Various Artists

Porter Records Story

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Porter Records was a small label based in Phoenix, Arizona, founded in 1957 by country deejay Frank Porter, who'd previously written some songs and cut a few others. He had an ear for talent and good songs, and this CD represents the best of Porter's output and more -- 14 of its 29 tracks were never released prior to the issue of this CD. There are lots of impressive acts here, including the Rio Rockers, the Tads, Billy Adams, and Ward Darby -- theirs are edgy rock 'n' roll songs, with loud guitars and strong, raw singing, and any of their songs could easily have earned a place in the national Top 40, though none of them did and, indeed, only the Rio Rockers' "Mexicali Baby" and "Mexican Rock and Roll," and Adams' "You Heard Me Knockin,'" were ever released, among the sides by all four artists. Frankie Loren fared a bit better and might even have been Porter's answer to Elvis Presley, his range extending from pounding rockabilly, such as "Everyone Will Know," to the rousing white gospel of "His Wonderful Way." Porter's own "Ring the Wedding Bells" is a fine piece of country balladry, but for those with more visceral tastes, "Wolf Call" by Mark Anthony will fit the bill, with its driving electric guitar and rippling ivories beneath a vocal that matches its title without ever sounding silly. Don Cole's "Beulah Mae" could've given Jerry Lee Lewis a real run for his money, while the harmony-based vocal acrobatics of the Thirtythrees call to mind the Treniers and the looser sides by the Flamingos. The Rocks' "Satellite" is rockabilly styled space-rock, with an opening that sort of recalls Joe Meek's sound, while the I.V. Leaguers' "Ring Chimes" is excellent, white, harmony-based rock 'n' roll. The sound is generally very good, although Bear Family is forced to make more apologies than usual for their releases, having had to rely on vinyl sources for several of the tracks here. The annotation is reasonably thorough, though a little disjointed as straight history and bios.

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