie –  Willie & The Original Stablemen / Blue Days – Black Nights –  Billy & The Bop-Cats / I Like To Rock – I Like To Roll –  Willie & The Stablemen / Rockin’ The Blues –  Delmer Spudd & The Spuddnicks / Stephine –  Billy & The Bop-Cats / The Sore Finger Blues –  Delmer Spudd & The Spuddnicks / Bottle To The Baby –  Willie & The String Poppers / The Fender Bender Boogie –  Delmer Spudd & The Spuddnicks / She’s The Kind’a Gal –  Willie & The String Poppers / Trouble Bound –  Willie & The Elrod / The Tom Cat Boogie –  Billy & The Bop-Cats / Rock & Roll Fever –  Rocky Ford & The Springs Mountain Boys / Charlie’s Lament –  Delmer Spudd & The Spuddnicks / I Don’t Like This Kind’a Livin’ –  Elrod Tyler & The H-Bombs / The Blues Come Around –  Tennessee Bill & The Tennessee Boys / Rockin’ Boogie Baby –  Billy & The Bop-Cats / Be Cool, Cats, Cool –  Willie & The Red Line Rockets / Wearin’ Out My Walkin’ Shoes – Willie & Donnie / Rock Me Tonight – Willie & The Flat-Tops / The Hospital Blues –  Willie & The String Poppers / The Workin’ Man’s Blues –  The Four Unknowns / Sunglasses After Dark –  Delmer Spudd & The Spuddnicks / Yakety Yak –  Elrod Tyler & The H-Bombs / I Can’t Help It

Willie Lewis was the ultimate Rockabilly cat. This man lived and breathed Rockabilly. Due to health problems he was a little less active in the recent years than he was in the early 90’s when he released High Noon, Go Cat Go and numerous single under his own name. His death at 68 in 2014, leaves a void that will be impossible to fill. More than any other of today’s Rockabilly artist and no matter what band he played with, Lewis’ voice and style, were instantly recognizable.
This cd was released only a couple of month before he passed away. With 32 unissued tracks, it spans an entire life devoted to play and promote Rockabilly music, a journey started in the late 70’s with the Four Unknows and Willie and the Stringpoppers until 2013 with recordings by Willie & The Rhythm Razors and Willie & The Red Line Rocket.
Lewis appears with various combos (the Original Stablemen, the Tennessee Boys from Portugal, the Spudnicks) and the instrumentation ranges from him alone with his guitar to larger combo with drums and piano (the title track that features Carl Sonny Leyland) with a lot of classic two-guitars-one-doublebass in between. There’s even some bluegrass flavoured stuff with banjo.
As usual with Lewis, the sound is raw and close to the bone (often recorded with just one microphone) and the man always find the true essence of the songs, as shown by his covers of Hank Williams’ Long Gone Lonesome Blues or I Can’t Help It.One couldn’t dream of a better farewell to a legend.


Willie Lewis - A Legend of his Time
Willie Lewis – A Legend of his Time

Willie Lewis – A Legend of his Time

Rhythm Bomb
I’m Out – All Sweaty Freddie – Are You Walking And Talking – Be My Baby – Leave Me Alone – It’s Saturday Night – Don’t Shoot Me Baby – Were You There – Stephine – Matilda – Mary Lou Rock – A Few More Seasons – Send Me Some Lovin’ – Gertrude – Mom & Dad Doin RnR – A Home In Heaven – The Sammy Bop – All Messed Up – Colored Records – Outer Space Baby

Known for his label – the well named Rock-A-Billy Records – and his collaborations with the cream of the crop of American rockabilly (High Noon, Go Cat Go…), Willie Lewis is also renowned for his own songs and his uncompromised conception of rockabilly, giving the listener some of the purest and rawest stuff put on wax since the glory days of Meteor.
This collection gathers different band fronted by Lewis and if some of the titles are already known, they appear here in different version than on the other compilations previously issued on Goofin. Mainly Rockabilly with only some slight detours by hillbilly bop or bluegrass, it’s perfect from start to finish. One can only regret that the booklet doesn’t give infos about the different line-up. If you’re, like me, a Willie Lewis fan, try to get a copy of the excellent book that Sven Bergman has written about the Man.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Johnny Heartsman

