Andy Starr

Dig Them Squeaky Shoes

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This CD is, on the whole, glorious, and that makes it rather sad, too -- though not in the listening. Andy Starr was never more than an also-ran in the race to be the next Elvis Presley, but based on the sides featured here, he might just have given the King of Rock & Roll a run for his money, at least when Elvis was still "the Memphis Flash" or "the Hillbilly Cat." The first half of this disc is made up of stomping, screaming, ripped rockabilly-style sides of the kind that used to send those old crackers on the so-called "White Citizens Councils" running for their shotguns (if not the white hoods some of them wore on other nights of the week). Not all of it is necessarily inventive as compositions, but with Starr's raspy, screaming vocals and equally raw lead guitar, and sidemen who weren't afraid to sound rough, it's all genuinely exciting music. Even the relatively slow numbers, like "I Wanna Go South," have an edgy, ominous quality reminiscent of Gene Vincent's "Woman Love," and when he does the lusty, salacious "Give Me a Woman," Starr moves into a class virtually by himself -- this is the kind of record that could have gotten him thrown off the air on network television, and should have been an underground classic. And then, halfway through, Starr switches gears to a more produced, pop-oriented sound with Jordanaires-style accompaniment, and proves that he could almost compete with Elvis in that ballpark too -- "Lover Man," unreleased until this CD came out, is not only in the ballpark but could have been a hit, too. As is usual with Bear Family releases, the sound quality ranges from very good to excellent, with very full annotation.

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