The Collins Kids

At Town Hall Party

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It's amazing enough that footage of the Collins Kids performing two-dozen songs even exists, considering they never had a hit record. It's yet more amazing to have all of it easily available on this package of kinescopes from the Town Hall Party TV show, taken from six different broadcasts in late 1958. The capper is, however, that these performances are truly amazing, even if (as is the case for all of Bear Family's Town Hall Party DVDs) the image and sound quality isn't perfect due to the technical limitations of the source material. Lorrie Collins sings with an earthy maturity far beyond her teenage years, and her 14-year-old brother Larry Collins (who looked 12 at most at the time) was simply a fireball of energy, whirling and dancing with his double-neck guitar like a windup doll whose string had just been pulled. Their vocal harmonies are excellent, as is Larry's guitar work, even if it seems like he never does actually play the top neck of the guitar. The only real drawbacks of this DVD are the absence of many of their best songs, and -- probably because the shows were all done close to each other, between October and December 1958 -- many songs are played more than once (it's three times, as a matter of fact, for "Great Balls of Fire," and four times for "Chantilly Lace"). On the other hand, there are plenty of covers here that the Collins Kids didn't put on their records, among them "Great Balls of Fire" and "Chantilly Lace," but also "Shake, Rattle & Roll," Elvis Presley's "I Got Stung," the Everly Brothers' "Bird Dog" and "Problems," Jerry Lee Lewis' "High School Confidential," and Faye Adams' "Shake a Hand." And there is at least a live version of one of their finest Epic recordings, "(Let's Have A) Party." This isn't just for fans of the Collins Kids, necessarily -- this is some of the best live rockabilly footage of the 1950s.

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