If Robert Williams, aka Big Sandy, has ever made a bad record, he's done a fine job of keeping it under wraps, and whether it's vintage country & western, Western swing, R&B, rockabilly, or one of several stops in between, Big Sandy can belt it out sweet and hot and his band the Fly-Rite Boys know how to play it like they were born to it. Rockin' Big Sandy compiles 15 cuts from six albums he cut for the Hightone label (including his solo album devoted to R&B and doo wop covers), along with one non-LP single (the "X-Rated" version of "Backdoor Dan," which achieves a truly impressive filth level -- the more "family-friendly" version from Feelin' Kinda Lucky is also included). While this compilation is something less than ideal -- the sound of the records involved is often different, and the jump from the punchy "Yama Yama Pretty Mama" to the comparatively sparse "Hey Lowdown!" could have been smoothed out with a better sequence or more careful mastering -- it's a fine introduction to Big Sandy's sound, and every cut shows off his strong voice, buoyant vocal style, and superb taste in backing musicians to their advantage. The original albums are more cohesive, but if you're looking for a sampler or a one-stop overview of his back catalog, Rockin' Big Sandy is just what you need, and it sure lives up to its title.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming