The companion volume to The Other Side of Bakersfield, Vol. 1 naturally digs deeper into the same territory chronicled on the initial disc -- namely, it presents all the wild, woolly Western swing, country boogie, rockabilly bop, and jumping honky tonk that surfaced after Ferlin Husky brought Hillbilly Barton's "A Dear John Letter" to the Music City and thereby helped establish Bakersfield, California as the Western Nashville. Unlike Vol. 1, Husky himself is present on The Other Side of Bakersfield, Vol. 2, kicking off the proceedings with "I Feel Better All Over," but neither he nor Buck Owens -- who once again is present as Corky Jones, singing the spooky, cavernous Elvis knockoff "Rhythm and Booze" -- anchor this CD. Neither of these collections showcase the familiar Bakersfield sound or its architects but rather the singers, guitar pickers, and rockabilly cats who were knocking out an electrified country boogie in hopes of striking it big. In the process, they wound up creating the twangy train-track sound that was Bakersfield, but the 31 tracks here are a raucous, ragged collection of novelties, dance tunes, rockabilly swing, and R&B rhythms, records that find the 20th century coming into focus. Where Vol. 1 often showed the town's musicians paying dues to jump blues, the songs on Vol. 2 are unabashedly modern: they're heavily electrified and echoed, jumping songs about teenagers, carhops, payphones, outer space, wild girls, and late nights spent rocking & rolling. Unlike its cousin, The Other Side of Bakersfield, Vol. 2 feels very much rooted in the Atomic Age, filled with space-age sounds and sock hops, with nearly all the songs approximating either the frenzied beat of rockabilly or a rock & roll slow dance; in other words, there are no barroom weepers or fiddles, nothing that resembles the cool, lean honky tonk of the earliest hits from Buck Owens. This is indeed part of the forgotten era in Bakersfield. For a brief moment, the town was overrun with rockabilly cats and country grifters trying to strike it rich yesterday and this dynamite compilation collects all of those oddballs, making for a vital piece of popular music history.
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