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CD Reviews
by Tony Wilkinson


VARIOUS ARTISTS
'Classy Sugar - The Pure Essence Of New York Rock & Roll'
Fantastic Voyage FVTD108
Total Playing Time 180.10 minutes -- No. of Tracks: 75 -- Booklet: 16 Pages

Disc One: Just Too Much

Chip Fisher - Sugar Bowl Rock/The Platters - Out Of My Mind/Billy Williams - Red Hot Love/Joe Dodo & The Groovers - Groovy/Ruth Brown - Just Too Much/Bobby Pedrick - White Bucks And Saddle Shoes/Donnie Elbert - Believe It Or Not/The Videos - Trickle Trickle/Chuck Willis - CC Rider/The Crew-Cuts - Hey Stella/Danny Valentine - Stampede/Barbara Evans - Souvenirs/Little Joe & The Thrillers - Let' s Do The Slop/Lloyd Price - Have You Ever Had The Blues/Titus Turner - Big John/Piano Red - Rock, Baby/Jaye Sisters - Pitter Patter Boom Boom/Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers - It Would Be So Nice/The Clovers - Love Potion No. 9/Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks - Baby Jean/The Mello-Kings - Chip Chip/Santo & Johnny - All Night Diner/June Batemon - Yes I Will/Wilbert Harrison - Goodbye Kansas City/Bobby Brookes - You'd Better Move

Disc Two: We're Gonna Jump For Joy

Bobby Darin - Bullmoose/Ann Cole - That's Enough/The Isley Brothers - Respectable/Neil Sedaka - No Vacancy/Dave 'Baby' Cortez - Cat Nip/Lincoln Chase - Miss Orangutan/The Turbans - When You Dance/Lillian Briggs - Boogie Blues/Lloyd 'Fatman' - Where You Been?/The Goofers - Flip, Flop and Fly/Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle/The Kalin Twins - Three O' clock Thrill/Jeff Barry - Hip Couple/The Cues - Yes Sir/The Chordettes - No Wheels/The Del Vikings - Flat Tire/Mamie Bradley - I Feel Like A Million/Elvis Presley - One Sided Love Affair/The Drifters - Hey Senorita/The Passions - Oh, Melancholy Me/The Solitaires - Walkin' Along/Duane Eddy - Yep (Canadian single version)/Bill Haley & His Comets - Where'd You Go Last Night/Dion &The Belmonts - I Got The Blues/Big Joe Turner - Jump For Joy.

Disc Three: Sticks And Stones

Brook Benton - Hurtin' Inside/ Thurston Harris - Be Baba Leba/Sil Austin - Pink hade of Blue/Ivory Joe Hunter - Shooty Booty/Clyde McPhatter - Ta Ta/The Rays - Elevator Operator/Bobby Freeman - Big Fat Woman/The Ospreys - It's Good To Me/The Five Keys - That' s Right/Johnny Restivo - Ya Ya/Buddy & Ella Johnson - Since I Fell For You/The Cadillacs - Peek-A-Boo/Jackie Wilson - Am I The Man/The Bay Bops - Joanie/The Coasters - What About Us/Ray Charles - Sticks And Stones/The Shirelles - Boys/King Curtis & His Royal Men - Birth of The Blues/Chico Holiday - Cuckoo Girl/Elson Smith - Flip Flop/Annisteen Allen - Rough Lover/The Flamingos - Mio Amore/The Danleers - I Really Love You/LaVern Baker - Why Baby Why/Jimmy McCracklin - The Wobble.

This is part three of the on-going series in which the Fantastic Voyage label issue a compilation of 75 tracks drawn from recordings made in a certain America City. This time the focus in on New York - the city which never sleeps (and I can vouch for that). The two previous releases are 'Heavy Sugar - New Orleans' and 'Savvy Sugar - Nashville'. Again compiled and annotated by Stuart Colman, a great guy and who is as close as to being a human Rockola jukebox as can be. The handout that came with my copy described the Manhattan melodrama of the birth of rock 'n' roll as serving for a training ground for the new breed of producers, managers, agents and song pluggers who would later run the music industry that employed them. New York was a very important place for rock 'n' roll - this demonstrated by the fact this was where Alan Freed gravitated to after his initial breakthrough.

