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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: https://www.bear-family.com/high-noon-flatland-saturday-night.html


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.

Jonny Barber & the Rhythm Razors

in Reviews

jonnybarber_smallRock-A-Billy Record Company
Dial 000 – Mama Said – Hot Tea – I Wanna Have A Garden

This mini cd gathers songs that were previously issued on two separate colored (gold and red) vinyl singles on Willie Lewis Rockabilly Record Company (R-7002 and R-7003).
Barber is a mighty fine singer and a good guitar player too. He’s backed by the percussive string bass of Mike Baird who previously played with Lewis on some of his recordings (try to get a copy of Delmer Supp and The Spudnicks on Bobland records, you won’t regret it). Their rockabilly draws influences from the legendary Sun records and to pursue the comparison, Barber’s vocal is not that far from the late Johnny Cash. Four great songs that match perfectly with the high standard established by the legendary Rock-A-Billy Records label.

Willie Lewis

in Contemporary artists/IJKL/Reviews
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

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