Worshipped by rock gods such as Little Richard and Gene Vincent, flamboyant gospel pianist S Q Reeder Jr was tempted into the recording studio several times in 1958 to demonstrate his secular capabilities.
The resulting wildcat shakeouts, however, were deemed far too extreme even for black radio… Judge for yourself!
At the very dawn of the UK’s rock ‘n’ roll revival in the late 1960s, Jeffrey Kruger’s Ember Records launched its Speciality subsidiary to concentrate on back catalogue rhythm & blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Unlike the vast majority of reissue labels from that time, however, Speciality made its name with left-field reissues from a variety of US labels, including compilations of Ella Mae Morse & Freddie Slack, The Johnny Otis Show, The Jodimars and, most startlingly, an LP collection of wild rock ‘n’ roll by the uniquely-named Esquerita titled “”Wildcat Shakeout””.
Although enjoying a slew of singles, EPs and even an LP in the US, Esquerita had just one single release in the UK in the 1950s, which was so rare that most rock ‘n’ roll fans were unaware of him. From the Ember sleeve photo, collectors assumed he was a disciple of Little Richard and even a cursory sampling of the enclosed tracks seemed to bear this out, but the truth may have been the complete opposite; S Q Reeder Jr always insisted that it was he who had influenced both the music and fashion-sense of the then musically-directionless Little Richard when they met in the early 1950s, and even Richard has had to admit that our man taught him how to hammer the piano into submission!
Fantastic Voyage now resurrects the “”Wildcat Shakeout”” LP in all its glory, bolstered by a handful of additional tracks, thus gathering together all of his original 1958-1959 releases. Also included as an additional bonus are both sides of the debut single by erstwhile Blue Cap, Paul Peek, on which the Wildcat plays piano in his inimitable style.
As his 1950s promo material declared, “”His sensational music, just like everything about him, is truly the farthest out that man has ever gone””. Arguably, it still is…
- Rockin' The Joint (Esquerita)
- Hole In My Heart (Esquerita)
- Hey Miss Lucy (Esquerita)
- Get Back Baby (Esquerita)
- Baby You Can Depend On Me (Esquerita)
- I'm Battie Over Hattie (Esquerita)
- Crazy Crazy Feelin' (Esquerita)
- Gettin' Plenty Lovin' (Esquerita)
- Esquerita And The Voola (Esquerita)
- Laid Off (Esquerita)
- Believe Me When I Say Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay (Esquerita)
- Oh Baby (Esquerita)
- I Need You (Esquerita)
- Why Did It Take You So Long (Esquerita)
- Please Come On Home (Esquerita)
- Just Another Lie (Esquerita)
- She Left Me Crying (Esquerita)
- Maybe Baby (Esquerita)
- The Rock-A-Round (Paul Peek)
- Sweet Skinny Jenny (Paul Peek)