As the source for the tracks on this compilation is the various recording studios dotted throughout New York, the material often has a more pronounced R&B edge to the rockin' and this is amply demonstrated by the inclusion of such as the wonderful 'My Babe' overtones of 'Big John' by the vastly underrated Titus Turner, 'Hurtin' Inside' by Brook Benton (which was the flip to the monster breakthrough hit ' It's Just A Matter Of Time'), Big Joe Turner's literal 'Jump For Joy' and Lloyd Price' 'Have You Ever Had The Blues' which is a real tour de force of rockin' R&B.

Many who we now regard as household names came to prominence in these halcyon days and this set includes some splendid example with the likes of 'Bullmoose' by Bobby Darin - probably his ultimate rock ' n' roll recording, even more amazing when one considers that the maniacal pounding of the piano keys is by Neil Sedaka who is also represented by the inclusion of his 'No Vacancy - which is in the mould of Coasters recordings. Speaking of this group, they have their unique fun styling of rock 'n' roll novelettes represented by 'What About Us'. The Cadillacs, The Clovers and The Drifters are three premier vocal groups that one associates with the Big Apple and are all featured on this set. The Cadillacs have their second biggest hit 'Peek-A-Boo' , a Coasters inspired piece of rockin' novelty whilst The Clovers are represented by their final hit in the USA , 'Love Potion No. 9' . The Drifters serve up 'Hey Senorita' with its latin tinged R&B rockin. Founder of the last mentioned group, Clyde McPhatter is included with one of his post Atlantic recording 'Ta Ta', a catchy 1960 hit.

New York' s Pythian Temple is where the rock ' n' roll national anthem ' ' Rock Around The Clock' was recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets and here they have their more obscure - but equally rockin' - 'Where' d You Go Last Night' included. Other top white rockers represented on the set are Ronnie Hawkins (with the classic 'Baby Jean' ), Elvis Presley ('One Sided Love Affair') and Dion with 'I Got |The Blues' which is in the style that he was to develop further when he signed for Columbia and hit big with the likes of ' Drip Drop' .

We have superior rockin' teen beat with such as Chip Fisher and his 'Sugar Bowl Rock', Chico Holiday with 'Cuckoo Girl', ' White Bucks And Saddle hoes by Bobby Pedrick (who had a second brush with fame as Robert John) and ' Three O' clock Thrill' by The Kalin Twins. Rockin' danceable vocal groups are well to the fore with ' It' s Good To Me' by The Ospreys, 'Trickle Trickle' by The Videos,' Flat Tire' by The Del Vikings and 'Elevator Operator by The Rays . Then there is a selection of first rate rock 'n' roll instrumentals like 'Cat Nip' by Dave Baby Cortez, Duane Eddy with 'Yep!' (this is the rare extended version only released in Canada), the Hawaiian sounding 'All Night Diner' from Santo & Johnny and the live recording of 'Birth Of The Blues' by King Curtis.

I could go on for pages about the worthiness of this excellent set but will draw this review to a close - apart from reiterating that it is one heck of a splendid rock 'n' roll compilation. Congratulations to all concerned.

Tony Wilkinson
2011




DONNIE BOWSER
'Got The Best Of Me'
Hydra BCK 27144
Playing Time 62.33 minutes -- No. of Tracks: 26 -- Booklet Pages: 16


Strut My Stuff/Southbound Special/Tight Shoe Boogie/We'll Never Part/Buff Frog Boogie/I Cried In My Sleep/Rock And Roll Joys/Stone Heart (Dess)/Grandma Rock And Roll/I Love You Baby (Dess)/Turning The Tables/Love so Rare/I Love You Baby (Sage)/Stone Heart (Sage)/Got The Best Of Me/It's Our Secret/Talk To Me Baby/Tomorrow (Bamboo)/Move It On Over/Sing Me A Sad Song/It's My Way Of Loving You/It Must Be Raining/Afraid/I Love You Baby (Top Tennessee)/Pretty Things/That's What I Need.

