Thursday, 18 October 2012

At last - the second half of my list of rockabilly favourites!

It’s been almost three years since the world learned the identity of my ten favourite rockabilly records (check the list out here). At that time I promised to reveal the next ten, but never got round to it. Well, the time has come (mainly because I’ve got a streaming cold and my brain has turned to mush). I’ve excluded the obvious names entirely this time – no Elvis or Carl Perkins, Charlie Feathers or Johnny Burnette. While the following performers are dead famous in rockabilly fan circles, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll have heard of any of them (you can thank me for introducing you to them later).

Hank Swatley's 1959 cover of Jack Guthrie's Hillbilly Boogie classic, "Oakie Boogie" is an example of a rockabilly sub-genre I really enjoy - one-hit wonder country artists who found a rock 'n' roll groove one day to produce a surprisingly great track.

Bobby Helms enjoyed a slew of country hits in 1957 (including the truly horrible "Jingle Bell Rock"), the year after he sounded slightly uncomfortable trying to rock out on "Tennessee Rock 'n' Roll" - I think it's his slight awkwardness that lends it its charm (while the band provided the drive that makes it great):

Webb Pierce was a star honky-tonker who managed to produce one genuine rockabilly classic with the much-covered "Teenage Boogie":

There's nothing countrified about Gene Lamarr & His Blue Flames' borderline-deranged stomper "Crazy Little House on the Hill" - the lead guitar is excellent:

"Jumpin'" Gene Simmons's "Peroxide Blonde and a Hopped-Up Model Ford" is a magnificent slice of Sun Records wizardry from 1957. A year later, Simmons would enjoy his only chart success with the excellent, "Haunted House", with another label - but this number wasn't released at the time because there was some tape damage and Sam Phillips didn't want to issue an incomplete single - tragic!

Jonny Edwards and his White Caps recorded "Rock 'n' Roll Saddles" at Northland Sound Studios, 531 Third Street in Wausau, Wisconsin in January 1957. (I knew you'd want to know that.) I have no idea what he's talking about, but it's terrific:

I'm not that keen on excessively frantic rockabilly - for instance, I've never been a fan of Johnny Carroll - but Joe Clay's "Sixteen Chicks", recorded in Houston in 1956, along with "Ducktail", is a notable exception: I'd love to know what the needles on the recording studio control panels were doing as they recorded the guitar opening. Clay (in reality a Cajun named Cheronie) had his career blighted by Elvis. He'd been booked to perform "Ducktail" on the Ed Sullivan Show but, unnerved by the reaction to Presley's onscreen gyrations, Sullivan made him switch to some crappy ballad, and Clay ended up driving a school bus for thirty years before being rediscovered by an English rockabilly fanatic:

The Hi-Tombs' (!) "Sweet Rockin' Mama" must have sounded several years out of date when it was recorded in Richmond, Virginia in 1960 - but that doesn't stop it being a minor masterpiece: "hey man, dip, dip, dip, dip" indeed:

Sonny West wrote and recorded the original versions of "Rave On" and "Oh Boy" in 1957 (they're not a patch on the Buddy Holly covers), but in 1956 he recorded "Rock-Ola Ruby" and "Sweet Talking Woman" - both rockabilly classics - at Norman Petty's Clovis studio:

Sonny Burgess recorded lots of great records for Sun in its heyday. My favourite is "Ain't Got A Thing", a hard-driving gem with witty lyrics:

And because it's my blog and I can do what I like, I'm going to end with No. 21 - "Evil Hearted Ada" recorded by The Flamin' Groovies in 1971 is a very funny and affectionate homage to my favourite popular music genre:

1 comment:

  1. This blog has lots of video..I hadn't watched all but few..Ad I must say I enjoyed watching’s extremely unlikely if you’ll have heard of any of them...