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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.

Bobby Smith

in Reviews

Bobby Smith – Two Sides

bobby smith ripsaw

Ripsaw 221 [1987]
What Do I Hafta Do – Tough Girls – Leave My Woman Alone / Both Wheels Left The Ground – I Wanna Be With You – It’s Summertime
I don’t know much about Bobby Smith. Besides Smith on vocals and lead guitar the core of the band was Johnny Castle on bass, Dave Unger or Mitch Collins on piano, George Oakley on sax, and Jim Lethbridge on drums.
This mini-album features four originals and two covers.
What Do I Hafta Do is a classic but solid rocker with pumping piano. Members of a Gospel choir provide the backing vocals on this one.
Most surprising is Tough Girls that has a strong 60’s feel revisited by the 80’s with sax and weird guitar part, a bit like John Cafferty.
Leave My Woman Alone is a cover of Ray Charles.
Guitar freaks will jump on his cover of Crazy Cavan’s Both Wheels Left The Ground that features a fantastic guitar part by the late Danny Gatton. There’s a change of pace with the joyful It’s Summertime, and the boppin’ I wanna Be With You.

Kid Tater & the Cheaters

in Reviews

Kid Tater & the Cheaters – Wheels on Fire

Ripsaw Records ‎219 [1982]
Wheels on Fire / You Oughta Now Better

Kid Tater was a singer-guitarist from Illinois. He sent these songs to Ripsaw, who decided to release them in collaboration with Relic Records.
The Cheaters were Rocky Valley on drums, Jeff gates on piano, and Scotty Beld on bass. Both songs are originals.
The A-side is a galloping Rockabilly with two hot guitar solos. Nothing too original but very efficient. The B-side is more interesting. It’s a Rock’n’roll number with a blues edge, in the same style than Elvis‘ Fool Such As I, featuring an excellent barrelhouse piano part.

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

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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.

Marti Brom (reviews)

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Marti Brom Midnight BusMarti Brom & Her Rancho Notorious – Midnight Bus

Enviken ENREC177 [2019]
Come Destroy Me – Lasso Mr Moon – Belly Of The Beast – Loveaholic – Push Me Till I’m Gone – Last Ten Years With You – Lies Of A Promise – Ambush – Little Ole Wine Drinker Me – Stiletto In Black – If ‘If’ Was A Fifth – Drivin’ Me Crazy – Slippin’ And Slidin’ – Mamas Little Babies Was A Rockin’ – Midnight Bus – Damn Those Little Deamons (vinyl only)

Marti Brom is by far one of the finest singers on the roots music scene, and I said singer, not “female singer.” She seems to be able to do whatever she wants with her voice, and it even seems easy.
That said, I was slightly disappointed with “Not for Nothing,” her 2010 release. Marti’s performance was, as usual, top-notch but I found the production uneven.
Nothing like this here. Recorded in Sweden with a gang of talented Swedish guys (and a couple of guests like Rosie Flores and Chris Ruest), Midnight Bus is perfect from start to finish.
Nine out of the sixteen tracks are from Marti’s pen; the others are covers. But cleverly, next to classics like Slippin’ and Slidin’, Little Ole Wine Drinker Me or the title track, Marti had an excellent idea to include songs from today’s artist. Thus you can finds songs from Crazy Joe (Last Ten Years With You), Kathy and the Kilowatts (Loveaholic) or the late great Nick Curran (Drivin’ Me Crazy.)
From Damn Those Little Demons, a bluegrass tune only available on the vinyl version, on one end to Ambush, a sixties soul number with organ, on the other, “Midnight Bus” covers a broad range of styles. But thanks to the production, it manages to remain coherent and sounds like a whole.
There is a good dose of solid rockers like “Come Destroy Me,” “Last Ten Years With You” or “Mama’s Little Baby Was A Rockin’” which features a solid rockin’ piano.
Album after album, Brom proved she was more than at ease to sing country songs. This one makes no exception. “Lie of a promise” is a traditional honky-tonk with fiddle and steel. As I said before, she makes it sound so easy, and I thought how great it would be to have her cut a single with the Country Side of Harmonica Sam. Labels if you read this. “Push Me Till I’m Gone” is more in the Cash vein and “Lasso Mr. Moon” is a superb country shuffle with a cracking guitar solo.
Talking about guitar, Chris Ruest provides a mean guitar on Curran’s It’ Drivin’ Me Crazy while Mattias Bruhn hypnotically tickles the ivory. “If If Was A Fifth” brings a welcome touch of Jump and West coast blues.
Tunes like “Midnight Bus,” “Stilleto in Black,” and “Belly of the Beast” are the perfect vehicles to hear the intensity and emotivity of her voice. The latter is a mean and menacing rocker that sounds like a cross between Johnny Horton’s “Lover’s Rock” and “Funnel of Love.”
With that album, Brom really reached a new level with her songwriting. Combined that with her always-spectacular voice and a stellar backing band and the result is one of Brom’s very best platter.