Johnny Heartsman – Hot House Party

Koko Mojo Records – KM-EP 111
Johnny Hartsman Band – One More Time – Eugene Blacknell – Jump Back / Johnnys Houseparty 1 – Johnnys Houseparty 2

Johnny Heartsman - Hot House Party

Heartsman’s first instrumental is good, albeit a tad repetitive. Fans of the Stray Cats would probably be interested in hearing this one. The b-side is occupied by Johnny’s Houseparty parts 1 & 2. This tune sounds like an answer to Honky Tonk with sax, organ and screams provided by The Gaylarks, who happened to be there. Eugene Blacknell and his Savonics complete the set with a groovy number featuring hot sax and dirty guitar. The perfect soundtrack for a crime B-movie.

Backseat Boogie (the)

The Backseat Boogie – Deal with the devil

Rhythm Bomb Records [2022]
Deal With The Devil – Burnout! – Evil Eye – Bad Seed From The Family Tree – Right On Time – Julisa – Struck On The Road To Memphis – What A Woman Can Do – God Never Gave A Damn About Me – Take It Or Leave It – Cats Born Wild

backseat boogie

I’m quite puzzled by Backseat Boogie’s new album. The group plays well, and the production is quite good (even if we feel an obvious desire to seduce a large audience), but in the end, the album is quite tasteless. The group tackles different genres, practically one per song, ranging from Boogie Blues to Country via Blues, Rock’n’Roll and Country-rock, but is never really convincing. While the Backseat Boogie should focus on one or two styles and define a sound of their own, the group scatters, disperses and loses the listener along the way. It’s not bad, just not memorable, and it’s maybe the most annoying thing that can happen to a band, especially a Rock’n’Roll band.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Starjays

The Starjays - Bang! It's the Starjays
The Starjays – Bang! It’s the Starjay

The Starjays – Bang! It’s the Starjays

Rhythm Bomb – RBR5828 {2016}
Who Do You Love The Most? – The Right Girl – Flat Broke – I’ll Wait – Nobody Loves You Like Me – My Wild Girl – Cadillac Of Woman – Keep On Talkin’- One Quick Stop – What’s Gone Wrong? – Turn Down The Lights – Tintarella Di Luna – A Sin Comin’ On – Get Closer

Led by Roy Kay (the Roy Kay trio\Combo, the Margraves) and Angela Tini (Angelatini and the Trebblemakers) and featuring the talents of piano wizard Carl Sonny Leyland, Marshall Scott Warner on drums, Tony Laborie on double bass, Sean Jensen on sax and Mike Geglia on guitar (also from the Roy Kay trio connection), the Starjays are a hot combo that plays rhythm’n’blues and rock’n’roll (and I mean real Rock’n’roll) with, for a song or two, a slight 60’s feel. They reminded me of the Jive Bombers, the excellent and now defunct Austin based band that featured Shaun Young.
Roy Kay and Angela Tini share the vocal duties (solo or in duets) which brings a lot of diversity to this album. As she is probably lesser known than her partner Roy Kay who have quite a few albums under his name, I have to sing here the praise of Miss Tini’s voice who manages to be powerful, subtle and dare I say a bit naughty (Get Closer), all that with a Ruth Brown vibe. Other names come to mind, but it would reduce Tini’s own personnality that is present here from start to finish (understand “she has her own voice and she is no impersonnator”).
All songs but two are originals penned by Kay and Tini. It’s very well produced, recorded, sung (I’ve already said that, but better twice than never) and played, each solist having plenty of room to express himself.
And icing on the cake, it comes in a nicely designed digipack .

