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The 20 best Rockabilly records ever made

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  • published
    10 Feb 2009
  • words by
    Andrew Weatherall
  • tags
    "20 best"
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When poor folk get together and realise they’re being shafted, the result is usually a revolution. When poor folk can’t get together due to racial segregation and they realise they’re being shafted, the result is definitely a revolution. Agitate, agitate, organise. Gyrate, gyrate, do the jive.

Although the Elvis explosion made the rock ‘n’ roll revolution look like an overnight coup led by one man and a Colonel, the real story begins with seeds, its flowers leaving more un-sung heroes and revolutionaries than any musical form before or since. The seeds were sown by: “…Struggling Southern boys with ten dollar guitars and stars in their eyes, combining what they heard on hillbilly radio stations with what they heard on black rhythm and blues stations with what they heard coloured folks singing in the cotton fields and then throwing in a gut-wrenching gospel feel they got when they went to church and heard their fire and brimstone preachers screaming and shouting about salvation…” (Bill Poore, Rockabilly: A Forty-Year Story)

My interest in songs from the revolution started in 1973 when I saw a film called That’ll Be The Day – a movie surfing the wave of rock ‘n’ roll revivalism at the time. Three years later The Cramps happened and lit the way back to the rockabilly wellspring: a place where country swing collided with rhythm and blues. They shone a light on Charlie Feathers, Hasil Adkins, early Roy Orbison and a host of others, some of whom are listed overleaf. Ladis and Gentlemen, a purely personal invitation to the rockabilly party…

Mr Weatherall would like to point out, search these records out rather than just download them, ‘cos it could be the start of a very interesting journey. A good starting point would be Sounds That Swing record shop on Inverness Street, Camden, a den of riches housed in a concrete bunker.

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