Los Straitjackets

Deke Dickerson Sings the Great Instrumental Hits!!!!!!

Yep Roc

dickersonIt’s like amplifying the experience of hearing Lorne Greene sing the theme to “Bonanza” after only having known it as an instrumental.

Instrumentals have fallen out of fashion over the decades yet fans remain. But the vocal instrumental subgenre is about as esoteric as it gets. And Dickerson — a rockabilly, hillbilly-jazz and surf artist who also collects music outside the norm and beyond — wants to share it via renditions of a few choice examples, with the help of instrumental combo Los Straitjackets.

“Most famous instrumental hits either started out as vocal songs, or — even better — were written as instrumentals, became hits, and then some knucklehead came along and wrote lyrics for them after the fact,” Dickerson explains in the album’s press release.

Songs here originally composed with lyrics are “Theme From a Summer Place,” “Perfidia” and “Misirlou,” given Beach Boys, ska and exotica arrangements, respectively.

The rest are instrumentals that had “knucklehead”-penned lyrics added later. Some of the best are Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonk” (Doggett himself put out the vocal version as a follow-up single to the instrumental); the Shadows’ “Apache” (uniting disco, hip-hop, surf and country);  “You Can Count on Me” (sung to the tune of the theme from “Hawaii 5-O” and sourced from Sammy Davis Jr.’s 1976 version); and “Popcorn” (the Gershon Kingsley moog classic popularized by Hot Butter and later performed with vocals by French band Anarchic System).

Dickerson limits his guitar work to electric sitar on “Misirlou” but takes his singing seriously. “When I was recording the vocals,” he recalls in the press release, “I kept thinking of the classic Bill Murray ‘Saturday Night Live’ lounge singer bit, and I quickly realized, that’s my role here: I’m here to interpret these familiar melodies in a recognizable fashion, and to embrace the absurdity beneath it all.”

And just as Murray’s Nick Winters pines for “those Star Wars” and pleads, “Don’t let ’em end,” so, too, might listeners of this album of reverently irreverent modifications of long-buried treasure be left wishing for a “Vol. 2” from impresario Dickerson and his lucha libre mask-wearing sidekicks. gnm_end_bug

1. Fury
2. Honky Tonk
3. Magic Star
4. Theme From A Summer Place
5. Perfidia
6. Apache
7. Misirlou
8. Kawanga
9. Wild Weekend
10. You Can Count On Me
11. Walk Don’t Run
12. Popcorn
13. Sleepwalk
14. Pipeline

Total time: 38:30

External links
artist’s website
iTunes Store

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The Fleshtones ♦ Southern Culture on the Skids ♦ Los Straitjackets

Mondo Zombie Boogaloo

Yep Roc

mondoGathering up three like-minded purveyors of ’60s-style garage/surf/rockabilly artists from its roster, Yep Roc pulls off an A1 celebration of a musically overlooked time of year: Halloween. Amid the parade of  Christmas albums that seemingly starts earlier each year, “Mondo Zombie Boogaloo” is a refreshing jolt of originals and standards that’ll bring anyone’s monster to life.

Perhaps because of Jack Marshall’s theme song for mid-’60s TV comedy “The Munsters,” guitar-driven rock in a twang/surf vein has always been easily associated with creepy goings-on. Six of the tracks on “Mondo” are instrumentals that admirably follow in the large footsteps of that show’s catchy theme, and five of  those are by Lucha Libre-masked instrumentalists Los Straitjackets — including the themes from “Young Frankenstein” and “Halloween.” But Southern Culture on the Skids give the Straitjackets a run for their money with “La Marcha de los Cabarones,” a SCOTS original.

Other highlights are “Tingler Blues,” a tribute by SCOTS to that great 1959 Vincent Price flick; “Que Monstruos Son,” a Spanish-language version of “The Monster Mash” by all three bands; and the Fleshtones’ “Haunted Hipster,” complete with with understated slide guitar and harmonica.gnm_end_bug

1. It’s Monster Surfing Time – Los Straitjackets
2. Ghoulman Confidential – The Fleshtones
3. Goo Goo Muck – Southern Culture On The Skids
4. Que Monstruos Son – Los Straitjackets featuring The Fleshtones and Southern Culture On The Skids
5. Haunted Hipster – The Fleshtones
6. The Loneliest Ghost In Town – Southern Culture On The Skids
7. Theme From Young Frankenstein – Los Straitjackets
8. (Sock It To Me Baby) In The House Of Shock – The Fleshtones
9. Theme From Halloween – Los Straitjackets
10. Tingler Blues – Southern Culture on the Skids
11. Ghoul On A Hill – Los Straitjackets
12. La Marcha De Los Cabarones – Southern Culture On The Skids
13. Ghostbusters – Los Straitjackets
14. Dracula A GoGo – The Fleshtones
15. Demon Death – Southern Culture On The Skids

Total time: 44:48

External links
Yep Roc’s Fleshtones page
Southern Culture on the Skids’ site
Los Straitjackets’ site
iTunes Store

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Jason Freeman

Hex & Hell

BR2 Music Publishing

freemanJason Freeman, who also is a member of Memphis pre-World War II blues cover band Bluff City Backsliders, plugs in for his first solo effort — a wild mélange of Texas boogie; Louisiana swamp; Mississippi Delta and hill-country blues; and Sun Studio-style rockabilly.

