Four Legends of Rock N Roll

At the dawn of punk, the U.K. experienced a rock & roll revival. Rockabilly cats and greasers roamed the earth, Hank Mizell's "Jungle Rock" became an unexpected hit and, soon enough, cult figures who were barely heard in the U.K. in the '50s could head over to England and play to a big audience. Bear Family's 2013 set Four Legends of Rock N Roll captures one of those big shindigs, selecting highlights from a two-night oldies show at the Rainbow Theater on April 30 and May 1, 1977. The exhaustive liner notes from Ian Wallis go into detail about the history surrounding this concert, but for the layperson, this is a surprisingly snappy little show from rockers happy to be playing to an appreciative audience. Apart from headliner Jack Scott, each rocker here -- the great Warren Smith, Buddy Knox, Charlie Feathers -- covers a familiar tune by another early rock & roller, usually Carl Perkins or Buddy Holly. Headliner Scott is both the wildest and most professional, and that's not just because he's able to rely on his hits; he's a pro who knows how to work a crowd. But even if Smith is a little ragged -- he does "Ubangi Stomp" twice, his Grand Ole Opry medley is slightly halting -- everything here is fun, infused by the joy these old-timers have for performing in front of an engaged audience. Not a landmark by any means, but surely a good time for fans of old-time rock & roll. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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