Various Artists

Rocket Ship

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    5
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AllMusic Review by

This is a theme compilation -- 34 rock & roll songs dating from the late 1950s and early 1960s, hooked around flying saucers, space ships, satellites, Sputnik and similar subjects, though mostly they're about sex. There are some serious professional musicians represented, such as country-rockabilly veterans Alden Holloway (pictured with a double-necked guitar) and Dell Vaughn, but some of this CD is in a loose, wild rockabilly vein. Gene Vincent's "Spaceship to Mars" would've fit in perfectly, and Terry Dunavan's "Rock It on Mars" even recalls the Vincent number, but there's cooler and more interesting stuff here: the Love Brothers' unissued acetate of "Flying Saucer Rock 'n Roll" is rockabilly punk at its most primitive -- real A-Bones type material; the Rockers' "Rock, Rock, Rocket Ship," which isn't far behind and has a crunchy bass; Holloway's "Blast Off," which has crisp Chet Atkins licks, a cool tenor sax solo and some catchy choruses; Vaughn's "Rock the Universe," which has a real roadhouse band feel to it; Monte Mead's "Cape Canaveral" on the Fortune label, with its crisply arranged country-style guitars and a solid, hard beat; "Moon Beat" by the Fabulous Imperials; and Jimmy Stewart's raw, hard country raunch "Rock on the Moon," stuff that makes Carl Perkins seem almost urban. Buck Trail's "Knocked Out Joint on Mars" gets the equation of sex, space and guitars assembled in the right order, with a good beat; Stewart's "Rock on the Moon" is tighter and has a better dance beat. Jackie Gotroe's "Rock It to the Moon" strips the formula to its basics, with lyrics that equate girls, moon rockets and blast-offs, with a hot guitar break in the middle and a better melody than the competition -- even it gets outdone for scatology, however, by Stan Beaver's "Got a Rocket in My Pocket." Billy Nix's "Moon Twist" is about as much fun as a twist record done by a guy who obviously prefer rockabilly could possibly be -- Nix melds the two forms beautifully, nice and slow but never sluggishly. Carl & Norman's "Shooting for the Moon" is a different twist, a comical harmony number (with nice piano ornamentation dressing up a basic country band backing) that equates a failed rocket launch with frustrated romantic possibilities. "Light My Rockets" is a more upbeat look at the same scenario by Neil Alan. Gene Lanzi's "Countdown 4-3-2-1" stands out as the only real instrumental here, a tense guitar piece (with Lanzi providing narration every so often). Billy Hogan's "Shake It Over Sputnik" is a silly topical number about southern pride, the Jupiter-C and the space program, and it (and the last numbers) tends to be a little more tuneless than those that precede them -- they're fun, and they fill out the CD, but that's about all.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:52
2
2:28
3
2:41
4 2:40
5 1:57
6 1:43
7 2:28
8 2:24
9
2:08
10 1:54
11 2:30
12 2:30
13 1:28
14
1:46
15
2:15
16
2:18
17
1:41
18 2:18
19
1:45
20
2:31
21 2:31
22
2:03
23 2:31
24 1:55
25
1:57
26 2:08
27 2:26
28 2:17
29 2:48
30 1:42
31
2:04
32 2:25
33
2:03
34 2:27
blue highlight denotes track pick