Various Artists

Modern Rock 'N' Roll and Rockabilly

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By 1956, the small but successful indie labels that had been previously catering to the rhythm & blues market suddenly saw the advent of rock & roll and its bastard-son calling card, rockabilly, as a viable business proposition. Oddly enough, when these labels went to recording or purchasing outside masters of these White artists, the subsequent releases often reflected the spirit of some segment of their Black catalog, a like-minded connection to the kind of fare they normally served up. The Modern branch of the Bihari brothers empire released potent stuff by the likes of Elmore James and Richard Berry, so it's a cinch that the best rockabilly sides on the label are going to be equally down-home and neighborhood slick. And so it is with this 16-track collection, kicking off with Shreveport's home town favorites, Pat Cupp and the Flying Saucers. Cupp's little quintet with his sister Ruth on ragtime-cum-rockabilly piano kick up quite a racket on their five tracks, all recorded in Shreveport at KWKH, the same radio station where Dale Hawkins waxed "Susie-Q." The takes of "Long Gone Daddy" and "Don't Do Me No Wrong" are alternate versions and as such have a wild propulsion that makes them the perfect kickoff tracks for this compilation. Curiously, Whitey Pullen's seminal tracks for the label ("Moonshine Liquor," "Tuscaloosa Lucy") are missing in action, but pairs of tracks from the Barker Brothers ("Hey Little Mama" and "Sweet Lovin' Honey"), Artie Wilson ("Jenny Jenny" and "That's My Baby") and the Denson Brothers masquerading as "Jesse James" ("Red Hot Rockin' Blues" and "The South's Gonna Rise Again") make wonderful additions in their absence. "Snake Eyed Mama" by Don Cole (and produced by Lee Hazlewood) and three tracks from Chicano rocker Danny Flores (including the collectible "Don't Go Pretty Baby" and two unissued items) complete the collection. Perhaps you could say that there's nothing really essential aboard, but as with the blues, some of the lesser lights of the genre produce the finest, most unembroidered music, and such is the case here.

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