Various Artists

Rockin' From Coast to Coast, Vol. 3

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Like the previous volumes in the Rockin' From Coast to Coast series, this is heavily populated by obscure, raucous, at times raw rockabilly and rock & roll from the late 1950s and early 1960s. There are 26 tracks here, in fact, and other than Mickey & Sylvia, the Fendermen, and Don Covay (represented by a 1958 single on which he sounds like Little Richard), none of the artists are well-known, though those with deeper-than-average-'50s rock collections might know a little about Kid Thomas, Elroy Dietzel, Ted Taylor, and Hank Mizell. If it's the best early rock & roll you're after -- even if it's the best rare early rock & roll you're after -- you're better off with numerous other compilations. But this anthology isn't geared toward that kind of collector; it's more for fanatics who might admit that Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Chuck Berry really were better than the hordes of no-names who tried to ape them, but love the style so much that they want to get as much of it as they can. You'll find plenty of derivative cuts of hotfoot-strength intensity here, and the imitative qualities are sometimes blatant. Jamie Coe tries his damnedest to re-create Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen" on the Bobby Darin-penned "Summer Symphony," for instance, but (aside the fact that he's white) he's no more a Chuck Berry than Dan Quayle was John F. Kennedy. And as is often the case in these groupings, it's the song by the most famous artist -- Mickey & Sylvia's torrid "No Good Lover," which has been easily available on Mickey & Sylvia compilations -- that makes by far the deepest impression. It's not all forgettable, though, particularly when it strays off the Presley-Little Richard path. Shirley Cadell sounds like a blend of Brenda Lee and Wanda Jackson on "The Big Bounce," for instance, and Mary Petti sounds like Brenda Lee going really wild on her 1962 single "Hey, Lawdy Lawdy" (issued not on an independent, as so many such efforts were, but on the giant RCA). Flash Terry leads off "Cool It" with a truly hair-raising scream, and Bobby Verne's Gene Vincent-like "Red Hot Car" (1969) sounds better and more coolly menacing than most of the stuff Vincent himself was putting out by the early '60s. The disc even goes beyond the "Coast to Coast" boundaries to include a 1958 single cut in Britain by an African-American female singer, Bertice Reading, along with a pretty dispensable Jerry Lee Lewis knock-off ("Shake Baby Shake") by Australian Johnny O'Keefe. The biggest find for collectors, though, is the Fendermen's original 1960 version of their hit "Muleskinner Blues" on the Cuca label (the track that became the hit was a re-recording for another company), though as it happens, the original is extremely similar to their more famous Top Ten rendition. You'd have to pay a lot more for the original 45 than you will for this CD, though -- an observation that probably holds true for most or all of the rarities on this release.

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