and ORIGINAL COOL MAGAZINE presents the





By Ken Burke
Reprinted with permission from Original Cool
(http://members.aol.com/OrigCool/ochome.html) magazine.



The Hightone Reissues
According to Ron Weiser, Hightone has released "maybe 20 to 30 percent of Rollin' Rock's masters." Though these reissues represent the cream of his label's early output, comprehensive sets on some equally fine, lesser known artists such as the Magnetics and Ezra Charles remain in the can. As of this writing, all of the following discs are still in print.


  • The Blasters - American Music
    (1997)
    The Blasters' original 1980 Rollin' Rock LP is reissued here in it's entirety along with several previously unreleased tracks. Dave Alvin's two most recognizable tunes - "Marie Marie" and the title track are included, along with several other originals and some gritty blues-rock covers; nearly two decades later they all sound better than ever. Less rockabilly than a tough, electric r&b band embracing the rockabilly feel, the Blasters made their contemporaries sound like they were only foolin' around. Johnny Legend tells us Ron Weiser had the legal right to keep the group at Rollin' Rock when Slash records came calling, but he didn't want to stand in the way of their potential success. It's interesting to note that while the Blasters achieved their greatest commercial success with Slash, this disc is the only one still in print featuring the group's original lineup.

  • Jackie Lee Cochran - Rockabilly Music
    (1997)
    Cochran's Rollin' Rock recordings are his finest, most enduring works. This 20-song compilation mixes the country blues and boogie of "Swamp Fox," "I Musta Drove My Mules Too Hard" and "They Oughta Call You Miss Heartbreak" with such catchy, driving anthems as "Rockabilly Legend" and "That Gal's Wicked," along with tough remakes of "Hip-Shakin' Mama" and "Mama Don't You Think I Know." Roots music doesn't get much better than this.

  • Johnny Carroll - Texabilly
    (1997)
    Nearly all of Carroll's '70s Rollin' Rock output is collected on this solid disc which represents his last shining moments as a recording artist. Carroll's voice is gravelly and deeper than on his '50s Decca classics, but he's in fine rockin' form on such boppers as "Teenage Sweetie," "Her Throbbing Lips" and "Bowlegged Woman." This one is worth getting if only to hear Carroll's brilliant imitation of Gene Vincent on "Gene Vincent Rock."

  • Mac Curtis - Rockabilly Uprising
    (1997)
    The cream of Curtis' late-'70s work is represented by this 19-track collection of bass-slappin' rockabilly, country and flat-out rock'n'roll. Billy Zoom plays sax on one track and fellow Rollin' Rocker Ray Campi provides heavy support. Curtis is especially hot on such numbers as "Good Rockin' Tomorrow," "Wild, Wild Women" and commanding remakes of "If I Had A Woman" and "Grandaddy's Rockin'." This is a fine introduction to Mac Curtis, an underrated singer/songwriter and major bopcat.

  • The Best Of Johnny Legend, Volume None
    (1997)
    Boasting the most stylish production of Rollin' Rock's early years, Legend's work walks the fine line between rockabilly parody ("Are You Hip To It?," "Guess Who Ain't Getting Laid Tonight"), propagandist schlock ("Stalin Kicked The Bucket," "The South Is Gonna Rise Again,") and honest tribute (Bo Diddley's "Crackin' Up," Hank Williams' "Ramblin Man"). In addition, the creation of his own seriously weird mythology through song ("Soakin' The Bone," "The Holy Beat," "Rockabilly Bastard," "Rockabilly Bughouse") really brings this disc together as a true artistic statement.

  • Ray Campi - Rockabilly Rebellion
    (1997)
    Campi's style really came of age at Rollin' Rock, where he overdubbed acoustic and electric guitars, dobro, steel guitars, and his trademark slappin' standup bass on a seemingly endless series of stellar roots rock recordings. Campi routinely crosses musical genres with puckish good-humor on such tracks as "Rockin' At the Ritz," "Pinball Millionaire," "Don't Come Knockin'" and Gene Snowden's "Quit Your Triflin'." Subtitled The Best Of Ray Campi Vol. 1, you can bet there's enough top-class material for a few more 20-song sets like this one. More of Campi's sides with Weiser can be found on collections assembled by Bear Family, Rounder, Part and Magnum Records.

  • Jimmie Lee Maslon - Salacious Rockabilly Cat
    (1997)
    20 tracks of '70s roughhouse rockabilly, many recorded when Maslon was still a teenager! The burbling big beat of true rock'n'roll runs through his versions of "Please Give Me Something," "The Drag," "Bip Bop Boom" and the remarkable title track. Moreover, Maslon's best originals "The Haunt You Baby Rock," "Rockhouse Blues" and "Your Wildcat Ways" cook with authenticity.