At last, a CD compilation of the recordings made by the excellent singer Donnie Bowser (aka. Donnie Bowshier) with the musical content ranging from hillbilly through country weepers, onto country rock with lashings of superb rock 'n' roll and rockabilly included for good measure.

Donnie was born in 1937 in Ohio and never strayed too far away, one principal reason was that he was confined to a wheelchair from the age of three after contracting polio. However, like singer/songwriter Melvin Endsley who was similarly incapacitated, Donnie did not let this get in his way when pursuing his career, indeed he is quoted as saying: with a disability like that, everything that I put into the vocals came from the heart. If you don't mean it, don't sing it. He commenced recording in 1953 with a stone hillbilly release on the Skip label (a King records subsidiary) followed by two releases on King. These included the excellent jiving hillbilly rockers 'Tight Shoe Boogie' and 'Bull Frog Boogie'

Come 1956 and the rock 'n' roll onslaught was in full momentum. In a split session with Gene Sisco, the sublime slab of rockabilly 'Rock And Roll Joys' along with Bowser's subsequent calling card 'Stone Heart' were laid down for the Dess label. The last mentioned is also included with the subsequent 1957 version recorded for Sage Records. (The last mentioned was subsequently leased to numerous labels). This is a light but appealing song and should have become a country classic. Similarly the Everly Brothers inspired 'I Love You Baby' is served up with both the Dess and Sage versions, the latter version being the more polished of the two. Great country rockin' track.

Other first rate rockers on this CD include 'Got the Best Of Me' which is a guitar and piano lead rocker whilst 'Talk To Me Baby' includes a sax in the backing and pounds away very tastily. Other musical selections include an original rockin' arrangement of the Hank Williams song 'Move It On Over' and the first rate country rocker 'It Must Be raining'. Donnie sadly passed away in 2002 and the 26 tracks on this release provide an excellent overview of his recording career.

(c) Tony Wilkinson
July 2011





VARIOUS ARTISTS
'The Grill Can't Help It - A Summer Smorgasbord of 50 Rock 'n' Roll Treats'
Fantastic Voyage FVDD112
Total Playing Time 122.30 minutes -- No. of Tracks: 50 -- Booklet: 20 Pages


Disc One:
Mickey & Sylvia - Let's Have A Picnic /Amos Milburn - French Fried Potatoes And Ketchup/ The Del Vikings - Cool Shake/Lloyd Price - Three Little Pigs/The Jamies - Summertime, Summertime/Freddy Cannon - Blue Plate Special/Dale Hawkins - Hot Dog/Louis Jordan - Salt Pork, West Virginia/Elvis Presley - Crawfish/Dick Glasser - Jeannie's Bikini/Varetta Dillard - Good Gravy Baby/Bobby Charles - Take It Easy Greasy/Chuck Miller - Saturday Fish Fry/Tommy Sands - Soda Pop Pop/Red Saunders - Hambone/Jamie Coe - Summertime Symphony/Little Joe, The Thrillers - Peanuts/The Sputniks - Johnny's Little Lamb/Glen Barber - Ice Water/The Danderliers - Chop Chop Boom/The Lockettes - Puddin' Pie/Thurston Harris - One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer/Phil Gary & His Go Boys - Pepper Hot Baby/Tennessee Ernie Ford - Catfish Boogie/Jerry Lee Lewis - Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee.

