Various Artists

Imperial Rockabillies, Vol. 2

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This disc, like its predecessor, explores a wide range of blues and country-based music under the general heading of rockabilly, a genre that embraces everything from Elvis wannabes to aging hillbilly singers trying to reinvent themselves as rockin' daddy-o's. This collection includes no less than nine of the artists featured in the first volume with Johnny Burnette, the Strikes (featuring Andy Starr on lead guitar), Laura Lee Perkins, Lew Williams, Johnny Garner, Dennis Herrold, Roy Brown, Merle Kilgore and Roy Brown all returning with a bushelful of classics, including some incredibly rare sides. Burnette kicks things off with "Sweet Baby Doll," and a rocked-up version of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," while Laura Lee Perkins' excellent "Oh La Baby" and "Kiss Me Baby" stand as one of the few examples of female rockabilly, the latter track featuring an agitated guitar break from string wizard Joe Maphis. Texas band the Strikes are aboard with three tracks ("Baby I'm Sorry," "Rockin'," and "I Don't Want to Cry Over You" which has vocals listed on the original label as by the Three Pelves!) while Bob Luman's "All Night Long" showcases guitar work from a pre-Ricky Nelson James Burton, who also appears in a support role behind Johnny Burnette and Johnny Garner's "Kiss Me Baby." The hillbilly boogie side of things comes up for examination with the inclusion of "Ernie" and "Ride Jesse Ride" by Merle Kilgore, "Lies" by West Coast disc jockey Lee Ross, "Rockin' Baby" and "Diggin' 'N' Datin'" by Gene Henslee (both from 1954), and "Hey Baby" by Bill Lawrence, the latter inexplicably recorded in Hawaii. Lew Williams returns to this volume with a pair of his best, "Abracadabra" and "Cat Talk," the latter based on "cat music," rockabilly's original appellation in Texas. Roy Brown's "Be My Love Tonight" sounds more like a New Orleans version of a 1920s pop song, but the Louisiana side of rockabilly is well represented by Al Jones' smoking original, "Loretta," sounding for all the world like a lost Dale Hawkins band track. The collection closes with "Willa Mae" by guitarist Al Casey, best known for his work with Duane Eddy. Not as hot as volume one, but still some great music aboard.