May 2015

Beginning this month’s releases is an exception to an all too common rule. Contrary to the male dominated, guitar-led character of a great deal of R&B retrospectives Ain’t Gonna Hush The Queens of Rhythm & Blues focuses exclusively on the achievements of its finest women vocalists. Considering the quality of those who make an appearance – Etta James, Aretha Franklin, LaVern Baker – its extrordinary that much of this material slipped through the cracks. Made up of rawly charged outpourings and infectious zest, they’re as vital as the records that were fated for greater luck in the charts. R&B authority Lois Wilson (Mojo, Record Collector) negotiates a selection which nods to lesser known personalities without neglecting the more recognizable voices. Despite the contrasting fortunes of those who feature, its clear these recordings are deserving of sovereignty; pure R&B divinity from its ruling queens. The release comes in a comprehensive 3CD set as well as a special, limited 2LP collection.

Following the success of last month’s forays into rockabilly revivalism and Cramps mythology, our other releases this month remain rooted in similarly fractious sounds. The 2LP edition of Stranger Than Fiction Rockabilly Rules Again sees four sides of vinyl dotted with thirty six individual slices of obscure rockabilly history. Curated by Dave Penny, the set sees the prized dancefloor burners of 70s UK rock’n’roll clubs given posterity. Highly sought after and highly collectable but only intermittently available on limited runs at the time, these sides – from the likes of The Champs, Dwight Pullen and many more – are now given the distinction they deserve, on a collection which highlights the work of three cultishly adored labels (Rollin’ Rock, Record Mart, Injun/Spade) as well as a section devoted to the best of the rest.

There’s little let-up with Sassy Sugar The Pure Essence of Nashville Rock & Roll, another acclaimed title which finally receives its vinyl issue. Unsuprisingly the eligible material for a compilation collecting the essential sounds of Music City USA is made up of prodigious riches. With the RCA Studio on Hawkins Street and Owen Bradley’s Quonset Hut on 16th Avenue South attracting beloved idols like Elvis Presley and Gene Vincent, the pedigree of Nashville Rock & Roll is as historic and momentous as any other pop metropolis. Matching those heights of distinction was a cluster of session musicians who provided an uncommon magic in the studio and these rarer instances of Nashville noise are brimming with their artistry, not to mention the singular leading man stature of those they accompanied. Some are celebrated names – Bob Luman, Don Gibson, Johnny Preston – some will be new discoveries for many, though all of them form a concise and vivid snapshot of the defining spirit and sound of Nashville Rock & Roll. Stuart Colman has whittled down the voluminous 3CD set to a 32 track 2LP, abundant with unmissable standouts.