Tuesday, September 19, 2006

James Burton and former Shreveporter James Austin push rockabilly compilation, Rockin' Bones, on NPR

Wanda sings for capitol.
Identified as a Shreveporter, record producer James Austin - alongside guitar bard James Burton - popped up on Morning Edition this week. Here's some of the interview with Renee Montagne (Sept 19) about his rockabilly compilation on Rhino:

"Just as the Ramones, the Clash and Sex Pistols broke the rules in the 1970s, so did a slew of equally rebellious singers and their groups a generation earlier. Rockin' Bones, a new CD collection, features the music of 1950s rockabilly artists who were the iconoclasts of their day.

Ronnie Dawson's "Rockin' Bones" is the title song on a set that also features Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and other rock 'n' roll stars.

Well when I die, buried six foot deep / With a rock 'n' roll record at my feet / A phonograph needle in my hand / I'm gonna rock my way right out of this land.
"That's really great poetry," says James Austin, who produced the Rhino set.

Austin says the idea for the compilation was inspired by a song he discovered in a record store -- in the orgasmic, over-the-top "Little Girl" by John and Jackie, recorded in 1958.

"I could not believe what I heard, and I started thinking, these are really oddball songs," Austin says. "They're rockabilly but they're so hardcore. And I came up with literally hundreds of them."

The women of rock 'n' roll, including pioneer Wanda Jackson, held their own against the men who dominated the genre, Austin says. Their message of "I'm as tough as you" was a stark contrast in an era of poodle skirts and saddle shoes, he adds.

Amazon reviewer Robert Wagner (Atlanta, GA) wrote of the new CD, "Paid a premium price for these discs, but it was worth it. Despite a few mainstream hits that could have been replaced with
more 'dangerous' songs, maybe by Gene Vincent for example, most of these songs are keepers - stuff I didn't know existed, and would be very hard to find on their own.

All in all, an excellent addition to anyone's 1950s music collection. For the most part, this is the stuff parents didn't want their kids listening to. Some of it was banned from the radio; a few songs the record companies would not put out. If you want a taste of the 'underground' music of the 50s, get this set."

Happy to hear everyone's so stoked about the recordings, but the ones played on NPR were tepid, including the opening cut by the Clash. Seems to me listening to rockabilly on record is a pretty useless pursuit. Heard and felt in a dance hall, it rips. Take the screaling guitar amps and spitting, screaming vocalist into the studio and you remove the guts.

When's the last time you heard a rockabilly band - or any punked out gang of guitar-wielding anarchists - in the flesh?

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