Disc Two:
Lord Rockingham's XI - Fried Onions/ - Jambalaya/Johnny Burnette - Gumbo/Chuck Sims - Little Pigeon/Gene Vincent - Summertime/The Coasters - Turtle Dovin'/Lenny Capello & The Dots - Cotton Candy/Dudley - El Pizza/Dave Rich - Chicken House/The Shades - Sun Glasses/The Swallows - It Ain't The Meat/Louis Prima - Closest To The Bone/Jo-Ann Campbell - Beachcomber/Joe Clay - Duck Tail/Richard Barrett with The Chantels - Summer's Love/Andre Williams - Bacon Fat/Marvin & Johnny- Cherry Pie/Jerry Jaye - Sugar Dumplin'/Doc Starkes & His Nite Riders - Apple Cider/Kay Cee Jones - Short'nin' Bread Rock/Jimmy Reed - The Sun Is Shining/Wynonie Harris - Git with The Grits/Tennessee Ernie Ford - Sunday Barbeque/Felix & His Guitar - Chili Beans/The Danleers - One Summer Night.

I just love these compilations with a theme running through them, especially when it contains great rockin' music put together with dashes of humour and a slight irreverence. The title is an obvious paraphrase of the best rock 'n' roll movie yet to be made and the CD, as the handout has it, has some of the spiciest rockin' selections. Many of the titles have connections with food, drink and summer fun. However, I doubt whether Chuck Sims 'Little Pigeon' will be a grill favourite (despite being a splendid example of rock 'n' roll) as there will be little to eat. The opposite is true of Louis Jordan's 'Salt Pork, West Virginia' or the great Lloyd Price's 'Three Little Pigs'.

All fifty tracks have merit and range from good through excellent to superb. In addition, they cover many of the styles that make the broad church of rock 'n' roll music. Thus we have the haunting doo wop balladry of 'One Summer Night' by The Danleers and 'Cherry Pie' by Marvin & Johnny (considering the theme of this compilation, it would be rather crass of myself to even think 'eat your heart out Jess Conrad') through the jump jive of Louis Prima's 'Closest To the Bone', the rockin' blues of Jimmy Read, the R&B styling of The Swallows on 'It Ain't The Meat' and the teen beat of Tommy Sands on 'Soda Pop Pop'. There are outright storming rockers such as the classic Chuck Berry inspired 'Summertime Symphony' by the late Jamie Coe, 'Hot Dog' by Dale Hawkins and the Louisiana rockin' beat of Lenny Capello on 'Cotton Candy'.

The track selections range from the very well known of the likes of 'Summertime' by Gene Vincent, 'Crawfish' by Elvis Presley and 'Duck Tail' by Joe Clay to more obscure but equally excellent rockin' fillets such as 'Short'nin' Bread Rock' by Kay Cee Jones, ' 'Sun Glasses by The Shades (who in actuality were Doc Pomus and Mort Schuman on a piece seemingly inspired by 'Short Shorts') and the wild version of 'Beachcomber' by Jo Ann Campbell which comes complete with a spell binding exciting guitar break.

The Jerry Jaye on the tight rock 'n' roll of 'Sugar Dumplin' hails from Chicago and is not the same guy who hit big with his version of 'My Girl Josephine'. However, 'Fried Onions' by Lord Rockingham's X1 is the hit making UK band that was formed by producer Jack Good to provide the musical backing on the ground breaking television show ''Oh Boy'.

Well, I hope that with this aperitif that I have wetted your appetite for this compilation by Stuart Colman, who is mustard hot with this one, and thus it should be served up wherever rockers meet and require lip smacking goodies.

(c) Tony Wilkinson
July 2011





VARIOUS ARTISTS
'Girls Gone Rockin' Vol. 2 - Let's Have A Party
Fantastic Voyage FVTD106
Total Playing Time 173.44 minutes -- No. 0f Tracks: 75


