Various Artists

Bandera Rockabilly and Country Roots

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The small independent Bandera label, based in Chicago, recorded a bunch of rockabilly (or rockabilly-influenced) sides in the late 1950s and early '60s that are highly valued by rockabilly collectors, though none of them were close to being a hit. This CD has a couple dozen of them, a third of which are released here for the first time anywhere. As the title indicates, Bandera's brand of rockabilly was sometimes more country-influenced than the norm for the style. While that might disappoint those who favor the music at its most frenetic, it makes for a refreshing change of pace from the usual anthologies of rockabilly obscurities. To be sure, there are some standard (if somewhat generic) wildman rockabilly cuts. Yet you'll also hear stuff that's more in the early Conway Twitty mold (Benny Ingram's "How Can I Keep You Lovin' Me"); things that sound more like hillbilly music influenced by rock & roll, rather than the other way around; ripping, twangy instrumental rock with a touch of Link Wray fuzz/grunge (Rick Emerson & the Sidewinders' 1958 "Side Winder"/"Gully Washer" single); and, on the latest track, a sort of honky tonk truck song-rock & roll fusion (B.J. & the Boys' 1964 single "Roll That Rig (Again)"). On his eight tracks, Bob Perry sounds a bit like early Marty Robbins, though rawer, the country influence drawn out by some use of steel guitar. (As a matter of fact, according to the liner notes, Perry later built much of his club act around performing Marty Robbins impersonators!) Perry's portion is the most satisfying segment on the CD, but the disc as a whole is certainly above average for a specialist-oriented rockabilly compilation, and recommended to more adventurous collectors of the style.