Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
 

Billy Lee Riley

Rocks

Review by Gary Hill

This new compilation is set in an old-school rock and roll zone. There are some particularly strong tracks here. The music has a pretty wide range of sounds, too. While not everything on this set is as effective as everything else (how could it be, really?), there are some real gems along the road.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.


Track by Track Review
Red Hot
This old-school rock and roller almost feels like it could have been a modern recording. It's very much the kind of thing that modern rockabilly artists draw inspiration from. I dig the piano work on this quite a bit. I reviewed this on a previous compilation set, but I'm not positive it's the same version. Here's what I said there, "It has a lot of energy and a bit of a swing jazz vibe to it. It's appropriately on fire. I love the backing vocals. In fact, everything on this song works so well."
Got The Water Boiling
The honking saxophone on this thing fits the lyrics well. This is another energetic old school rock and roller.
Betty And Dupree
A mellower tune at first, this comes in with vocals and saxophone. It works out after the introduction into another cool rock and roller with some jazz in the mix.
Rock With Me Baby
A bouncy rocker, this one makes me think of Elvis Presley a bit. It's a fun and energized tune.
She's My Baby
There's a raw energy to this that makes it really stand out.
Is That All To The Ball (Mr. Hall)
A pretty typical old-school rock and roller, this one has some tasty piano work built into it. I dig the drum fill, too.
That's Right
While there are no surprises here, this is fun.
Flying Saucer Rock 'n' Roll
I love the energy and groove on this thing. The science fiction, space angle doesn't hurt, either. It has some killer guitar work built into it. I reviewed this song previously on a compilation set, but again I'm not sure that it's the exact version. Here's what I said about that one. "This rocker feels a bit like a cross between 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On' and 'That'll Be the Day.' It's obviously a novelty tune. It's also a lot fun."
Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash
I first heard this number when Steve Miller did it. This is much more typical old-school rock and roll than the Steve Miller version. It's fun.
Trouble Bound
There are some hints of country music on this mellower tune. It makes me think of Buddy Holly just a bit.
Thunderbird (released as Sonny Burgess)

I dig the harmonica on this thing. The whole tune really grooves with some killer bluesy old school rock and roll vibe. It's a cool instrumental.      

Open The Door Richard
There is a real doo wop thing at play on this. The cut has less of a rock and roll element and more of an old school pop sound. This is a nice bit of variety, but I prefer the more rocking stuff. A lot of the vocals on this are spoken, including a dialog.
College Man
A twisted college chant starts this. The cut turns out into some smoking hot rock and roll from there.
I Want You Baby
This one doesn't work so well for me. I don't really like this traditional style of rock ballad.
Pearly Lee
Now, this energized rock and roll works so much better. It's a fun number that really grooves.
Arkansas Traveler
Harmonica brings some magic to this. There is a real jazzy groove to the cool song structure here. This is a tasty instrumental.
Flip Flop And Fly
I love this cool rocking groove. It's a lot of fun.
Barefootin' (alt. take - undubbed) (unissued)
The energy and groove on this rocker is so much fun. It's one of the highlights of the set as far as I'm concerned. I love the killer guitar soloing on this number.
Long Gone
The party rock and roll sound on this instrumental is classic. The harmonica is a nice touch.
Rockin' On The Moon
Back in science fiction zones, this has a sound a bit more suited to the lyrical content. It's a lot of fun and tastefully strange.
Everybody's Twisting (released as Darron Lee)
This number is so tasty. The groove is classic, and it packed full of energy. It also oozes retro cool. The organ is a nice touch.
My Baby's Got Love (unissued)
A bit more stripped back arrangement is on display here. This rock and roller doesn't lose anything, though. It feels like the kind of garage rock you expect from the 1960s. The clean guitar soloing is quite tasty.
Red Hot (unissued)
There is more of a blues grind to this version of the tune. As much as I like the fierce energy of the other one, I almost think I like this better.
Baby Please Don't Go
This number has been done by so many people. That's because it's a great song. It has a bit of stripped down sound to it here. It's fun.     
Catfish (released as The Spitfires)
This instrumental groove works well as a mid-tempo rock and roller meets jazz. The horn wailing really brings something special to it.
Teenage Letter
This is the kind of old school rocker you expect here. It has some great piano playing. Other than that, it's not really a standout.
Mean Woman Blues
I love this rock and roll meets blues tune. It's one of the highlights of the set. The whole thing really rocks, but the piano soloing is on fire.     
I've Been Searching (released as Darron Lee)
Upbeat and jazzy, this is so much fun. It's another standout piece. It is just so cool.
Nightmare Mash
This cut is definitely a take-off on "The Monster Mash." It's more or less the same song.
Searchin'
Another typical rock and roller, this is a mellower cut. It's not bad, but definitely not a standout.
Shimmy, Shimmy Walk -part II (released as The Megatons)
A real garage rock sound drives this number. It's another that lands as a highlight here, but I'm a sucker for this kind of music.
Speed Lovers
I'm not all that crazy about this one. It has a decent energy. It sounds like a not-so-good rework of "Secret Agent Man."
The Way It Was Back Then
This is built around a Bo Diddley beat. It's a fun rock and roller for sure.
The Little Green Men
We're back into science fiction rock and roll with this energetic and fun cut.
Flying Saucer Rock & Roll (alternative take 3)
This version of the earlier tune is a straight-ahead rock and roller.   
 
Return
 
Google

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2020 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./Beetcafe.com