Disc One:
Janis Martin - My Boy Elvis/Etta James - Shortnin' Bread Rock//Debbie Stevens - If You Can't Rock Me/Dotty Ferguson - Slow Burn//LaVern Baker - Jim Dandy Got Married/Nita, Rita & Ruby - Rock Love//The Davis Sisters - Rock-A-Bye Boogie/Shirley & Lee - The Flirt//Ruth Brown - Wild Wild Young Men/Anita Tucker - Slow, Smooth And Easy//Jackie DeShannon - Trouble//Janet Baker - Boom De De Boom//Wanda Jackson - Honey Bop//Bonnie Lou - Little Miss Bobby Sox//Dorothy Collins - My Boy Flat Top//Donna Dameron - Bopper 486609/Bette McLaurin - Petticoat Baby/Brenda Lee
- Doodle Bug Rag//Eartha Kitt - Honolulu Rock-A Roll-A//Hadda Brooks - Jump Back Honey//Emmy Oro - A Fish House Function (For A One-Eye Sam)/ /Fluffy Hunter - My Natch' I Man//Ann Cole - Got My Mojo Working (But It Just Won You)/ /Wynona Carr - It's Raining Outside//Angel Face - I Can't Look Back

Disc Two:
The Delicates - Black & White Thunderbird//Janis Martin - Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll//Gene & Eunice - Bom Bom Lulu//Ruth Brown - I Want To Do More//Wynona Carr - Boppity Bop (Boogity Boog)/ /Wanda Jackson - I Gotta Know//Helene Dixon - Roll Over Beethoven//Cathy Ryan - 24 Hours A Day (365 Days A Year) /Coleen Frazier - Your Mama's Here//Judy Faye - Rocky-Rolly-Lover Boy//The Austin Sisters - It Happened At The Hop//Jamie Horton - Robot Man//Connie Francis - Fallin'/LaVern Baker - Bumble Bee//Rose Maddox - Move It On Over//Sparkle Moore - Rock -A-Bop//Norma Lee - Paper Boy//Joannie King - OK Doll, It's A Deal//Donna Dameron - Big Love//Dorothy Ellis - Drill, Daddy, Drill//Jewel King - 3x7=21//Marie Adams - A Fool On Love//Mickey & Sylvia - Love Is Strange

Disc Three:
Georgia Gibbs - Great Balls Of Fire/Laura Lee Perkins - I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Livin'/Janie Davids - Gonna Get Even With Elvis Presley's Sergeant)/ Janis Martin - Here Today And Gone Tomorrow/Nan Castle - Star Light Star Bright/Mimi Roman - Little Lovin'/Dolly Cooper - My Man/Ruth Brown - 5-10=15 Hours/Wynona Carr - Touch And Go/Mamie Bradley - The Patty Cake/Thelma Blackmon - Living Doll/Lillian Briggs - Come Here/June Valli - Lunch Hour/ Varetta Dillard - Teaser/Brenda Lee - Just A Little/ Boy Friends - It's Me Knockin'/Eunice Levy - Send Me Someone/Fern Fisher - He's The Most/Tiny Topsy - Aw Shucks Baby/Sugar Pie & Pee Wee - One, Two, Let's Rock/Jo Ann Henderson - Baby Please Don't Go/Kay Adams - It Just Ain't Love/Jean Chapel - Oo-Ba La Baby/Pat Ferguson - Fool Am I.

This is the follow-up compilation to 'Girls Gone Rockin' and my hat off to the compiler as there is no lessening in the quality of the rockin' tracks by femme artists selected for this is a seventy five track release. To quote from the press release, it brings together some of rock 'n' roll's finest singers with chart topping R&B mamas rubbing shoulders with boogie woogie country gals whilst demure pop princesses mingle with rockabilly fillies. That certainly sets the flavour and tone for the content.

Some of the ladies such as Janis Martin, Wanda Jackson, LaVern Baker, Ruth Brown, Brenda Lee, Wynona Carr, Jackie DeShannon, Tiny Topsy, Etta James and Connie Francis should need no further review. The compiler has carefully selected some of the best rockin works from each of these ladies. That said these sit more than comfortably along side some more obscure tracks, many of which are real gems.