The Starjays – Jump With…

starjaysVLV Records [2021]
That’s Love – Tomorrow Will Come – Prove My Love – I Can’t Stop – I’m Stuck – You’re For Me – Late At Night – Say What You Mean – Somehow, Someway – Is It Murder – Makin’ Me Hungry – Calling Out To You

I won’t try to fool you and create fake suspense, The Starjays return with a second album, and it’s as good if not better than the first one. Roy Kay (Roy Kay Trio/Combo, the Margraves, The Ember Brothers) and Angela Tini still lead the band and share the vocal duties, either solo or duet. Kay also plays tenor and baritone saxophone. Having two vocalists brings a lot of diversity, and their voices are very complimentary. Most of all, Kay and Tiny have strong flexibility in their voices. Hence, their repertoire can go from hot Rhythm’n’Blues/early Rock’n’Roll to soulful ballads or pure dancing ditties. They’re helped by a selection of very catchy songs and cleverly mix tempos and moods, from the lighthearted to the very dark.
The rest of the band features Robin Cady (also from the Roy Kay Trio) on bass, Eddie Martinez on drums, John Olufs on guitar, and Robert Lee Mitchell on piano. Each does a terrific job, and together, they constitute a very well-oiled jumpin’ machine.
Jump on this record, then jump with the Starjays!

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Levi Dexter

Levi Dexter and the Ripchords – In the Beginning

In the beginning

Mistral Records BLOW 1 [1980]
I’m Gone – It’s The Beat – Cat Fight – 21 Days in Jail

Sometimes when a band splits, it’s a colossal waste of talent. On the contrary, the split of Levi and the Rockats gave us two great bands: the Rockats and Levi and the Ripchords. A bit like the original Blue Cats’ split gave us Dave Phillips and the Blue Cats with Clint Bradley.
Anyway, back to Levi Dexter. When he parted ways with the Rockats, he quickly searched for potential members to form a new band. Dexter approached different musicians for the Ripchords, including Brian Setzer and his brother Gary. Still, the line-up finally settled on Danny B. Harvey on lead guitar, Jimmy Reed on rhythm guitar, Dave Curry on bass, and Pat Brown on drums.
This hot combo cut this EP in April 1980 at Alaska studios in London. It features three originals and one cover.
Danny Harvey penned two songs: I’m Gone and Cat Fight. The former is a superb fast-paced Rockabilly number, the latter has a menacing mood, which carries the theme of the song. You’d expect the violence to erupt anytime. Also, it features a fine slide guitar on the solo.
It’s The Beat, written by the singer, is a mid-tempo dancing tune with drums to the fore, not surprisingly with such a title.
The fourth track is Magic Sam’s 21 Days In Jail. Dexter and the Ripchords turned the song into a superb Rockabilly with a powerful double-bass and Harvey’s guitar galloping (or should I say “galluping”) behind the melody.
In 1980, the band managed to capture the excitement of the Fifties while keeping it relevant for a contemporary audience that saw the arrival of Punk. Forty years later, it still sounds fresh.

Levi Dexter & The Ripchords – I Get So Excited

I Get so excited

Fresh Records – FRESH 40 [1981]
I Get So Excited – The Other Side Of Midnight

Recorded in July 1981, Levi and the Ripchords’ second single shows a slight departure from the band’s debut effort. After Curry and Reed decided to return to Los Angeles the previous Summer, the band recruited Bobby Brennan on double bass, and Danny Harvey remained the sole guitar player. It’s also produced by the expert hands and ears of Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, Robert Gordon, the Strangeloves, Holly and the Italians). It finds Dexter and the Ripchords leaving the traditional Rockabilly idiom to flirt with Neo-Rockabilly. Suffice to compare the Other Side of Midnight’s version recorded by Levi and the Rockats on their Louisiana Hayride album with this one. The former is played in a medium train beat and sounds traditional, whereas the latter is slightly faster, the vocal is meaner, and the guitar sound is more modern. Those differences may sound subtle, but in the end, you almost have an entirely new song.
I Get So Excited is from the pen of Danny Harvey, and drummer Pat Brown is in the same vein. I always get chills when the song stops and Harvey erupts into an amazing, yet brief, guitar solo.

