Record shops obviously need to hang onto the old-fashioned collector, more interested in filling in a gap between 1958 and 1962 than in what is charting. Canny labels and dealers are doing the crate searching for us and last time I called at Jumbo Records, Leeds, I found plenty to look at and came away with five CDs packed with 50s and 60s Americana I really wanted to hear, for not much more than a tenner.
The bad news for Jumbo is that I am now logged on to the label – http://www.fantasticvoyagemusic.com/ The good news is that browsing its output was much easier at Jumbo.
I got a two-CD round-up of the 1950s in New Orleans and swamp country, Later Alligator, with 50 tracks and barely a dud. Points of particular interest include Dolly Parton’s first record, at 13, for a small Louisiana label; a track from Jerry Lee’s cousin, Micky Gilley, Drive-in Movie, which somebody should have given an arm to get onto the soundtrack of Grease; and a very slick version of Willie Dixon’s My Babe, by Dale Hawkins. You should be able to find a lot of the material at a tourist board site – louisianasoundtrack.com/ – but take it from me that the CDs work a lot better.
The other three I bought were a collection called After Sun, offering a what-came-next round-up of artists who moved on after making Sam Phillips and his Memphis studio the God Particles of Americana.
Of course, you already heard the gist of what happened next, but the after-Sun angle is an interesting one and almost all the 97 tracks are new to me, even including some of the Elvis.
I especially wanted to hear a bit more of Billy Riley, who surprised me back in 1992 with a marvellous blues called Calhoun City. Hear it at http://tinyurl.com/kn9vj7j/ But here he is still just another rockabilly.
I was surprised to discover that the first official release of Pink Pedal Pushers, via Columbia in 1958, was reduced to light-hearted teeny-pop from the wolf cry of the original. I’ve mainly heard, as you will have, what must have been a Sun take of the Carl Perkins classic. On that, it sounds like Perkins shouts ‘Go Gal’ before one of the great rockabilly guitar breaks of all time, but I can’t find this explained and I am wondering if it was his brother Jay, who shared vocal duties, shouting Go Carl? Or was Gal his guitar? Anyway, the Bear Family have a Sun out-takes collection including several of Pink Pedal Pushers , and it is those which made the sound the Troggs were trying for 10 years later. You will hear a Sun version at http://tinyurl.com/lm5m6pr / even though it is illustrated with a Columbia pressing.
Hardrock Gunter is among those who stands out better than he did on Sun compilations. He was a pioneer of the rockabilly sound and Wikipedia says his 1950 hit, Birmingham Bounce “has become regarded as a contender for the first rock and roll record, predating Rocket 88 by a year” – http://tinyurl.com/l28hzhd/
Also great fun is F-Folding Money by Tommy Blake. Hear it at http://tinyurl.com/ngzqyln/
Eddie Bond, the man who could have had Elvis Presley in his band but turned him down, distinguishes himself with the naffest line in the collection – Suddenly last summer/She went off with a drummer.