Various Artists

Teenage Wolfpack

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"Baby Rock" by Ross Minimi gets this collection -- songs devoted to teenage life as it was understood in the late 1950s -- off to a good start with a song about sex and rock & roll with lots of attitude. Hank Mizell's "I'm Ready" is too self-consciously a rock & roll song, but the playing pulls it off, with some punk-flavored guitar of the kind that the Ramones have been emulating for 20 years or more. Jimmy Stayton's "You're Gonna Treat Me Right" threatens once or twice to turn into "Heartbreak Hotel" and even quotes "Maybelline" instrumentally, but those flaws can be overlooked in favor of the spirit of the performance. The rest is pretty much in this vein, and all but a tiny handful of tracks are genuinely worthwhile; some of it, like Tex Neighbors' "Rockin' Beat" and "T.N.T." by Riki & the Rickatones (who look like a dorkier Kingston Trio in their photo), are sort of predictable but fun, and the Nighthawks "When Sin Stops" is a fascinating love song. Dennis Volk is a straight-ahead rock & roller with a convincingly rebellious attitude and big bopper-type bravado on "You Are the One." Sonny Fisher's "Rockin' Daddy," by contrast, is a lot more primitive, a piece of backwoods-type rockabilly by a "rockin' daddy from ding-dong Tennessee," who sounds like he's only a step behind the late 1954 Elvis Presley, except he did write this and the unissued record has to date from after 1954, or even 1955. Another unissued record, "Teenager's Party" by Mike Demirdian's Rhythm Rockers, is also a treasure of a different kind, a high-energy full-band performance that pumps away on all cylinders and makes one wonder what happened to Demirdian. One thing you notice here, and on a lot of the rest of the Buffalo Bop releases is how much of this material was original by the artists themselves -- it puts something of a lie to the notion of how unusual it was that Buddy Holly and the Crickets wrote their own songs (what made Holly and the Crickets special was how many of their originals were hits); most of these southern rockers wrote their own material. Not that there aren't some great covers here: Gary Engel's version of "Money Honey" may not be in Elvis' league, but it's respectable and even enjoyable. Near the end, we even get a credible cover of Muddy Waters' "Hoochie Coochie Man" by Gaylon Christie, one of the few pure blues numbers in this series of CDs.

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