Various Artists

Trading Kisses

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Trading Kisses is another rockabilly/rock & roll compilation from Buffalo Bop, the label that seems to have beaten the bushes for the most obscure local recordings of the 1950s and early 1960s. The results here are a little more uneven than their best, as they either didn't try, or weren't able to find enough edgy rockabilly to fill the 30 slots on the CD. But where they do get it right, it's enjoyable on a level unique to this label. Eddie Cash sounds like Ral Donner at his most Elvis Presley-like on "Doing All Right," out of Memphis, with some powerful guitar and someone of considerable skill pounding away on the ivories. Jesse Lee King & His Crowns come off as a pure backwoods rockabilly outfit, appropriately enough from the Pines label from Jasper, Texas. The Sundowners, out of Texas, had some of what it took -- great breaks if a little weak in the main body of the song -- on "Live It Up," fronted by lead singer Wilbur Martin. And for a change of pace, "Tip Toe" is more of a teen pop novelty song, of the kind that the Earls excelled at, and is pleasant enough, though ideally it would better belong on a good white doo wop collection. Jackie Terrell is, similarly, more of a novelty-type rock & roller, and "I'm Gonna Look for You" comes off like a good piece of faux rock & roll -- Terrell's "I Stopped and I Thought" is a little bit more substantial. Don Bailey is a rock & roll crooner coming out of country-pop, and closer to post-1960 Elvis in his lighter moments than to anything from the 1950s. "Nervous Wreck" by Jesse Lee King, is close to a lost classic, with the odd touch of a trumpet somewhere in its mix of instruments. "She's Mine," by the Uptowners, is a fine Bo Diddley-based piece of rockabilly out of Fort Worth, Texas, while "Butter Ball," by Max Uballez, is closer in spirit to Carl Perkins. The title track, by Matt Lucas, is an enjoyable if unadventurous piece of straight-ahead rock & roll, perhaps a little too heavy on the Jordanaires-type chorus for some listeners' tastes. Jimmy Gray's "Chicksville USA" is the real article, a piece of high-powered, name-dropping rock & roll that came out of Shasta Records, no less, the label owned by former singing cowboy Jimmy Wakely. And "Party Doll" gets rougher treatment from Don Ellis & the Royal Dukes -- working on the Bee Records label, distributed by Roulette -- than Buddy Knox ever gave it. Larry Tamblyn later brushed with stardom as a member of the Standells, but he's still doing adenoidal teen rock & roll on "Patty Ann," an original with some surprisingly suggestive lyrics, but no hint on the record of the punk sneer that would carry him to stardom. A lot of the rest is pleasant, eminently danceable, if not memorable rock & roll, by people who never got anywhere near the heights to which Tamblyn ascended. Dick Donato's "Big Mean Blues" is just that, and a change of pace from a big part of this compilation, with a guitar-driven break and a raunchy sound throughout. The even bluesier "Sing Sing Sing" by Dean Beard, issued as a folk-style record, sounds like rockabilly trying to insinuate itself into the college crowd. Roc LaRue's "Baby Take Me Back" could pass for a Robert Gordon demo; Harold Casner's "That Is Why" is an original that has the singer sounding like Elvis circa G.I. Blues, but with a leaner band; Robin Montgomery's "Go Johnny," by contrast, is like a sequel to Chuck Berry's "Bye Bye Johnny" that only goes wrong with a not sufficiently energetic piano-driven break. Bo Diddley's influence runs throughout the beat and sound of both the Paley Brothers' "Hey Doll Baby" and "Arkansas Jane," by the Millionaires. The makers try to get even more primitive with Arnie Ginsburg & the 3-D's and "Pal Mal Rock," but it ends up a little too clunky as a recording -- as Ginsburg was evidently called "the Velvet Voice" and the song was released on Velvet Voice records, it can be considered a vanity record. Gil Gilroy & the Jolly Rockers make up for the lapse, with a Stratocaster-wielding player and a saxman on the side, who achieve a genuine, bracing primitive intensity on the CD's last track, "Laura Lee."

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