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Various Artists

That'll Flat...Git It Vol. 34: Rockabilly And Rock 'n' Roll From The Vaults Of Renown & Hornet Records

Review by Gary Hill

You can always count on Bear Family Records to produce a classy product. This set is no exception. Given the subtitle on this you probably have a good idea what type of music is contained here. I have to say that for me this is one of the best collections like this they've done. It's a bit rawer and in your face than some of the other ones. There is almost a garage band feeling to much of it that works really well. The CD digipack includes a large booklet that is the kind of "going the extra mile" touch these guys always do.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
The Downbeats feat. Johnny Amelio - Jugue
I dig the raw garage sound to this rock and roller. The cut is energetic and fun.
Chuck Royal & The Sharpsters - My Baby's Gone

Bouncy rock and roll is the order of business on this song. It's not a big change, but it's strong. I dig the saxophone on the tune a lot.

The Empala Six - Travellin'

This instrumental features a lot of wailing saxophone. The main song structure has a nice groove to it.

Gradie O'Neal & The Bella Tones - Baby “Oh” Baby
There is a bit of an under-produced texture to this that is really a charm of the tune. I dig the guitar soloing, but the whole song rock and rolls really well.  
Clyde Arnold & The Sharps - I've Got A Baby
A stripped back rock and roll tune, this is cool stuff.
Pat LaRocca - Rowena
While not a big change from a lot of the rest of the stuff here, this is an energized and entertaining rock and roller. I dig the cool saxophone solo.
The Empala Six - Empala Rock

There is definitely a lot of garage band charm to this rocker. This lands closer to surf music in some ways. An instrumental, it has energy and some cool melodic jamming.  

Toby & Ray - Bom Du Wa
Doo wop meets guitar rock and roll here. It's a solid tune, but not a standout.
Gradie Joe & The Western Gents - Rock And Roll Cindy

The saxophone provides some cool punctuation on this rock and roller.

Wes Griffith & The Treys - Rockin' Mary
Pretty standard rock and roll, this works well, but isn't a standout.
The Downbeats - I'll Forever Love You
I like the arrangement on this. It includes both rock and roll and jazz sounds in the mix. The break for the guitar solo is all class.
Linda & The Epics - Gonna Be Loved
Now, this is one of the highlights of the set. The vocals are strong, and the whole tune just rocks with plenty of style.
Chuck Royal & The Sharpsters - Blue Moon Keep On Shining
More of a pure old-school country music number, this brings some variety, but really isn't my thing. The recording quality isn't the greatest here.           
The Fretts - Rockin' Baby
An uptempo rocker, this makes me think of Buddy Holly to a large degree.
The Empala Six - Double Time
This instrumental is a classy romp. It's got some jazzy horns and cool guitar fills.
The Downbeats feat. Johnny Amelio - Jugue (alt take)
Energized and raw, this is another version of the earlier tune. I think I prefer this take to that one. It just seems to have more rock and roll attitude.  This is one of the standout tunes.
The Savoys with The Bella Tones - The Mortal Monster Man
Another classy rocker that has a lot of meat on its bones, this is a highlight of the set.
Buddy Bennett & The Margilators - Baby Don't Go
Old time rock and roll with a doo wop texture, the percussive elements on this get a bit over the top to the point of being annoying. I'm not a fan of this one.
Clyde Arnold & The Sharps - Scrounge
This instrumental is a rocker that works well. It's a mid-tempo tune with some killer guitar playing.
Gradie O'Neal & The Bella Tones - Turkey Neck Stretch
While this rockabilly tune isn't all that special, I really like the guitar soloing.        
Chuck Royal & The Sharpsters - You're Like A Butterfly
A jazzy rock and roll shuffle, this is fun.
The Downbeats feat. Johnny Amelio - Downbeats
This number is basically an excuse to introduce the band members.
Johnny Amelio - Jo Ann - Jo Ann
A raw rocker, the piano and saxophone are nice touches here. The vocal performance is on fire. This is another highlight.
Gradie Joe & The Western Gents - Rock-A-Billie Music
There is plenty of country and western music in the mix here. I dig the saxophone on the tune. It's a fun cut.
The Empala Six - Sweet And Sour
I can't decide if I like the pitch bending effect on this song or not. It's definitely a feature of this instrumental piece.
Marguerite Trina - The Rocking Tree
This is a rock and roll Christmas song. I dig the main riff driving it, and the saxophone solo is all class.   
Joe Jaros - Bon Bon Baby
There is a jazz and crooner music meet rock and roll approach here. This is energized and catchy.
Sonny Stafford - Record Hop Blues
This bouncy rock and roller is fun, but not really a highlight.          
The Martells with The Bella Tones - Rockin' Santa Claus
Another holiday rock and roller, I dig the start and stop aspect of this cut. The piano really shows off, too.
Gradie Joe & The Western Gents - It's Blue Monday
With plenty of country in the mix, this is down-home hillbilly rock and roll.
Shorty Joe & his Red Rock Canyon Cowboys - Bayou Ball
I love the energy and groove to this number. It has plenty of redneck sound on display. It has a real hoe-down vibe in a shuffling arrangement.
The Downbeats feat. Johnny Amelio - I'll Forever Love You (Acetate)
The vocals on this bring a lot of that hillbilly sound. The music, though, has a cool, almost jazzy rock and roll element. The tune drives in a slow moving, but rocking way. This is weird, but also really cool.
The Downbeats feat. Johnny Amelio - Grab Me (Acetate)
More pure rock and roll built on a blues standard structure is the idea here. The saxophone wails with style and charm.            
 
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