Roy Hall

Roy Rocks

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Roy Hall may not be a particularly familiar name in the history of rock & roll, even if he is the songwriter responsible for one of Jerry Lee Lewis' more familiar songs "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On." Over the course of the last 50 years, Lewis' rendition of it has become ubiquitous. Listening to Hall sing his own version of the song, however, will give encourage you to think twice about that. The 2005 release of the songwriter's own recordings, collected on the disc Roy Rocks, reveals a completely different take of the song: Hall's recording of "Whole Lotta Shakin'" is spectacular. It is slower and more salacious than anything even hinted at in Lewis' version, with no echoes of the better-known singer's hallmark to be heard anywhere. And that's not where the revelatory part of this CD ends. "Diggin' the Boogie" and "Off-Beat Boogie" from 1956 (the latter was unissued until 1984) aren't far behind in what are some of the best rockabilly-style singles to come out of Decca Records in the mid-'50s. The disc opens with Hall's sides for the label and includes his somewhat more loose-limbed and appealing version of Bill Haley's hit "See You Later, Alligator," complete with a refreshingly angular solo by Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland. There's also Hall's rendition of "Blue Suede Shoes," not to mention a handful of originals that aren't bad. There's even a track -- "You Ruined My Blue Suede Shoes," co-authored with Webb Pierce and unreleased at the time -- that uses some of the same lines as Carl Perkins' "Put Your Cat Clothes On." From there, the disc jumps around between Hall's late-'50s sides and back to his earlier records from the end of the '40s, when he was doing country-boogie fronting a group called the Cohutta Mountain Boys. The astonishing aspect of all of these recordings, covering 13 years and several different backing groups, is the consistency of all of it. Hall may not be remembered as one of rock & roll's foundation stones, but he certainly deserves to be based on the recordings here.

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