Saturday, June 6, 2009

Favorite CDs Released in 2006

My favorite music releases for 2006 have received due consideration.

The four CDs of distinction for the year just ended are:

various artists: "Rockin' Bones" Rhino R2 73346, 4 CD set w/ book101 1950s and early '60s rockabilly classics, not so much the obvious hits but those records that have attained a new lease on life since the 1970s when a new generation of listeners discovered this weird and wonderful music. Fanzines, record shows, the odd radio show here and there, and the occasional rockabilly festivals all helped to create more interest in many of these records and the artists heard on them than when they first came out decades ago. Problem is, they've been out of print longer than some fans have been alive. I have been known to be a bit put-off by Rhino Records phrase "We collect records so you don't have to!" but in this case their intent and efforts are appreciated. Obtaining a collection of original 45s of even half the songs on this collection is beyond the price range of many.I am stunned to find a record from my hometown included, "Hot Shot". I have been further surprised to know a guy here who remembers the singer, Ronnie Pearson. Local rock 'n' roll expert Carl "Crazy Legs" Palmer recalls that Pearson was from Osage City, Kansas, and was seen promoting his disc from a convertible in a parade in downtown Topeka back at the time. The producer of this recording, Bob Bobo, ran a local record label here in the 1960s called Casino.I am disappointed that Sonny Burgess from Sun Records was not included on "Rockin' Bones", a serious omission. And I wish multiple disc sets like this housed the discs in jewel cases enclosed in a box with a lid on it, rather than this often used "book" style of packaging.

The Music Machine: "The Ultimate Turn On", Big Beat/Ace CDWIK2 271, 2 CD set w/ videos!Finally a definitive CD reissue of the Music Machine's classic "Turn On" LP. The Music Machine, along with Count Five, turned out the best mid-1960s garage band era LPs that I have ever heard, and both are now available in superlative CD compilations from the Ace label in the U. K. Both mono and stereo mixes of the LP are heard here along with the band's non-LP singles and previously unheard recordings for the Original Sound label, plus great looking TV appearances. The Music Machine's hit "Talk Talk" and the Count Five's "Psychotic Reaction" were utterly terrifying records in 1966, the kind that surely inspired teen-aged angst and self loathing, resulting in detention hall assignments galore. These guys had a loooong head start on the goths! I'm sure radio station program directors scratched their heads and fretted while previewing discs like these and had to think awhile before OKing adding them to the playlists. Didn't one writer once say that Sean Bonniwell was everything Jim Morrison ever wished he could be? Did I coin this phrase? I might have.

Sonny Burgess and the Rhythm Rockers: "Tear It Up!", St. George STG7712I think this just might be the best recording Sonny Burgess has ever made. He has recorded a few new albums since the 1990s and this one is the best. It might even be better than the Sun records he made in the 1950s, the ones that made him well-known to rockabilly hounds in the first place. Pretty tall order but I think its true. "Farmers Blues" is very convincing. The frustration of crop failure as sung here sounds very authentic. I'm told these records may have been made over a year prior to release. I love it.

The Alarm Clocks: "The Time Has Come", Norton CED321This album made out in time for 2006 (time-related funnies are easy when referring to this group!) with little time to spare. These guys were skinny 13-year-olds in 1966 when they could barely give away their lone 45rpm. Last year they finally had a reunion playing only a few shows before recording this great new set of songs. They accurately retained the mid-'60s garage band sound.I saw really knockout performances by both the Alarm Clocks and Sonny Burgess at the 4th annual Ponderosa Stomp festival at the Gibson Guitar Factory's performance center in Memphis, Tennessee, in May, 2006. That trip to Memphis was the most fun I had in 2006! My opinions of their respective CD releases above are indeed influenced by the great shows they played in Memphis!!