BY BARRY M. KLEIN - May, 2004
Did you ever wonder what Buddy Holly would sound like today if he hadn't entrusted his life to a 21 year old pilot
named Roger Peterson who, after working non-stop for 17 hours, attempted to fly Holly, the Big Bopper, and
Ritchie Valens in a Beachcraft Bonanza after midnight on February 3, 1959, in a severe snowstorm in Clear Lake,
Iowa. No one will ever know, but after listening to a recently released Sonny West EP/CD, "That's All She Wrote",
I thought I had an inkling..
After all, not only was Sonny West a west Texas buddy of Buddy, who co-wrote the Holly hits "Oh Boy"
and "Rave On", but Sonny and Buddy had similar performance styles, both recording at Norman Petty's
Clovis, New Mexico studio. Sonny West is also known for performing some of his own songs, including "Rock'ola Ruby"
and "Sweet Rockin' Baby". I caught Sonny West's impressive set at the greatest rockabilly festival in history,
The Oneida Casino's now legendary Rockin' 50's Fest in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in July, 2002. Sonny was
particularly impressive, and he is probably the only survivor, friend and peer of Buddy Holly who still
captures his musical motif.
The four songs on this CD, totaling over 10 minutes, include "That's All She Wrote", "Where Am I", "Dire Need"
and "Long Time Wine". All four songs reminded me of the late 50's "El Paso" era, although there seems to be,
particularly on "Where Am I", a more thoughtful, mature weltanschauung on the subject of love. It is definitely
worth taking 10 minutes to listening to what Sonny West is doing today. He has come a long way, but you still
know where he came from.
Enviken Records, out of Sweden, has recently released two rockabilly CD's, one of which is a meticulously
annotated set of early recordings by rockabilly legend Ray Campi, who on April 20 became the youngest 70-year-old
I ever met. The CD, entitled "1951-1958 The Road to Rockabilly" featuring Ray Campi and the Snappers,
consists of 19 songs handpicked by Ray to include in this collection, including five previously unreleased
recordings. Of the 19 songs here, only one was not a Campi composition, and that one is Chuck Berry's "You
Can't Catch Me", which was also covered by the Rolling Stones on their third US released album in 1965, "The
Rolling Stones Now!". There are some excellent country music recordings that illustrate Ray Campi's "Road
to Rockabilly". The enclosed 16-page booklet covers a lot of ground, including Ray's early history,
and his "revival era" starting in 1971 when he hooked up with another Italian fellow, Rockin' Ronny
Weiser, who at the time was, like Ray, living in the Los Angeles area.
Harvey Layman and Harold Layman. (In center rear) Leon Hawkins,
singer and guitar player with Ramblin Ray and the Ramblers,
Ram Campi (kneeling) Austin Texas 1952
Ray Campi backed by the Tinstars in Green Bay
Already owning practically handfuls of Ray Campi CD's, this one is still a must-have. Whether
it's live or a studio recording, if you are a Ray Campi fan or a student of rockabilly and its Texas roots,
this CD is an absolute treat!
Another Enviken CD is "Seven Nights to Rock" by Hank T. Morris & The Amazing Buffalo Brothers.
Hank T. Morris, known in Sweden as Ulf Murhagen, plays doghouse bass and handles most of the vocals.
The Buffalo Brothers are: Buffalo Brother #1, Rockin' Tord Ericksson on guitar, and also
handling lead vocals on three songs, and Buffalo Brother #2, Ingemar Dunker, who plays
drums and provides backing vocals. This 14-song, 44 plus-minute CD, features mostly
covers, and Hank T. Morris & The Amazing Buffalo Brothers score high points for a tight-but- full
sound for a trio, great dancing music, very good vocals, backbeat, and quite a diversified sound
from Rockin' Tord Ericksson's guitar. Fat's Domino's "I'm Ready", although faithful to Fat's
original, still has its own imprint, and deserves a good listen despite the fact that I was
always partial to George Thorogood's version. "Crazy Blues" and "Standing at the Crossroads"
showcase Tord Ericksson's blues-style slide guitar, while "My Girl Josephene", "Hip Shakin'", "Try
Me" and others, let you know that this CD definitely rocks.
"Oh What a Thrill", a not-often- played Chuck Berry song, was fun to listen to.
Hank T. Morris & The Amazing Buffalo Brothers.
I hope these guys tour the states sometime soon, because I would sure like to hear them in person.
Go figure! I missed the last two years of David Loehr's popular rockabilly festival, "Rockabilly Rebel
Weekend", in Indianapolis and look what happens: I listened to a new CD by the Stardevils, enjoyed it
so much, I would love to see these guys in person, and then find out they played at both of the Rockabilly
Rebel Weekends that I had missed.
To tide me over until I can catch their act live, the Stardevils' recently released "Diagnosis Dee-Licious" is
a great introduction to these scintillating swingers from Cincinnati.
You can tell that this is a high-energy band just from listening to them, and their 13-song CD on Kat-Tone
Records yields over 37 minutes of fun and joy. Mostly up-tempo rockabilly, the Stardevils are quite capable
of infusing a bit of twang ("Six Dollar Trim", "Mr. Lonesome"), but make no mistake about it: the Stardevils
are a real rockabilly band. If you don't believe me, just listen to Lance Kaufman's hiccupping vocals on "It
Ain't Right", "She's My Chick" and "Sweetest Thang". Good grooves guys!
If you cannot find the Stardevils' Kat-Tone Records CD in your store, consult their web site at
Barry Klein - firstname.lastname@example.org
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