Tuesday, 17 January 2012

"Rusty Rocks" by RUSTY YORK. A Review Of The 2004 CD Compilation By Bear Family.

"…Sugaree…You Know I Love You So…"

Released on Bear Family BCD 16543 AR, "Rusty Rocks" is a 28-track CD compilation featuring his recordings between 1957 and 1964.
It's part of Bear Family's "Rocks" Series - which in April 2004 had only 5 other releases - but now in January 2012 sports 42 - and rising (see list below and other titles reviewed).

It comes in Bear Family's now standard packaging for this series – a 3-way foldout card digipak containing a detachable oversized booklet inside (52 pages for this issue). Pages 2 to 33 feature an in-depth essay on Charles Edward York (his real name) by noted writer and musicologist COLIN ESCOTT, Pages 35 to 40 show photos from Rusty’s own 'Scrapbook' - while Pages 41 to 50 have a full Discography on all 28 recordings (and more) by Bear's own RICHARD WEIZE. The text throughout is peppered with trade adverts from Billboard and Cashbox, black and white and colour photos of Rusty in the USA and Europe as well as reviews and posters for Dick Clark Shows in Hollywood and Michigan. It’s the usual classy act from Bear.

And then of course there's the great sound courtesy of JURGEN CRASSER. I’ve raved about his mastering work before (see my TAG for him and reviews for the astonishing "Blowing The Fuse" series (16 compilations) and the "Sweet Soul Music" series (10 discs). Musically it's Rock'n'Roll and Rockabilly with a little Pop on the later Sixties stuff, but it sounds great - full of atmosphere, echo and life.

TRACK LIST:
1. Sugaree
2. Sweet Love
3. The Girl Can't Help It
4. Mean Woman Blues
5. Peggy Sue
6. Great Balls Of Fire
7. Shake 'Em Up Baby
8. Red Rooster (Instrumental)
9. Sweet Talk
10. Peggy Sue (2)
11. Sadie Mae
12. Tore Up Over You
13. Tremblin'
14. Love Struck
15. La Dee Dah (Duet with BONNIE LOU]
16. Cajun Blues/Frosty (Instrumental)
17. Goodnight Cincinnati, Good Morning Tennessee
18. Sweet Love (2)
19. You'd Better Leave My Baby Alone
20. Baby What You Want Me to Do See [as BILL STAMPER]
21. Don't Do It
22. One, One, One, Wonderful (Instrumental)
23. Molly Darlin' [as BILL STAMPER]
24. Tremblin' (Alternate)
25. Tore Up Over You (Alternate)
26. The Girl Can't Help It (2)
27. A Fallen Star
28. Margaret Ann

Tracks 1, 2, 3, 7, 10, 11, 22, 23 and 24 are from the 1979 vinyl album "Rusty York: Rock And Roll Memories" on Jewel JRC 917

Tracks 4, 5, 6, 12, 16, 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, 28 are from a 1994 CD compilation called "Cincinnati Fireball" on Gee Dee 270 103

Tracks 24 and 25 are 'Alternate Takes' of "Tremblin'" and "Tore Up" and are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

The other tracks (and some above) are either 7” single releases or from rare US compilations – and many are seeing the CD light of day for the first time.

Born in Kentucky – Rusty York's lone chart entry is the fabulous "Sugaree" – a song I've loved and featured on many a rocking CD compilation. Its ultra-rare original US 45 is repro’d on the CD label (P.J. Records 100). "Sugaree" has a great history. Written by country singer Marty Robbins, it was aired by gospel group The Jordanaires on Capitol as their first secular release in late 1956. York’s version rearranged it into a faster beat and was recorded April 1959 as a casual B-side, but the finished Rock'n'Roller demanded release. It was immediately hawked around RCA, Mercury and other big record companies - but none showed any interest. Undeterred – it was put out on the self-published P.J. Records in April 1959 (P for was Pat Nelson and J for Jackie DeShannon). They pressed up a thousand copies at a time and sold them from cars. 10,000 singles later - it was picked up by Note Records that summer (Note 10021) and then at the end of the year released on the mighty Chess label. Chess 1730 finally charted on the Billboard Top 200 at a lowly ranking of 77. Hank Ballard and The Midnighters even put out a version on King in June 1959. "Sugaree" is just one of those irresistibly brill Rock'n'Roll records that never dates. Bolstered up by great Saxophone work from Jimmy Risch – it boogies along and wins fans every time. It's rare instrumental B-side "Red Rooster" is also on here.

The rest of the tracks comprise of like-minded cover versions – Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue", Little Richard's "The Girl Can't Help It", "Mean Woman Blues" (sung by Elvis Presley in 1957 on his "Loving You" album) and Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls Of Fire". He sounds like 1950's Buddy Holly on the pretty "A Fallen Star". The cool Rockabilly of "Shack 'Em Up Baby" turned up on "All I Wanna Do Is ROCK" – Bear Family's budget-priced CD sampler for the "Rocks" series (a great introduction). I also particularly like the two versions of 1957's "Sweet Love" which is very Gene Vincent in his prime. The instrumental "Cajun Blues/Frosty" too features JIMMY RISCH on sax, but also has some excellent guitar work from York himself. Even the 1961 material like "Tore Up Over You" and "Love Struck" is good – sounding not unlike period Jerry Lee Lewis. There's also a tremendous boogie cover of Jimmy Reed's shuffling Blues classic "Baby What You Want Me To Do" which was put out as a 45 in 1964 with "Molly Darlin'" on the A (REM Records REM 330 - credited to BILL STAMPER). The only real turkey for me here is a terrible duet with Bonnie Lou on "La Dee Dah" – a sappy 1959 "cha cha cha" song on King Records – I guess it's been included due to its rarity.

To sum up – I liked this compilation a lot. Rusty York may be a criminally forgotten figure in the Rock’n’Roll and Rockabilly pantheon – but this superb "Rocks" compilation by the incomparable Bear Family does him and his recorded legacy proud.

PS: The "Rocks" Series by Bear Family features the following artists:

1. Chuck Berry [see REVIEW}
2. Pat Boone
3. Johnny Burnette [see REVIEW]
4. The Cadillacs
5. Eddie Cochran
6. Bobby Darin
7. Fats Domino
8. Connie Francis
9. Don Gibson
10. Glen Glenn
11. Bill Haley
12. Roy Hall
13. Slim Harpo [see REVIEW]
14. Dale Hawkins
15. Ronnie Hawkins
16. Screamin' Jay Hawkins
17. Wanda Jackson [see REVIEW]
18. Sonny James
19. Buddy Knox & Jimmy Bowen with the Rhythm Orchids
20. Sleepy LaBeef
21. Brenda Lee
22. Jerry Lee Lewis
23. Smiley Lewis [see REVIEW]
24. Little Richard
25. Bob Luman
26. Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers
27. Carl Mann
28. Amos Milburn [see REVIEW]
29. Ella Mae Morse [see REVIEW]
30. Ricky Nelson
31. Carl Perkins
32. Roy Orbison
33. Lloyd Price
34. Piano Red (aka Dr. Feelgood) [see REVIEW]
35. Charlie Rich [see REVIEW]
36. Jack Scott
37. Shirley & Lee
38. The Treniers
39. Big Joe Turner [see REVIEW]
40. Conway Twitty
41. Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps
42. Rusty York [see REVIEW]

The Bear Family "Rockin' Rollin'" Series features:

1. Johnny Horton
2. Marvin Rainwater
3. Marty Robbins Vol.1
4. Marty Robbins Vol.2
5. Marty Robbins Vol.3

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