Various Artists

Texas Rockabilly

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A pretty broad title for a compilation that is certainly not a survey of Texas rockabilly as a whole, but a 28-song overview (spanning 1956-64) of the output of the tiny Sarg label, which operated out of Luling, TX (near San Antonio). Sarg never had a national hit, and indeed never had the expectation that the records would do more than get some regional airplay on Texas and Louisiana stations. None of these performers went on to make a bigger name, and the only one that might excite even a bit of name recognition is Link Davis, a veteran of country and western swing who had a country hit with "Big Mamou" in the late '40s. If there's anything to distinguish this from some of the other small-time vintage rockabilly anthologies on the market, it's a larger-than-normal country influence on some of the material (indeed some of these musicians, such as Davis, were country and western swingers trying to cross over). On the other hand, some of the sides are not especially country-soaked, but plainly follow the path of Elvis, Jerry Lee, and even Little Richard; R&B saxophone also takes a front seat on some tracks, like Jimmy Farmer's "Long Black Train" and the Downbeats' "Come on Over." The recording quality is also considerably above the norm for small-label rockabilly comps (on both Ace and other labels). Otherwise, though, it's straightforward, derivative rockabilly that usually sticks to three-chord progressions in a manner that is both moderately enjoyable and thoroughly predictable. Glen Bland's moody "Mean Gene" is about the best of the lot. Cecil Moore's 1964 instrumental single "Diamond Back" has a little bit of Lonnie Mack about it; a regional hit that was picked up by Atco for national distribution, it was as close as Sarg came to getting a national hit.

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