Various Artists

A Ball Tonight

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AllMusic Review by

Picture this -- it's like 1956 and you're playing in some band down south or in one of the border states, thinking of really making it in the music business, and there's this rock & roll that all of the kids are buying, and it's got a beat and you've got the voice to pull it off the way that "hillbilly cat" from Memphis is doing it, so you and your band get a local businessman to back you for one single, and then there's two hundred bucks blown and the record never charts, or even makes it into stores more than a few miles from your hometown, but it gets you some gigs just having it out. And then Buffalo Bop comes along 40 years later and gets hold of it all and throws these records onto a CD like this. That's what Buffalo Bop is about, gathering together rockabilly's ersatz and also-rans, 30 songs at a time, and delivering the music up whole at the end of the 20th century. These releases have no notes, just a few surviving publicity shots where they exist (which help explain why a lot of the decent sounding acts here didn't make it -- they sounded okay, but they didn't look the part). The songs on this collection are pretty much all decent (and many better than decent) hot rockabilly. Though some of it is derivative, the artists all had special approaches to their music or their songs, and better-than-decent bands working with them. These records, issued on labels like Vaden, Sandy, Reb-bel, Circle C, Rocket, Surf, Northway Sound, Gem, Cascade, and Air, will never figure in any "official" history of rock & roll, because they're too raw, and few of these players ever made it anywhere near '60s "respectability"; a few, like Hasil Adkins and Jerry Irby, turn up in truly comprehensive accounts of '50s rock & roll. The 30 songs here conclude with a couple that point the way toward surf music. The sound quality is astonishingly good, given the variety of sources (all 45 originals) that were involved.

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