And he’s no stranger to that last subgenre, either, working as a Sun Studio tour guide by day. “Working at Sun Studio has expanded my view of the role Memphis has played throughout history,” Freeman says in his bio on the website for “$5 Cover Amplified,” a package of 12 online documentaries produced as a complement to Craig Brewer’s 2009 musical drama series for MTV, “$5 Cover.” “I think that’s helped me raise the bar as to what I’m doing, knowing I’m representing a brand that’s known all over the world. In my own humble way, I’m a representative of that tradition.”

In fact, “Hex & Hell,” a collection of 10 Freeman originals, is the first release on filmmaker Brewer’s new record label. Freeman has a song featured in all of Brewer’s films — “The Poor & Hungry,” “Hustle & Flow,” “Black Snake Moan” and “Footloose” — and taught Samuel L. Jackson how to play slide guitar for “Black Snake Moan.”

If one had to draw a voice comparison, fellow slide guitarist Roy Rogers might come to mind. But it’s Freeman’s gutsy slide that’s in the spotlight here, presented in a variety of styles and tones, backed by just bass and drums on most tracks.

For variety’s sake, three tracks enjoy expanded instrumentation. “Florida Watah,” the title track and “Love Baby” add organ, violin/violin/cello and saxophone, respectively — all to great effect.gnm_end_bug

1. Dirty Heart
2. Florida Watah
3. Help Me
4. Hex & Hell
5. Love Baby
6. Magic In My Home
7. (Do The) Rump
8. Memphis Bridge
9. Teasin’ Me
10. The Beginning Of …

Total time: 35:26

External links
artist’s website
iTunes Store

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Brian Setzer

Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!


The Stray Cat takes another break from his namesake swing-revival orchestra, this time to create something he’s been hinting at for a while: an all-instrumental, cross-genre outing.

From the first Brian Setzer Orchestra album in 1994 to the 11th in 2010, he’s nearly always included an instrumental: “Sleepwalk,” “Caravan,” “The Nutcracker Suite,” “James Bond Theme,” “Honky Tonk,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Mr. Jazzer Goes Surfin’,” “Mr. Surfer Goes Jazzin’,” “Batman” — he’s even featured instrumentals on the occasional solo album and CD single. The eighth BSO album, “Wolfgang’s Big Night Out,” puts a swingin’ twist on classical standards and contains just two tracks with vocals.

Mixing covers with originals, “Instru-MENTAL!” is a heavenly gumbo of multitracked guitar picking and strumming, accompanied only by upright bass and drums (with the exception of vibraphone on the perky and appropriately sequenced ditty “Intermission”).

Setzer deftly traverses rockabilly, rock and roll, country, jazz, surf and bluegrass, often combining more than one style within a song. “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” for instance, boasts rockabilly picking on top of jazz strumming. In an interview with Guitar Player magazine, the guitarist revealed he was “copping Elvis’ version of the song, not Bill Monroe’s.”

“Hillbilly Jazz Meltdown” is another number that exemplifies “-MENTAL’s” maniacal musical melange. Speed-flatpicking in the vein of Jimmy Bryant, Joe Maphis or Merle Travis and jazz stylings not unlike latter-era Hank Garland are but a few of the ideas Setzer pieced together for this Frankenstein’s monster of a song.

Other highlights include possibly the first instrumental version of Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-A-Lula”; a rare Setzer banjo workout on Earl Scruggs’ “Earl’s Breakdown”; and two surf-style selections: “Hot Love” and “Go-Go Godzilla.”

The album’s final two covers are Ray Noble’s “Cherokee” and an early white blues song from the 1920s that evolved into a jazz standard: Gene Austin and Nathaniel Shilkret’s “Lonesome Road.”

1. Blue Moon Of Kentucky
2. Cherokee
3. Be-Bop-A-Lula
4. Earl’s Breakdown
5. Far Noir East
6. Intermission
7. Go-Go Godzilla
8. Lonesome Road
9. Hillbilly Jazz Meltdown
10. Hot Love
11. Pickpocket

Total time: 34:39

External links
artist’s website
iTunes Store

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Elvis Presley

Elvis 75: Good Rockin’ Tonight


PresleyThe King finally has a box set fit for a king. After years of such multidisc compilations as “I Believe — The Gospel Masters,” “The Complete ’68 Comeback Special,” “The Music of Elvis Presley — The 1950s,” “Elvis at the Movies” and “The Country Side of Elvis,” Legacy Recordings commemmorates what would have been the Mississippi Tupelo Flash’s 75th birthday with a career-spanning chronological sampler of 100 songs (incorporating the entire “30 #1 Hits” release) that keeps the singer’s forays in proportion to his artistic success.

