BY BARRY M. KLEIN - December, 2005
In no particular order, here are six new CD's which, if you like rockabilly music and some of its hillbilly bop and rhythm and blues cousins, should be made to order for your listening enjoyment, or as a last-minute holiday gift that is sure to please.


             Rip Carson's latest CD, "My Simple Life," is a mostly up-tempo, well put together CD featuring Rip on vocals and guitar, Joel Morin on electric and steel lead guitar, Michael Faughnan on drums, and Paul Diffin on upright bass. Diffin, who also plays with the CC Jerome Band in the Los Angeles area, co-wrote two songs on this CD, also contributing much of the studio work in the production of the CD.
             Another vital person involved in this release is Mel Spinella, the owner of Golly Gee Records, who has many groups and artists in his stable, including several who appear on the CD "Rockabilly Showdown Volume I," also reviewed in this article.
             If you don't know too much about Rip Carson, you really should! A man of many talents, Carson provides vocals and guitar work on this CD, as well as most of the songwriting. A multi-instrumentalist, Carson has been seen on stage playing bass, guitar, saxophone, piano and drums. In addition to his instrumental talents, songwriting skills and vocals, Rip Carson has a stage presence second to none. When seeing him in person, you don't know if he is going to set himself on fire, turn somersaults on and off the stage, or make love to a chair (all three have been described by me in past articles for this web site since 1999).
             There is something different about this CD than others I have heard from Rip, and he's better than ever. Rip's clear and clean vocals blend very well with the musical production, which is basic but essential. You get the feeling that you are sitting in front of the band in the studio when you listen to any one of these 14 songs. Rip's articulation of the lyrics is the best he has ever done, without losing any of his "dangerous" personna. Although most of the songs are Rip's compositions, we also get treated to some nice covers, including "Miss Heartbreak," an original of the late Jackie Lee Cochran; a great cover of Charlie Feathers' "Stutterin' Cindy," which keeps the original arrangement, but still has Rip's musical fingerprints on the song; and "Happy Heart," a song co-written by Paul Diffin that infuses doo-wop vocals into the song, and it works just fine.
             Some of the Rip Carson self-penned songs that I was particularly partial to were "That Ain't Enough," "Let Me Be," "The One I Want" (the good dancers would will love this one), "Keep Movin," and "Sinkin' Down."
             The bottom line: an excellent studio effort by a man who always draws a crowd when he is on stage.


             Bobby Horton and Billy Horton have been known as being a big part of the Austin music scene for many years. In the past they have pursued careers, both jointly and severally, and Billy has an impressive resume as a music producer in recent years.


             The last album of the Horton Brothers that I can remember was "Roll Back the RugŠIt's the Horton Brothers," which I bought a few years ago and enjoyed very much. In April of this year the Horton Brothers drew a big crowd for their show at the six-day Rockin' Fifties Fest at the Oneida Casino in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Bobby does vocals and plays lead guitar, steel and xylophone, while Billy also does vocals and plays bass and sax. Rounding out the personnel for this CD is guitar virtuoso Dave Leroy Biller on electric and acoustic guitar, Buck Johnson on drums and percussion, and T. Jarrod Bonta on piano. Shaun Young, of the legendary trio High Noon, contributes vocals and guitar, as he did on stage with the Horton Brothers in Green Bay.
             If you have never listened to or seen the Horton Brothers, I would describe them as "hillbilly bop" with a definite infusion of rockabilly, and they have been accused, and should be extremely proud of, having a real "fifties sound". The 11-song CD is mostly comprised of songs written by Bobby and/or Billy, but they also pay homage to Buddy Holly and The Crickets by doing "More Than I Can Say," a song written by Sonny Curtis and Jerry Allison, and they give the Johnny Horton song, "Shadows of the Old Bayou," a good turn.
             One of my favorites, "North to Dallas," was written by Bobby and Billy, and was one of the best new songs I heard in Green Bay (I was there for six days and nights watching performances in four venues, so this is truly a compliment).
             Bobby and Billy's vocal harmonizing is definitely in the great tradition of other "brother" acts, including the Everly Brothers and the Louvin Brothers. All of the songs are enjoyable listening, and the dancin' crowd also will not be disappointed.
             All eleven of the songs were good, but in addition to "North to Dallas," I particularly liked "Locked Out of Love Again" and "I Had One Too Many." "Yesterday's Blues," written by Billy, Bobby and Dave Biller, had great harmonizing, good sax by Billy and guitar by Biller. Listening to this CD brought back great memories of their Green Bay set, and I hope I get to see them play live again!


             Speaking of Green Bay, when I returned home from "Green Bay I" in 2002, I favorably reviewed the Bob Timmers CD, "Pickin' With My Friends." Well, it looks like Bob Timmers has another winner! At "Green Bay II," Bob Timmers debuted the Rockabilly Hall of Fame CD entitled "Pickin' With My Friends #2," which features Bob with Roman Self (Ronnie Self's son), Larry Merritt, Mike Vincent, Elvis drummer D. J. Fontana, France's Ollie Rock, Kenny King, Carl Perkins' oldest issue Stan Perkins, legendary bass player Bob Moore, Denny Noie, Tony Baustian of Bobby Lowell's Band AND ... Bob Timmers doing his "pickin and playin", which includes an instrumental entitled "Burning Ring" on which Bob plays all the instruments. On a good cover of "Heartbreak Hotel," Kenny King does the vocals and once again, Bob Timmers plays all instruments.
             If you have not seen Bob Timmers perform at such festivals as the Oneida Casino's Rockin' Fifties Fest, Rockabilly Rebel Weekend in Indianapolis or the recent Gene Vincent Tribute Concert in Los Angeles, Bob is an extremely accomplished guitarist who seems to be more animated each time I see him perform. Speaking of Gene Vincent, Larry Merritt does a nice job with Bob Timmers playing on Gene Vincent's classic "She She Little Sheila."
             For the blues lovers, Denny Noie's performance on "Blues Train" is an excellent blues number.

