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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Cream Of The Crate #19 : Various Artists – King-Federal Rockabillys






cream of the crate #19 : various artists – king-federal rockabillys
[CLICK to enlarge]


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. 

"That Rockabilly sound wasn't as simple as I thought it was!" - (Carl Perkins)

 "Keep on Rockin'" - (Mac Curtis) "Charlie Feathers, one of the great original rockabilly singers" - (NY Times - Charlie Feathers obituary)

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.

cream of the crate #19 : various artists – king-federal rockabillys
Album label [CLICK to enlarge]


cream of the crate #19 : various artists – king-federal rockabillys
Std Nathan – [CLICK to enlarge]

 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.

cream of the crate #19 : various artists – king-federal rockabillys
Early King/Queen Studio – [CLICK to enlarge]


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.

cream of the crate #19 : various artists – king-federal rockabillys
Hank Mizell

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.

cream of the crate #19 : various artists – king-federal rockabillys
CLICK to enlarge


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.

cream of the crate #19 : various artists – king-federal rockabillys
Charlie Feathers – [CLICK to enlarge]

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.




Rob Greaves
I have been with the Toorak Times since April 2012. I work as Senior Editor of the Toorak Times, but I also think of myself as senior contributor. I've been in the Australian music scene as a musician since 1964, and have worked in radio and TV and newspapers (when they were paper ), serious experience in audio editing, and a lot of video editing experience. Currently I'm working as a radio program producer for a national interview program as well as my work with the Toorak Times