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Album: Bop-A-Lena (Bear Family Records, 1990) by Ronnie Self

Ronnie Self is one of the great unknown rockabilly singers. In addition to being a great singer he wrote most of his material himself. Unbelievably he only had one minor hit in the United States with “Bop-A-Lena” in 1958. It is curious, to say the least, that not more people value lyrics like “Oop Scooby Dooby Lena Go Gal Go”. I guess if stuff like this does not catch you straight away rock 'n' roll is not your thing. Fortunately Ronnie Self enjoyed some success as a songwriter and a latter day career in Europe where he was considered one of the legends of early rock ‘n’ roll. It is therefore fitting that the German label Bear Family Records has issued a compilation of his recordings between 1956 and 1963.

Like many great artists Ronnie Self was a tortured soul. Read more...


Album: Living Proof (Silvertone Records, 2010) by Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy once said: “every time I see someone play... there is something I need to learn from it”. It is true. The result is that he still is getting better even though his career has spanned more than half a century. Normally people stop evolving creatively after 40 or 50 years of age. Buddy Guy is one of the rare exceptions. Of course this is mainly due to his immense talent but it can also be explained by the fact that he is such a nice person which results in an open attitude towards others as well as himself. Even though he is an icon and an inspiration for guitarists today, as much as people like B.B. King, Guitar Slim and Muddy Waters were examples to him, he never has gotten big headed about it. Only music counts for him and he considers any player a colleague and a possible inspiration rather than a rival. Read more...


Album: Setzer Goes Instru-Mental! (Surfdog Records, 2011) by Brian Setzer

One could argue that rockabilly music is the ultimate American music form since it is a hybrid of several typical American forms of music. Blues and rhythm and blues are of big influence of course. That’s where the beat came from and rockabilly guitar would be distinctively different without the minor pentatonic and blues scales. Jazz is important, particularly for the more sophisticated players like Gene Vincent’s guitarist Cliff Gallup. Most of the rockabilly pioneers grew up singing gospels. Just listen to the “Million Dollar Quartet Sessions” and you will understand why gospel has been of importance for the development of rockabilly. Country music in its various forms has obviously had a big impact on rockabilly. Amongst the heroes of Elvis Presley’s guitar player Scotty Moore are country guitar giants like Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. Read more...