Tuesday, 19 April 2011

“Johnny Rocks” by JOHNNY BURNETTE. A Review Of The 2008 Bear Family CD Compilation.

"…C'mon Little Baby…Let’s Tear That Dancefloor Up…"

As you can see from the list at the bottom of this review, in 2011 Bear Family’s “Rocks” series is by now fairly extensive and still growing (Big Joe Turner was added in March 2011). This is one of those titles – and it’s a jewel in the crown of this definitive series.

Issued September 2008, "Johnny Rocks” is on Bear Family BCD 16992 AR and features 36-recordings from 1958 to 1960 (76:05 minutes). Like all titles in this series it’s housed in a 3-way foldout card digipak which holds a detachable 44-page oversized booklet in the centre. The CD itself and see-through tray beneath it picture his “Tear It Up” Coral 45 from 1956 (a nice touch – lyrics above) while the detailed and affectionate liner notes are by noted musicologist COLIN ESCOTT. There are lots of black and white photos, tape boxes pictured, and a full discography for the set by RUSS WAPENSKY and Bear Family’s own RICHARD WEIZE on Pages 33 to 40. There’s even a lovely colour reproduction of the Alan Freed "Rock Rock Rock!" film poster from 1956 on Page 14 – it name-checked Johnny’s band because the movie featured . It’s a typically great job done.

1. The Train Kept A-Rollin'
2. Tear It Up
3. Oh Baby Babe
4. All by Myself
5. Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee
6. Honey Hush
7. Lonesome Tears in My Eyes
8. Please Don't Leave Me
9. Rock Therapy
10. Rock Billy Boogie
11. Lonesome Train (On a Lonesome Track)
12. Sweet Love on My Mind
13. Your Baby Blue Eyes
14. If You Want It Enough
15. Butterfingers
16. Eager Beaver Baby
17. Warm Love
18. Come on Baby
19. Boppin' Rosalie
20. My Little Baby Came Rockin'
21. Do Baby Do
22. Lizzy Dee
23. My Honey
24. Rock Away Baby
25. Sweet Baby Doll
26. Boppin' Rock
27. Kiss Me
28. We're Gonna Rock It
29. Me and the Bear
30. Little Girl (Aka Kiss Me Sweet)
31. Crazy Legs
32. Mule Boy
33. Bertha Lou
34. You Gotta Get Ready
35. Wampus Cat
36. Cincinnati Fireball

Some artists in the Rock 'n' Roll period engender extraordinarily loyalty and affection – Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent and Little Richard of course – why – because they were the real deal. Memphis-born Johnny Burnette and his storming band are the same. You ‘re only 3 or 4 tunes into this superb CD and it’s easy to hear why – this guy rocked. It was a smart move on the part of Bear to include almost all of his most famous platter – the incendiary debut album “Johnny Burnette And The Rock ‘N Roll Trio”. It was issued as an 11-track 10” LP in the UK (a hugely sought-after vinyl rarity) while the booklet quite properly references the 12-track US original on Coral. It encapsulates why Rock 'n' Roll so grabbed the kids by the scruff of the neck – exciting, dangerous and terrifying to their parents. “The Train Kept A-Rollin’” is typical of his Rock 'n' Roll output – slap bass, frantic guitar, ragged vocals at one-hundred miles an hour with intermittent shouts - while “Tear It Up” is pure Rockabilly genius (lyrics above). So good…

Musically it breaks down like this - 9 of the 12 tracks on his December 1956 US debut LP – the explosive “Johnny Burnette And The Rock ‘N Roll Trio” are on here - with a further 6 from the 12-track “Tear It Up” compilation from 1969 issued in the UK on Coral CP 10 which mopped up the rare American Coral single sides. Tracks 18 to 24 are roughly Imperial and Freedom label US 45’s - while 26 to 36 are “Demo Recordings” from varying dates all of which appeared for the first time on the 9CD Bear Family Box Set “The Train Kept A-Rollin’ – Memphis To Hollywood” in 2003. The lone track from his 2nd album proper – 1961’s “Dreamin’” is “Cincinnati Fireball” - while there are some other tracks from posthumous compilations like “Tear It Up” on Solid Smoke SS 8001 in 1978 (USA) and “Johnny Burnette Rock ‘N” Roll” in 1983 on Skyline 1254 (USA).

The remasters are done by one of Bear’s top engineers – JURGEN CRASSER. I’ve raved about this guy’s work before – the 16 Volumes of the "Blowing The Fuse" series (1945 to 1960) and the 10 Volume of the "Sweet Soul Music" series (1961 to 1970). It’s the same here – warm, full of life, rockin' – just great sound quality.

To sum up – as a one-stop for this man’s great music, “Johnny Rocks” is all you need. I’m gonna save up now for their “Train Kept A-Rollin’” Box set.

Wonderful stuff and warmly recommended.

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

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

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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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc