Various Artists

Psychobilly Box: Rockabilly Roots & Hoots

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By the time you get to the halfway point of the first disc of Psychobilly Box, you don't have to be a serious musicologist to realize that the nameless souls who compiled this set were pretty clueless about what constitutes "psychobilly." Most fans consider psychobilly to be the stuff that lives on the sleazy and morbid end of the roots rock spectrum, somewhere between the Misfits and Gene Vincent, but this two-disc collection wanders off in any number of directions that have precious little to do with such things. Things kick off with appropriate tracks by the Meteors and the Guana Batz, but track three is the Polecats' squeaky-clean electro-billy hit "Make a Circuit with Me," and track six is a rare Patsy Cline side that swings harder than you'd expect but hardly qualifies as rockabilly. Psychobilly Box drifts through tracks by rockabilly revivalists like the Stray Cats, some contributions from actual first-generation rockers (Buddy Holly backing up friend Waylon Jennings, a latter-day recut of Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock," and a shaky duet between Glen Glenn and the Lonesome Spurs), hipster swing from the Swing Cats, two cuts from closet rockabilly fan Johnny Ramone (including a version of "Good Rockin' Tonight" with Lemmy on vocals), a bit of old-school country, some artificially created duets (technology matches Marilyn Monroe with the Swing Cats and Gene Vincent with 13 Cats), and a few non-musical audio oddities (a radio station ID from Eddie Cochran and excerpts from a '50s radio documentary on surviving an atomic attack). There are some good tracks scattered throughout these two discs and a few nice surprises, but anyone expecting a long blast of dingy and irresponsible twangy psychosis is going to be disappointed -- not only isn't a large portion of this psychobilly, a surprising amount isn't even rockabilly (though you do get a "Psychobilly" button and patch with the box, allowing you to show allegiance to the genre that doesn't quite dominate this box). Throw in less than stellar mastering and a lack of liner notes and you get a package even the most devoted fans don't really need in their collections.

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