Of the assorted Texas rockabillies who plied their wares in Norman Petty's Clovis, NM, studio, the least heralded is Terry Noland. Much of this has to do with Noland jumping ship early in the ball game from Petty's direction to head to New York City with teen stardom waiting in the wings. He cut sides there with Tonight Show musical director Milton DeLugg swinging the baton and little else, jumping from the back-to-back West Texas rockabilly sound of "Ten Little Women" and the title cut to lightweight pop fluff like "Puppy Love," "Teenage Teardrops," and "Let Me Be Your Hero." This single-disc compilation collects 28 tracks in all -- including alternate takes -- and is split almost evenly between his energetic rockabilly efforts and his later overproduced sides with strings and backing from the likes of the syrupy Anita Kerr Singers. That Noland (real name Terry Noland Church) adapted well to this watered-down approach -- even writing the majority of pop confections -- has certainly diminished his rockabilly credentials in the eyes of most hardcore collectors. This is regrettable, simply because Noland laid down some incredible sides prior to his quest for the diamond ring and the solid gold Cadillac. As is the case with many before and after him, his best is also his earliest stuff. The title track -- heard here in both the master and a breathless, faster alternate take from the session that produced its flip, "Ten Little Women" -- is West Texas rockabilly at its most energetic and rockin', yet imbued with a musicality that separates it from the rest of the pack. Using many of his fellow Lubbock teen band players in support and Petty recruiting the Picks on backup vocals, the handful of sides Noland cut in Clovis have that unmistakable Crickets sound without either aping Buddy Holly or his all pervasive style. "Come Marry Me" from a 1957 session integrates the Picks into a seamless mix while still retaining the classic rockabilly style. The closest thing Noland had to a hit was another Clovis session that yielded "Patty Baby," with backing from a combo called the Big Beats featuring a young Trini Lopez on lead guitar. Also on board are two early tracks with Noland's first band, the Teenbeats, which featured Holly band alumni Joe B. Mauldin and Larry Welbourn. Their renditions of "Hound Dog" and Noland's "That Ain't Right" are taken from extremely worn acetates but are well worth the effort, as they further illuminate the rocking side of Noland's scant discography.
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