From Boppin Hillbilly to Red Hot Rockabilly

This delightful and valuable set collects 120 tracks of vintage amped-up honky tonk and country boogie, beginning with releases from 1951 and stretching through to Elvis Presley's Sun years and the rockabilly explosion of 1955, effectively sketching out how what Carl Perkins called "country music with a beat" evolved and shifted into the monster known as rock & roll. Most of these sides are quite rare and many have never been anthologized before, so this box is sure to delight collectors, but the four discs also have a natural flow to them that keeps things from being too academic and makes this release a natural for a long road trip. What's apparent after only a few tracks is how much the blues was a part of hillbilly country, as was jazz via western swing, and the melting pot formation of popular American musical styles is demonstrated clearly here, even though few of these records were hits. Highlights include Forest Rye's "Wild Cat Boogie," Chuck Murphy's barrel house piano romp "They Raided the Joint," Charlie Adams' loose and fun "Cattin' Around," Rudy Gaddis' truly odd "Uranium Fever," as well as more familiar sides like Elvis Presley's "Mystery Train" and Johnny Cash's "Hey Porter." A wonderful collection that shows once again that no new musical style comes out of nowhere. ~ Steve Leggett

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