4 Star Records was one of the less scrupulous music companies to operate on the West Coast during the '50s and '60s, and Bill McCall, the owner of the label, is better remembered for his ability to get unsuspecting songwriters to sign over their publishing rights rather than his gift for finding top-notch acts. But McCall somehow managed to attract some worthwhile artists to 4 Star despite his abysmal business practices, and Bear Family Records have collected 30 rockabilly and hillbilly boogie sides from the 4 Star archives for this volume in their ongoing That'll Flat Git It! series. T. Texas Tyler was 4 Star's first major star, and he's represented with the rollicking "Shake 'Em Up Rock," but most of the highlights of this disc come from lesser known acts. Arkie Shibley contributes "Pick Pick Pickin' (My Guitar)," a very funny tale of a hillbilly turned singing cowboy, as well as "Hot Rod Race," a gearhead's saga that was a precursor to Charlie Ryan's hit "Hot Rod Lincoln," which was also released by 4 Star and appears on this set. Carl Belew shows a real knack for moody rockers on "24 Hour Night" and "No Love Tonight," while Sammy Masters gets the party hopping with "Pink Cadillac." "Whop-T-Bop," and "Some Like It Hot." Tommy Scott delivers some revved-up Western swing sides, including "Cat Music," "Dig Me Little Mama," and a gender-switch cover of "Dance with Me Henry." And Jimmy Wolford asserts his identity with the closer "My Name Is Jimmy," and cites Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Gene Vincent as his peers, even if he spoils his list by name-checking Pat Boone. As is usually the case with Bear Family's releases, the remastering sounds great and the liner notes are both extensive and well-written: it's hard to say how much more obscure rockabilly and hillbilly music remains to be uncovered, but Bear Family hasn't stopped finding good stuff yet, and fans of first-generation rock will find plenty to jive to here.
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