  • Various Artists
    Rollin' Rock - Got The Sock Vol. 1 (1997)
    Rollin' Rock - Got The Sock, Vol. 2 (1998)
    Cat Music (1998)

    You can't go wrong with a selection of great songs by Ray Campi, Jimmy Lee Maslon, Col. Jim Silvers, Mac Curtis, Jackie Lee Cochran, Johnny Carroll, Tony Conn, Johnny Legend and the Magnetics. Among the three disc's 59 tracks are performances from such '50s legends as Gene Vincent, Bob Luman, Merle Travis and Charlie Feathers. There is some song repetition with the solo sets; however, there are also performances included by those artists you won't find anywhere else. The tune selection is really quite unique to the point where even the off-numbers have an interesting feel to them. All three are great starter sets for those new to the Rollin' Rock sound.





    ALSO ...

  • Mack Stevens At Rollin' Rock
    (Hightone, 1998)
    Stevens is the quintessential Rollin' Rock artist. He sounds absolutely authentic like Ray Campi, he sings with real Mac Curtis authority, he writes great songs in a variety of genres ala Jackie Lee Cochran, and his persona is almost as bugfuck crazy as Johnny Legend's. If you don't believe '50s styled rock'n'roll and country can raise goosebumps in the modern age, just take a listen to "Diet Pill Boogie," "The Las Vegas Stomp," "Daddy's Goin' Mad" and "Momma Stop Me Before I Kill Again." Great album.

  • Mack Stevens - Hardcore Texas Cat Music!
    (Rollin' Rock, 1999)
    The Psychotic King Of Western Bop returns for the first U.S. disc featuring the Rollin' Rock imprint in 17 years. Stevens crafts some real gems in "I May Be Right But I Hope I Am Wrong," "I'll Die Alone" and "Women Crawlin' All Over Me." There's a tense western feel ala Twin Peaks on many tracks, and on such rockers as "Peckerwood Rock" and "Rockabilly Barbecue, Stevens sounds like a man trying to jump straight out of his skin.

  • Dragstrip 77 - Sin City Hotrods
    (Dionysus, 1999)
    The Las Vegas-based Dragstrip 77 brings a lot of cowpunk energy to their big beat rockabilly sounds. Lead guitarist Jorge Harada inventively incorporates Link Wray, Dick Dale, Chuck Berr, and Stevie Ray into his own style with snarl and chickie-run sass. No matter how hard Harada and bassist Randy Casanova push the rhythm, lead singer Andy Lopez delivers with dramatic vocal precision. Overall they sound like Rubber Rodeo via the Zantees. On top of which, they write most of their own tunes. The best rockers? "Daisy Duke," "Marylou," "Blue Shadows" and "Rock'n'Roll Zombies." A nice raw debut.

  • Rip Carson & the Twilight Trio
    (Rollin' Rock, 1999)
    Blessed with snaky tremolo, Rip Carson's vocals embody the youthful, rockabilly edge of Johnny Carroll and Jackie Lee Cochran, without ever resorting to self-conscious imitation. Danny Angulo, Reece Linely and Charles Henning conjure a much fuller sound than their band's size would suggest and their playing is pleasingly rudimentary and atmospheric. Carson writes or cowrites all the songs, the snazziest of which are "Two-Timin' Woman," "I'm Gonna Drink," "Don't Hold My Baby" and "Come Green In my Pocket." There's some rough spots, but this is a very promising, authentic sounding band and they're well worth a listen.

  • The Original Band - Still Rockin' Around The Clock
    (Rollin' Rock, 1999)
    Unavailable for review at press time, this disc features new recordings by members of Bill Haley's original band, the Comets. Someone else owns the Comet name and has legally enjoined the most important members of Haley's original group from using it. However, if the upcoming disc is half as good as the word-of-mouth on their live shows, it's sure to be a first-rate example of true rock'n'roll by some of the genres founding fathers. Look for a complete review in an upcoming issue of Original Cool.


    Original Cool's Ronny Weiser Interview




    Many thanks to Ron Weiser for his time and input. Want to e-mail Ron Weiser? Do so at RockRonny@aol.com or rockabillyron@yahoo.com. Check out a complete Rollin' Rock discography at www.rockabillymusic.com and Weiser's column at www.rockabillyhall.com/colrockron.html. Snail mail requests for catalogs, CDs and other information to Ron Weiser at 2460 Casey Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89120. Tell him Original Cool sent you!

  • Original Cool is a bimonthly fanzine featuring rockabilly, swing and rock ' n' roll - vintage to cutting edge - from around the world. Check out the Original Cool website at http://members.aol.com/OrigCool/ochome.html.

  • Ken Burke can be reached at: DrIguana1@aol.com