Various Artists

Desperate Rock 'n' Roll, Vol. 1

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This superlative collection compiles 30 tracks, bringing together some rock & roll, rockabilly, and rhythm & blues tracks that have long been prized by collectors. The highlights are numerous, as the collection has no need for filler, pulling singles from labels both reasonably well known and positively microscopic. "Kiss-A Me Quick," featuring Jackson Toomb's curiously dispassionate vocal is highlighted by two scorching guitar breaks, Terry Dunavan's "Rock It on Mars" features a wildly tremoloed guitar break that's both extremely out of tune and perfectly fitting, while Screamin' Joe Neal lives up to his name on "Rock 'n' Roll Deacon." Danny Ross' "Go Baby Go" and the Alabama Kid's wild and crudely played "Rockin' Jalopy" are bare-bones rockabilly that get the job done, and Mel Smith's "Pretty Plaid Skirt" and the Tempests' "Rockin' Rochester" push the wildness envelope to its extreme. Johnny Watson (no relation to the famous bluesman) checks in with "I'm Not Crazy" which, along with "Rock Old Sputnick" by Nelson Young and Don Winter's "Pretty Moon," hold up the hillbilly boogie section of this compilation, which closes out with a piece of teen garage band mayhem from the early '60s, the Readymen's rendition of the old folk song "Shortnin' Bread," which sounds like nothing more than a surf band hopped up on booze and pills. Also noteworthy are the R&B boogie of Lionel Hampton's Hamptones' "Turkey Hop" and the garage band version of "Johnny B. Goode" by one Johnny Candles, whose diction makes Chuck Berry's famous lyrics sound almost as if they're being sung in another language. If you like your roots rockin' raw and wild, this makes a fine addition to the collection.