Available at Enviken , Raucous, Tessy or other fine dealers.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Marti Brom - Not for nothin'
Marti Brom – Not for nothin’

Marti Brom – Not For Nothin’

Ripsaw / Goofin GRACD 6705 [2010]
Finders Keepers / Get A Little Goner / Mascara Tears / Not For Nothin’ / Forbidden Fruit / Something Blue / Never No More / Sweet Baby of Mine / Blues Keep Calling / Sweet Thang / Write Me In Care of the Blues / Feelin’ Right Tonight / I Get the Blues When It Rains / A Fool Such As I / Spook House

“Not For Nothing” is not only the return of Marti Brom but it’s also the return to life of a legendary label: Ripsaw. For this album, the rockin’ brunette gathered a cast of musicians of the Washington DC scene.
The opening track – Finders keepers – is a cover of Wynona Carr on which she’s appropriately backed Del Pushert (who toured with Elvis) on sax. The singer does a great job, and it’s good to hear her on this genre of tune. Get A Little Goner, the following number finds her in familiar territories. It’s a twangy honky-tonk number featuring Bill Kirchen. It’s by far the best track of the album with Arty and Linda Hill’s Mascara Tears a straight honky-tonk on which her Patsy Clyne’s voice does wonders. In the same vein, you’ll find Something Blue from the pen of Teri Joyce. The Austin songwriter wrote some of the best songs ever sang by Brom and this song makes no exception. The title track, penned by Sean Mencher, features an organ. The arrangement is perfect until a weak, distorted guitar solo ruins the song.
Pat Brown’s Forbidden Fruit is way better and the solo more inspired.
Bobby Sharp’s Sweet Baby Of Mine could have been excellent. It’s a groovy number in a similar vein than Hit the Road Jack with saxes but once again the guitar could be a little bit more subtle. Globally, one can say that the weak point of this album lies in the rockin’ numbers on which the guitarist can’t help but over playing, and to make things worse, with a bad sound. Strangely, for a singer that delivered some outstanding rockabilly numbers this album works better on the country or blues-inspired numbers. But as they say, every rule has its exception and “I Get the Blues When It Rains” is the perfect demonstration of that. They try to give it a western swing touch but end sounding more than Asleep At The Wheel rather than Bob Wills. In the end “Not For Nothin’” is only half convincing, but I wouldn’t say that Brom is to blame, but the problem comes from the band. You can only regret her previous albums on which she was backed by members of High Noon or the excellent Barnshakers.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Marti Brom plays Heartache Numbers
Marti Brom sings Heartache Numbers

Marti Brom – Sings heartache numbers

Goofin’ Records
One Way Ticket To The Blues – Alone At A Table For Two – Three Hearts Later – Four Walls – Five Fingers To Spare – Whiskey Six Years Ago – Seven Lonely Days – Eight Weeks In A Barroom – Apartment No 9 – Ten Minutes Till Heartaches – A-11 – The Twelfth Of Never – Thirteen Steps Away

I heard about this “Heartache Numbers” project a couple of years ago, and was very interested in the concept. Each track is a song containing the number of it’s track listing on the CD. (for example: Track #7- «7 Lonely Days», Track #9- «Apartment #9», etc.) HOW CLEVER!!! And it ends with the unlisted track- «Heartache By the Numbers». Okay- so Marti’ gets kudos for the concept of the record alone. Even though I usually have gripes with records that are all covers, this is an exception because of the clever concept and the fact that it is Marti’ Brom and she can pull it off. I was thrilled to find it was no longer just a «concept», and that the recordings were finally finished and released in time for the Oneida 50’s Fest. I had to get a copy. I have always been a Marti’ Brom fan, no matter what she does. Every record is different for her, but she has such an impressive range, she can master a multitude of musical styles. Still my favorite Marti’ recordings are her country ballads. Imagine- a whole record of country ballads by Marti’! The emotion of these songs perfectly showcases her ability as a singer. I don’t know much about 60’s Country, but I was turned on to the genre when I lived in Austin, TX, where it is a staple. I miss the honky-tonks where I could have a tear in my beer, but this CD brings it all back to me. My only warning to listeners is that, if you are drinking while you are playing the CD, you will probably be crying by the end. Remember that the title is «Heartache Numbers».There is only one Patsy Cline cover on the record, but the obvious comparison to her vocal stylings is still evident. Like Patsy, Marti can yank at those heartstrings with her dynamic range and emotional vocal manipulation. (Marti- don’t get offended about another Patsy comparison. It is definitely a compliment from me.) Vocally, this record is flawless. It is, in my opinion, Marti’s best vocal performance on a recording-and all of her recordings are superb. And, as always, she has selected the best backing musicians for the genre. (Bobby Flores- fiddle, Justin Trevino and Kevin Smith- bass, Debra Hurd- piano, Levi Mullen- guitar, Dickie Overby- steel, Buck Johnson and Lisa Pankratz- drums) If you like 60’s country, it doesn’t get any better than this! When I am drinking alone, I am going directly to this CD for company.To top it off, the «Maven of Style» models a «Cari Lee» original creation on the cover- a saloon-girl style satin/fringe dress! (I thought Cari Lee was a singer- how did she have time to become a kick-ass seamstress as well? I want my own «Cari Lee» dress!). Plus, the liner notes are by the one and only Wanda Jackson! You know it must be good if the «legends» are raving about it.

In conclusion, Marti’ is still my idol. Buy all of her records!

Little Rachel

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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