El Toro Records
Anita Carter – He’s a Real Gone Guy / Bunny Paul – Sweet Talk / Charline Arthur – Hello Baby / Barbara Pitman – Sentimental Fool / Jan Smith – It’d Surprise You / Patsy Cline – Stop, Lookin & Listen / Janis Martin – Let’s Elope Baby / Dottie Jones – Honey, Honey, Honey / Wanda Jackson – Baby Loves Him / The Collin Kids – I’m in Your Teens / The Davis Sisters – Everlovin’ / Rose Maddox – Wild Wild Young Men / Sparkle Moore – Skull & Crossbones / Brenda Lee – Bigelow 6200 / Mimi Roman – Little Lovin’ / Janis Martin – Drugstore Rock’n’Roll / Wanda Jackson – Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad / Patsy Ruth Elshire – Watch Dog / Jean Chapel – I Won’t Be Rockin’ Tonight / Charline Arthur – Welcome to The Club / Bolean Barry – Long Sideburns / Nettles Sisters – Real Gone Jive / Ladell Sisters – Rockin’ Robert / Barbara Pittman – I Need A Man / Bunny Paul – History / Sparkle Moore – Rock-A-Bop / Rose Maddox – Hey Little Dreamboat / Betty Bryant – I’ll Take Back That / Alvadean Coker – We’re Gonna Bop / Betty Barnes – What Would You Do? / Connie & The Cytations – Boogie Rock / Patsy Ruth Elshire – Sugar Lump / The Collins Kids – Move a Little Closer.
Girls can rock too ! This is what, with no less than 33 songs, this nicely made compilation proves. Hardcore collectors will know most of the titles here, but this is a good start for anyone who’s interested in early female rockabilly singers.
Anita Carter opens this selection with a country/rockabilly version of Nellie Lutcher’s “He’s A Real Gone Guy”. A good version with a short but good steel guitar solo but a little bit wasted by the female background chorus. Born in 1924, Bunny Paul had already a solid experience when she cut her self penned “Sweet Talk” (with a similar intro as Elvis’ “My Baby Left Me”) and “History” for Point Records. Charline Arthur is almost a legend for her renegade attitude on and off stage which compromised her career a bit. Her recordings are like her. Included here are “Hello Baby” and the song that gives this compilation its name “Welcome To The Club” also recorded by Jean Chapel present here with “I Wont Be Rockin’ Tonight” written by the same winning team who gave the world “Heartbreak Hotel”. While Barbara Pittman’s Sentimental Fool is a good rocker (with sax and piano) who could believe she was only 13 when she recorded “I Need A Man” as good as anything Wanda Jackson released. Talking about Wanda, she’s well represented here with two songs, her own “Baby Loves Him” and “Hot Dog That Made Him Mad” (good choice from El Toro to choose different songs than the usual “Funnel Of Love” or “Fujiyama Mama”). This songs confirm (if needed) her status as the one and only Queen of Rockabilly. If Wanda is the Queen, Sparkle Moore, though she had recorded just a handful of singles, could possibly be the princess. “Skull & Crossbones” and “Rock-A-Bop” both from her pen are faultless. The other name that comes to mind when you think about female rockabilly is of course the late Janis Martin. “Let’s Elope Baby” and “Drugstore Rock’n’Roll” (a self penned tune), both from her first session for RCA, are the songs present here. Coined as “the female Elvis”, Janis proved she was much more than a pale imitation and truly had a style of her own. For this session she benefited of the best talents of the Nashville studios including Bob Moore, Chet Atkins and Grady Martin. He also lends his guitar on Mimi Roman’s “Little Lovin’” and Brenda Lee’s “Bigelow 6200”, giving to both of this songs a strong Johnny Burnette flavour. Like Brenda Lee, The Collins Kids were teenagers when they recorded their best tunes. If for some artists 2 songs are far enough I warmly encourage you to buy anything you can from this two wild kids. High pitch harmonies, Lorie’s beautiful voice and Larry’s sizzling guitar, they are absolutely brilliant ! Talking about family bands and harmonies, the “sisters” bands (even if contrary to The Collins Kid they weren’t real sisters for some of them) like the Nettles and the Davis bring a strong rural flavour to their rockabilly with their hillbilly harmonies. The Ladell Sisters are different and more urban.
Jan Smith sings “It’d Surprise You” and yes I’ve been surprised as I first though this voice belonged to a man. This apart, that’s a great rockabilly with a good dash of blues in it. During its short spell of success Rockabilly seduced some country singers who cut some songs in that style like Patsy Cline and Rose Maddox even if in her case the result is more “hillbilly boogie” than strictly rockabilly. Patsy Elshire is for me one of the best vocalists on this selection. Her two songs, recorded for Capitol, Watch Dog and Sugar Lump are very good. The later features an amazing steel guitar solo which could possibly be played by Speedy West but I don’t have more infos. Far from Elshire’s relatively polished sound, Dottie Jones and Betty Barnes give us two fine pieces of raw Texas rockabilly.
As I said, “Welcome To The Club” is an excellent compilation that reunites the essential female rockabilly singers and their best cuts. So make yourself a favour and spend 80 minutes with those lovely ladies.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis