Various Artists

Fernwood Rhythm 'N' Blues from Memphis

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In 1956 truck driver and musician Slim Wallace purchased a used Magnacorder recording machine and set up a little studio in his garage on Fernwood Street in Memphis. A year later, Fernwood Records was born, and for a decade or so the label (and studio) turned out some of the best early rock & roll and rockabilly around, and some pretty amazing R&B, as well, as this collection shows. The 32 tracks here are a complete delight, ranging from ragged Memphis soul pieces to deep gospel shouters, and that they exist at all is somewhat of a miracle, since all of Fernwood's masters are rumored to have been destroyed in the late '60s. Most of these tracks never saw anything past regional release, which is a shame because there is an awful lot to like here, including the wonderful "Down in the Alley" by the Lyrics, the funky and elegant "Now It's Alright" by Earl Forest, "Boogie Chilluns Playhouse" (complete with a greasy Stax groove) by Donnie Williams, two hard gospel soul pieces ("Everybody Ought to Serve the Lord" and "Going Home to Jesus") by Prophet G. Lusk, and the weird carnival teen pop of Barbara Perry's "Bobby Is a Bad Bad Boy." Transfers for this disc were probably made from vinyl sources (if the rumor about Fernwood's master tapes is true), but the sound quality is fine, and the joy and energy on display here are more than worth the price of admission. Not bad for a little garage on Fernwood Street, and it reaffirms Memphis as the epicenter of the Big Bang that was rock & roll soul.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 1:55 Spotify
2 2:12 Spotify
1:51 Spotify
4 2:35 Spotify
5 2:41 Spotify
6 2:32 Spotify
7 2:13 Spotify
2:09 Spotify
9 2:48 Spotify
2:45 Spotify
2:39 Spotify
1:48 Spotify
2:39 Spotify
14 2:18 Spotify
15 2:14 Spotify
1:53 Spotify
17 2:41 Spotify
18 2:07 Spotify
19 2:12 Spotify
20 2:44 Spotify
2:21 Spotify
22 2:36 Spotify
1:53 Spotify
2:31 Spotify
25 2:41 Spotify
26 2:50 Spotify
3:29 Spotify
28 2:12 Spotify
29 2:21 Spotify
2:55 Spotify
31 2:44 Spotify
1:54 Spotify
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