Bear Family Records brings us the volume we missed before the time of our last Flat Git It! review: number 36 in the series. That’ll Flat Git It! brings us collections of recordings all linked by something in particular; usually a record company. In the case of volume 36, all the tracks come from the vaults of San Antonio’s TNT and Marathon Records. Containing 34 rocking tracks produced by Robert Tanner in the 1950s; Is this worth picking up?
This compilation dives deep into the Southwest Texas label, delivering a few familiar names alongside a string of long-forgotten gems. Beginning with Jimmy Dee & The Offbeats, who feature five times here, things get off to a nice start. The loud frantic sound, overriding Dee’s vocals, has all the hallmarks of a jukebox classic. Ray Campi, heard on Catapillar and Play It Cool, had a creative sound that still remains fresh and vibrant. Other well-known names include Bill Anderson, Glenn Reeves, Leon Payne and Roy Head.
There are flavours of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rockabilly and revved up traditional Country, mostly rooted in the time they were recorded in. Saying that, a few are unexpected innovators that sound ahead of their time. For example, The Traits’ Don’t Be Blue‘s mix of Blues harmonica and grooving guitar wouldn’t be out of place in a mid-1960s focused set.
The production on some tracks sometimes favours an overdriven sound; Like a huge heap of noise piling through a tiny hole. This would be partly a result of the source of transfer, and the nature of the equipment they had. However, I feel that songs like Baby Be Good, Here I Come, I Feel Like Rockin’ and I Want You To Love Me Tonight benefit from the setbacks.
Other highlights include Sandy Ford’s Cat Man Boogie, The Blue Notes’ I Love Her, The Delatones’ Little Jeanie, Ray Stone’s China Doll, Cecil Moore & The Notes’ Trapped, Jimmy Dee & The Offbeats’ You’re Late Miss Kate and many others.
As with other editions in this series, volume 36 varies in sound depending on the track. It appears that many of these recordings were sourced from the original 45s, indicating a lack of master tapes available. Given the rarity of the tracks, it is understandable. The tracks that appear to come from master tapes sound as they should.
A Little Something Extra…
Inside the attractive digipak, which fits alongside the other 36 volumes of the That’ll Flat Git It! series, is included a 36-page booklet. Bill Dahl provides very welcome accompanying background information on artist and track, as well as photographs. This adds extra value to the collection, making this not only a compilation but a listening experience.
- Jimmy Dee & The Offbeats – Here I Come
- Ray Campi with John and Henry – Catapillar
- Jerry Dove & His String Dusters – Pink Bow Tie
- Dottie Jones – Honey Honey
- Jimmy Dee & The Offbeats – You’re Late Miss Kate
- Ray Liberto – Wicked, Wicked Woman
- The Blue Notes – I Love Her
- The Delatones – Little Jeanie
- Bill Morrison & His Band – Set Me Free
- The Traits – One More Time
- Jimmy Dee – I Feel Like Rockin’
- Glenn Reeves – I Ain’t Got Room To Rock
- Bill Morrison – Baby Be Good
- Ray Campi with John and Henry – Play It Cool
- Cecil Moore & The Notes – I Got It Bad
- The Traits – Live It Up
- Ray Stone – China Doll
- Chuck Goddard – Living Myself to Death
- Jimmy Dee & The Offbeats – Henrietta
- Cecil Moore & The Notes – Trapped
- Jimmy Dee & The Offbeats – Don’t Cry No More
- Johnny Olenn & The Jokers – Sally Let Your Bangs Hang
- Ray Liberto – I Want You To Love Me Tonight
- Dan Virva & The Flying ‘D’ Ramblers – Duck Tail Cat
- Betty Barnes with Doug and The Swingboys – Pepinest, Pettinest Pappy
- Curly Lipham – Start, Step, Stop, Chop
- Jimmy Dee – Rock-Tick-Tock
- The Traits – Don’t Be Blue
- Jimmie Burton – Wild River
- Lonnie Lillie – Truck Drivers Special
- Sandy Ford – Cat Man Boogie
- Leon Payne – My Ship of Dreams
- Bill Anderson – No Song to Sing
- Joe B. & Charlie Davis – Shut Your Big Fat Mouth
Bear Family Records have compiled an album that celebrates the rocking material of TNT and Marathon Records from out of San Antonio. The long-forgotten material may not all sound clean, but it was never meant to be. The energy exhibited on these recordings is a rare commodity and one that should be celebrated. For those, like me, that never tire of finding new sources of Rockabilly and related genres, this album is a perfect addition to the collection. Well worth picking up!