Listen Up: Wednesday, August 29, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Various Artists

Billy, Volume One (Hep Cat Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

Rockabilly: the sound of hiccupping echo, slap bass, cats (and kittens, like Wanda Jackson) getting “real, real gone,” Elvis’ Sun records — the original punk rock — and the battalions of lunatics who followed in his wake.

Fifty years later, the original style still has practitioners, but it’s also been deconstructed into a collection of quirks and mannerisms, often by Goth refugees with quiffs that remind me of the plastic hair worn by that annoying Main Street mime in the shiny green suit. Thank the Cramps, I guess. Psychobilly? If Carl Perkins heard this, he’d be turning in his grave. Hell, Sonny Burgess is still living, and he would whomp the tar out of some of these poseurs. So would Ronnie Dawson, who still runs 10 miles a day — the guy’s sixtysomething now.

So here’s this compilation of rockabilly and psychobilly acts, released by a tiny Orange, Calif., label, and — believe it or not — Billy is pretty good.

Fort Worth’s own Reverend Horton Heat-er Jim Heath is here, doing his usual thang (which puts me in mind of my Dallas-émigré bud’s future wife who stood on a table and screamed when the Rev played NYC’s Lone Star Café a while back), as is Wayne “The Train” Hancock, evoking the spirit of El’s “Mystery Train.” James Intveld’s a better-than-average singer, like Dave Edmunds without the sore throat; his “Crying Over You” is aces.

Like rockabilly chicks? This set’s got two: Marti Brom, whose “Eat My Words” includes the immortal line, “And if I need a drink on the side / I take a little swallow of my pride,” and Josie Kreuzer, whose sassy “Lucky & Wild” sounds about like what you’d think.

If you have any interest in these styles, you’ll find enough good stuff here to make Billy a worthwhile acquisition, especially since it’s priced at $4.98. Cheap eats.


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