Roddy Jackson

Central Valley Fireball

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Since Roddy Jackson put out just three singles on Specialty, you wouldn't think it easy to compile an entire CD of his work. With typical industrious ingenuity, however, Ace has managed to scrounge together a 16-track collection. It includes not just both sides of all three of his late-'50s Specialty singles, but also a bunch of previously unissued outtakes and demos from the same era, as well as an alternate take of "I've Got My Sights on Someone New." Jackson really didn't have enough going for him to be a major rock & roller, as both his material and vocals were pretty derivative of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, with some Eddie Cochran and Elvis Presley thrown in for good measure. Still, he did have some unhinged energy, and could muster vocals that were about as raw as any rock & roll heard on large indie labels such as Specialty at the time. The material ranges from frenzied rockers to milder, toned-down tunes that seem aimed at smoothing Jackson out for the pop market. But despite the involvement of a young Sonny Bono in these sessions on both the production and songwriting end, none of the songs are so memorable that they can be marked out as cuts that should have been heard by a much wider audience. One of the previously unreleased items is a recording described as the "original demo" of "She Said Yeah," later cut for Specialty by Larry Williams and covered in the '60s by the Rolling Stones; in this form, it's more of a lewd piano-based rollicking boogie-woogie number.