Charlie Feathers

Rockabilly Kings

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AllMusic Review by

Charlie Feathers was one of the truly singular talents of the first era of rockabilly, enough so that even a visionary like Sam Phillips wasn't sure what to do with the guy. While Feathers recorded some superb country material for Phillips' Sun and Flip labels, he had to wait until he hooked up with the Cincinnati-based King label to truly rock the way he wanted, and the eight sides he cut for them in 1956 and 1957 were the cornerstone of his reputation for most of the rest of his life. In 1974, the U.K. branch of Polydor Records paired up Feathers' eight King recordings with eight cuts from fellow rockabilly cult figure and King signee Mac Curtis and released the package as Rockabilly Kings. The Feathers sides are the top-shelf stuff here; the primal swing of "Bottle to the Baby" and "One Hand Loose," the hiccupping menace of "Can't Hardly Stand It," and the country-accented stroll of "Too Much Alike" are as good as this stuff gets, and Jerry Huffman's gutsy, elemental lead guitar is a superb match for the quirky details of Feathers' voice. By comparison, Mac Curtis' recordings aren't quite as impressive, but taken on their own merits, they're great stuff. Curtis was a laid-back journeyman rockabilly with a strong country-style voice, and the easygoing shuffle of "Granddaddy's Rockin'" and "Just So You Call Me" is cool but satisfying, while the anthemic "That Ain't Nothin' but Right" and "If I Had Me a Woman" confirm he could hit harder and still connect. At a time when many fans were just starting to rediscover rockabilly, Rockabilly Kings celebrated the work of two worthy but lesser-known talents, and proved Sun wasn't the only label that put out worthy first-generation rock. [The 2005 CD reissue improves on the original, tacking on four bonus selections and an unreleased outtake from Mac Curtis along with five alternate takes from Charlie Feathers; while this isn't as essential for Feathers fans thanks to Revenant's excellent career overview Get With It, it's still great listening for anyone who digs real first-generation rockabilly, and is your best one-stop introduction to Mac Curtis.]

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:46
2 2:16
3 2:48
4 2:17
5 2:07
6 2:25
7 2:23
8 2:44
9
feat: Mac Curtis
2:04
10
feat: Mac Curtis
2:01
11
feat: Mac Curtis
2:35
12
feat: Mac Curtis
2:12
13
feat: Mac Curtis
2:30
14
feat: Mac Curtis
2:35
15
feat: Mac Curtis
2:17
16
feat: Mac Curtis
2:21
17 2:19
18
feat: Mac Curtis
2:30
19
feat: Mac Curtis
2:31
20
feat: Mac Curtis
2:41
21 2:41
22 2:08
23 2:41
24 2:19
25 2:12
26 2:19
blue highlight denotes track pick