This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site which was abandoned for its current site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.
This is number nineteen in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my personal collection. The series is called, “Cream of The Crate”, and they represent vinyl albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.
Album #19 somewhat follows on from the previous album reviewed, in that it is also a compilation, and what a compilation! Featuring fourteen excellent Rockabilly tracks, by seven artists, the title is “King-Federal Rockabillys“. Released in 1978 by Gusto Records, it celebrates the fantastic and amazing Rockabilly tracks originally put out on the fantastic Federal King Label.
The full history of this great label can be found on the King /Federal/Delux Story web site, however, in summary Syd Nathan founded the King Label during the second world war. He saw a niche that the major labels were not meeting, particularly the music coming from the Appalachian Mountains.
Not familiar with that music?
“Appalachian music was unmistakably inﬂuenced by African American culture, as white and black musicians within Appalachian communities long shared their knowledge of songs, tunes, and musical instruments. Several well-known songs from the region, such as the blues ballad “John Henry,” and one instrument widely associated with the region (the banjo) were of African American origin. The blues had a considerable impact on both country and bluegrass music, a fact evident, for in- stance, in Jimmie Rodgers’s “blue yodel” singing style and Merle Travis’s and Bill Monroe’s instrumental styles.” This is a quote from an article on this music, and more info can be gained from clicking on this link. Appalachian Mountain Story.
Recognising that there was also a large section of ‘Black Music’ not being catered for, he started the ‘Queen Label’ not long after establishing the ‘King Label’, and it featured artists like Bullmoose Jackson.
In the late 1950’s he founded the ‘Federal Label’ and signed Bill Ward & The Dominoes and James Brown, among many artists. Then spurred on by the roaring success of Elvis, King/Federal records made the decision to move into the ‘Country/Rockabilly’ genre.
What is interesting now in retrospect, was that although the $’s were obviously in the eyes of Syd Nathan, he signed many totally unknown artists such as Hank Mizell
and Bill Peach (to name but two).
Yet because artists like Hank Mizell, we have today music that is real collectors items because the artists captured the style and feel of the music perfectly, even though for whatever reason, at the time the public failed to respond.
Artists such as Mac Curtis and Charlie Feathers in particular did gain some notoriety and in fact made some damn excellent recordings.
Mac in particular cultivated a fantastic Presley type sneer and had a ‘cow lick’ that even Bill Halley would have been envious of.
He is still performing, has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and was in a movie called “Don’t Let Go” made in 2000.
The music on this album is fan-bloody-tastic! Now there are many, many Rockabilly Compilations and I’m not in the position to declare that this is the best! But is a beauty! There is not a dud or dull track on it.
Mac Curtis has the greatest contribution with five tracks which it can be argued represent his bounciest and best from 1956 and 1957 although sadly, it omits the only track that had ever been released previously in the UK You Ain’t Treatin’ Me Right, which had been issued on EMI’s Parlophone imprint in March 1957.
So, my three favourite tracks (and this wasn’t easy) are –
Mac Curtis and Grandaddy’s Rocking;
Charlie Feathers’ contribution actually represents his whole King output, a total of four of the most devastating pure rockabilly singles that set the standard by which the genre has been bound ever since.
The inclusion of Bottle To The Baby, One hand Loose, Nobody’s Woman and Everybody’s Lovin’ My Baby probably helped sell the album out of its first pressing faster than anybody, including King Records could have imagined.
Charlie Feathers with One Hand Loose
The final example is the only track by Hank Mizell, but it’s not only a great track it is one he re-released in later years.
Hank Mizell – Jungle Rock
Honestly, I could have written my list of fav three, probably three different combinations without repeating a track.
So who are the various artists on this record? Well, there are seven artists, some get one track, several get multiple tracks.
A1. Mac Curtis – Grandaddy’s Rocking: King 4949
A2. Charlie Feathers – One Hand Loose: King 4997
A3. Joe Penny – Bip A Little, Lot: Federal 1232
A4. Ronnie Molleen – Rockin’ Up: King 5365
A5. Mac Curtis – Little Miss Linda: King 4927
A6. Charlie Feathers – Bottle To The Baby: King 4997
A7. Mac Curtis – Goose Bumps: Unreleased
B1. Mac Curtis – If I Had A Woman: King 4927
B2. Charlie Feathers – Everybody’s Lovin’ My Baby: King 4971
B3. Hank Mizell – Jungle Rock: King 5236
B4. Bill Peach – Peg Pants: King 4940
B5. Mac Curtis – Say So: King 5059
B6. Charlie Feathers – Nobody’s Woman: King 5022
B7. Bob and Lucille – Eeny Meeny Miney Mo: King 5631
The music rocks, bops, rolls and tumbles in a most entertaining way. If you are looking to add some Rockabilly to your collection you would not make a mistake buying this album, and, it is available on Ebay and in a few overseas shops for not much more than about $25.00. Yet again, a classic album still under recognized even today.
Sadly there is no known live footage of any of ther artists on this album from the 1950’s.
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
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