Bear Family Records continues their long-running series of ‘That’ll Flat…Git It! compilations with a new edition to follow the release of the 33rd album from earlier this year. This latest offering, volume 34, comprises recordings from two Californian labels, Bella and Blue Moon Records; both owned by John Pusateri. Featuring a selection of 33 recordings; is this set worth picking up?
The beauty of this series is the exposure to acts lost in time, uncovered for the first time in decades. The album begins with one of the more famous acts on the compilation, Johnny Amelio, performing the infectious Jaugue alongside The Downbeats. The album’s mood is consistent throughout, as it treats the listener to rare gems by Joe Gradie & The Western Gents, Linda & The Epics, Marguerite Trina, Pat Larocca and more! The obscurity of much of the music is a bonus here, with unfamiliar lovers of the genre able to find something they like amongst the selection.
A real favourite that stood out for me was the simple but effective Scrounge performed by Clyde Arnold & The Sharps; instrumental Rockabilly grooves in a nutshell. Equally, the four included tracks by the unknown Empala Six are enjoyable instrumentals that get the foot tapping. The swinging Country style of Bella’s first release, Bayou Ball by Shorty Joe & His Red Rock Canyon Cowboys, may stick out but is still a welcome inclusion for context.
The compilation ends on two unreleased gems, I’ll Forever Love You and Grab Me by The Downbeats featuring Johnny Amelio; Covered in static but two of the strongest tracks in this collection.
A variety of sources means the quality can vary depending on the track. They made most of these transfers from original 45s, since the original master tapes no longer exist; meaning there are noticeable traces of noise. However, it would be fair to say the sometimes rustic nature of the audio comes more from the original production than the modern-day transfer; Both labels featured recordings that originated from a garage! Overall, the quality is impressive and is comparable to previous releases in this series.
A Little Something Extra…
Inside a well-presented digipak, is an attached 29-page booklet, featuring extensive liner notes, rare photographs and detailed discographical information. The attention to detail is excellent, with thoroughly researched biographies on the acts featured here.
Bear Family Records has delivered another impressive volume of rare Rock ‘n’ Roll and Rockabilly for their extensive series. The care and attention paid towards the production is outstanding considering the obscurity of the material. The anarchic sound of Bella and Blue Moon won’t appeal to everyone, but at least nobody can say it lacks life. Get this album if you’re looking for rare rockabilly!
- The Downbeats feat Johnny Amelio – Jugue
- Chuck Royal & The Sharpsters – My Baby’s Gone
- The Empala Six – Travelin
- Gradie O’Neal & The Bella Tones – Baby “Oh” Baby
- Clyde Arnold & The Sharps – I’ve Got A Baby
- Pat LaRocca – Rowena
- The Empala Six – Empala Rock
- Toby & Ray – Born Du Wa
- Gradie Joe & The Western Gents – Rock And Roll Cindy
- Wes Griffith & The Treys – Rockin’ Mary
- The Downbeats – I’ll Forever Love You
- Linda & The Epics – Gonna Be Loved
- Chuck Royal & The Sharpsters – Blue Moon Keep On Shining
- The Fretts – Rockin’ Baby
- The Empala Six – Double Time
- The Downbeats – feat. Johnny Amelio – Jugue (Alt. Take)
- The Savoys With The Bella Tones – The Mortal Monster Man
- Buddy Bennett & The Margilators – Baby Don’t Go
- Clyde Arnold & The Sharps – Scrounge
- Gradie O’Neal & The Bella Tones – Turkey Neck Stretch
- Chuck Royal & The Sharpsters – You’re Like A Butterfly
- The Downbeats feat. Johnny Amelio – Downbeats
- Johnny – Jo Ann – Jo Ann
- Gradie Joe & The Western Gents – Rock-A-Billie Music
- The Empala Six – Sweet And Sour
- Marguerite Trina – The Rocking Tree
- Jo Jaros – Bon Bon Baby
- Sonny Stafford – Record Hop Blues
- The Martells With The Bella Tones – Rockin’ Santa Claus
- Gradie Joe & The Western Gents – It’s a Blue Monday
- Shorty Joe & his Red Rock Canyon Cowboys – Bayou Ball
- The Downbeats feat. Johnny Amelio – I’ll Forever Love You (Acetate)
- The Downbeats feat. Johnny Amelio – Grab Me (Acetate)