             This 13-song CD is very worthwhile, and please don't mind a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame hawking a product by our leader, Bob Timmers: to hear how good "Heartbreak Hotel" sounds with Bob on all instruments is worth the price of the CD alone. Actually this CD has many highlights, including Stan Perkins doing the lead vocals on his father Carl's "Boppin' the Blues," which in addition to Bob Timmers' guitar, features legendary bass man Bob Moore on bass. Roman Self always gives us a superb effort, and to have performances by the likes of Stan Perkins, DJ Fontana, Bob Moore, Larry Merritt, and Mike Vincent makes this a collectors item.


             "Hello Baby." No, it's not the beginning of the Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace." This is the newest CD from The Donettes. The Donettes started in late 1999 as an all female rockabilly band. They have since "evolved" into a two female/two male rockabilly quartet. Although they are basically based in the Seattle, Washington area, lead singer Rebecca Kemberling has been living in Austin, Texas for the last two years.
             Not that that slows them down: after a debut 45 release in 2001, the Donettes have just presented their third CD, "Hello Baby," which follows "Pitchin' Woo" and "Kick Off the Covers." Incidentally, "Pitchin' Woo", their first full-length CD, was engineered by none other than Billy Horton. Although the Donettes are essentially a rockabilly band, they dig deep into their roots repertoire and offer a considerable infusion of blues and country. The Donettes consist of Rebecca Kemberling on vocals, Kirsten Ballweg on upright bass, Jonathan Stuart on guitar and Tom Forster on drums.
             The Donettes' feisty set at the Green Bay Rockin' Fifties Fest this past April has given further impetus to their reputation and career. The Horton Brothers actually perform on this CD, joining the Donettes in "The Walk of Shame" that was written by Rebecca. Other catchy tunes include their rendition of "Boogie Woogie Country Girl," "Mercy," the Collins Kids' song, Faron Young's "Going Steady," and the country Classic, "The Right String, But The Wrong Yo-Yo." Another composition by Rebecca, "Baby Baby (don't be mean)" joins the "all killer and no filler" content of this 11-song CD.
             Their blues influences are evident in two classics, "Got My Mojo Working," which was a signature song of Muddy Waters as well as a hit on The Paul Butterfield Blues Band's first Elektra album, in which the lead vocals on that record was performed by drummer Sam Lay, who was once with Muddy Waters' band. "Got My Mojo Working" does get some reworked lyrics by Rebecca and the gang in their unique arrangement. Another classic that I sometimes hear on the "Harlem" show on XM Radio's 50's channel is Detroiter Todd Rhodes' song "Rocket Sixty-Nine," (1951) which benefits from the Donettes' touch.
             Rounding out the CD is a Leiber and Stoller tune, "Whipper Snapper," the title song "Hello Baby," and another song by Rebecca entitled "Sweet Boy."
             I see that the Donettes show much poise, promise and propitious prominence on this CD!


             Rockabilly Monthly magazine, in association with Golly Gee Records and Hum Tone Records, have released a 27-track CD from "some of today's hottest talent," and it would be difficult for anyone to refute this statement. I have reviewed other CD's from the Golly Gee Records label, including releases from some of the groups or individuals on this CD, but this CD also encompasses groups that are not purely California or necessarily from the Golly Gee record label stable.
             What we have here are 27 songs performed by about 16 groups or individuals, and they include Rip Carson, rockabilly prodigy Eddie Clendenning, Rockin' Ryan and the Real Goners, Hot Rod Lincoln, The Rumblejetts, Jerry King and the Rivertown Ramblers, The Spinouts, Chad Thomas and the Crazy Kings, Billy and the Bullets, Peter and the Wolves, and several others.
             I do not know how much exactly this CD sells for, but I'm willing to bet that it's a pretty good "bang for the buck," considering the 27 songs and many groups that are represented here, and it is quite a good collection of up-tempo contemporary rockabilly.
             Orlando Rios, who I believe is the person behind Rockabilly Monthly, and Mel Spinella of Golly Gee Records, are the co-producers of this CD. For information on ordering this, I would suggest you send an email to or go to the website at


             The new Helldivers CD is called "Starlight Rock Œn' Bop". I reviewed their last CD, "The Helldivers," in              A vast majority of the up-tempo songs are written by Ace Brown, Johnny Bones, or a joint effort by Ace and Johnny.
             My favorite songs on this CD are "Feel So Bad," "Hot Rod Boogie," "Rhythm Gonna Rock You," "Street Angel, House Devil," and "Water Boilin'." As is the case with all of the CD's reviewed here, the good dancers will love most of the songs on this disk, and I would even rate this new release even better than their prior CD.
             Pat Cupp, the rockabilly legend, who has also released a CD on the Wild Hare Records label, writes a nice review of "Starlight Rock Œn' Bop" on the back of the CD cover, and says it "showcases a new sound that really gets to the heart of true rockabilly as it was played in 1954."
             What else can I say!

Editor's Note: Barry Klein writes for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and his book, "Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll", was published in 1997. To contact Barry, email him at

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