|Tennessee Rockin' - Shotgun
Raucous Records, RAUCD 148
1957 was a good year for rock 'n' roll, and that's when I was born in the City of Lights, Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Not that there was much rock 'n' roll going on at that time in Holland, but I did try to catch up to the things I missed by going to just about every rock 'n' roll and rockabilly gig in Holland and Belgium ever since I was a teenager. In the 70s and 80s many rock 'n' roll originators did European tours, and I was always there, somewhere in the crowd. In October 1982 Mac Curtis played at the 19th International Rock & Roll Meeting in my hometown, Eindhoven, and on the same bill was a band from South London who had just released an album on the Rockhouse label. This band was SHOTGUN and that was the very first time I saw and heard them. They left quite an impression too, with their raw stage show and their fabulous mix of old time rockabilly and pounding rock 'n' roll. Of course I bought their album "Born To Rock" (Rockhouse LP8210) right after the gig and I've been an addicted fan ever since.
From the programm guide of the Rockhouse meeting I learned that that SHOTGUN had previously released an album on the Magnum Force label titled "Tennessee Rockin'" (MFLP002). And now, over 2 decades later, this fabulous album has been re-issued on CD by Raucous Records. Recorded at Rock City Studios in April 1979. Actually, most songs on this album had been recorded and released before on Billy Goat Records, and SHOTGUN was already getting quite popular. Magnum Force contacted the band and wanted them to record all the same songs again in their studio, and all paid for by Magnum of course. Eventually released in 1981, this album is a milestone in British rock 'n' roll revival, which spread all over Europe. As a matter of fact, the revival never stopped, rock 'n' roll today is more alive than ever!
"Cadillac 55", the opening song of this trip down memory lane, has become a favorite at the record hops over the past 25 years. In fact, it's just a simple rockabilly song with some blues influences, but it's the simplicity itself that seems to have the greatest impact.
"Jubal Cane" is without a doubt my own favorite track, although even 25 years ago, the sound was nothing new. It's clearly a copy of the rhythms that made Bo Diddley the originator that he is. The lyrics were also written in Bo's tradition, and although it reminds somewhat of Bo's classic "Who Do You Love", it's a Shotgun original, a true blast from the past.
The title track "Tennessee Rockin'" is the first song where we can hear the distinctive hard knocks that would give Bob Burgos his nick name "Sledgehammer of Rock 'n' Roll". Combine that with a steady bass line, raw vocals, superb guitar and piano breaks, and you'll understand why the crowd still wants to hear this song every time the band appears on stage.
The instrumental "Hillbilly Shuffle", a mix of acoustic and electric guitar with a slowhand bass, is not the kind of song you are likely to remember after almost three decades, because it doesn't have that easily identifiable sound that early 60's instros had, but listen closely and you'll find that it's a great instrumental in it's own right.
Same thing I wrote about "Tennessee Rockin'" goes for "Save Me Pretty Baby" too. This is the sound that made me a Shotgun fan instantly 25 years ago. Hard knockin', hard rockin', fast rollin'.
Some Chuck Berry licks could already be recognized on the previous track, but when "Saturday Night Rockin'" thunders through your speakers, you can hear how the master Chess rocker has influenced Shotgun, and not just a little bit. This really is what rock 'n' roll is all about.
"Boogie Woogie Feelin'" is where we first meet Randy McDonald's tearing tenor sax. A scorching blues bopper with clear piano breaks that make you never wanna stop the bop.
"Rockabilly Rebel" has nothing to do with the Matchbox hit with the same title, it's a classic on it's own accord, fast rockin' with a rolling thunder, chilling lead guitar, boogie woogie piano, and of course, Bob's hard knocks.
"Greycoat Boy" is a ballad about the American civil war in a tradition that was very popular in Europe in the late 70's and early 80's. Probably best compared with Flying Saucers' "Ballad of Johhny Reb". A great harmony song that'll send chivers down your spine, but it's also a welcome chance to catch your breath.
Back to the rockin' beat with "Rock 'n' Roll Hotel", again with Randy McDonald's swinging saxophone, a little bit in the old Bill Haley tradition, but an original Shotgun rocker all the way.
Hot rod songs have always been quite popular ever since the 50's, most likely because fast cars seem to be a good way to attract girls. Many bands play one or more hot rod songs, and Shotgun is no exception to the rule. We had "Cadillac 55" at the start of this album, and here's "Pontiac '59" for you. With a low down beat and mean country guitar licks, it tells the story of a man's pride and joy.
The last track on this album "Billygoat Rock" is one more song in the "Tennessee Rockin'" trad, the sound that kept Shotgun rolling through the years, from their early recordings for Billy Goat Records, to the re-release of this classic album on Raucous.
I have dedicated my life to rock 'n' roll, the only way I knew how, by using pen and paper, and later on my Personal Computer. I have been writing lyrics and reviews for almost 20 years, for magazines and booklets, and when the world took a turn on the digital highway, I took my hobby to the Internet starting "BlackCat Rockabilly Europe" in 1993. Through the years I've always had that special love for British rock 'n' roll, and a few years ago I also made a website dedicated to my friend and idol, the Sledgehammer of Rock 'n' Roll, Wild Bob Burgos. When Wild Bob finally went digital himself, I was very proud that he adapted my fanpages as his official website. And this is not the end of a story, but merely another stepping stone in the history of rock 'n' roll music. SHOTGUN and Wild Bob Burgos are still very much alive and kickin' and the release of a newly recorded CD is already in the making. After half a century of rock 'n' roll music, it is quite clear that rock 'n' roll will never die!
Liner Notes by Marijn "The BlackCat" Raaijmakers
BlackCat Rockabilly Europe:
All tracks produced by David Paramor and recorded at Rock City Studios, Shepperton, London in April 1979.
Cadillac '55 (Ray Neale) / Jubal Cane (Iain Terry) / Tennessee Rockin' (Ray Neale) / Hillbilly Shuffle (Iain Terry) / Save Me Pretty Baby (Bob Burgos) / Saturday Night Rockin' (Bob Burgos) / Boogie Woogie Feelin' (Ray Neale) / Rockabilly Rebel (Rob Murly) / Greycoat Boy (Ray Neale) / Rock 'n' Roll Hotel (Rob Murly) / Pontiac '59 (Iain Terry) / Billygoat Rock (Bob Burgos)