Levi – The Fun Sessions

levi the fun sessions

PVC Records – PVC 5905
I Get So Excited – The Other Side Of Midnight – Victim Of Kool – Let Er Roll – Jitterbop Baby

Both I Get So Excited and Other Side Of Midnight were released as a single in 1981. Victim of Kool comes from the same session (July 1981) produced by Richard Gottehrer. It sounds like a modern version of Gene Vincent’s Dance In The Street.
The remaining two songs, a cover of Hal Harris’ Jitterbop Baby and Sid King’s Ler Er Roll, come from a Trident Studio session in London in November 1980. The sound is more traditional and closer to the band’s debut single in terms of sound.

Levi Dexter – Pomp!

Levi Dexter – Pomp!

Jappin’ and Rockin’ JRCD3 [1992]
Other Side of Midnight – Just Go Wild – Hot’n’Cold – Lolita – Joint Jumpin – Dub-Scratch Boogie – Crazy Blues – Everytime – Stealin Corn – Motorhead Baby – All Night Rockin’

In 1985 Levi Dexter gathered a fine array of musicians and did what he does best (and better than many): ROCK! The result was Pomp!
Actually there’s more than just rockabilly here and everyone who likes good music will find something on this platter that is sure to please him . Of course the amateur of Neo-rockabilly as defined by Dexter with the Rockats and the Ripchords will be knocked off by his new version of his classic “Other Side Of Midnight” – that plays in the same league as, say, everything the Blue Cats recorded on the Tunnel in term of modern Rockabilly – or by his interpretation of classics like “Hot’n’Cold”. But there’s also a good dose of good old Rock’n’roll with saxophone, a jazzy ballad (Lolita) with a great solo that is worth the price of the album itself (even if it sells for big money on the internet now!) a rockin’ blues with steel guitar (Crazy Blues) and a bit of western swing influence (Everytime) too. There’s even an instrumental in the Bakersfield style.
As I said before, “Pomp” is not that easy to find but definitely worth the hunt.

Levi Dexter - Roots Man
Levi Dexter – Roots Man

Levi Dexter – Roots Man

Dextone Records/Rhythm Bomb records RBR5776 [2014]
Roots Man – Honey Bun – Completely Sweet – Oakie Boogie – Boppin’ Bernie – Rollin’ To The Jukebox Rock – Hadacillin Boogie – I’m Laying It On The Line – Put Your Cat Clothes On – Move Around – The Man Who Counts – Hurricane – Restless – Cannibal Party

Levi’s back! Not that he was really gone – though he’s a real gone cat but that’s another story – but his latest album released jointly by his own label Dextone records and Rhythm Bomb records sounds like a sonic bang and a slap in the face. A shoot of Rock’n’roll directly injected through your ears to your feet. Boppin’ fever guaranteed.
Roots Man, quite an appropriate name, was recorded live mostly o n vintage gear and it shows. One can hear the emergency and the excitement that make the essence of Rockabilly. Special mention also to the perfect backing band: Buzz Campbell (Hot Rod Lincoln, Lee Rocker) sets his guitar on fire while Johnny Bowler (Guana Batz, Head Cats and many others) and Stinky provide the beat.
Among the 14 songs, three are Dexter originals. The title track is a hot rocker with stop-starts arrangements with Levi naming his favourite rockers while Campbell answers with the appropriate riffs. Boppin’ Bernie (I wonder who this Bernie can be?) has a slight Gene Vincent feel and is sure to make you… bop! The third song, quite possibly my favourite track, is the humorous Cannibal Party that sounds like a mix between Jungle Rock and the MeteorsVoodoo Rhythm.
The remaining songs are covers from the songbooks of Larry Donn, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Don Rich & the Buckaroos, Jack Guthrie, Benny Joy, Hank Penny and, that’s a good point, contemporary artists like Bob Butfoy( Jack Rabbit Slim) and Steve Bloomfield. Dexter assimilates them, mixes them with his own influences (Do I hear a bit of Cavan on Oakie Boogie?) and in the end the songs are what I call “Dexterised”, sounding 100% Levi.
A must have.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Levi Dexter (Photo by Bernie Dexter)
Levi Dexter (Photo by Bernie Dexter)
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