From the R&B slant of rockin', we have Kay Adams with an excellent brassy backing on 'It Just Ain't Love', four excellent rockers in 'Slow, Smooth And Easy' by Anita Tucker, 'Boom De De Boom' by Janet Baker, 'A Fish House Function' - complete with novelty overtones - by Emmy Oro and 'My Natch I Man' by Fluffy Hunter. Then there is the superb 'I Can't Look Back' by Angel Face with femme Little Richard style vocal reflections set against a pounding chugging beat.

First rate rockin' slabs are served up by Mamie Bradley with 'The Patty Cake', the good echo laden vocals of Fern Fisher set against the sparkling rock backing (complete with a great guitar break) on 'He's The Most', the top notch rockabilly styling of Pat Ferguson on 'Fool I Am' and the truly scintillating rockin' of Coleen Frazier with 'Your Mama's Here'. But wait, there is also more excellent rock 'n' roll by Norma Lee on 'Paper Boy' and the tasty treatment by Nan Castle on the Jack Huddle rocker 'Star Light Star Bright' whilst Debbie Stevens is no slouch on her version of The Strikes/Ricky Nelson song 'If You Can't Rock Me'. Helene Dixon dishes up good vocals against an almost R&B style treatment of Chuck Berry's 'Roll Over Beethoven' whilst Jeanie & Her Boy Friends provide the answer to The Genies 'Who's That Knocking' with 'It's Me Knockin', rockin' vocal group stuff.

Slanted to the more teen side of rock 'n' roll, we have the excellent Bette McLaurin on 'Petticoat Baby', Cathy Ryan has the real catchy '24 Hours A Day (365 Days A Year)' and Jeani Mack' also has a fine rockin' opus with 'Dirty Dishes'.

There are a few tracks which each alone is worth the purchase price of this set. Sugar Pie & Pee Wee are simply outstanding on 'One Two, Let's Rock' as is Dotty Ferguson on the slow stroller 'Slow Burn' whilst Lillian Briggs on 'Come Here' is breathtaking.

Overall, this is one heck of a compilation and has to be in the running for rock 'n' roll release of the year

(c) Tony Wilkinson
May 2011






CONWAY TWITTY
'Tell Me One More Time'
Fantastic Voyage FVCD102
Playing Time: 68.25 minutes -- No. of Tracks: 30


Tell Me One More Time/Hallelujah, I Love Her So/I Vibrate (From My Head To My Feet)/You Win Again/Hey Little Lucy (Don'cha Put No Lipstick On)/Easy To Fall In Love/Rosaleena/Is Blue Bird Blue/A' Huggin' And A' Kissin'/The Story Of My Love/Make Me Know You're Mine/She's Mine/Trouble In Mind/Beachcomber/Teasin'/First Romance/Can't We Go Steady/Mona Lisa/When I'm Not With You/It's Only Make Believe/Hey Miss Ruby/C'Est Si Bon/My Adobe Hacienda/What Am I Living For/Just Because/Sorry/I'll Try/Lonely Blue Boy/Goin' Home/Pretty Eyed Baby.

This thirty track compilation is an overview of just over the first two years of recordings made by Conway Twitty for the MGM label commencing on 7th May 1958 with the classic 'It's Only Make Believe' - a recording that became a monster international hit and which, whilst covered by many other artists, still has never been bettered.

The quality of performances lovingly assembled by Stuart Colman is simply awesome. Conway's vocals are drenched with emotion, often complete with his trademark growl, whilst the quality of the backing musicians is superlative. Put these two factors into the melting pot, add the top Nashville recording studio of Bradley's Barn and the production skills of Jim Vienneau and you have served up some of the best rock 'n' roll music of the period.

The songs range from the ultimate snarling thumping beat ballad of 'Make Me Know You're Mine' complete with biting guitar work from possibly Ray Edenton and Grady Martin along with the heavy drumming of Jack Nance through the up-tempo neglected rocker 'Beachcomber' (also recorded by Jo Ann Campbell) to the storming and frantic rockin' of 'I Vibrate (From My Head To My Feet)'.