An excellent perq to “Elvis 75 – Good Rockin’ Tonight” is the sessionography included in the 80-page booklet, which makes it possible to group tracks according to their respective guitarists, such as:

Original guitarist Scotty Moore. Beginning with the Sun single that gave birth to rockabilly, “That’s All Right,” Moore barnstormed through a 14-year parade of flat-out rockers including “Mystery Train,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog” and “All Shook Up.”

Hank Garland, quintessential Nashville studio guitarist. Garland got the call several times to come in for sessions from 1958 to 1961, when Presley was looking to expand his sound. It wasn’t long before Garland and Moore became a double-guitar team, exemplified by cuts such as “It’s Now or Never,” “Reconsider Baby” and “Little Sister.” Unfortunately, in 1961, a near-fatal car accident ended his career.

Southern soul guitarist Reggie Young. Before settling in Nashville, Young played in former Presley bassist Bill Black’s combo and then became house guitarist at Chips Moman’s American Studios, where the legendary single “Suspicious Minds” and the comeback LP “From Elvis in Memphis” were cut.

James Burton, “chicken pickin’ ” guitarist. The former Rick Nelson guitarist couldn’t play on the “Comeback” television special because of a prior commitment to Frank Sinatra, but a year later he agreed to assemble the Taking Care of Business band to play Vegas and ended up staying with Presley until the end. Some of The King’s best Americana is from this period, including versions of Tony Joe White’s “Polk Salad Annie,” Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away,” Joe Babcock’s “I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water,” Mickey Newbury’s “An American Trilogy” and James Taylor’s “Steamroller Blues.”

Sprinkled throughout the box are performances by Jerry Reed, Grady Martin, Harold Bradley, Tommy Tedesco, Al Casey and others.gnm_end_bug

DISC ONE (1953-57)
1. My Happiness
2. That’s All Right
3. Blue Moon Of Kentucky
4. Good Rockin’ Tonight
5. Baby Let’s Play House
6. Mystery Train
7. I Forgot To Remember To Forget
8. I Got A Woman
9. Heartbreak Hotel
10. I Was The One
11. Blue Suede Shoes
12. My Baby Left Me
13. One-Sided Love Affair
14. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)
15. Lawdy, Miss Clawdy
16. I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
17. Hound Dog
18. Don’t Be Cruel
19. Love Me Tender
20. Love Me
21. Paralyzed
22. Too Much
23. All Shook Up
24. Mean Woman Blues
25. (There’ll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me)
26. (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear
27. One Night
28. Jailhouse Rock
29. Treat Me Nice
30. Blue Christmas
31. Don’t

DISC TWO (1958-62)
1. Hard Headed Woman
2. Trouble
3. King Creole
4. Wear My Ring Around Your Neck
5. I Need Your Love Tonight
6. A Big Hunk O’ Love
7. (Now And Then There’s) A Fool Such As I
8. Stuck On You
9. A Mess Of Blues
10. It’s Now Or Never
11. Thrill Of Your Love
12. Such A Night
13. Are You Lonesome Tonight?
14. Reconsider Baby
15. Doin’ The Best I Can
16. Pocketful Of Rainbows
17. Surrender
18. Crying In The Chapel
19. I Feel So Bad
20. There’s Always Me
21. Judy
22. Can’t Help Falling In Love
23. (Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame
24. Little Sister
25. Good Luck Charm
26. Suspicion
27. She’s Not You
28. Return To Sender

DISC THREE (1963-69)
1. Bossa Nova Baby
2. (You’re The) Devil In Disguise
3. (It’s A) Long Lonely Highway
4. I Need Somebody To Lean On
5. Viva Las Vegas
6. It Hurts Me
7. This Is My Heaven
8. Adam And Evil
9. How Great Thou Art
10. Tomorrow Is A Long Time
11. Guitar Man
12. Big Boss Man
13. Too Much Monkey Business
14. U.S. Male
15. If I Can Dream
16. Memories
17. Don’t Cry Daddy
18. In The Ghetto
19. Suspicious Minds
20. Stranger In My Own Home Town
21. Kentucky Rain
22. Only The Strong Survive

DISC FOUR (1970-77)
1. Polk Salad Annie (live)
2. The Fool
3. Funny How Time Slips Away
4. I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water
5. I Just Can’t Help Believin’ (live)
6. I’m Leavin’
7. An American Trilogy (live)
8. Burning Love
9. Always On My Mind
10. Steamroller Blues (live)
11. Loving Arms
12. Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues
13. Promised Land
14. T-R-O-U-B-L-E
15. For The Heart
16. Hurt
17. Way Down
18. Unchained Melody (live)
19. A Little Less Conversation (JXL radio remix edit, 2002)

Total time: 4:35:03

External links
artist’s website
iTunes Store

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