Not every rockabilly cat was wild. Some were like Jimmy Spellman, possessing a sweetness so palpable it was evident even when the rhythms got frenzied. Of course, with a voice that honeyed, it’s no surprise that Spellman didn’t specialize solely in rockabilly: he eased himself into swaying slow dances and teeny pop, pulling off these styles with the same aplomb he gave rockabilly and country. Each of these sounds is present on Doggonit, Bear Family's 2011 compilation of all of Jimmy Spellman’s recordings for Viv, Dot, Vik, Rev, and Redstart. Spellman had many noteworthy colleagues -- Al Casey played guitar on his earliest recordings, Lee Hazlewood produced him at Viv and Dot -- but none overshadowed his signature amiability, something that made him quite well-suited for crossover pop. Doggonit illustrates that Spellman took several repeated stabs at sugary pop; so many that they threaten to overwhelm the rockabilly that granted him entry in Bear Family's Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight series and induction into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2004. Spellman surely can shake it up good, but anybody looking for a heavy dose of rockabilly will be disappointed in Doggonit; no matter how well Spellman sings it, there’s simply too much treacly pop here for their tastes.
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