Various Artists

Hi Tone Poppa

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Hi Tone Poppa Review

by Cub Koda

While Gotham was seen as a blues/R&B/doo wop label, the Philadelphia-based company also distributed hillbilly material, a great deal of it from the Louisiana-based Pacemaker label, run ostensibly by singer Webb Pierce. Although almost everything here was issued in 1951 on Gotham, a lot of it was certainly cut before that, crude hillbilly with a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants quality to it. Faron Young is the big name here, with four of the 14 tracks credited to him, including "I'm a Free Man Now" and "I Heard the Jukebox Playing," both fine early indicators of his signature style. Tracks from Tillman Franks (the title track and the jumping "Hot Rod-Shotgun Boogie No.2"), the mysterious Tex Grimsley (very Western-style takes on "Teardrops" and "Walking the Dog"), Claude King (the hilarious "Beer and Pinballs"), and a pair from a very young Teddy Wilburn complete this marvelous collection of tracks, most of them pulled from the original 78s. Although it's listed as "red hot rockabilly" on the cover, this is early raw Southern country to the bone.

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