Little Heart Attacks from North Carolina

Based out of Whitakers in North Carolina, John Batchelor’s Oak Records produced a small but memorable number of Rockabilly and Rock ‘n’ Roll recordings. This compilation from Bear Family Records, presented in a vinyl record and CD combo, celebrates the legacy of the sporadic independent label.

Vinyl Record

The compilation is pressed onto a 10-inch black vinyl record that plays at 45rpm. Featuring 12 tracks, the selection is a nice overview of the fondly remembered sides from the Oak Records stable of artists. The album begins with Bobby Green & The Sportsman, a strong RnB style opener that sets the mood nicely.

Next up is Glenn Johnson & The Acorns’ Little Heart Attacks, from which the compilation takes its name; A catchy composition made even better by his distinctive vocal. The slapback on this song is used sparingly, giving it more power when it needs it. The other featured recording of this song, performed by Bobby Green & The Corvettes, is a less intimate interpretation that packs more of a punch.

The two 1960s tracks recorded by Frank Rice, of local duo Mustard and Gravy, are a fun deviation. Don Hager & The Hot Tots’ excellent interpretation of the aforementioned M+G composition ‘Be-Bop Boogie’ is also an underrated delight. Other personal highlights include the numbers by Big Jay Mercer and P.Jay & The Haystackers’ catchy Haystack Rock & Roll.

The included compact disc comes packaged in a cardboard sleeve and builds on the tracklisting of the vinyl record. In addition to the 12 tracks on the vinyl, there are a further collection of 14 rarities including B sides and alternative takes.

Highlights on the CD include rare Glenn Johnson tracks Putting It Together and If You Wouldn’t Be So Mean To Me and Don Hager’s I Love You Dear Forever.

Sound Quality:

Releases of this nature usually depend on at least two factors for optimal sound quality; the original recording conditions and the source of the transfer. The quality of the sound differs greatly, but it stems from the production; The transfers are present a few artefacts but nothing major.

A Little Something Extra…

An included extra is an extensive 8-page large-format booklet featuring research by author Lightnin’ Wells and producer Nico Feuerbach, alongside rare photographs and illustrations.

Conclusion:

A package that brings together the music made and released by Oak Records, Bear Family Records have pulled out all the stops for this release. Hearing these recordings in something close to their intended format is a joy. While not the most perfect sounding of recordings, these transfers have possibly never sounded better. If you’re a collector looking to expand your collection of rare Rockabilly, this is worth a purchase. If you’re interested but unsure whether to invest in vinyl, wait for a purely CD release.

Vinyl Record Tracklisting:

  1. Bobby Green & The Sportsmen – Sweet Thing
  2. Glenn Johnson & The Acorns – Little Heart Attacks
  3. Don Hager & The Hot Tots – Be Bop Boogie
  4. P. Jay & The Haystackers – Haystack Rock & Roll
  5. Frank Rice – My Honey, My Honda
  6. Don Hager & The Hot Tots – River Rock (Version 1)
  7. Glenn Johnson & The Acorns – Run Here Honey
  8. Bobby Green & The Corvettes – Little Heart Attacks
  9. Big Jay Mercer – Bermudas
  10. Frank Rice – Dr. Nacks Tom Cat
  11. Don Hager & The Hot Tots – Liza Jane Bop
  12. Big Jay Mercer – Sure Is A Cryin’ Shame

CD Tracklisting:

  1. Bobby Green & The Sportsmen – Sweet Thing
  2. Glenn Johnson & The Acorns – Little Heart Attacks
  3. Don Hager & The Hot Tots – Be Bop Boogie
  4. P. Jay & The Haystackers – Haystack Rock & Roll
  5. Frank Rice – My Honey, My Honda
  6. Don Hager & The Hot Tots – River Rock (Version 1)
  7. Glenn Johnson & The Acorns – Run Here Honey
  8. Bobby Green & The Corvettes – Little Heart Attacks
  9. Big Jay Mercer – Bermudas
  10. Frank Rice – Dr. Nacks Tom Cat
  11. Don Hager & The Hot Tots – Liza Jane Bop
  12. Big Jay Mercer – Sure Is A Cryin’ Shame
  13. Glenn Johnson & The Acorns – Putting It Together
  14. Don Hager & The Acorns – Try Me Out And See
  15. P. Jay & The Haystackers – Little Heart Attacks
  16. Glenn Johnson – I’m Gonna Leave You
  17. Don Hager & The Hot Tots – I Love You Dear Forever
  18. Glenn Johnson & The Acorns – Little Heart Attacks (Alternative Version)
  19. Don Hager & The Hot Tots – Calypso Boogie
  20. Don Hager & The Hot Tots – Be Bop Boogie (Alternative Version)
  21. Don Hager & The Hot Tots – River Rock (Version 2)
  22. Don Hager & The Hot Tots – Liza Jane Bop (Alternative Version)
  23. Don Hager & The Hot Tots – I Love You Dear Forever (Alternative Version
  24. Glenn Johson & The Raleighans – If You Wouldn’t Be So Mean To Me
  25. Glenn Johson & The Raleighans – If I Could Take You To An Island.

This release is limited to 500 copies. Little Heart Attacks from North Carolina is available from Bear Family Records.

Jamie Dyer

Jamie Dyer is an experienced writer, broadcaster, musician and social media marketer. He enjoys Old Time Radio, vintage TV, collecting vinyl and supporting the New York Knicks.

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