The first record I asked my mother to buy me was Ricky Nelson's 'String Along' after he performed it at the end of an Ozzie and Harriet show - and oh how I hated when there was no Ricky song to close that week's episode. That being said, I was too young for Rockabilly. This is a confusing term for me made worse by this amazing CD set. A lot of it is what I only know as Rock and Roll - Carl Perkins, Elvis, Buddy Knox or Gene Vincent. Then I know the Honky Tonk - Hank Williams, Charlie Feathers, Buck Owens, Ferlin Husky. I may not know these exact cuts but I know the style. If this is Rockabilly then where is Jerry Lee Lewis? So there may be arguments over the term.
Regardless, I found this CD set by accident. I lived through years of Saturday Night of Gold broadcasts and I never heard most of these cuts. My uncle fronted a very well known local rock and roll band in the early and mid 60s and even he has never heard of most of these artists. I waited for the day of open rebellion against formatted radio and it never came. We got the internet instead, and that's not always easy to maneuver for my generation. So we search and we buy and oh what a find.
This CD is so good I've purchased another set of rarities I can't wait to get to. This collection is a perfect starting point. if you aren't familiar with the purity of 1950s rock and roll then hang on tight. Sparse in production, limited on instrumentation but WOW! so much raw energy I dare you to put this on and sit still.
Above all else, I have never heard remastering like this set. I have some of these tracks on individual artist CDs and this is unexpectedly great. There are only a few flaws. Don't expect the Elvis to be the Sun Sessions. These are live cuts, as may be the Don Willis. That one is poor quality but interesting. No other issues. The biggest surprise was Janis Martin. In what was a mostly male dominated field she's every bit as good. And Big Al Downing and Mickey Hawks could have been easily covered by John Fogerty. If there is a downside, after 64 cuts it is obvious there was a Hollywood mentality to this genre like all others. Hey, look, four or five artists are having big hits with this stuff, let's crank our a whole bunch of others. The sound and the energy are there but some tracks lack sincerity and belief. This is 2/4 great; 1/4 good and the rest acceptable as background tracks. The best I can say is I never felt the need to forward a track even on the third go around. My reviews are mostly on 1960s lost gems, but we couldn't have gotten those without the 1950s lost gems.