Various Artists

The Best of Sun Rockabilly, Vol. 2

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Rockabilly's rough image can be traced to both Sam Phillips' lo-fi production ethic at Sun Records and the dangerous look of the many Elvis wannabes on the label's roster; it continued as a symbol of defiance thanks to the nouveau rockabilly look British teddy-boys sported in the '60s (greased hair, rolled-up pant leg) and the makeshift music the reconfigured teddies of punk rock made in the late '70s. Charly Records' 25-song sampler The Best of Sun Rockabilly, Vol. 2 is a fine document of rockabilly's charged, mid-'50s beginnings, and includes tracks from original punks Jerry Lee Lewis ("Wild One") and Carl Perkins ("That Don't Move Me"), as well as contributions by less-popular, but equally idiosyncratic figures like Warren Smith and Sonny Burgess. Burgess shows the frenetic and, at times, goofy side of rockabilly on his Little Walter-inspired blues stomper "Itchy" and with lyrics like "I got a cracker/ain't got no cheese" from "Ain't Got a Thing"; some of the music's more pop-flavored moments are heard on Andy Anderson's teen Romeo number "Johnny Valentine" (sung in the classic hiccup and baritone style) and Barbara Pittman's Wanda Jackson-style tune "Sentimental Fool." The package is made complete with schizo-rockers like Mack Self's "Vibrate" and Jimmy Wages' "Mad Man," along with swamp-bred cuts like Smith's "Miss Froggie" (apparently his girl is shaped like a frog). Like other fine rockabilly compilations (Columbia's hits-oriented Rockabilly Stars for one), Charly's Best Of Sun Rockabilly, Volume Two is no longer in print, but definitely worth looking through the used bins for.

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