Sleepy LaBeef,
Rockabilly Blues
(Rounder/Bullseye, 2001)

Rockabilly Blues sums up the music on this album perfectly. Sleepy LaBeef performs twelve songs that blend country, blues and early rock into an exciting whole, showing the connections between genres that have since moved away from each other.

This is an excellent album in every way. The songs are well chosen and paced, and the singing and performing tight and skillful. Most of the songs give at least one musician a chance to strut his stuff, and these passages set off the singing very nicely indeed.

An early rock sound is featured on many of the tracks, like "Bottle Up and Go" with a touch of Elvis, "Long Tall Sally," "Got You On My Mind," "Rooster Blues" and the final song "Rip It Up" with its Jerry Lee Lewis reminders. I'm only mentioning these other musicians to give you an idea of the sound, though; LaBeef is not copying them and brings his own skills and energy to everything he does here.

"Bright Lights, Big City," "Mannish Boy," "Night Train to Memphis," "Sugar Sweet" and "This Train" are more bluesy, sometimes with a rock flavor, sometimes a country, and sometimes all three styles combined. "Night Train to Memphis" and "This Train" add gospel roots to the mix.

"Fool About You" and "Make Room for the Blues" take a country approach, up to and including an ending yodel on "Fool," combining it with blues. It reminds of the way I originally became interested in country music, as I was twiddling the radio dial while driving and kept finding bluesy songs -- and they would turn out to be on country stations.

Fans of early rock, blues and country will all find lots to love in Rockabilly Blues, and I recommend it highly to everyone who likes lively music in these genres -- which, in my opinion, should be almost everyone!

[ by Amanda Fisher ]
Rambles: 14 July 2001



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