Real Raw Rockabilly / Red Hot Rockabilly [music]

'Real Raw Rockabilly' and 'Red Hot Rockabilly' are two CD compilations. After the Vintage Nostalgia Show, Mr Robot remembered how much he liked 1950s music (which he was very much into as a teenager), and realised how much more there was still to be explored. When we got home, he ordered a few CDs from Amazon, and these were two of them.

As I said in my review of the Fascinating Rhythm compilation of 1920s music, compilations can be a great way to dip your toe into something and find bands you like or sounds you enjoy. We had recordings by a lot of big names at home already – Elvis (of course!), Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and a compilation of Sun Records singles – and this is the next step along the road, I guess. 'Red Hot Rockabilly' has more songs by the the stars, with a couple of Carl Perkins tracks, some Elvis, Gene Vincent, and even Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash, but that’s possibly why I prefer 'Real Raw Rockabilly': its unfamiliarity is exciting.

I think what I enjoy about rockabilly is the rawness of the sound. That probably sounds odd given my love of smooth singers like Julie London, but I enjoy the slap bass, the occasionally less-than-perfect yet honest vocals, and the jangling guitars. The upbeat melodies are frequently incredibly simple, but because of that they really stick in your head. They’re annoyingly sticky, sometimes. When you finally shake one earworm out of your head, another takes up residence! That said, my favourite songs are all fairly distinct, with no danger of being mistaken for any other. Some of the songs do seem a tad too similar to one another.

The lack of sentimentality in the lyrics appeals to me. Dancing, hooking up, drinking, driving fast cars… These are songs about having a good time, not sitting around daydreaming. The CDs make particularly good driving music, and we’ve ‘treated’ the neighbours to them, playing them in the back garden in the evening occasionally.

If you’re more familiar with rockabilly, do you have any albums to recommend? I’ve really been enjoying listening to these two on my iPod at work (music helps me focus when the office is bustling) and would love to hear more.

My favourite tracks 
REAL RAW ROCKABILLY Brand New Cadillac (Vince Taylor & the Playboys; hear Brand New Cadillac on YouTube), Black Cadillac (Joyce Green; hear Black Cadillac on YouTube), Boppin’ the Blues (Carl Perkins), Sixteen Chicks (Joe Clay), Bang Bang (Janis & Her Boyfriends), Growl (Johnny Kidd and the Pirates)
RED HOT ROCKABILLY Red Headed Woman (Sonny Burgess), Flyin’ Saucer Rock ‘n’ Roll (Billy Lee Riley), Matchbox (Carl Perkins), Twenty Flight Rock (Eddie Cochran), Honey Don’t (Carl Perkins), Blue Moon of Kentucky (Elvis)


  1. I agree that compilations are a good place to start when delving into unknown musical territory. Of course, in amongst all the wonderful tracks there will be some truly awful novelty types or in the case of rockabilly, the band wagon jumpers.

    Carl Perkins is one of my favourites and regularly pops up on my favoured iPod playlist. Billy Lee Riley is another absolute favourite, the man of a million voices!

    Recommendations .. I have the London American Rockabilly compilation which has some good tracks but does unfortunately have some of the aforementioned band wagon jumpers. For a really raw sound, try Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio. Warren Smith is another of my favourites, he has more of a country edge in a lot of tracks and did the incredible 'Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache' which is a classic. Also, The Roots of Psychobilly CD, which we got from Amazon is worth a listen, it has a lot of instrumental tracks which are fab.

  2. Seriously cool and hugely inspiring - I will always stand by my view of Rough Cut by Johnny and the Roccos (live) being the ultimate rockabilly (contemporary) anthem... if only I could find more sounds like Charlie Hightone, I would die happy...

    1. Ooh, I know very little about such things! I started buying a magazine about classic rock'n'roll just to try to learn more.


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