Various Artists

Starday Dixie Rockabilly, Vol. 2

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Ace's second volume of rare rockabilly cuts for the Starday-Dixie operation in the late '50s focuses to a large degree on custom pressings, essentially pay-to-play vinyl with emerging artists paying for Starday to press a very small quantity of discs. When an archive compilation is entirely devoted to such material, the result is often something that is best left in the closet, but actually this 24-song disc is pretty respectable. Like much Starday rockabilly, it often has far more of a country hillbilly flavor than the well-known rockabilly of the era did. That's certainly the case with the most famous (by far) artist represented, Buck Owens, who did a couple of nice rockabilly numbers under the pseudonym Corky Jones on a 1957 single. He redid one of them ("Hot Dog"), in fact, in 1988 as a duet with Dwight Yoakam. As for other highlights, Joe Poovey's "Careful Baby" is like hillbilly with a Bill Haley rick-a-tick beat and (like "Hot Dog") is one of the relatively few items here that you could imagine having some commercial success. That accusation certainly could not be levied at Eddie Seacrist's "Dancing to the Rhythm of a Rock'n'Roll Band," with a moronic cowbell-anchored nonsense chorus and ham-fisted drums that make you wonder whether the performance was authentically comically inept or a deliberate rock & roll parody. As for other names you might actually recognize, Lucky Wray's slightly raw country-nearing-rockabilly 1956 single is by one of Link Wray's brothers, and Link himself plays on those two songs, with barely a trace of the wildman guitar rock for which he would become known. The anthology's fidelity is usually pretty good, and although some numbers are obviously mastered from wobbly sources, in this case that adds to the amateurish appeal.

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