The Collins Kids

At Town Hall Party, Vol. 2

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It was amazing enough that a couple dozen 1958 Collins Kids performances on the Town Hall Party television show were unearthed for the 2003 At Town Hall Party DVD. If you'd been told that there were more than 50 more such performances in the archive, you'd shoot back, "You must be joking." But it's no joke -- there were enough additional Collins Kids kinescope clips from the same source, all from 1959, to fill up not one but two more Bear Family DVDs. At Town Hall Party, Vol. 2 has a couple dozen songs from throughout 1959, and while these might be a shade less exciting than those on the first volume of the series due to a slightly less exciting song selection, they're still remarkably invigorating to watch. As with the initial volume, one aspect that might disappointment hardcore Collins Kids fans a bit is that they do few of the songs they cut on their studio records, though they do at least offer a version of their original "Hot Rod." For the more general viewer, it should also be noted that the taken-from-kinescope image quality and brittle audio isn't up to the standards of most commercial video releases, though it's not at all hard to watch. In addition, several of the tunes are done more than once -- there are three versions, in fact, of "Stagger Lee." On the other hand, however, this does give you the chance to see them do many covers they never put on their discs, from "Shake, Rattle and Roll" (in which Lorrie Collins heedlessly adheres to the original lyrics, bellowing "I'm a hungry man") to such relatively obscure items as LaVern Baker's "So High, So Low" and Sheb Wooley's "Sweet Chile." Listeners familiar with the ferocious rockabilly of their records might be a little taken aback to see them do some unexpected standards and pop tunes. Yet such was their on-stage chemistry and frenetic energy -- Larry Collins in particular can hardly keep still for a moment, even if the upper neck of his double-necked guitar is more a prop than something to be played -- that they make even such inexplicable material as "Bei Mir Bist du Schoen" (two versions, no less) and Bobby Rydell's "Kissin' Time" into enjoyably bopping rockabilly numbers. Larry takes the stage alone for a few numbers, and the instrumental "Ramrod," on which both he and Joe Maphis play different necks of the same guitar, is a highlight. Maphis and a downright tiny-looking ten-year-old Collins also duet (and, briefly, play the same guitar simultaneously) on the DVD bonus track, the ultra-hot instrumental "Mutt and Jeff Boogie," filmed in November 1954.