LP & CD Reviews #14

THE REVEREND HORTON HEAT

Whole New Life’

(Victory)

The Reverend Horton Heat has blasted out of Texas with a brand new album and half a new band. Double-bass stalwart band member Jimbo Wallace remains while drummer RJ Contreras and ivory pounder Matt Jordan have been drafted in. Both make their presence felt in the opening title track which is an upbeat rockabilly bopper with a feel-good vibe that sets the tone for the album. This being the RHH it’s no one trick pony though with blues, hillbilly and some garage in the mix at various stages. The Rev’s authentic rockabilly and beyond guitar prowess is at the fore throughout, that 50’s vibe accentuated with the use of home-built period recording gear. This is another solid slab from the country that spawned then largely forgot the pioneers, the Rev is making up for years of national neglect in style. 

THE COCHRAN BROTHERS

‘The Complete’

(Bear Family)

Before Eddie Cochran laid down classic rock n roll hits like ‘Summertime Blues’ and ’20 Flight Rock’ he learned his trade as a duo with Hank Cochran (no relation). They recorded and performed under their own banner of The Cochran Brothers and also as session musicians during 1955 and early 1956. This 30 tracker is their complete output from that time, the earliest recordings are hillbilly, dated to modern ears, but it didn’t take long for the rockabilly to kick in with embryonic versions of Eddie’s later licks already recognisable with his guitar talent evidently well advanced at 17. It wasn’t until 1980 that the raw rockabilly of ‘Pink Peg Slacks’ saw the light of day while ‘Tired and Sleepy’ released on Ekko in 1956 was already influencing a new generation of cats by then.

JOHN BLAIR

‘Rumble At Waikiki’

(Bear Family)

This collection is the sort of release that Bear Family excel at, 52 tracks over two CDs with an extensive booklet. What is more unusual given the era of the majority of their subjects, the sleeve notes were penned by John Blair himself. The tracks span from 1973 to bang up to date in 2017. As you would expect, Jon & The Nightriders, for whom he is best known, feature on just under half of the collection. Some listeners might be surprised to learn that John was briefly involved with Ray Campi recording a trio of tracks for Rollin’ Rock including a rip-roaring ‘Honky Tonk Man’ before Jon & The Nightriders headed the surf revival in 1979, the title track for this anthology the debut. The modern demos and live tracks on disc two showcase John is no back number.

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