Various Artists

Juvenile Jungle

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AllMusic Review by

On each of these Buffalo Bop anthologies, there's usually at least one song that should be plucked out and featured on a rockabilly best-of. In this case, there are two: Jimmy Witter's "If You Love My Woman" (evidently co-written by Witter and the rest of his band, which sounds like an outtake from Elvis Presley's first RCA sessions and issued, appropriately enough, on Elvis Records), and "Roll On, Big Mama," by G. Self, which has a sound all of its own. It also oozes lust and shows off a frantic beat. At the other end of the spectrum is the lightweight "Slippery Sal" by Bobby Dadino, whose singing is a little too squeaky-clean to make this more than a novelty number. In between those extremes are a couple dozen semi-precious gems. Tony Casanova's two Dore sides open this 30-song epic, which is uneven but enjoyable. As with a lot of these records, the playing, especially the guitars, are more impressive than the sub-Elvis/Gene Vincent singing. Paul Wheatley's "I'm Not Movin'" moves well enough, but his verses all run two beats too long, which makes his rockabilly efforts just off-kilter enough not to hit. Billy Match isn't much of a singer, based on "I Want My Baby," but his band has a raw, roadhouse-type sound, although they'd be a little more convincing without the backing vocals. Johnny Stark's "Rockin' Billy" has a similar problem: backing vocals that are too classy for its beat. Guido D'Amico's "Jimmy Boy" on Quality had no such contradictions, a number that manages to be smooth and raw, hot and supple, with chiming piano and raunchy guitar coupling the best components of early Elvis and Chuck Berry with Jerry Lee Lewis at once.