Conway's hit version of 'Lonely Blue Boy' (written for Elvis for the movie 'King Creole') - although European readers may well be more familiar with the Marty Wilde cover version - sits comfortably alongside other beat opus's such as 'The Story Of My Love', 'I'll Try' and 'First Romance' - all suitable for a bit of bum grabbing dancing. For whirling your partner around the dance floor, then look no further than 'Pretty Eyed Baby', 'Hey Miss Ruby' and 'Can't We Go Steady'. In the USA and elsewhere in the world, Conway had a huge hit with a real rocked up version of 'Danny Boy' but due to copyright reasons, this recoding could not be issued in the UK. Utilizing the same backing track but with new lyrics, we have the excellent 'Rosaleena'. This CD also has the top rockin' treatment of 'Mona Lisa' which was originated from Carl Mann at the Sun studio in Memphis. This arrangement was given to Twitty by Cecil Scaife. In the USA, both versions were a hit but only Conway made the breakthrough in the UK.

This is an excellent set of various shades of rock 'n' roll recorded by an artist at his creative peak. Highly recommended.

(c) Tony Wilkinson
May 2011






MAC CURTIS
'Songs I Wish I Wrote'
Bluelight BL 33147 2
Playing Time: 34.34 minutes -- No. of Tracks: 13 -- Booklet Pages: 6


Singer Of Sad Songs/This Time Tomorrow/100 Pounds Of Honey/Sunshine Man/Turn Away From Me/One More Night/Stay Love/Beautiful Annabel Lee/So What Let It Rain/Drowning All My Sorrows/If You want To Be My Woman/Restless/You've Turned Down The Lights.

Great news, Mac Curtis is back with a set of new recordings. However, this is a concept album in that it is a set of thirteen country songs that, as the title states, Mac wishes that he had composed.

Whilst he started out as an aspiring rockabilly back in the fifties, Mac achieved commercial success as a country singer with releases on the Epic and GRT labels from 1968 through to 1970. When Curtis linked up with Ronnie Weiser in 1974 and started to record good rockabilly, his international reputation really took off. However, he continued to record country music throughout the seventies for such as Ranwood Records. With this in mind, it is a logical step for Mac wanting to revisit his country music leanings, especially the variety from the late sixties and seventies.

This set was recorded in Finland for Bluelight Records - who also re-issued Mac's GRT 'Early In The Morning' album in 1999 - utilizing the same production team that were responsible for the last two critically acclaimed Hayden Thompson albums. As such, production standards and authenticity coupled with good music were virtually guaranteed - and this is the case with this release.

On his treatment of the Waylon Jennings 'Singer of Sad Songs', Mac comes across with a set of vocals that portray a worn and weary individual whilst on the Sonny Curtis 'This Time Tomorrow', his vocals are in perfect sync with 1969 styling of the original. The next three songs are from Mac's own back catalogue. All three work with the new backing, especially 'Turn Away From Me' with its pronounced rockin' edge that could gain radio play as well as going down well at a rock 'roll weekender or a country festival.

On Bob Dylan's 'One More night', a Johnny Cash styling is adopted and the end result benefits. 'Stay Love', originally by Faron Young, and 'Beautiful Annabel Lee' that is out of the Waylon Jennings catalogue are both served up with a straight country feel. However, the album now starts to have a pronounced rockin' edge. Mac's work outs on the Lefty Frizell 1961 song 'So What Let It Rain' and Merle Haggard's 'If You Want To Me My Woman' with 'High Heel Sneakers' style piano lead backings are further highlights whilst the Curtis treatment of the Gene 'Bo' Davis song 'Drowning In My Sorrows' is pure unabashed splendid rockabilly.>

The penultimate song is Carl Perkins's Restless' which Mac and the backing musicians nail perfectly, a fine fine recording. Unfortunately, the final song, which is a version of Bob Luman's 'You've Turned Down The Light', did not quite measure up to the musical excellence and enjoyment of the preceding twelve tracks.

Welcome back Mac, and long may you and the guys from Finland continue to make music of this quality.

(c) Tony Wilkinson
April, 2011



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